“We don’t want to be dependent upon Oracle.”

I have lost a lot of projects due the little sentence: “We don’t want to be dependent upon Oracle.”  (I just lost another one this week.) It has been used to justify all sorts of crazy decisions such as:

  • Spend millions of dollars developing an untested Java EE architecture to support database independence.
  • Rewrite mountains of code into the middle tier where you cannot achieve adequate performance.

To be fair, Oracle itself helped create this nightmare through a random number generator pricing philosophy, a capricious and arbitrary discounting mechanism, massive increases in price for products (many that no one uses to help demonstrate their value), and pricing for enterprise tools that can break the bank.

I suspect that part of the Oracle-independence attitude is really code for “We have had enough of dealing with Oracle.”

So, why does Dulcian still build on the Oracle DBMS and still rely heavily on it?  Frankly, we use it because it is worth the cost. While I really can’t justify many of Oracle’s business decisions, it is very hard for me to throw stones at their DBMS technology. It is simply amazing.

There are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Oracle has really tried not to kill the low-end market by giving away the DBMS to small projects.  Standard 1 is a very capable version of the DBMS. It can be used for many real projects and is nearly free.
  2. The reason we use Oracle for our projects is that the DBMS is so capable that it results in a lower total cost of ownership than any other solution.

It does not help you to save a few thousand dollars (or even a few hundred thousand) on the DBMS if you turn around and spend millions more bringing up your system.  To just throw out the phrase “We don’t want to be dependent upon Oracle” demonstrates a lack of long-term perspective. The ONLY way to evaluate any technical architecture is by looking at the total cost of ownership. Of course, that is a harder question to answer and is not nearly as emotionally satisfying as “We don’t want to be dependent upon Oracle” and then not having to worry about the problem anymore.

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