Saturday, September 07, 2002

Is this for real? Oracle moving to simplify and clarify its pricing schemes. Those of us who evaluate software vendors for a living know that one of the most difficult questions to get answered from a vendor is, what will it cost? The problem is that major software contracts usually bundle or unbundle a number of elements, such as the software license itself, maintenance, implementation consulting, training, and outsourcing services, each with its own price basis and formula. Add in various terms and conditions as well as deadline-specific discounts or promotions, and it can be extremely difficult to compare one vendor with another. It often takes a detailed analysis to “normalize” proposals from two vendors so that an apples-to-apples comparison can be performed.

Now, in what we hope will start a trend among vendors, Oracle has published a complete guide to its software pricing and licensing schemes. Although most or all of the information was already available in one form or another, the 55 page Software Investment Guide pulls it all together and makes it available on the Web. Furthermore, the Guide is under the management of a new Global Pricing and Licensing Group within Oracle that is chartered to establish “uniform corporate policies for Oracle's customers and partners, with overall objectives of implementing Oracle's pricing and licensing strategies worldwide.” If this is for real, it would indicate that Oracle's pricing schemes may be rationalized and simplified in the future. Of course, the whole effort means little in situations where the sale includes deal-specific discounts, terms, or conditions. But Oracle is moving in the right direction, toward rationalizing, simplifying, and make transparent its pricing structures. We hope that other vendors follow.

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