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The Almighty Buck

Oracle Investigation Grows 285

VValdo writes "Department heads resigning, millions of dollars wasted, documents shredded, the government investigating. No, it's not Enron-- as previously reported, the $95 million contract with Oracle is blowing into a full-fledged scandal in California, according to today's LA Times, The article begins, "California Highway Patrol officers moved in Thursday to halt shredding at the state's information technology department, and Gov. Gray Davis suspended the agency's chief amid a widening investigation of the state's multimillion-dollar computer contract with Oracle Corp.""
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Oracle Investigation Grows

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  • This year's mess (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blankmange ( 571591 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @08:44AM (#3456571)
    Well, without the rolling blackouts, California had to come up with something that would spell c-r-i-s-i-s......

    Seriously, though, it sounds like the state government there needs a complete overhaul and there don't seem to be any oversights/checks on what really is going on there....

    • Yeah (Score:2, Troll)

      Governor Reagan would never have let that happen. Hell, if the state was hurting for money, he'd probably just sell some guns and stuff to the Nicaraguans again.
    • Re:This year's mess (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 )
      > Seriously, though, it sounds like the state government there needs a complete overhaul and there don't seem to be any oversights/checks on what really is going on there....

      It's called a gubernatorial election. If you're in CA and eligible to vote, you might want to participate.

      Despite what you may have heard (and despite his best efforts :-), Gov. Davis isn't the only candidate running.

    • "The State of California has renamed itself.... State of Emergency" -Radio news guy from The Critic(while it was on ABC)
  • Shredding? (Score:5, Funny)

    by thetechweenie ( 60363 ) <jsatrape@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday May 03, 2002 @08:45AM (#3456573) Homepage
    Who cares about paper... Shouldn't they be burning their backup tapes?
    • > Shouldn't they be burning their backup tapes?

      All they'd have to do is cancel their $850/month contact with IBM and wait for the thing to die. That's what the city of Wilkes-Barre PA did. Now, they are manually re-entering their data, and can massage it any way they see fit.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    should get together and form MiracleSoft.
    and "miraculously" land national contracts without shredders and scandals getting involved.
    They'd be able to just buy everyone.
  • by JordanH ( 75307 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @08:47AM (#3456579) Homepage Journal
    Ahhh, there's something in air, I can smell it distinctly. The fetid smell of an election season is blowing into California.

    The guilty will be identified, heads will roll, policies revised...

    In the end, nothing will change except it'll be even more difficult for California Departments to buy software than it is now.

    Software licensing is really complicated. The typical bureacrat is just not up to it. If State Governments paid what Industry pays for IT executives, especially in California, there might be some chance that this kind of thing could be brought under control.

    As it is, they'll just add more people to read over the contracts that none of them understand.

    Even if they require contracts over a certain dollar amount to be reviewed by outside experts, the bureacrats will just start letting contracts just under that limit to lower their exposure to review.

    • But at least Davis will be out as governor. Now that I've moved out of California, its not such a big deal to me, but his role in the energy crisis there just can't be overlooked.
    • Software licensing is really complicated. The typical bureacrat is just not up to it. If State Governments paid what Industry pays for IT executives, especially in California, there might be some chance that this kind of thing could be brought under control.

      From the article: Davis offered no comment on either Baheti's resignation or his suspension of Cortez, who will continue to receive his $123,255 annual salary during his indefinite leave.

      Cry me a fuckin' river. I want a California state government job.

      • Compare that salary to any CIO that controls an IT budget like the State of California. Huh, probably not many of those around.

        Heck, compare that to a Senior IT Manager in San Francisco that has more than 40 people working for him or her.

      • That is equivalent, according to cost of living calculators, to $93K where I live. That's still pretty decent, but no where near what an IT director at a $5 mill or so a year company would make. If you get into the
    • Personally, I am not shocked in the least that something like this could happen. There's a politically popular stance that says we've got to stamp out even the smallest hint of fraud and waste. The problem is that zero tolerance policies do the same thing whether they are applied to the war on drugs or to preventing fraud at the public expense: they create an unwieldy net that catches mice and lets elephents slip through.

