A report in The Register claims Oracle is announcing new licensing terms – a Perpetual User License Agreement (PULA). According to the report, the license terms aren’t about time limitations, “Rather, the user will pay a fee – calculated by Oracle estimated on the size of your estate – for each year of unlimited deployment for database and options. “
“The only apparent requirement is that the customer follows through and commits to using Oracle’s software instead of that of rivals.”
Such licensing terms may initially seem like a good thing for customers. On paper, it would suggest a relaxing of Oracle’s stricter licensing rules so customers wouldn’t have to worry about the inevitable knock on the door from Oracle’s License Management team uttering the most expensive word in the Oracle vocabulary, “Audit.”
But this is Oracle and they are not known for customer-friendly licensing terms. An unlimited license would simply mean that instead of an unlimited lock-in for several years, customers would be offered a perpetual lock-in to Oracle’s products and its real cash cow, its maintenance fees.
This recent move by Oracle is most likely in response to the growing acceptance of open source relational databases like EDB Postgres and the subsequent impact on Oracle’s bottom line. With Oracle’s new software license sales dropping rapidly and continued missed earnings estimates, Oracle now seems ready to do whatever it takes to prevent customers from moving to alternative options.
And no wonder Oracle is so anxious to lock in its customers perpetually. EDB is regularly fielding inquiries from global companies aggressively seeking to extricate their IT infrastructure costs away from Oracle. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, companies need every available IT dollar applied to innovative new applications to drive customer engagement. Moving to open source based databases like EDB Postgres enables savings of 70% to 80%, freeing millions of dollars for these new projects.
Gartner too has begun to urge enterprise IT users to consider open source databases as their first option for mission critical applications. According to the April 2015 Gartner report, The State of Open-Source RDBMs, 2015,* “by 2018, more than 70% of new in-house applications will be developed on an OSDBMS, and 50% of existing commercial RDBMS instances will have been converted or will be in process.” In its most recent Magic Quadrant for Operational Databases, Gartner for the first time ever added two open source relational databases to the Leader quadrant , EDB Postgres and MariaDB, further signaling the days of over-priced commercial RDBMS software are numbered.
Oracle customers are not easily fooled. Perpetual licenses that by definition exclude alternatives to Oracle are not healthy for anyone except Oracle. No matter how low the costs may be, enterprises today need both value and flexibility to meet marketplace demands. As evidenced in the Gartner report referenced above, the harsh reality for Oracle is that open source relational databases are now just as good as commercial DBMSs for 80% of enterprise workloads. This, without any up-front license fees or stiff penalties for shifting to other technologies. EDB Postgres for example is available with simple annual subscriptions covering 24x7 support along with enterprise grade software enhancements. No hidden costs, no audits and no lock-in penalties.
We are entering a time when customers have choices and those choices are underpinned by the acceptance that open source software, particularly database applications, are ready to handle the mission-critical loads of enterprise environments. Enterprise IT managers want a fresh approach to meet their needs, not a perpetual lock-in to serve Oracle’s bottom line.
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Keith Alsheimer is Chief Marketing Officer of EnterpriseDB.
*The State of Open Source RDBMSs, 2015, by Donald Feinberg and Merv Adrian, published April 21, 2015.
*The Gartner report, Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems, by Donald Feinberg, Merv Adrian and Nick Heudecker, was published October 16, 2014.