The Oracle upgrade hangover: was it really worth it?

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Have you recovered from your recent Oracle upgrade yet? Or are you still feeling the effects? You might have even thought to yourself “I need to stop upgrading” as the dread of having to go through the whole ordeal again in the future creeps back in. 

We’re not surprised. Upgrading your Oracle systems can be a momentous task, draining your resources, time, and energy.  

For all that effort, you might be wondering: what have you actually gained? Was it really worth it? 

You could be feeling the effects of an upgrade for months. Not even just the financial impacts, but it could take this long to even complete the upgrade. 

The Oracle upgrade hangover is real.

Planning the big event  

If you made the decision to upgrade, you may well have been peer pressured by the vendor to jump on the band wagon and get the latest release. We’ve all been there.  

The promise of a shiny new system with improved functionality, compliance, and security? Yes please. 

The trouble is that “new” system is essentially your old system with a fresh haircut and a new blazer (an expensive haircut and blazer at that). 

Mega-vendors are notorious for overpromising and underdelivering. 

You probably received the hard sell to upgrade, and there is no doubt that numerous benefits would have been on the menu (with a side of risks, should you have chosen not to upgrade). 

It’s a classic sales technique that you would probably be quite quick to call out in a different scenario (for instance, with a car salesman, entertainment packages, or phone upgrades). But for some reason, it can seem non-negotiable when it comes to the likes of Oracle. 

We know it can be easy to get caught up in the vendor’s upgrade excitement, and the anticipation of the event ahead can be all too enticing. But has the decision to upgrade proved a positive experience or has it left a bitter taste in your mouth?

Retrospective regrets 

The novelty of that shiny upgrade is probably wearing off pretty quickly, right?  

Particularly because you’re likely still nursing the headache of an emptied IT budget, depleted resources, and ongoing issues with system incompatibilities and customisations. 

So, let’s assess some of the key benefits that Oracle likely dispensed when convincing you to upgrade, and whether the vendor made good on its word.

Updated technologies (supposedly) 

Why do any of us want the latest phone release? Even if our older model still functions perfectly and serves its purpose, we’re all guilty of looking at the latest product innovation as superior. 

With each upgrade and product version release comes the promise of something greater than its predecessor. It’s no different with Oracle. 

In the same way that the mega-vendors compete to be relevant in the ERP and database markets, so do other organisations in their respective industries.  

So, when it comes to your business technology, of course you’re going to want to be out in front with the latest release and newest features.  

But, what new technology have you received?  

Remember earlier when we mentioned that your upgrade will likely just be a new haircut and blazer for the previous version of your system? Well, what we mean by that is, more recently, the “upgrades” encompass incremental improvements dressed up as significant innovation.  

Not that that was how it was sold to you, of course. 

As the marketplace grows more and more competitive, releasing upgrades almost seems to be a stunt to appear as a vendor rooted in innovation. The reality is that vendors, like Oracle, are innovating other areas of their business models (Cloud) and not investing support and maintenance revenue (that gigantic bill organisations like yours are paying) into bettering existing products. 

Instead, many of these releases could be considered a one-upmanship; a bid to beat competitors, like AWS and SAP, to get ahead and remain relevant. 

And, by remaining “relevant” with its customers via its relentless upgrades, you will probably find yourself committing to the whole fiasco again.  

The upgrade cycle is rather a vicious one. For Oracle customers, that is.  

For Oracle, it’s a win-win situation; if you choose not to upgrade, the vendor will ramp up your support costs, and if you do upgrade then Oracle can revel in knowing you’ll stay to upgrade another day.

Top-tier support 

With your upgrade, you will have reinstated your access to the benefits of Oracle’s Premier Support. 

This means that you’ll be eligible for Oracle’s full support, including the latest security patches, which are (typically) released on a quarterly basis.  

The bigger sell here was making sure you continue to have a secure system (even if they do make you wait for it). 

In addition, opting to upgrade would have also provided you with the assurance that your system would remain compliant with current legislative procedures and any changes. This is a major consideration for many organisations. 

But, even with Premier Support, Oracle’s traditional security patching solution (which typically involves quarterly releases) could see its customers waiting months for the latest fix.  

Oracle tends not to be too hasty on the whole when it comes to providing the support it’s charging through the nose for.  

Its contracts don’t even tie them into a reasonable SLA for resolution times. In many cases the vendor will issue customers with a self-help guide before closing their support ticket. Not exactly what you had in mind.  

