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Oracle's old hands are supporting the support n00bs who support you

Big Red's veteran support staff aren't happy about changes they're being asked to wear

Oracle's remaining experienced support staff have been asked to assist the company's more recent support hires, sources familiar with the matter have told The Register.

Oracle workers around the globe responded to our story yesterday in which we reported that Big Red's consolidation of support resources worldwide is nearly complete. That article followed up our November 2015 report in which we revealed Oracle intended to move support from the UK to Romania, as part of a plan to close all European support centres plus one in Egypt.

Oracle Staffers tell us that the people hired in the new Romanian, Indian and US-based centres are typically much less experienced than the operators they replace.

“Staff in EMEA typically had ten to fifteen years experience,” one Oracle worker who requested anonymity told us. The worker said staff in the new support centres have considerably less experience, a suggestion borne out by job ads for new roles in the Lehi, Utah, centre that Oracle opened last year. Those ads seldom ask for more than five years' experience. Several of the jobs also call for bilingual workers, suggesting a regional and global role.

Another Oracle source, again requesting anonymity, told us that hiring inexperienced staff is putting pressure on remaining old hands, who have become de facto support for the new support staff.

“US support engineers are now expected to assist new colleagues in Lehi, Romania and India because they were so inexperienced,” our source said.

“Since this has become a reality, there has been a marked increase in such requests from those areas.”

This assistance goes beyond formal escalation processes. Experienced support workers are therefore trying to serve customers and colleagues, aren't enjoying the extra workload, and fear customer service is suffering as a result.

A third Oracle source told us that it's felt savings are driving the changes. Moving support to lower-waged countries helps the bottom line. The staffer said he understands the new Lehi facility is also hiring people on contracts that may not offer the same bonus structure once offered to support engineers. No bonuses means more cash saved.

The US State of Utah also reportedly offered Oracle a tax holiday when the IT titan announced it had selected Lehi as the location for a support centre.

The same Oracle source backed up a customer's claims we reported yesterday regarding slow response to severity-one problems: “I also have customers that refuse to make SEV-1 service requests with a setting of 24 by 7 because they – first hand – have experienced the effect of this cheap labor in (not) solving their issues."

Some of those issues go unanswered because Oracle has lost expertise in some legacy operating systems: it just doesn't have many people who understand its software and legacy OSes.

The Oracle staffers who contacted El Reg all expressed sadness at the changes, which they believe may fatten Oracle's bottom line in the short term, but are unlikely to keep customer satisfaction high in the long term.

Business applications are a very, very, sticky incumbency because the effort required to unpick and replicate even modest customisations in newer systems is enormous, costly and risky. The Cloud and other software-as-a-service platforms don't change that. Oracle may therefore be betting that some degradation in customer satisfaction as its new support centres bed in wont cause unacceptable amounts of bleeding.

We've sought comment from Oracle on the allegations made by staff in this story but are yet to receive a response at the time of writing. ®

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