      And what is the likely response to this? Why, to weave the net finer, of course. This means that (1) CA taxpayers will not be any better protected against this kind of thing than before and (2) they will be paying even more on every legitimate and sensible purchase.

      We're talking about this because it was a failure of the system; but the routine operation of the system probably in the long term wastes more money. This fiasco, and the more expensive routine waste, come from the same place: procurement is too complicated to be controlled.
    • Software licensing is really complicated. The typical bureacrat is just not up to it. If State Governments paid what Industry pays for IT executives, especially in California, there might be some chance that this kind of thing could be brought under control.

      Bullshit. This bit of graft has nothing to do with complexity, and everything to do with politics as usual--you fund my re-election, I steer sure-money government contracts your way. The only thing different here is that the department commiting the graft (Department of Information Technology) was in the spotlight, because it is a new department created to try to minimize the technology fiascos that have occurred in the 80s and 90s in CA goverment. ($200 million for Tandem Cyclones that weren't relevant to the DMV's needs, the child support payment tracking system that worked so badly they lost federal funding)

      The idjits in DOIT and at Oracle got too greedy in a visible area, and they got caught. If the contract were "complex", then the graft wouldn't be so obvious.
        • Bullshit. This bit of graft has nothing to do with complexity, and everything to do with politics as usual--you fund my re-election, I steer sure-money government contracts your way.

        Maybe what you say is true. To pull this off, the politicians had to ensure that the bureaucrats weren't smart enough to ask the right questions that might mess up their plan. Otherwise, these functionaries that are getting the axe now would turn them in, right?

        There is some suggestion of that, actually, if you read up on it. It looks like the bureaucrats were being led around by the nose by the Logicon consultants.

        Or, maybe I'm naive and that if you follow up on it the bureaucrats will end up sitting pretty somewhere else in a few years.

  • by 00_NOP ( 559413 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @08:49AM (#3456586) Homepage
    $25,000 for a $95,000,000 contract? What sort of a deal is that?

    No business sense, so of course he should go.

    (That's a joke for any defamation lawyers out there).
  • by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Friday May 03, 2002 @08:49AM (#3456589) Homepage Journal
    "Users of this software may not publish benchmarks or comparisons of this software with other products, or blow the whistle on massive financial irregularities in our dealings with the State of California. Clicking 'I accept' constitutes acceptance of this licence"
    That should do it
  • "California Highway Patrol officers moved in Thursday to halt shredding at the state's information technology department...

    You can always count on Ponch and Jon to step in and save the day.
  • by robkill ( 259732 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @08:50AM (#3456594)
    Hopefully, with the close media scrutiny that a scandal like this provides, there will be some spillover press onto Oracle's lobbying for a national ID (run on Oracle of course). It would be nice if this raises the public's awareness and provokes their outrage. Articles like this make me especially curious about how much money Oracle has given to Sen. Diane Feinstein's campaigns.
  • get used to it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rainTown ( 536725 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @08:53AM (#3456607)
    there are thousands of ENRONS waiting to happen...
    • This isn't really an ENRON, its more of a raising of the bar for the Beaurcratic Incompetence of Government.
    • Oracle is not Enron. And paranoid shareholders that are collectively worth trillions of dollars will not let Enrons happen any more. Weazels of the same ilk as the leaders of Enron are moving on to find new ways to strike it rich, just like they always do.

      While Oracle may have a highly aggressive sales force and may be overcompensating certain employees with common stock (among other sins), this does not mean that they have made the monumenatal mistakes made by the leaders of Enron.

      For example, Enron had thousands of partnerships that exposed the company to liabilities that were not described in its financial statements. Worse, these partnerships were used to create artificial revenue streams using accounting techniques such as booking revenue that was far off in the future (and improbable at that). This kind of activity is horrible, and it destroys companies like Enron and puts people like Michael Milken in jail.

      Until we hear that Oracle has been booking millions in artificial revenue and things of that sort, please do not play the fearsome "Enron card".
  • The Davis campaign committee reported receiving the Oracle check in June, two weeks after Oracle won the lucrative state software contract, which was awarded without competitive bidding.

    Without competitive bidding... And a check received from a company boasting its software is unbreakable [].

