Oracle In Hot Water Over Support Policies

SIA Accuse Oracle of Implementing Anticompetitive Policies

Jessica Thornsby

The SIA has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, over Oracle’s support policies.

The Service Industry Association (SIA) has appealed to the U.S. Department of Justice,
claiming that Oracle is implementing anticompetitive policies in
regards to their hardware maintenance of former Sun Microsystems
products. This comes after Oracle restricted access to its
operating systems software updates, to users with current hardware
maintenance contracts. Basically, if you require software support,
you must first use Oracle’s hardware maintenance service.
Furthermore, customers who return to Oracle support after trying
out an Independent Service Organisation, must pay a ‘Return to
Oracle’ service restoration fee. This fee is equal to 150% of the
last-paid support fee, or 150% of the list technical support price
for the system, proportional from the date technical support is
being ordered back to the date support lapsed. Some claim this is a
clear attempt to discourage customers from leaving Oracle support
in the first place. Customers who do not have the hardware support
package, also cannot open a time and materials service call with

The SIA believe Oracle’s new hardware maintenance policies were
created to monopolise the Sun hardware maintenance business. They
claim the policies deliberately prevent Independent Service
Organisations from servicing the hardware break-fix needs of Sun
hardware users – it’s either Oracle for software and hardware
support, or no Oracle support at all. Customers cannot
mix-and-match with Oracle support, and support from an Independent
Service Organisation of their choice.

The SIA originally raised this issue with Oracle in May,
writing to them to express they were “gravely
concerned” about Oracle’s ‘Oracle Hardware Systems Support
Policies,’ released in March, 2010. In their letter to Oracle, they
explained their interpretation of the document was “denying
end-user access to firmware updates, time and material support,
instituting onerous support reinstatement terms and fees and
mandating that end users purchase support for their entire non-EOL
Sun install base.” They called these changes a “deliberate,
engineered and concerted effort by Oracle to stifle fair and
equitable competition.” Oracle replied with a rejection of the allegations, claiming “we
adopted these Polices in part to address our customers’ demand for
better, simplified support and we believe these changes are
necessary to meet the competition we face from other hardware
solutions.” They strongly denied any wrongdoing on their part: “we
therefore reject the implication in your letter that Oracle
designed its Hardware and Systems Support Policies with the intent
to monopolize support services or to reduce competition in any
way……we do not accept the suggestion in your letter that the
antitrust laws somehow prevent Oracle from modifying the terms of
its support program as it responds to the broader competitive

According to Dennis Howlett, it looks like more bad press for
Oracle’s support package is on the horizon, with the imminent
publication of a Computer Economics survey of 109 Oracle
customers, which found that 42% of these surveyed were dissatisfied
with the quality of Oracle support, while 58% were dissatisfied
with the cost of the support. “Many customers are frustrated with
navigating Oracle’s support system and the length of time it takes
for Oracle to respond to support issues, and dissatisfaction with
the cost of that support is even more widespread,” said Frank
Scavo, president of Computer Economics.

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