Preparation is the key to success: what’s your 2022 plan of action?

It’s that time of year again; the darker days are slowly creeping in, the air seems a bit brisker, and the shops have (to the horror of many) started stocking tinsel.

Yes, winter is approaching and, although we don’t want to admit it, it won’t be long before we’re making New Year’s resolutions and wondering how yet another year is done and dusted.

While we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, there’s no harm in making sure we get off to a good start in 2022.

And as the saying goes, preparation is the key to success.

Granted, nobody could have prepared any of us for what came to pass in 2020 but, with the sands of 2021 running out, we thought it might be worth exploring, and considering, the various routes that might be in the glovebox for your 2022 roadmap.

The aim of this blog is to keep your organisation moving forward, so the last thing we want to do is stall your decision-making process. That’s why we’ve stripped it right back to cover the top three options for your Oracle licences: unlimited licence agreements, upgrading, and migrating to the Cloud.

But how do you make sure you’re making the right decision for you? Well, how else but to weigh up the pros and cons of each, of course.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

 

Option 1: the ULA sliproad

First up, we have the Oracle ULA.

An Oracle ULA is an agreement (hence, the ‘A’ in ULA) which enables organisations to pay a single up-front fee to get as many licenses as they feel are needed for a specified set of Oracle products over a fixed timeframe (which is typically three years).

Why you might…

ULAs are ideal for – and typically favoured by – companies that are rapidly expanding and experiencing growth at an exponential rate. These organisations are most likely to end up benefiting from a great discount on Oracle products, particularly if these organisations find themselves in a state of transition.

For example, if your organisation is looking to undertake a variety of projects, or is rejuvenating its infrastructure, and will require an undetermined number of licences as these projects progress, an ULA can be beneficial to accommodate rapid and uncapped deployments.

Many organisations consider ULAs to be helpful when in the budgeting stage because, with access to unlimited licences, the cost is fixed and can easily be factored in. In addition, by bundling together a variety of Oracle products in one agreement, ULAs allow for more simplified billing.

An Oracle ULA, for some organisations, is like taking out an insurance policy against an unwanted Oracle audit. Because of the unlimited nature of the agreement, it is widely thought that you’ll be able to continue on your deployment journey and remain undetected (for the most part).

Why you might not…

So, while fast-growing organisations can benefit from a great discount with an ULA, an organisation that has to scale back its operations during the term of its agreement (which, undoubtedly, many have had to do so since the beginning of the pandemic) will end up losing out and overpaying for unused licences. Not such a great deal, after all.

Despite its name, the agreement is not actually unlimited. In fact, many organisations assume that their agreements cover the unlimited deployment of all Oracle software programs, or an entire group of programs (for example, Oracle Database Programs). The reality is that only programs that have been specified in the agreement can be used in an unlimited capacity.

And, if you were hopeful that an ULA would spare you the anxiety of an Oracle audit, you should be aware that at the end of the agreement period, Oracle will ask organisations to declare their usage. The vendor will state that this information will be used to help it determine the number of regular licences to grant your organisation, and you will be tasked with producing documentation detailing the deployments of all the products used.

But, if you thought you would be notified when you’re overstepping the boundaries of your ULA, you’d be mistaken. There are no technical functions to prevent you from using software for which your organisation is not licensed.

Instead, when Oracle requests details of your deployments, the vendor will fine you (heavily) if your organisation is found to have used more licences and products than those stipulated in your agreement. Or, if Oracle is feeling generous, they’ll offer you some sort of “deal” which will likely see you agree to a new ULA and tying yourselves into (at least) another three years of inevitable scrutiny.

Then, when the agreement does come to an end, you are granted licenses for all products that are being used on your live systems. So, what about those other licenses that you had purchased in the ULA, but which are in use on systems that are not yet live?  Well, you have to take out another ULA and effectively buy those licenses again.

Either way, you’ll probably end up digging a little bit deeper in your pockets, just to line Oracle’s.

(In case you are wondering how to dodge renewing your ULA, or are considering signing up for an ULA, we’ve got some handy resources available, including a webinar and a guide.)

