November 15, 2007 12:17 PM PST

Microsoft: SQL Server licensing to win Oracle customers

The forthcoming launch of SQL Server 2008 will see Microsoft focus its considerable resources on the issue of licensing, to win customers from rivals Oracle and IBM.

"Our challenge, now (that) we have picked off a lot of the low-hanging fruit, is to attack the traditional Oracle strongholds," said Matt Dunstan, Microsoft's U.K. marketing director for databases.

Dunstan, who is in charge of the battle with Oracle and IBM, said Microsoft will exploit weaknesses it sees in Oracle's licensing and customer treatment. It is a bold strategy from a company that has itself frequently been pilloried for its licensing policies, but Dunstan clearly thinks Oracle's licensing is a weak spot.

A "common gripe" for Oracle customers, Dunstan said, is around the issue of maintenance and licensing. "Oracle has ticked them off," he added. "I am not privy to Oracle's commercial relationships, but one of the big misconceptions is that a lot of customers believe they have an Oracle site license...there is no such thing as an Oracle site license, I believe."

In fact, Oracle has two licenses for its databases: User Plus, which factors a minimum number of users, and Processors, which is based on the number of processors on the Oracle server.

Oracle earlier this year switched to counting processor sockets rather than processor cores for some products, following the lead of Microsoft, which had seen its database market share grow at 30 percent-plus revenue each quarter for several years.

Oracle was approached for comment to clarify its latest position on licensing, but it did not respond in time for this article.

Dunstan maintains that some Oracle customers discover the lack of a site license only when it's time to pay for the ongoing license, and they find that they have to pay more than they thought. He stressed that his information was from conversations with customers, resellers, and other interested parties.

Oracle has been prepared to offer something very like site licensing, at least for the National Health Service. However, it is not clear how much of an exception this is to normal policy. In January 2004, Oracle agreed to a contract with the NHS that worked out at around 100 million pounds ($207 million), and that licenses all NHS employees to use selected Oracle software.

"Our perspective is that SQL has become very widely adopted, even among the traditional Oracle and IBM customers," Dunstan said. "You often see SQL as well as Oracle, or as well as IBM. With customer references like Virgin, the London Stock Exchange, and Nasdaq, the question 'Is SQL good enough?' has gone."

Dunstan added that because Microsoft works off a clear price list, everything is clearly priced. "Customers can make decisions based on reasonable assumptions," he said.

Colin Barker of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
Oracle Corp., Microsoft SQL Server, SQL, IBM Corp., database

12 comments

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Hey where can I install SQLServer?
Oh yeah, just on Windows.
Posted by sigzero (62 comments )
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Uhh...
...zing?
Posted by KTLA_knew (385 comments )
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Why SQL Server is a great option
?Anyone that would willingly choose to run a database on Windows is nuts.?

How about Verizon Communications, Lucent Technologies, Scottish and Southern Energy, and hundreds of other world class organisations that have committed to the SQL Server platform?

I?ve been working with SQL Server for nearly 10 years. I?ve used it for everything from small support databases through to billion row OLTP engines. Sure there are some tuning tips and tricks that are needed for the high end stuff, but I?ve never found a problem that couldn?t be solved by careful design and the performance tuning tools. It drives BizTalk, SharePoint and a number of third party toolsets that are all highly scalable, and it does this by being both powerful and flexible.

There?s nothing wrong with Oracle; although for me it?s not a easy to work with and the toolset is nowhere near as rich as with SQL Server. Any debate about features and performance is completely irrelevant, unless you?re running Linux / UNIX of course. But it is more expensive to buy, more expensive to develop, and more expensive to support (look at contract rates for a guide).

So if Windows is an option, why would I choose anything else?

S Whitear
Netstore Plc
Posted by swhitear (1 comment )
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SQL Server 2005 Training for the Oracle DBA
If anyone is interested, we run a course on SQL Server for Oracle DBA's. Come along and see for yourself. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.skyline-services.co.uk/training/" target="_newWindow">http://www.skyline-services.co.uk/training/</a>
Posted by wilson.bigg (1 comment )
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Why the fuss - All b
I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. All businesses offering products tailor their licenses/prices according to their customers / target base and business strategy. Why should MS be any different?
Posted by heinrich_vv (1 comment )
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Is this a news story?
Some Microsoft marketing director reporting that he has heard from "lots of Oracle customers" that they are mistaken about their support contract with Oracle? This is not news, it's not even very plausible.

The reporter further suggests that Microsoft "had seen its database market share grow at 30 percent-plus revenue each quarter for several years." Not really possible for market share to grow at the rate described, is it? But if we're generous and assume that the reporter meant to describe Microsoft's database _revenue_ growth, well then that suggests Microsoft's own license strategy may not be consumer friendly.

Microsoft is to be congratulated for managing to get this piece of marketing innuendo reported as news.
Posted by JohnDeVoy (1 comment )
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C'mon ORCL does have site licensing
Here is what Larry said is response to a licensing question at OpenWorld couple of days back.

--------------------------------------------------
Then came licensing. In the wake of Oracle VM this week, "will you reconsider licensing, because with every feature Oracle is becoming expensive"?

The problem, according to Ellison, is not Oracle's per-user or per-processor charging or its fiendishly confusing calculations - it's you, the customer, who's stupid for having lots of little licenses and for not buying in bulk with one license.

"We'd much rather sit down with a customer and agree a company license - use as much as you need. Unlimited License Agreement (ULA) is our preferred license agreement.

"People used to think ULA was the prerogative of large customers. That's not the case. We are doing ULA with medium and smaller customers. Please talk to your Oracle sales person about going away form per processor or per person," Ellison advised.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.regdeveloper.co.uk/2007/11/15/ellison_audience_smack_down/page2.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.regdeveloper.co.uk/2007/11/15/ellison_audience_smack_down/page2.html</a>
Posted by jamba_juice (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Kind of
I go after Oracle licenses for revenue reclamation all the time. The discount isn't as big as you might think. Medium and small customers don't see a big savings. Also Oracle does not negotiate on annual charges - they are a flat rate based on sale price. Yes that means its based on a negotiated price, but its a high % to begin with.
Posted by sal-magnone (162 comments )
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