Oracle's seemingly botched migration to a new My Oracle Support portal this week has users worldwide hopping mad over what they are calling severe performance and access issues.
The problems, which one poster to the Oracle-L mailing list dubbed a "fiasco," are reportedly being fixed. But overall, the flap is a lesson learned for software companies in general, and could have some lasting impact on Oracle's business and relationship with customers, observers say.
[ Users called Oracle's new support portal a 'fiasco.' | Complaints about My Oracle Support's Flash interface led to an HTML option being added. | Discover what's new in business applications with InfoWorld's Technology: Applications newsletter and Killer Apps blog.]
"The support desk is the day-to-day face of the vendor to the customer," said Frank Scavo, managing partner of the IT consulting firm Strativa, via e-mail. "So when customers think about their Oracle relationship, the first thing that comes to mind is their experience in dealing with support."
And Oracle customers pay dearly for support, which is charged annually as a percentage of license fees. In turn, support dollars have become Oracle's lifeblood. "Software license updates and product support" constitutes about half the vendor's annual revenue and boast a profit margin of about 90 percent.
"At that rate, customers should be receiving gold-plated support, not shuffled off to a broken Web site," Scavo said. "This has got to impact the tone of the discussion when it comes time to talk about renewing Oracle maintenance agreements."
For some time, Oracle had been trying to notify users about how to handle the changeover from the former Metalink support site, particularly a new log-in procedure, Oracle senior customer support manager Chris Warticki said in a blog post late Tuesday.
"Customers need to validate their Metalink email address against Oracle's corporate single sign-on prior to conversion (the migration uses Oracle's corporate single sign-on to improve security)," Warticki wrote. "For users who may have missed this notice, there is a link to an FAQ on the landing page that will guide you through the registration process."
Many customers who knew of the planned switch sounded off against it in recent months, saying they preferred Metalink portal over MOS, partly because the latter uses Flash, which is restricted at many work sites. Oracle subsequently agreed to include an HTML interface for My Oracle Support.
But many complaints this week centered on error messages and slow performance. Those gripes persisted Wednesday, albeit in lower volumes.
Some users also expressed dismay at another blog Warticki posted this week, in which he reminded those who had "been off the grid, or totally out of the loop and completely clueless" that Metalink was being retired on Nov. 6, and exhorted that "change is here" and they should "get in front of this one."