back to article Oracle cuts support for South African energy biz Eskom in long-running licensing dispute

Oracle has pulled the plug on support for software described as "quite essential" to "crucial operations" at South African energy firm Eskom as part of an ongoing licensing dispute. Eskom spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha said Big Red had withdrawn support for multiple software systems after the electricity provider failed to …

  1. Paul Smith

    If you ever needed a good reason to avoid dealing with Oracle, this is it.

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      From what I have read, the real victims will be Eskom customers that most likely don't have any alternatives.

    2. Danie

      How do we know this is Oracle's fault though? Is Eskom not committed to a usage based contract with Oracle? Did Eskom do its due diligence based on usage projections etc (like many otehr Departments in Gov do for Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, and others)?

      1. gobaskof

        How do we know it is Oracle's fault? Seriously? If you run in with layers demanding $500m. Oh wait no more like $41m, wait no $28m. You can see why a company does not trust your figures. Maybe it is $11.65m maybe it is $28m. The fundemental problem is that a license terms can be so ambiguous that the range of possible values can span $500m to less than $12m. And that problem is not just Oracle's fault, it is Oracle's business model.

  2. You aint sin me, roit

    Sounds like a shakedown to me....

    "Important infrastructure you have there... by the way, you owe us $500m"

    "No we don't "

    "OK, make it $40m."


    "Ok, $28m, final offer. Pay up or we cancel support"

    The court case really should be "Oracle fraudulently try to bill $470m they accept they aren't owed."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "load shedding"

    Is this what we'll be seeing in the UK soon as "Demand management" via smart meters ?

  4. Screepy

    Incompetent vs Greedy

    I would add it's also best to never deal with Eskom either.

    Having had to deal with them over the last 15 years I can honestly say I've never come across such a symbolic org (and I've come across some doozies in my time)

    There are some excellent tech guys at Eskom but they're understaffed, under-paid and under pressure :(

    On top of that the layers and layers of horrific management who don't have a shred of knowledge on anything technical is something to behold.

    I have absolutely no doubt they are under-licensed but I bet you it's not because the DBAs haven't pointed this out on numerous occasions.

    What we have here is an incompetent company facing off against a greedy one :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Incompetent vs Greedy

      Oracle is as most of us know a demand the earth, the moon and the sun when it comes to licensing payments after the first year. They'll happily throw the original cost into the sewer and come up with a new one that is several times higher than the one in the contract.

      What we have here is an incompetent company facing off against a super dooper megagreedy one :(

      There, fixed it for you.

      I was once an Oracle fan and certified DBA but that was before they went truly evil.

  5. steamnut

    Why Oracle support?

    This is a serious question.

    Over the years I have created and delivered systems with databases in them. At on time it was Borland's Paradox and BDE and, latterly, MySQL/Mariadb. Those databases worked well and continue to do so without any paid support from me. Granted, there are (chargeable) issues sometimes and I have had to fix database problems but mostly they are created by humans or bad applications. The point is they work almost all of the time.

    So why does Oracle have to have paid support? If it is unreliable then surely they should fix it? Cynically, have Oracle created something so complex that only Oracle engineers know how to fix it?

    1. whiz

      Re: Why Oracle support?

      There is a simple solution for any software...

      If you dont like it, DONT USE it

      The very last thing anyone should do is, CRIB

      Let us know when you create an enterprise level software that customers actually use, is bug free, needs no support and has no license fee.

      FYI, even Red hat charges support fees for an operating system it did not create, RHEL.

      Oracle haters only know how to crib....let see if they can make anything compelling

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reduced from $500M to $28M, or 5.6%

    I hate Oracle with a passion, but Eskom, which has been too cheap to invest in their own grid, won't even pay the paltry sum. Does the CEO still make about R10m per year?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yep, been in a severe Oracle audit!

    Once worked in a place that got stung for £2.5m in "back dues" to ear Larry! Ole Big Red loves to turn on options by default and allow you to use functions that should be paid for and won't warn you. Instead it simply lets you use RDBMS features and logs their use in the DBs you create. Of course they tell you...on page 762 of the 27th manual in Appendix D subsection 17 that using feature X is a paid for option. Unless you're a severe insomniac or a masochist you're not going to read that.

    The really cool thing is that once Oracle know you've fallen foul of an audit once, they will demand yearly audits from you forever! Nice company!

    So my advice to Eskom, start migrating to MySQL, PostgreSQL or even ( God forbid! ) SQL Server ASAP!

  8. Danie

    What exactly is the issue?

    Point is there was a contract and it is usually based on per CPU/core licensing and if you add more servers, upgrade, or move to a private cloud then you obviously owe Oracle more money. That is not unknown, and if the case, then Eskom is being negligence (at worst maybe criminal). Oracle can't claim amounts that were not itemised in its contracts. So really I can only see Eskom at fault here. Everyone knows the Orcale, Microsoft, etyc pricing is nota fixed cost - it varies by client usage and $/R exchange rate. It'sd up to Eskom to manage that, not Oracle.

    Yes the choice of Oracle is another point entirely. I've always maintained that where SA governmnet does not have extra R100's of millions they should ratehr have been using something like free and open source Odoo ERP software, and rather paid local companies in Rands to implement and support it (there were platinum partners in SA when I last looked). That would have meant Eskom could never have been held to ransome, or vendor lock-in.

    But no, it seems the tax payers pockets are just endlessly deep and we want to pay US$ subscriptions annually based on amount of usage...

  9. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Load Shedding

    "load shedding" – planned load reduction by switching off power for hours at a time across South Africa

    I wonder if Oracle South Africa HQ building is supplied by Eskom - there could be frequent "load reduction" at that location very soon

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