 

Option 2: the upgrade detour

Next on our whistle-stop tour is our second option: upgrades.

We’re sure you know all too well about the upgrade cycle that so many organisations find themselves caught up in. Mega-vendors will often push the latest technologies onto their customers because it enables them to lock in those organisations and continue raking in the support and maintenance fees.

While we would like to believe that these steep (and rising) support costs are being filtered into the development of improved technologies, it’s likely being syphoned off into the vendor’s own Cloud innovations (more on that here). That is where the future lies, or so we’re told.

But, with so many organisations continuing to upgrade their software, there must be something good about enduring the hassle?

Why you might…

There are some positives. Primarily, the benefits of an upgrade relate to the those “leading edge” technologies that vendors claim will drastically improve the functionality of your system.

Being part of the upgrade cycle means that you will have access to the latest features which, for some, equals a competitive advantage and, for others, represents holding a position as a forward-thinking company.

Adopting the latest technologies can help organisations to feel that they are remaining relevant in the eyes of their market and their competitors.

Aside from acquiring the latest features and functionality, you will also benefit from (essentially) hitting the restart button on Premier Support.

This means you will have access to Oracle’s top level of support and will, therefore, be eligible to receive the latest security patches and fixes released by the vendor. With cyber threats on the rise and becoming ever more intelligent, cybersecurity has become a top priority for organisations (and individuals alike) around the world.

This, too, will help organisations to keep systems performing optimally and to remain compliant with all relevant legislation and governance changes.

Why you might not…

But if you’re all too familiar with the Oracle upgrade hangover, then you probably already know that choosing to upgrade to the latest offering from the vendor can result in one big headache.

Upgrading your systems can be costly, and we’re not just talking financially here either (although the rising cost of support is just one other reason to hit the brakes on your next upgrade).

The whole process can be a momentous task, and will often require a lot of time, resources, and energy to undertake successfully. And, even then, you may still experience compatibility issues or may have to redevelop customisations that had been perfected in your previous system version.

And, more often than not, Oracle upgrades don’t actually offer any real functional improvements, so you could be disrupting a system, that was functioning perfectly adequately for your operational need, for very little benefit.

It’s also worth noting that while you’re investing significantly in moving forward with the “latest technology”, you may actually find that you’re stagnating in other areas of your IT roadmap. What we mean by this is that you will likely be sacrificing time and resources that could have been better allocated to other key initiatives and development plans. Maybe not the best ROI?

Continually opting into the Oracle upgrade cycle means you’re letting the vendor set the pace. You won’t be travelling along your roadmap at a comfortable speed for you, but will instead be working to Oracle’s timeline.

 

Option 3: the Cloud crossroads

Finally, we find ourselves at the Cloud crossroads.

Cloud has fast become a popular product amongst vendors and organisations alike, and the challenges presented over the past 18 months by the COVID-19 pandemic have only served to push up demand for Cloud-based products and services.

Why you might…

Vendors favour the subscription-based model because it provides a strong recurring revenue stream. In addition, with organisations around the world opting to move to more flexible (or fully remote) working solutions, many vendors have recognised the value in this steady, reliable, and rapidly growing source of income.

So, as well as facilitating flexible working solutions, Cloud ERP offers organisations improved reliability and resilience, and often with optimised backup and failover capabilities to minimise any system downtime. Plus, the onus of upgrading is placed on the vendors, rather than on an organisation. This means you won’t have to find the time and resources to implement a system upgrade; a strain so many organisations, with on-premise technologies, have felt.

Much like vendors, organisations also benefit from the subscription model as the cost of Cloud is spread consistently over an extended period of time which can help with budgeting, and hefty upfront fees.

Perhaps one of the biggest pulls of the Cloud is its scalability. The flexibility of Cloud-based products and services enables organisations to use as much, or as little, as required, and only pay for the resources it uses. For example, you may find that, if you’re migrating a sizable volume of data, you need to increase your available storage which, with Cloud, can be done with the click of a button. Simple.