    No, this is not quite on a par with the W. Bush dealings with Enron []. But it's getting close.
  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @09:01AM (#3456634)
    They probably overbought licenses to avoid the posssiblity of a BSA audit.....ever. At least that's the excuse i'd use to cover my ass.

  • Would this be a story on here if it was, say, GE lightbulbs, instead of Oracle?
    • Well, probably, if California was buying ~$95 million worth of lightbulbs that should cost only about $54 million.
    • Would this be a story on here if it was, say, GE lightbulbs, instead of Oracle?

      Of course!

      GE sells way more than just light bulbs and harmless washing machines. They're a major force in weapons research and development. Until very recently they were even involved in nuclear weapons development and testing and better-than-Enron-style government corruption.

      Everything they do is open to scandal. :)

    • If in California - yes. What better way to cause a new series of rolling fourth world country style electircity blackouts....
    • Would this be a story on here if it was, say, GE lightbulbs, instead of Oracle?

      Well, if there were, then at least this would be a topical joke:

      Q. How many California state workers would it take to screw in a surplus GE lightbulb?

      A. Presumably just two, but they would have to be really tiny and breathe argon, or else the resulting workmen's compensation case would be a complete nightmare...


  • by tshoppa ( 513863 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @09:09AM (#3456672)
    Fifteen or twenty-five years ago there was an often repeated mantra:
    Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM
    The slightly more modern version of this -
    Nobody ever got fired for buying Oracle
    has now been documented to be wrong!

    And this is a Good Thing. I've got nothing against relational databases where they have their uses; but in the past ten years every application has been converted to requiring a relational database. I personally know of several cases where the data - which used to be managed on an old PDP-11 or the original IBM PC in under a megabyte of disk space - has been migrated to Oracle, at enormous cost and expense. Things that used to be simple (e.g. a list of a few hundred customers) now require a team of Oracle database experts and extensive optimization just to keep up with the same performance that was achieved on twenty-year-old hardware without Oracle.

    There's even an official designation for a misused and missaplied technology like this: Golden Hammer [].

    • Very true. From what I've seen, it seems that (data == Oracle) recently when developing software for the goverment.

      Let's see, a low volume website with 20 tables in the schema. Of course we need: two licenses each of Oracle and iPlanet, a DBA, a webmaster/sysadmin, seven programmers, and three levels of management.

      One thing I've learned is that small projects just don't fly too well when funded by the goverment. There is a lot of red tape put in place for those billion-dollar contracts, and they try to apply it to sub-million-dollar contracts as well!
    • That's certainly been my experience.

      Our large company decided that the old fashioned financial system we had was uncool. It was essentially custom-made to fit our business needs, which are not exactly like a Widget Factory, Inc.

      We'll replace all that hard to modify custom software running on mainframes with a sleek new system using industrial strength standards like Oracle databases. Commodity. Off the shelf. High performance. Easier to find people that know how to fiddle with it. Etc.

      Well, they spent a fsckwad of money adapting it to meet our business needs. It took a lot more time and money to get this shoe to fit than the original proponents had said.

      Oracle is a pretty high performing database.

      But, selling a "transition to Oracle" on the basis of "cost savings" ranked as much of a laugh as other IT "Enterprise" related sales hoaxes.

    • but in the past ten years every application has been converted to requiring a relational database...Things that used to be simple (e.g. a list of a few hundred customers) now require a team of Oracle database experts

      I think this is more becuase in the past 10 years people have realized that *data* is king. Get all the data you possible can about your business because it *may* be useful. No longer does a business want to just store the names of 100 customers. They want to store the customer, contact data, purchases, support calls/cost, etc... AND they want to use this information in adhoc ways to improve their business.

      Storing data in flat files in not conducive to doing complex analysis or reasearch against. This is the primary reason in my experience that a working flat file system has been moved into a relational database.
      • *data* is king

        Absolutely. It has to be. But that doesn't automatically make Oracle king :-). We were pushing data around for a long time before Oracle (or any other relational database) came along.

        Storing data in flat files in not conducive to doing complex analysis or reasearch against. This is the primary reason in my experience that a working flat file system has been moved into a relational database.

