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Quickest way to save with Oracle? Get off Unlimited Licensing Agreements, says pundit

They're not the meal deal they might seem to be, claims audit expert

The quickest way to save money on Oracle licences is to get off its Unlimited Licensing Agreements, a well placed Big Red audit expert claims.

According to Oracle, its ULA agreements are "generally considered an easy way for a large, global organization to support business agility and value creation." It claimed [PDF] one customer saved $12 million over the three-year ULA term.

However, Craig Guarente, founder and CEO of software licensing advisor Palisade Compliance, argued: "If you're in a ULA the best way to save money with Oracle is to get out of it. As long as you keep going into the next ULA, you're going to pay more and more and more, not only more to Oracle but you're going to limit your flexibility and freedom to adopt different solutions because why would you go buy something else you already pay for Oracle."

Although seeming to offer a volume discount on Oracle licenses, the ULA more often masks a lack of understanding of the user's Oracle license position, and where it could negotiate better deals or move off Oracle software, he claims.

Speaking with EDB during the Postgres company's webinar, Guarente said: "The biggest mistake is inertia. That is, users not understanding if they really need a ULA. I think most ULAs are signed because people don't have the information they need to make a more informed decision."

Oracle has introduced seemingly tempting offers under ULA. For example, in June 2021 it introduced frequent clouding points that can be redeemed for support services. The basic rules of the "Oracle Support Rewards" are simple: for every dollar you spend on Oracle Cloud, Big Red gives you a 25¢ credit on your support bill. Oracle customers that sign up for a ULA get 33¢ on the dollar.

But Oracle's move to the cloud was orchestrated to protect its revenue in services and support, rather than erode them, Guarente argued.

"One of the things they were very clear on is whatever you spend with Oracle on-prem, say a million dollars a year, Oracle wants you to give up all those licences and move to the cloud and spend three to four million... They did not want the cloud to be seen as a disruptor to their business. They made something like $20 billion a year in annual technical support at 95 percent margin. That is a hugely profitable business."

Also speaking on the webinar, Scott Horn, EDB chief marketing officer, claimed that businesses made about a 50 percent saving on their database costs when moving from Oracle databases to PostgreSQL, the open source database. However, instances used by Oracle enterprise applications such as ERP or CRM would find it more difficult to migrate, he opined.

We have asked Oracle to comment. ®

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