back to article Now, hold on. This may shock you... Oracle allegedly juices its cloud sales with threats and shoddy on-prem support

Two Oracle shareholders on Tuesday sued the database giant and its board of directors for allegedly misleading investors about the potential of its cloud business. The civil complaint, filed in a San Jose district court in America, accuses Oracle executives of omitting material facts in public communications and making false …

  1. elDog

    I wish I could feel sorry for all those companies that bought the Big Red Story

    Most examples that I've seen involves large corporations with lots of C-suite decision makers that enjoy a bit of hobnobbing with the sales reps at fancy restaurants and glitzy venues.

    Not so much doing due diligence to make sure that their in-house talent was comfortable and capable of dealing with Oracle (on-premise or the nebulous type.)

    Like many other big iron and big software sellers, the product doesn't meet the hype. Even if you have several extra millions to shell out for the exorbitant licenses and support.

    (Jealously holding on to my mainly open-source stack that can run rings around a similarly configured big C enterprise version.)

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: I wish I could feel sorry for all those companies that bought the Big Red Story

      "Most examples that I've seen involves large corporations with lots of C-suite decision makers that enjoy a bit of hobnobbing with the sales reps at fancy restaurants and glitzy venues."

      Not very long ago most large companies wouldn't have bet their infrastructure on anything else than Oracle, DB2, MSSQL or other proven databases. The open source stacks were and are fine for many things, but didn't necessarily meet the requirements, such as resiliency, scaling, 24/7 support - or the company's chosen line of business software just supported specific database engines.

      Oracle is a very succesful company because they have had a good product to sell.

      "Like many other big iron and big software sellers, the product doesn't meet the hype."

      How? Please elaborate.

      "(Jealously holding on to my mainly open-source stack that can run rings around a similarly configured big C enterprise version.)"

      In your basement Pentium3 w/ 256MB memory or scaled out to 10 racks in several locations?

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: I wish I could feel sorry for all those companies that bought the Big Red Story

        they have had a good product to sell

        They do, and there are some use cases where there are few good alternatives.

        Unfortunately, they've put themselves in a position where potential customers have to balance the technical risk and the financial risk and the latter seems to be growing steadily as Oracle turns the screw.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I wish I could feel sorry for all those companies that bought the Big Red Story

        90% of Oracle customers could switch to Postgres and be just fine. Once a critical mass realises this the dominos will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.

    2. CujoDeSoque

      Re: I wish I could feel sorry for all those companies that bought the Big Red Story

      "Like many other big iron and big software sellers, the product doesn't meet the hype. "

      I thought the discussion was their cloud product but it seems to have gone off to their flagship database....Let's start there and circle back.

      The Oracle database? As hideously expensive as it is, it's still a good product. As with any database software, it depends on applications written for it.

      I suspect Oracle hasn't really been selling many new licenses for the database product for the last few years. So it's down to getting as much from licensing and offering applications to sell or host.

      Sun hasn't quite panned out as envisioned, so getting a market share of cloud is quite important for the future survival of the company in the long term. The problem is that, like IBM, it's not offering a compelling product. Amazon, Microsoft and Google are eating their lunch and there's foreign competitors gearing up for big pushes globally.

      I've also found that like IBM, Oracle left a bad taste in the mouths of their customers. When you run a business to make Wall St. happy every quarter, it may not be all that attractive for a discerning business to want to enter any long term agreements with them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I wish I could feel sorry for all those companies that bought the Big Red Story

        "The Oracle database? As hideously expensive as it is, it's still a good product."

        Not sure I fully agree. Oracle DBAs will say that it is a great product and that nothing can compete however having been involved with Oracle DBs at a small scale but quite extensively I would caution anyone about the Oracle DB due to some nuances of it and the company supplying it.

        There are definitely use cases for it but a really thorough and user requirement evaluation should be considered before deploying it. Because once you deploy it you're going to struggle to extract yourself from it. Oracle know this and they will exploit it.

        1. CujoDeSoque

          Re: I wish I could feel sorry for all those companies that bought the Big Red Story

          "I would caution anyone about the Oracle DB due to some nuances of it and the company supplying it."

          I'm not sure what you're saying in the first part but the second part is a valid point. Let's stick with the first point. What nuances? The major ones I've run into are because some vendor or designer has not taken the time to understand that Oracle does a number of things very well and instead undertake to reinvent a rather shoddy wheel on their end. Case in point, a vendor decided to write their own concurrency model in the application with horrid results. Much of this is either due to porting from other DB platforms or simply not having Oracle expertise but expertise in some other platform that requires such gymnastics. There's another product that insists on their own implementation of a standby database for their commercial scheduling product, that's another horror story.