        I agree with you - you may always decide, at some time in the future, to access the data in a different way. Then just being able to write a SQL statement, rather than a custom program, is a big win.

        But for the vast majority of "turnkey" systems the data is very simple and/or is always accessed in the same way every time. In these cases, Oracle (and the attendants needed to keep the Oracle database running smoothly) is complete overkill. Something like Berkeley DB [] will probably be more important. See the "Do you need Berkeley DB" page [] for a very brief introduction as to when you really do need a relational DB (which in my opinion is really a very small fraction of the time) and when you do not need a full relational DB (which in my experience is the vast majority of the time).

    • but in the past ten years every application has been converted to requiring a relational database.

      Actually, that in itself is probably not a bad thing. A database can make the app extremely scalable and robust by removing memory size limitations and introducing transactions. If you can keep all of your runtime program state in a database, you can do a lot of cool things with your architecure.

      IMHO, however, the database should be embedded, zero maintenence, cheap or free, and largely hidden from the end user. If you have to shell out dozens of kilobucks just for the database and hire a specialist, it's hard to cost-justify the features the database provides.

      Luckily, there are a lot of cheap or free small database engines out there now that can be used as a building block to create applications.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @03:39PM (#3459140) Homepage Journal
      The problem isn't that there is too much database technology that people don't understand, it's that there is not enough people who understand database technology.

      I see this time and time again: organizations that have Access databases that multiply like rabbits. People have tons of "reports" that not really reports but data carrying instruments from one special purpose system to another, where they are rekeyed in and manually processed etc. The whole process, and many staff positions required by it, are essentially overhead; they are required for coordination but produce no value in themselves. People are satisfied, because they don't perceive all this as an expense, but part of the job description. Then there is a challenge that requires organizational change. They have to produce a piece of information that they didn't before; perhaps it is a new government regulation, or perhaps it is a new business venture. Several outcomes are possible: complete failure to respond, response in a way that is superficially adequate but involves inaccuracies or problems of timeliness, and finall and/or the accretion of another level of organizational cruft.

      Of course databases are not a panacea; they don't solve this problem. But they are a critical parts of the solution. The purpose of database technology is to enable the re-use of information. If you have an independent business process with only a small number of well defined interfaces, that is supported by mature software, I agree there is little reason to reimplement using database technology. But a priori this is a bad, or at least a dangerous assumption. Starting from scratch the best solution when long term record keeping is needed is a relational database.

      And database technology is not that complicated from a application developer's perspective. It dramatically simplifies most software problems that involve anything more than the most basic record keeping. It takes care of data integrity and optimization and many security and administrative tasks. Speaking as somebody who remembers the days when you commonly created your own on disk data structures with pointers, indices and whatnot, I know that 99% of the time I'm better of not reinventing the on-disk data structure wheel. How many novice written binary search routines do you want to debug in your life? How many pointer rebuilding routines do you want to have to code? How many times do you want to tear into live production code because of deadlock problems that didn't come up in testing? How many times should customers have to send data sets to their vendors to have the file structures rebuilt due to crashes or bugs?

      Finally, with respect to Oracle, it is not the safest product in the world to let an idiot loose administering, but it's not friggin' rocket science either, unless your project requirements dictate complex DBA setups. In these cases not only is a solution like Oracle far better than what you could come up on your own, it decouples solving these problems from application logic, reducing development risks. For simple cases, Oracle scales down nicely if you don't get overeager about tinkering under the hood. If you have the licenses already (big proviso), there is practically no reason not to use Oracle for any application, no matter how small.

      Of course if you have to use a server that is admin'd by somebody else who doesn't care if your project shrivels up and blows away, well YMMV. But that is hardly Oracle's fault.
  • by CrazyBrett ( 233858 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @09:09AM (#3456673)
    Looks like Larry's gonna get the "Criminal" bit set in his entry in the National Big Brother database.
  • MySQL (Score:4, Funny)

    by Captain Large Face ( 559804 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @09:11AM (#3456683) Homepage

    So how much are 270,000 MySQL licenses?