This is, of course, a welcome breath of fresh air for those organisations who have felt the sting of overpaying for licences, or those who have been whacked with an almighty audit bill.

When we pair scalability with accessibility (meaning no infrastructure, all you need is an internet connection), Cloud solutions are definitely an attractive option.

Why you might not…

There are, of course, a few grey areas that we ought to shine a light on.

While Cloud migrations are on the up-and-up, many organisations still have a big question mark hanging over their own move to adopt this new(er) solution.

It’s not uncommon for people to be change adverse and more so when the current status quo is working well for them. For this reason, many organisations have reservations about opting for Cloud solutions. After many years of refining their systems, they may be somewhat reluctant to take the plunge at the risk of operational issues, system downtime, and business disruption.

Especially, if these concerns are compounded by insecurities about security.

Cybersecurity has been a hot topic, especially of late, with cyber attacks ever more prevalent. It’s no surprise then, that so many organisations are querying the security of Cloud solutions which, in some cases, means surrendering some control to your chosen vendor. That’s why it’s important to really research all the providers out there, so you can be sure that you opt for the one that aligns most closely (if not entirely) with your requirements and security frameworks.

Other primary areas of concern are the cost and complexities of migrations.

Moving to the Cloud is at the top of many CIOs ‘to-do’ lists as it widely considered a cost-saving alternative to keeping their on-premise technology. However, the initial outlay is a major obstacle, especially as nearly 60% of organisations that have made the move ended up paying considerably more than was anticipated. This figure seems jarring, too, when compared to the measly 16% of organisations that said they were “extremely satisfied” with the migration.

And, despite the fact that organisations are digging deep into their pockets to fund their Cloud ventures, they do so without Oracle having offered a clear roadmap for the ongoing development of its Cloud offering. In this way, countless organisations are investing millions into an unknown future and are headed for unchartered territory.

As with any decision, there’s a lot to weigh up. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing if you’re thinking a move to the Cloud might be on the cards for you in 2022.

If you’re wondering about a staggered migration, or are cognisant of vendor Cloud lock-in (say goodbye to any flexibility when it comes to upgrading, support partners, and contract terms), we can provide a happy middle ground with a Hybrid Cloud solution. This means that you can develop a unique strategy to accommodate your specific needs, using elements of on-premise technology, as well as Cloud software.

 

All roads lead to third-party support

Now, we know we said we would only discuss the top three ERP routes that you have likely been considering for your organisation’s Oracle licences in 2022.

But, there is another option that perhaps you weren’t considering (although you’ve probably sussed it out by now).

A fourth, and possibly more favourable, option on the table is third-party support.

As we’ve already covered, so many organisations had to place their most exciting development and growth plans on hold because adapting to the challenges brought on by the pandemic took priority. Which is, of course, totally understandable.

We also said that none of us could have foreseen the gigantic pothole that 2020 was going to be (and we can’t really say 2021 has been too much kinder).

But, with third-party support, you could find yourself repairing your highway much more efficiently and in a cost-effective way.

Not only could you save a minimum of 50% on your support and maintenance bills (that’s a MASSIVE chunk of your IT budget to reinvest into your 2022 plans), but you could receive a far greater level of service, with support that you can rely on 24 hours of the day.

We’re talking not one, but TWO SLAs; one for a response time and the other for a resolution, which could see your support ticket closed in as little as two hours.

We’re also a big advocate of ‘right-first-time fixes’ and will work to understand the cause of an incident to find an appropriate fix, resolving incidents in a timely way which, as you are probably aware, is not Oracle’s strong suit.

Plus, because we know that security is crucial, we can offer you a world-renowned cybersecurity solution with Trend Micro.

Opting to move to third-party support means that you can avoid the aforementioned (high cost, low return) options, and you can stick with your current system version.

We put you back in the driver’s seat so you can switch gears, set the pace, and refocus the direction of your organisation.

But, maybe you have a few questions you need answering first? Well, we’re always happy to have a chat about your business goals and how we could help you reach them.

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