Specsavers global CIO Phil Pavitt (left) has described Oracle's approach to licensing as a "gun-to-the-head methodology", and said that the database firm won't change the way it works.
A damning report by the not-for-profit Campaign for Clear Licensing at the end of 2014 suggested that Oracle's customers are left "hostile and filled with deep-rooted mistrust" as a result of the company's licensing and auditing processes.
Pavitt, the former CIO of HMRC, has now provided more insight into how Oracle operates, explaining that Specsavers went through nine months of "real trauma" to sort out a new licensing deal with Oracle.
"We're happy with that deal. It wasn't easy to get to but we are now licensed appropriately. But the journey was overly dramatic and traumatic and didn't need to be," Pavitt told V3.
"It is a real shame that Oracle's products are really good and unfortunately you can't do without them. But the way they operate is just not a customer-focused way at all. Its approach to the customer is minus the customer," he stated, adding that SAP is also difficult to work with.
Iain Patterson, who was CTO of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) at the time, suggested at Oracle Openworld in San Francisco last year that the way Oracle licensing worked was about to change, as long as customers take a different approach to handling licences.
The DVLA and Specsavers renegotiated deals with Oracle, but Pavitt does not believe that Oracle will change.
"At the end of the day they are a transaction-based organisation, they act like it, they sell like it, the gun-to-the-head methodology is selling," he said.
"It's very powerful for them. There is no other methodology they've been trained in using and you have to get to very senior levels in the UK or the US to get any reasonable conversation about a reasonable deal. And that's not about discounting necessarily, it's about the right deal for the organisation."
This accords with Patterson's statement that Oracle CEO Safra Catz was personally involved in the conversation to get the DVLA a better deal.
Pavitt believes that the likes of Oracle and SAP should come to their customers to help them, but that customers have to approach them instead because of their size.
So what could force a change? "It won't stop. It hasn't changed for 20 years so why would it change? If the customers jointly stand up perhaps they'll do something, but it'll never happen," he said.
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