It does seem somewhat counterintuitive to have to upgrade to continue receiving something you’re already paying for. 

Especially if you consider that you could opt to move to third-party support and benefit from a much greater level of service.  

Not only do we have robust SLAs for both response and resolution times, we undertake all the fixes ourselves, so you’ll never be left to flick through an Oracle self-help guide.  

We also use a world-leading security solution, Trend Micro, to fix any security vulnerabilities as soon as they’re detected, so you can be certain we’ve got your system covered. 

With third-party support, you could reap all these benefits and you wouldn’t have to upgrade at all. 

The real cost of upgrading 

Last, but not least, is the promise of making the most of your budget with Oracle, something that organisations are always looking to do. 

Oracle’s logic will probably have had you convinced that you’d actually be saving money. Sure, you recognise that there will be the initial costs for the upgrade, but at least your support bills won’t continue to increase for a lesser level of support. 

Moving to Extended Support would have seen your support bill hiked up by 10% in the first year, then 20% for the following two years. Upgrading and remaining on Premier Support would have felt like the more preferable option at the time.  

But, having to upgrade to avoid those climbing costs feels like a bit of a mind game from the vendor. You don’t save money with an upgrade, you just don’t lose as much money as you would if you didn’t.  

You might have budgeted for the upgrade, so perhaps the cost wasn’t too much of a concern for your organisation. Perhaps though, you didn’t factor in certain other costs that cropped up along the way. 

For example, you might have ended up upgrading your database in addition to your applications because your database couldn’t run the latest version. Or, you may well have had to deal with issues around compatibility with other systems, which resulted in redeveloping all your customisations (even the simple and small ones).  

In fact, that tab really starts to run up quickly and it’s highly likely upgrading ended up costing you more than you expected.  

On the other side of the upgrade, Oracle likely would have convinced you that upgrading would protect you from sharp increases in support prices. 

Sure, you might feel as though you’ve received a better deal now that you’re back up to Premier Support, but ultimately, it’s just delaying the inevitable.  

You’ve reset the sand timer, but those grains are counting down the days until you find yourself in this exact same predicament again: pay to upgrade or pay not to upgrade.  

In the meantime, you’ll still be subjected to a standard 4% annual increase on your support costs. 

Let’s consider the cost of those infamous vendor support fees.  

We recently explored the cost of Oracle Support and found that, by year ten, an organisation with initial support fees costing 1 million will have spent 19.09 million. If, however, that organisation had opted to engage a third-party support partner such as Support Revolution from the start, it would have saved approximately 13 million on its support in ten years (a saving of 70%). 

Because of how the upgrade cycle works, and the Oracle’s support fees model, you’re only delaying the inevitable by upgrading. Your Oracle Support bill will continue to increase each year. 

Don’t forget the non-financial costs 

Money was likely not the only expense incurred when going through the upgrade motions. 

So, while the project itself was pretty pricey, it no doubt also cost you an abundance of resources, time, and energy.  

The upgrade tunnel vision might have prevented you from factoring in some of the other concerns around undertaking such a project, obscuring the bigger picture for a while. 

Upgrading your business-critical systems was no doubt a priority for your organisation at the time, which would have warranted allocating all your internal staffing resources to get the work rounded off and the system fully functional as soon as possible. Totally understandable. 

Doing so, however, likely meant that your internal team were pulled away from some of the more important tasks at hand, such as projects that would propel your organisation forward and innovations that would futureproof your operations.  

Rather than looking forward, your team were caught up in pushing through this upgrade which, if we’re being honest, provided minimal additional benefits – if any. 

Mix in the hassle, frustration, and strain of the whole scenario, and you were probably ready to call it quits long before everything was sorted. 

Spare yourself the headache 

Maybe, just maybe, this past upgrade has you wondering if it’s actually worth it. 

With third-party support, you can choose not to upgrade. You can choose to stick with the current version of your system if it works for your organisation. This means you can avoid those extortionate upgrade costs (both planned and unplanned).  

Better still, we can help you to save at least 50% on your annual support bills. Not to mention we can spare you the resources, time, and frustration that typically accompanies an upgrade project. 

So, if you’re feeling jaded by your recent decision to upgrade or don’t have the bandwidth to even think about going through the whole process again, we can help. 

To find out more about what we can do for you, contact our team

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