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Customers' opinion of Oracle's licensing has hit a new low in the UK while the company's Fusion plans remain a mystery to half of its users - notably developers, who'll be on the sharp end of implementing Fusion-based software.

The UK Oracle User Group's (UKOUG) annual poll of Oracle customers has found just 15 per cent either happy or very happy with the way Oracle licenses its middleware, database, and applications, down five per cent from 2006. Those either unhappy or very unhappy has increased to 32 per cent.

The "root cause" was Oracle's decision to separate sales of it database, middleware, and tools from sales of its applications, according to the UKOUG, something that's made it more complicated to buy Oracle.

Fourteen per cent were "unhappy" with their Oracle account team, an increase of four per cent. Adding to the confusion was complexity, with Oracle using different pricing metrics.

UKOUG chairman Ronan Miles told The Register: "There are a broad range of metrics Oracle uses to price for a company. For a mid-sized customer that seems like a lot of work when you want to buy by the pound."

Oracle's flagship Fusion strategy, meanwhile, remains a mystery to half of customers. Nearly two years into Fusion, barely half (54 per cent) of customers understand Oracle's Fusion plans, up slightly from 51 per cent last year.

Seventy per cent have plans to move to Fusion at an "appropriate time", compared to 68 per cent last year, indicating that Oracle's Applications Unlimited message is working as customers plans to stick with what they've got rather than move to Fusion.

More problematic for Oracle is the fact rank and file developers and their direct managers are "not anywhere near" to understanding what Fusion means to them from a technical perspective.

According to Miles, if anyone is getting Fusion then it's C-level managers who "understand" it's a new way to architect applications using things like BPEL and XML.

"Among the people who are controlling the strategy and have made an investment in Oracle's core business applications, we are seeing a good degree of understanding of the pertinence of Fusion," Miles told The Reg.

It's the CEOs, CFOs and CIO, too, that are also willing to put up with Oracle's licensing. "Certainly managers are looking for a reduction in costs, but the thing we get from C-level with Oracle is the appropriate price for the business value it delivers... C-level sets [the] budgets," Miles said. "It's like turkeys voting for Thanks Giving... No manager will say Oracle is cheap."

Another area of contention is in support, as Oracle opened more operations abroad. One in five customers said they were unhappy with Oracle support while dissatisfaction with global support desks more than doubled from seven to 17 per cent.

Elsewhere, UKOUG reported generally rising levels of satisfaction with Oracle - even users of PeopleSoft and JD Edwards, purchased by the database giant during the last three years. Among the highs: PeopleSoft customers recorded satisfaction levels of up to 75 per cent with their products, an increase over 2006, while JDE saw satisfaction levels increase 10 per cent.

UKOUG polled 600 users for the survey, ahead of its third annual conference in Birmingham, UK, which opens Monday. ®

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