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Re: Oracle Gold Support

From: Mogens Nørgaard <>
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2002 14:27:21 -0800
Message-ID: <>

OK, I'll hereby try to come up with the (so far) longest and most boring response on this topic:

PART 1: The DogmaSupport Doctrine

I worked in Oracle Support from 1990 to 2000, three of the years as team leader for RDBMS Support in Denmark and three more as damager of a bunch of people in Premium Services. So it's not that I don't like the folks in Support or don't understand them.

We, too, hear a lot of complaints about the "iTAR, iHope, iPray" system from the customers. The problems with iTAR's as opposed to human contact is not just response time, but also the ability to just discuss something or get a yes/no from a human voice in the other end of the line. That's what we prefer in many other situations in life. That's what we prefer in certain computer-related situations, too.

So we're doing something here in Miracle which we call DogmaSupport. It's very, very basic Support, and it's only available to people in our timezone and the Right Honorary OakTable Knights, of course :-). The Dogma rules are:

0. Anybody can call or email anybody from our company (our phone numbers and emails are on the web) day and night if they have a problem. 1. If we can answer it right away, there'll be no charge. 2. If it's beginning to look like half an hour or more of work on our part, the customer can choose to stop (no charge) or continue (normal hourly rate).
3. We promise nothing except that we'll do our best.

What we have found is that customers call us mainly for three reasons:

  1. They're stuck in a bad situation and need advise on how to proceed (panic, fire, the usual and wonderful P1 stuff)
  2. They need a fast yes/no answer (turnaround time for an iTAR is usually slightly more than half an hour :) )
  3. They're in a development project and need a quick idea for a workaround in order to proceed with coding/development

Are we making any money on this? Certainly not! But our hope is that they'll call us also when they need a consultant or some training or whatever :-). And it's fun for the guys, anyway, to try and answer these questions that come in. And they get to know the customer, etc., etc.

In other words: We're doing exactly the same as you guys are doing on this list or when a friend calls with a problem. We can't fix bugs, we can't log iTAR's, but we can usually help a bit anyway :-))).

PART 2: My Personal Version of the Story of the Current Support Situation

In April 1999 IBM un-bundled technical support and upgrade rights. They did this for one reason only: So that the 15% upgrade right (first year) could be added to their license revenue, thus making them bigger than Oracle on License. Perhaps you guys remember the confusion when IBM suddenly announced back then that they were bigger than Oracle? Oracle protested, but, hey, the markets look at license revenue numbers, right?

On December 16th, 1999, Oracle - at the very bottom of a press release about something different, as I recall it - announced that they had un-bundled product support and upgrade rights. I think many customers have not yet fully grasped the impact of this.

One thing is that you can now buy your product support from somewhere else if you choose. Another thing is that 2/3 of traditional support revenue disappeared from the Support Line Of Business almost overnight :). For some countries this meant that Support was no longer the biggest LOB (often bigger than License Sales), but that - and this is important - both revenue AND margins were reduced sharply. A third impact was that Support was suddenly just a smallish LOB in the office, ignored by people because they were no longer big in numbers. Mentally, this has had an impact that can be felt by many Support people.

So margins were suddenly way down. The markets expect a good Line Of Business in Microsoft, IBM ,Oracle and such to be at least 50. Yep, 50. So how do you do that if 2/3 of your revenue has gone out the door? You re-structure or die.

That's how - in my opinion - the spiral started. You need to automate, make the customers fill in the TAR's, force them to service themselves as much as possible via MetaLink and other sites, reduce the number of direct callers, re-direct callers to other countries, etc., etc. Customers don't like that. They stop calling. Then you need fewer supports. Then customers get more frustrated and call even less :-)))

There's nobody really to blame for it. It's how it has to be with the current market forces at play. But many customers feel they get worse service now. Well, the experienced traveller finds opportunity in chaos, as they say :).

Now you've heard my theories about this whole soup. Maybe it's different in other countries. Maybe not. And things are not gonna change with Oracle's current situation. They can outsource, they can re-direct more and more calls to the Indian Support Center and other low-cost entities - or they can sell the whole thing :).


Freeman, Robert wrote:

>Anyone else just slightly irritated with the level of customer support
>offered for phone callers to Oracle now days? Used to be, that if you
>were a gold customer as we are, you could almost count on instant first line
>support. Last week I called and was told that a phone call would
>result in at least a one hour delay in an analyst call back, whereas
>an iTar (lie tars I call em) will get me about 30 minute response.
>The representative was rude and snarly to me at the same time.
>Is this how Larry wants to save that second billion, crappy customer
>Robert G. Freeman - Oracle8i OCP
>Oracle DBA Technical Lead
>CSX Midtier Database Administration
>The Cigarette Smoking Man: Anyone who can appease a man's conscience can
>take his freedom away from him.

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Received on Tue Mar 19 2002 - 16:27:21 CST

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