          "Because once you deploy it you're going to struggle to extract yourself from it. Oracle know this and they will exploit it."

          A number of vendors offer migration from Oracle. Microsoft has something called SSMA which handles this fairly nicely, DB2 offers Oracle compatibility and SAP has numerous tools to switch database platforms. There are others. Those tools wouldn't be there if there were no demand.

          My current client has a dwindling number of Oracle databases, most left are forced to stay on Oracle because of the underlying application requirements, some are legal requirements for already phased out systems and a few are simply legacy uses being phased out.

          But struggling to extract themselves from a vendor is exactly what cloud is about. Vendor lock in extends to that service as well. This goes a long way to explain why people don't want to get involved with Oracle, IBM, CA or others like them. Any organization that does not take into account backing out from a cloud agreement from a technical perspective is signing their life away.

        2. TheVogon

          Re: I wish I could feel sorry for all those companies that bought the Big Red Story

          "The Oracle database? As hideously expensive as it is, it's still a good product."

          SQL Server is usually a superior and cheaper replacement.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I wish I could feel sorry for all those companies that bought the Big Red Story

            "SQL Server is usually a superior and cheaper replacement."

            From too many years of becoming involved in application support issues, my experience is:

            - Oracle is overly complex to install well and difficult to get set up "just right" to run day in and day out without too much care and attention.

            - Oracle solutions are often much more expensive than the customer requires. And even if the customer requires the expensive bits, they usually pay more than they need to to get the functionality they require.

            - SQL Server is much easier to install and installations are generally pretty good without too much effort, including maintenance tasks and backups.

            - generally SQL Server is cheaper than an equivalent Oracle solution

            - if you are supporting small-to-medium databases on either product, you will find cheaping out on the hardware to be the biggest performance issue, rather than the solution.

            - if you are supporting big databases with a lot of transactions or heavy reporting requirements, Oracles locking solutions are superior to SQL Servers. If you support the same application on both platforms, get used to identifying and resolving deadlocks on the SQL Server platform...

            - if it's a really big environment, the hardware you run doesn't support SQL Server...

            - never underestimate the ability for a developer to bring a well maintained, well specced, well developed environment to a crawl by doing something special. Oracle gets bonus points for avoiding deadlocks here.

            Having said all that, the environments that need and benefit form Oracle rarely have SQL Server (it's usually only due to rapid growth and the rapid increase in x86 power that have allowed them to keep up). For environments that don't require Oracle, I frequently see very expensive solutions implemented poorly, often without a DBA or at least a competent DBA to ensure the environment runs smoothly - usually those environments would benefit from SQL Server given the skills they have. If an environment doesn't have a DBA or someone who can at least spot obvious issues, it doesn't really matter what they use...

            I agree with you on cost, I'm less convinced about superiority.

            Signed

            A disgruntled network person, because it's always a network issue

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somewhere there is a cloud. And it holds a lot of money.

    Somewhere there is a cloud. And it holds a lot of lies.

    Such is the trouble with wrangling cloudy things.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Somewhere there is a cloud, and it holds a lot of pointy birds.

      Pointy pointy...

  3. CujoDeSoque

    This accusation is nothing new.

    This same tactic was allegedly used in Australia and I dropped this on the leadership at my client to warn them of this.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/oracles-cloud-sales-2015-7

    "But there's a dark side to how Oracle is achieving some of those cloud revenues, a consultant tells Business Insider. It involves pressuring some of its customers to add cloud to their contracts that they neither want nor plan to use by using a tactic insiders call "the nuclear option."

    https://www.businessinsider.com/oracle-customer-explains-audit-threats-2015-9

    The above link has much to do with VMWare but you get the idea. I'm sure there's a few more stories out there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This accusation is nothing new.

      These sort of tactics have been well known by most people for ages with Oracle. Whether its turning on paid for features by default when the software is upgraded (retrospective licensing is expensive) or just plain bullying to pay more and remove any negotiated discounts that were being used at purchase.

      The investors in Oracle stock have ridden the coat tails of such tactics to gain over inflated gains in the stock. Then when this back fires and the profits are less, they sue. So they need to take some of the blame. Simple due diligence would show a pattern of behaviour with Oracle and if they were comfortable with that risk then don't bleat when it all goes wrong.

      The only reason people use Oracle cloud is due to their licensing tactics or product moves to the cloud and not because their cloud is anywhere near as competitive as the alternative offerings. Once again, simple research could have to the investors this. Just look for the number of customers who choose Oracle cloud who don't use significant Oracle products...

