Vendor traps: Oracle’s unnecessary forced upgrades

When it comes to IT solutions, there’s a tendency to assume that newer equals better.

After all, the latest iPhone always outperforms its predecessor. Laptops and desktop PCs undeniably get a bit tired after a few years, and need replacing. Even printers and fax machines need to be replaced from time to time.

But ERP systems aren’t like mobile phones. In fact, they’re much more like landline phones—pretty much the same as they were ten years ago.

In this series, we’re taking a look at some of the most common traps set by Oracle and SAP, and explaining what (if anything) customers can do about them.

Today, we’re covering an ever-reliable trick that Oracle uses to extract as much money as possible from its customers: the Oracle forced upgrade.

If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Forced upgrades are one of the oldest tricks in the book for software providers, and Oracle has made them a central component of its business model. In addition to only providing support for the most recent versions of its products, Oracle even refuses to provide updates to accommodate legislative changes for older versions of its software.

By taking this approach, Oracle effectively forces customers into periodic expensive upgrades.

In many cases, these upgrades are not something the customer wants, and that’s hardly surprising. Most organisations already have stable, operational ERP systems in place, so what reason would they have to upgrade?

Sadly, sticking with their current (working) system doesn’t seem like an option for many organisations, because failing to upgrade would leave them unsupported.

In a survey conducted at the 2012 Oracle Application User Group, respondents were asked what factors most compelled them to upgrade their ERP suite. An incredible 73% of respondents listed “end of support,” while only 40% listed “better functionality.”

Source: ZDNet, 73% Oracle customers upgrade to stay supported, no reported ROI

In other words, a huge proportion of customers were upgrading their ERP purely for Oracle Support eligibility.

What can you do about forced upgrades?

If you’re worried about losing support but don’t want to pay for expensive (and unnecessary) upgrades, you have two options:

  1. Maintain your Oracle products in-house (go unsupported)
  2. Switch to a third-party support provider

Many third-party providers are happy to support older versions of Oracle products, and will even provide the necessary patches and updates to meet your legislative and security needs.

Don’t stand for vendor traps

If you’ve had enough of the traps Oracle and SAP set to keep you paying over the odds for poor quality support, we can help. Recently, we published a report on their most common traps and what customers can do to protect themselves.

In the report, we cover:

  • How Oracle’s sales representatives use confusion tactics to keep customers paying for expensive support contracts year-after-year (even when they aren’t needed).
  • Why SAP customers feel forced into costly, unnecessary upgrades that can easily cost a significant amount of your budget by the time you consider project management, training, testing, etc.
  • What customers can do to protect their interests against the barrage of tricks employed by Oracle and SAP – including how to save at least 50% on annual support contracts while receiving a higher level of service.

And much more.

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