J. Brisbin

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Oracle/Sun can’t answer anyone, let alone SpringSource

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I had to chuckle when I read the headline that Oracle “answers” VMware’s purchase of SpringSource with their new WebLogic tools. I’ve just spent two days knee-deep in problems caused by a catastrophic hardware failure in one of our Sun servers and I’m convinced that a company that does business the way Oracle/Sun does cannot survive in this new cloud ecology. Actually, I’m surprised they’ve made it this far.

When we found out (on a Sunday afternoon, no less) that the particulars of the support contract we had were Monday-Friday, 8:00-5:00 and not 24/7 we dutifully kicked ourselves in the rears and called them back. What can we do to get an upgraded support contract? Where can we send the check? We weren’t asking them to do something for free. We were willing to upgrade our support contract, pay for a support incident, or go to the friggin bank and bring back a roll of non-sequential Benjamins for them for crying out loud. Monday rolls around and we start calling our vendor, who supposedly calls the Oracle/Sun account rep, who never gets back to us. We spend most of the day getting bounced from one department within Oracle/Sun to another. Level one has me upgrade some firmware to the latest version so I can tell them the mainboard is fried much more elegantly than I can with the old version that’s currently on the machine. I talk to at least three different people within support before they begin the gradual process of bouncing my issue to the field techs, who will have to come onsite with a part. All the while, we still couldn’t get anyone on the phone to take our money. We were begging them to give us a chance to pay them whatever they wanted to get our support contract bumped up to the level where they actually start taking you seriously and don’t promise to call you back in 30 minutes when they mean two hours.

Oh, and that tech who’s supposed to come out? His pager number we were given isn’t valid. We tried paging him and the familiar ascending tones and the pleasant voice: “that number is no longer in service.”

As of now, the Sun hardware is still kaput. Maybe a tech will show up tomorrow, maybe they won’t. I’m not going to hold my breath. Oracle as a company is a vast, inhuman labyrinth of beauracracies which know nothing about what the other is doing. You can’t talk to a tech and then ask them to transfer you to someone who can take your money. You also can’t upgrade support plans on the fly. Buy a time machine instead and get the support plan you should have the first time.

All day I kept thinking about how Oracle was trying to “answer” what SpringSource was doing in the cloud computing space. It’s great that they understand where the industry is headed. But I can’t see a company that does business like this to succeed in anything it does. The last Sun server we bought (because we were running everything in Solaris 10, but we’ve moved completely away from that now to VMware and Ubuntu Linux) came, literally, in pieces. It’s like they just put all the parts required to construct a server into a box and shipped that to us. I couldn’t believe it. The actual CPUs weren’t even in the chassis. I had to install the heat sinks myself with that gray putty from the hardware guys. A $12,000 server and I’m putting in the parts myself. The developer. The system admin.

I will not willingly do business with Oracle or Sun ever again. Their support has been of no use, their account reps are unreliable, and their offerings pale in comparison to the robust and flexible solutions being offered by SpringSource and the community of cloud implementors. I don’t usually try to disuade anyone from the product or vendor of their choice. Do what you want. Whatever works, right? But know that my experience with this new Oracle/Sun behemoth has been nothing but frustratingly schziophrenic. I’m embarassed now to have ever suggested we use Sun for anything. Operating system, hardware, or what have you. I should have stuck with Linux.

I’ve learned my lesson. Never again, Oracle.


Written by J. Brisbin

April 27, 2010 at 1:10 am

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