  4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Well

    So Leisure Suit Larry and His Minions might find themselves in a bit of jam. Falsifying financial reports and some the sales tactics sound a little to close to fraud charges; a criminal not civil complaint. If this gets to discovery there will be a lot of interested parties to see what comes out. I would not be surprised if a few so to be ex-customers sue.

    Note to Larry and the Minions, treat customers and shareholders with respect and you might not find yourself in these messes. But since you lack ethics the only way for you to learn is to wrung out in series of lawsuits.

  5. Edward Clarke

    Oracle vs AWS in Pentagon contract?

    I wonder how this will play out in the ongoing fight between Amazon and Oracle over the Pentagon contract? If their own stockholders are saying that the Oracle cloud is crap then that sort of undercuts the Oracle arguments.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Oracle vs AWS in Pentagon contract?

      I would depending on how the discovery goes in both cases, they could end up mutually reinforcing each other as well as the case that might ban Larry and his Minions from Feral contracts.

      1. CujoDeSoque

        Re: Oracle vs AWS in Pentagon contract?

        "..ban Larry and his Minions from Feral contracts."

        I have no joke here, I just like saying "Feral contracts". I'd almost swear that was on purpose.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You doubters all suck.

    Oracle ads repeatedly put the lie to your untruths. Clear as cloud.

    1. STOP_FORTH

      Right on brother.

      Bullshit trumps brains every time.

      (I know, it should be "baffles" for the alliteration, but trump seemed apposite, somehow.)

  7. Secta_Protecta

    Reap What You Sew

    It just shows how shoddy practices can undermine a successful company eventually. Oracle's OCI (v2 cloud) is actually pretty well architected and built but it's not being positioned properly, hence the poor sales. If the old school Oracle sales teams started focusing more on IaaS & PaaS rather than on-prem licenses and expensive SaaS offerings things would change, but I just don't see that happening...

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Reap What You Sew

      Windows 95 was actually pretty well architected and built as well and, at the time I used it - but I would not touch Oracle with a ten foot long turd. Smoking crack is far less addictive and does you less harm.

      1. Secta_Protecta

        Re: Reap What You Sew

        Which is another reason people aren't buying their cloud, once bitten twice shy.

        1. Pirate Dave Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: Reap What You Sew

          I confess to giving you the downvote, not for a technical reason, but because I have that damn song in my head now. Is it Beer-o-clock yet?

      2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: Reap What You Sew

        The Minions' 'audits' make a mob shakedown look like a picnic. And I would trust your average mobster to have more ethics than Larry's brigands. At least the mobster does not make any claims to ethical.

    2. Alan Mackenzie
      Headmaster

      Re: Reap What You Sew

      No, you _wear_ what you sew.

      You reap what you sow.

    3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Reap What You Sew

      Just sayin'... but surely you reap what you sow? Rather than sew?

      Unless it's your trousers. If it is your trousers, then please... reap away.

  8. naive Silver badge

    Cloud fraud

    What I see from Azure is that cloud computing is a legalized fraudulent business model.

    They charge more than on premises costs, support is outsourced to countries where people are paid half a dollar per hour, and hardly speak English.

    Oracle database support was already outsourced to the same countries where MS located its Azure support centers, always needed a NATO alphabet for them.

    But as long the glossy airplane magazine reading crowd is happy, all will be good, we need to give the Wallstreet billionaires more money, make more young people in Europe unemployed, because these billionaires are poor.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Cloud fraud

      Oh come on... Yachts aren't cheap you know...

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Cloud fraud

      When you are poor you are always worried about where you next meal is coming from, when you are rich you are always worried about where your next million is coming from.

      1. Syn3rg

        Re: Cloud fraud

        "A millionaire lookin' for another million dollars

        A poor man lookin' for one

        A chainstore owner lookin' for another store

        A hungry man lookin' for a bone"

        --Piece of the Rock, Mother's Finest, 1977

    3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Cloud fraud

      But you are not being pragmatic.

      Those Americas cup carbon fibre sailing boats and sails don't pay for themselves you know. Especially when those billions and billions and billions you already have in the bank just aren't enough.

  9. TheVogon

    Anyone still out there that doesn't yet have Oracle as disinvest?

  10. Dave 13
    Thumb Down

    Shaft..

    Why *anyone* would willingly do business with Larry Ellison and Co is beyond me. Their track record of shaking down and abusing customers is the stuff of legend.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    So, to cut through the legal-ese that is inevitable in these matters....

    Shareholders sue Oracle for pursuing it's usual business model!

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: So, to cut through the legal-ese that is inevitable in these matters....

      No, Shareholders sue Oracle for failing at it's usual business model!

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