    • Re:MySQL (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sxpert ( 139117 )
      better yet, what about PostgreSQL licenses ?
    • Re:MySQL (Score:5, Funny)

      by Skweetis ( 46377 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @09:33AM (#3456789) Homepage
      Well, this would be a government institution, so, lets see, one MySQL license costs $0, we want 270,000, but we'll get 300,000 just to be sure, 'cause it's a nice round number, but 500,000 is better, 'cause it's even more round. So let's see, 500,000 licenses amortized over the next three budget years, at $0 per license, hmm, lets see, carry the two, add the modulus of the national debt, take the number of taxpayers and divide by the cost of an individual license...


      Now, how much ARE 270,000 MySQL licenses? I've no idea.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 03, 2002 @09:15AM (#3456704)
    People and businesses are so apathetic these days that this nonsense will not spell one bad omen for Oracle.

    Usually you'd think that Oracle would get a bad rap for nonsense like this. For one, offering a ridiculous price tag on its software. Second, they provided the "goods", so to speak. Oracle are as mired in this mess as the state gov't in California. So will they get any trouble for it? Of course not. They are, I presume, going to laugh all the way to the bank with the added bonus of not even being required to provide whatever goods and services were purchased. Unless this is being reversed, and assuming all the money has been paid. Usually the gov't can't just say "we made a stupid, give us our money back." Not as if they can make threats either... look how weak they are against Microsoft.

    Basically I am trying to point out that Oracle had a hand in this. They are clearly shifty and underhanded. But nonetheless, businesses everywehre will still look to them and place their trust in Oracle to provide a database solution. They will not realize that these huge software companies are unusually corrupt as far as businesses go. They will not say, "let's switch our departments to MySQL instead."

    Just the same as with Microsoft. No matter how many incidents creep up that show they are not to be trusted. No matter how many laws they break, everyone remains willing to shovel their money into MS in exchange for shitty software.

    We've all asked this question, but I can't help it. HOW is it that these companies have become so powerful that they are legally allowed to do anything? Perhaps the movie "AntiTrust" was closer to the mark any of us might think. Will corporations next make mafia-esque killings? Will they have purchased so many judges and politicians that they can get anything pulled?
    • They will not say, "let's switch our departments to MySQL instead."

      Nor would I. Postgres is up to the task but MySQL isn't quite there yet.

    • by Mr. Fred Smoothie ( 302446 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @10:32AM (#3457087)
      Let's see:
      • Govt. software requisitioner: "Hey, I don't need your product, at least I'm not sure if I do, but I'd like to buy $95 million worth of it anyway"
      • Oracle exec: "Well, even though I have a fiduciary duty to my shareholders to maximize profits, and -- as a private citizen not elected to any office -- no duty to the taxpayers to ensure that the government is efficient in its spending practices, I feel uncomfortable taking your money. Please call IBM."
      In the absence of proof of any wrongdoing on the part of Oracle (so far about the worst you can say is that they inflated the estimated cost savings -- which is nothing more than typical "lies, damn lies, and statistics" that all businesses use to convice you that you need their product-you-don't-need).

      And read the article, Oracle offered to terminate the deal, and is apparently standing by the offer; this is something that they're certainly not obligated to do legally (they may be obligated to do if from a PR standpoint, to deal with people like you who assume they've done something wrong before they're even done it).

      Come on people, I'm as critical of big business as anyone (probably more so), but this is in fact just a case of Big Business as usual. It's like drunken sex with a stranger you don't like. It may make you feel icky, it may even be bad for you, but it's not illegal.

    • They are, I presume, going to laugh all the way to the bank with the added bonus of not even being required to provide whatever goods and services were purchased.

      Check out this $1.5 billion [] subsidy Uncle Sam gave to IBM. What Oracle is doing is nothing's been happening for years, and will continue to happen.
  • CEO cashed all stock (Score:4, Interesting)

    by estoll ( 443779 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @09:23AM (#3456740) Homepage
    Does anyone remember a few months ago when Larry Ellison cashed all of his stock options []? It was something like $700m. I wonder what his intensions were and why he did it?
  • Some scandal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blakestah ( 91866 )
    So far:

    Oracle has offered to cancel the contract.

    Davis forced the guy bribed with a $25k check to resign.

    Davis suspended the guy in charge of IT, the bribe recipient's boss.

