back to article MoJ admits to splashing out on 2.3 MILLION Oracle licences

The Ministry of Justice has admitted to holding 2.3 million Oracle software licences, The Register can reveal. The licence breakdown of 53 separate Oracle products includes 961,000 “internet expense” licences, 250,000 for three separate for human resources licences, and 100,000 payroll licences, according to a Freedom of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Licensing

    "One government insider remarked that Oracle is known to be 'extreme in its defence of existing licensing agreements and in stopping any flexibility.'"

    Then why are they continuing to do further business with them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Licensing

      Because it's too much £££ and effort to extract existing systems and processes from it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Licensing

        Throwing good money after bad.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Licensing

        Because it's too much £££ and effort to extract existing systems and processes from it?

        Given the amount of money they have to throw out annually it appears there is a relatively comfortable budget for changing this, just on the basis of ROI. The real challenge is finding people that know what they're doing, there is still a lot of Microsoft pollution to wade through first.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Licensing

      Idiots.

      Start a serious project to move %large item% away from Oracle and onto an open database system.

      Oracle will either rapidly drop their price, or you'll begin to get away from their lock-in - and have experience for the next one.

      Either way, the taxpayer wins.

      1. Bronek Kozicki

        Re: Licensing

        Oracle will either rapidly drop their price ... that will be around the time when sales of snowploughs in Hell are expected to rapidly increase?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Licensing

        Start a serious project to move %large item% away from Oracle and onto an open database system.

        Oracle will either rapidly drop their price, or you'll begin to get away from their lock-in - and have experience for the next one.

        I think that is known as the Linux argument, but I'm not sure it works as well against Oracle as it did against Microsoft.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Licensing

          I'm guessing it's not just database licences, but possibly all the other applications (EBS, BI, CRM, etc., etc.) on top.

      3. ar12

        Re: Licensing

        Sir Humphrey: "Migrating away from Oracle!? Courageous decision Minister!"

        Jim Hacker: "Oh dear. Let's leave that for the moment then."

        Sir Humphrey: "Yes Minister."

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Licensing

        "Start a serious project"

        Stop you there. Government + serious project = waste of money.

      5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Licensing

        nice idea about moving to an open db solution. Sadly (in my experience) that means MySql. Who owns that product?

        Frying pan and Fire come to mind.

        Now if Postgres was more popular then it might actually work.

        Don't know if there are companies offering support for it. The lack of it might be a stumbling block to procurement in some HMG departments/ministries.

        1. SolidSquid

          Re: Licensing

          MariaDB and Percona are both open source forks of the MySQL code base, with MariaDB being headed by the same guy who used to head the MySQL project. If they wanted to go with MySQL then either of these would do instead, and would avoid the issues of Oracle tie ins

      6. SolidSquid

        Re: Licensing

        There's a good chance they would argue that getting rid of the licences for those projects would mean earlier discount agreements no longer applied, and so they would threaten to charge more for any future contracts. Since at least some projects aren't going to be easy to port away from Oracle, this means you could be looking at having to pay *more* to get support for less licences initially if you want to retain support

        Although that said, I would be curious what the response would be if the government opened up the procurement bids for supporting Oracle to non-Oracle companies, since there's at least a few that sell themselves as capable of supporting Oracle databases for a decent chunk of money less than Oracle charges

        1. BearishTendencies

          Re: Licensing

          Been there, done that....

          Enterprise Application Support Services contract.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Licensing

          There's a good chance they would argue that getting rid of the licences for those projects would mean earlier discount agreements no longer applied, and so they would threaten to charge more for any future contracts

          .. and so prompt a formal cabinet decision to move away from Oracle? After all, anything in the future can still change. I don't think that even Oracle would date try that. All it takes is one "accidental" leak of such a notion to the press and it could get painful.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Licensing

      At this overspend rate someone is guaranteed a directorship on a re-seller/consultant/integrator board once they retire. Not now of course, we do not do corruption. At least not like Saudi Arabia or Nigeria.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Why would Oracle offer a discount, UK publilc sector business is <1% of revenues

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Why would Oracle offer a discount, UK publilc sector business is <1% of revenues"

      And if the stuff gets moved to a cheaper platform why should the taxpayer care whether it's Oracle or something else? Go back & read Richard 12's comment again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why would Oracle offer a discount, UK publilc sector business is <1% of revenues

      Because software licencing has gross margins approaching 100%.

      The whole point of software licencing is to sell something that you've previously made and sold before. Faced with a customer who is going to take tens or hundreds of millions of pounds of gross margin away, that costs the supplier nothing to deliver, they'd have to be mad to allow them to walk away, because that converts £xm into £0m. Far better to take £x/2 m.

      Strategically Oracle might want to hold out if they think it sets a precedent, but I would guess that commercial customers have a pain threshold that they'll migrate at, and their will be discounts on offer for those willing to call Oracle's bluff. In this case though, we've got civil servants spending the free money that they extract from taxpayers, and they simply don;'t care if they spaff your and my money up the wall - we can't take our tax affairs to another UK government.

      And worth noting that Oracle UK made all those sales to government, and yet paid no corporation tax in previous years (and I'd guess nothing has changed). If government were not run by clueless @rseholes, then they'd start a project to run Oracle out of the UK altogether.

  3. moonrakin

    In other news ....

    It can now be revealed that MoD has more Oracle licences than the entire armed services have bullets

    Lewis!! - have you seen this!?

  4. SolidSquid

    Weird as it might be for a comparison, the comments about "commercial confidentiality" kind of remind me of a Watchdog episode involving people getting gas delivered because their town wasn't on the grid. All of them had been told they were being a discount, but that to get that discount they had to keep it confidential, and when the Watchdog guy went about asking everyone it turned out that all of them were paying more than they had to and some were paying about twice what the cheapest ones were. They just hadn't realised it because all of them were told they had to keep quiet about what they were being charged

    It's larger scale, sure, but I can't help but wonder whether MoJ has been told they're getting a fantastic price for what it is and actually are being charged significantly more than other departments, they just don't know because all the departments have been told not to discuss it

    1. Quando

      Precisely - government departments should have to publish details of every deal they do so we know who is getting backhanders from who. If the vendor doesn't like their prices being published then so be it - find someone who is not too embarrassed to share their price in public. It's *OUR* money they are spending, and we (should) have a right to see where it is going.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whole article is redundant.

    Could easily and regularly be replaced with 'Another Government clusterfuck, taxpayers screwed over by clueless civil servants in department xxxxxx and greedy company yyyyy with no morals'

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Explanation for the amount of licenses may be that they are for users of a web service (example for the Rural agency: farmers) that uses Oracle. MS is the same with CALs.

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