But Bullock did push back. In June 2011, BDP eventually settled up with Oracle by signing an Oracle Unlimited License Agreement (ULA) to database software, for which the company was paying $3.3 million over three years to consume as much software as it desired. “It’s a pretty good deal if you’re a heavy Oracle shop and you plan to stay that way," he says. But that wasn't the case for BDP.
Soured by the "burnt bridges" feeling of the Oracle experience, Bullock in 2013 began strategizing with new CIO Angela Yochem how to move forward with the company's data management strategy. They elected to support new applications with MongoDB, PostegresSQL, MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server databases. So when Oracle notified BDP that it's ULA was coming up for renewal in June and began trying to engage with its customers Bullock had already connected with Rimini Street, which had promised to cut his annual Oracle database software costs to $320,000.
When the Oracle sales team came in to meet, Bullock, who had pored over the existing contract, asked them point blank if BDP technically owned the software at the end of the ULA. "You could hear a pin drop," he recalls. But they ultimately said BDP did indeed own the rights to the software license. Since allowing the ULA to lapse in June 2014, BDP hasn’t paid Oracle a dime for database software or support, Bullock says. (Oracle did not respond to our request for comment.)
Some CIOs seek succor in Oracle’s cloud
Jones, the Forrester Research analyst, says that in addition to seeking financial relief third-party software providers such as Rimini Street and Spinnaker Support, customers have begun persuading Oracle to drop its maintenance charges in return for some investment in its SaaS offerings. The perception among CIOs is that Oracle is a solid, if not exceptional, technology provider. As a result, some CIOs are willing to make the transition to Oracle's cloud solutions.
"Oracle is desperate to get traction on those, and some of them are pretty good," Jones says. "If a CIO is willing to renew the Oracle relationship and can steer clear of the duffers among the portfolio then they can switch their cost stream from valueless support to something in marketing or customer service that will benefit the business."
Oracle meanwhile has tried to stem the exodus of customers paying support with litigation since 2010, winning some decisions along the way. It's forced Rimini Street to modify the way it serves customers, including barring it from storing copies of customers' software on its own servers. In October, a Nevada federal court judge awarded Oracle a $50 million copyright infringement judgment. Yet it's thus far fallen short of winning the injunction it seeks to prevent Rimini Street from operating.
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.