    Davis ordered a halt to all shredding and ordered the CHP to investigate.

    It just looks like a coupla people in IT were massaging it on a big contract and got caught.
  • by John Murdoch ( 102085 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @09:29AM (#3456769) Homepage Journal

    More details on the emerging Oracle scandal, including a chronology of events for those just hearing about the story, can be found in George Skelton's Capitol Journal [] column, which ran in today's LA Times under the title "No Defense Tactic Can Hide This Ugly Scandal."

    Skelton's column is definitely worth the read--this is more than just a colossal sales job, and more than just a $25,000 campaign contribution to the governor oh-so-coincidentally two weeks after the deal. There are state legislators with family ties to this, and a startling lack of California employees (or departments) with any interest in using it.

    Given the jitters many people have about the securities business today, the most ominous comment might well be a brief mention at the bottom of Skelton's column:

    Oracle insisted this was a now-or-never deal--a onetime offer that would disappear the next day because it needed to impress Wall Street right then with a huge contract.

    CA was famous for years for doing all sorts of stuff to "make the numbers" at the end of each quarter. You can only do it for so long--once everybody figures out that Sears is always running sales, nobody is willing to buy at anything other than the sale price. Writ large, the same thing happens to companies that are motivated by this quarter's presentation to the securities analysts: eventually customers learn to wait for the last week of the quarter, when you can name your price.

    Oracle, in the go-go 90s, made money by the barrel--at one point a colleague observed that their margins were probably higher than the Medellin Cartel. If they have to resort to this kind of shenanigans to make the quarter's numbers, Oracle has bigger problems than a $25,000 payoff to the governor of California.

    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @10:11AM (#3456973)
      > CA was famous for years for doing all sorts of stuff to "make the numbers" at the end of each quarter.

      Computer Associates' sales practices, or the State of California's budgeting? (Budget deficit of $12B six weeks ago, now $22B, and a certain Governor who wants to shift revenues and expenses to hide it []. The accounting's legal, but it's still, IMHO, deceptive.)

      All of which reminds me of an old joke:

      Accounting Department: "It's March 31st, do we know whether we're gonna make our numbers for first quarter?"

      Sales Department: "How the fsck should I know yet, I just got back from lunch! The quarter's only halfway over!"

      • Hi!

        Thanks for your comment--and the joke. You have an excellent point: this isn't just an issue for Oracle, but an issue for the state of California as well.

        The part of the story that just screams at me is the number of licenses involved: 277,000. Numbers that big have to elicit the question, "how many employees do we have?" And the follow-up: "how many of the employees we do have are going to use Oracle?" Inevitably that question was going to come up--somebody, somewhere, was going to question the numbers. Inevitably somebody at the state of California would ask that question. It makes zero sense--for the state of California. But it may well make sense for Oracle--in a bind to "make the numbers."

        It would be very interesting to know what kind of projections Oracle made to securities analysts, and whether they projected the number of seat licenses as a key performance indicator. (In the same way that telecom companies project lines "in service" and "on switch." There's no correlation between a line in service and a given amount of revenue, but it is a metric of market growth and market penetration.) If Oracle had to sell seat licenses--and needed the number of seats more than they needed the revenue--they might have made the state a deal You Cannot Refuse [tm]: "you need 27,000 licenses--and we'll sell them to you for X; but we need to sell 250,000 licenses--we'll sell you the 27,000 you want, plus another 250,000 "virtual licenses" for X, but structure the deal as though you're buying all the licenses. In effect you get seat licenses to Oracle products in perpetuity--which is a good deal--and we get the number of seats we need to make the quarter."

        That's conjecture on my part: it seems like a reasonable explanation to me. The problem with end-of-quarter gimmicks like this is that you can make your numbers this quarter--but you're emptying the pipeline of your sales at the start of next quarter. Each quarter you have to do more, and more, and more--and you end up doing stuff like this. Eventually you just can't find another rabbit in the hat--and you don't make your numbers.

        Bonus question:
        Who else might be frantically doing deals to make the quarter's numbers?

