Get Your Oracle Spend Under Control
What you don’t know just may cost you money – lots of it – when dealing with Oracle. But just six smart steps, taken early, can help position most companies to get what they want out of their Oracle relationship without breaking the bank.
The key concept: what you have with Oracle is a relationship and, like just about every relationship, it needs to be managed to get the outcomes you want.
The problem for most companies is the complexity of their relationship with Oracle. Over many years, they wind up using many Oracle products. Over time, Oracle licensing and support becomes a major line item in terms of spend. That sometimes results in a compliance audit where customers are checked to make sure they are using only properly licensed Oracle products. Many (if not most) companies are found to be out of compliance, which costs them money. That is why this is a relationship that must be controlled, or it may control you.
Our experience is that many companies do not succeed in taking control of this critical relationship. That’s because the steps may be easy, on paper. Implementing them and sticking to the plan isn’t always that easy.
Step 1: Make a Plan
The first step in addressing the situation with Oracle is realizing you have a situation that must be addressed. Oracle is perhaps your biggest spend, or at least proportionally more than you think it should be. You have suspicions about how you would fare if Oracle audited you. Either way, you will need a plan to evaluate the software you’re running, the prices you’re paying for support, and how your licenses stack up.
Get buy-in in the organization about this issue. Recognize that you want to do something about it. If you don’t have the time or expertise to address this issue in a systematic way, get some help and call an expert; this can in fact save you money as a professional will know the ins and outs of dealing with Oracle.
Step 2: Find Your Licenses
Do you in fact know exactly what Oracle products you have licenses for? Don’t laugh. Oracle has been around for 30+ years, it has created innumerable products, and – in the event of an audit – the proof of a valid license is a contract with Oracle, a contract that many times has been mislaid or lost. Find those contracts. Relationship management begins here.
The reason: Oracle’s contracts have changed over the years. Your contract tells you exactly what you licensed. A contract signed in, say, 1995 may have significantly different terms than one signed in 2005 or 2015. Contracts are the starting point in relationship management.
Step 3: Don’t Call Your Oracle Rep
Let’s call this what not to do. Do not call your Oracle rep and say, we don’t know what we are licensed for, can you help? That is a sure invitation to an audit. While you’re going through this process, no matter how friendly you are with Oracle or how large your account, it’s best to do your own research.
Step 4: Inventory Oracle Products
Make a thorough inventory of Oracle products in use at your company. It is very easy to download Oracle software. Employees do it all the time. Oracle makes it easy to download software and by default, all the premium features are turned on. Do your licenses cover what your employees have downloaded?
This inventory will be difficult because Oracle has acquired literally hundreds of software companies over the years – from BEA Systems to Agile Software, Portal Software, PeopleSoft, and Siebel. All of those products fall under the Oracle umbrella and must be included in your inventory.
Expect the inventory to be time consuming – essentially every piece of software in the enterprise needs to be vetted – but it is a critical building block. It sets the stage for what needs to happen next.
Step 5: Audit Yourself
Find out whether you are in compliance by matching up the licenses you have to the software that is deployed. Answer that question from Oracle’s perspective, not just from yours. It’s human nature to believe we are in the right, but will the other party in the relationship see it that way? In this case, that other party is Oracle, which has a long held and probably well deserved reputation for being a tough party to have on the other side of the table.
So look at your software with a tough guy’s eyes. Cut yourself no slack because Oracle may not.
If you are not in compliance, get yourself there. Buy what you need to get in compliance. Get your contracts in order.
Step 6: Educate Employees and Stick to the Plan
Educate employees throughout the company about the need to ensure that all the software they are running is properly licensed. This is not easy. People bring in software because they are well meaning. There’s a problem that needs solving and they try to solve it. But if that solution means falling out of compliance – and it may well mean that – that price is too high. Employees will get this but they need to hear it and be reminded. And reminded some more.
These six steps are the secret sauce for maintaining a harmonious relationship with Oracle, ensuring that your spend stays under control and that you are in a good position in the all-too-common event of an audit. These steps, however, are time consuming, ongoing, and require specialized knowledge to avoid triggering an audit and wind up paying even more. You may find that the best way to get your Oracle relationship under control (and keep it under control) is to call on an organization with specialized expertise and a track record of helping companies successfully navigate this complex and costly relationship.