Massive discounts are available on Oracle products to users who master the skills of negotiation and ask the right questions.
Some 54 per cent of respondents feel Oracle offers poor value for money and 56 per cent believe its licensing model is unfair, according to a recent survey by the UK Oracle User Group.
However, some users say licence fees can be brought down to the bargain-basement levels offered by Microsoft, which is trying to gatecrash the corporate database market with SQL Server 7.
Lee Kingshott, IT director at finance house Kellock, said: "We were a Microsoft shop for four years until last year. We bought Oracle 7 workgroup edition and paid £19,000 for a 120 user licence after dealing with Oracle direct. Originally, a third party quoted us £97,000 for Oracle 7 enterprise edition - the final price was a fifth of this. It's enough to scare anyone off. Oracle should make its pricing and product range clearer."
An IT services director for a high-profile UK company who did not wish to be named said: "There is a lot of room for manoeuvre from account managers' on products such as Oracle 8i."
"The naive must find it difficult, but if you design an application carefully and negotiate hard, you can get it for half the price or even a third. Big margins are given out as discounts when it could just be properly priced in the first place. I don't have a problem negotiating, but others don't think of it because they are not as aware," he said.
Martin Brampton, analyst at Bloor Research, said: "Having to negotiate deals can put people's backs up."
Ronan Miles, deputy chairman of the user group, said: "Oracle's pricing model is complex and some IT buyers may not have experience of dealing with such a complicated model."
* How to negotiate the best deals *
* Be aware of how your supplier pays its salesmen - for example, how commission is worked out
* Keep all vendors on the edge - make them feel they are in a competitive situation
* Find out when suppliers' financial quarters end - salesmen may lower their prices to meet their targets
For more stories see this week's issue of Computing
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