  • Than a second-rate governor sparring with a Bill Gates wannabee. Like terrorism, mideast wars, 47 of peole in L.A. lack health insurance, etc.
  • Whoa! The ads in the LA Times page are as obnoxious as I've seen. Did anybody else get the ads with Little Mermaid characters flying across the page? Ugly ugly.
  • Switch Over (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScumBiker ( 64143 ) <scumbiker@jwenger.oTOKYOrg minus city> on Friday May 03, 2002 @09:42AM (#3456825) Homepage Journal
    I've been doing a simple analysis about switching us from Oracle to PostgreSQL. I came to the conclusion that, except for some of our GIS apps and data, we could recoup the cost of our licenses within 2 years. The cost involved with PostgreSQL would be training and re-writing vertical apps. Not paying license fees to Oracle *should* cover that additional cost and pain of migrating and re-writing. The whole reason I'm thinking about this is because of the California scandal. Those guys should really be tied to a post and whipped (not by expensive hookers either). Anyway, I'm actually going to do a more formal analysis of this starting today. Has anybody out there had any experience doing a migratin of this sort, for a enterprise of about 3500 PCs?
    • You get support with those Oracle licenses, right?

      Did you factor in support from one of these organizations [] in your ROI calculations?

    • Re:Switch Over (Score:2, Interesting)

      by spagbol ( 458981 )
      We switched from Oracle to Postgresql and have been far more satisfied with Postgresql. We are a small shop (25 users) but give the database a fair workout. Not a single problem and we find it to be faster than the last version of Oracle that we used (8.1.6). For me it is much easier to administer the Postgresql also.
    • Re:Switch Over (Score:3, Informative)

      The issue with postgresql is the lack of "good" replication. There are currently a couple of patches for master-slave replication, although they seem to be fairly primitive. There is nothing for multi-master. I have seen indications that stuff is in the works but it will be a year or more. This kind of limits postgresql's scalability, particularly with its one-process-per-connection backend.

    • Re:Switch Over (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MattRog ( 527508 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @11:15AM (#3457339)
      I'm not an Oracle champion. As a matter of fact I think they are worse than Microsoft in their FUD advertisements (unbreakable my ass!) and their underhanded business practices. Never mind the fact that their product certainly is not 'the best' for the majority (guestimating) of clients.

      Here where I work we have an Oracle DB of like 30GB. Most of it (20GB or so) are log entries, which pretty much any RDBMS can handle. Is there a 'killer' reason why we chose Orable over MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.? Well, all of our applications (e.g. purchased, 3rd party ones) run on Oracle. There are a wealth of stable, mature monitoring, performance and tuning, backup, etc. applications already written to help us mange, backup and restore, performance tune, etc. our databases. Not only that, but we can call Oracle any time of day if something goes wrong with the database.

      How much of that is directly translatable to PostgreSQL or MySQL? How many commercial-grade, large-scale applications are written to take advantage? How many billing applications, how many payroll, etc. etc. etc. Few, if any!

      Are all 300,000 licenses going to developers? Certainly not; I suspect this would be per-seat type things for every employee who uses their intranet or whatever. Even DMV employees use computers (although to what degree of efficiency is debatable ;)) which probably are connected to a central mainframe somewhere. They may even run desktop applications which communicate with Oracle. Is the 300,000 license a little 'far reaching'? Of course - you can't poll each and every user to say "Have you used an application which connects to an Oracle DB?". So you guess. Or in this case, you hire a 3rd party (the consulting company Logicon) to do the legwork for you. They do a survey of the enterprise and 'recommend' a solution. In this case, it appears that Logicon was/is in bed with Oracle unbeknownst to CA anyway; such is the case when you deal with mid-management who know absolutely zero about RDBMS' to begin with.

      I guess if there was blame to be placed, I'd put it on the whole 'system' that we have here.
      1) Software company develops database.
      2) It gains market share (60%+)
      3) People realize there is a lot of money in developing applications focused for said RDBMS
      4) Management, not knowing a single thing about competing products, hires 'Consulting' company to tell them what they want to hear "The product you've been paying a lot of money for the past few years is the right choice. Buy more of it!"
      5) Management picks said RDBMS due to consultant pointing out RDBMS marketing and large application base
      6) Lather, rinse, repeat the vicious cycle.

      Would a different RDBMS suit CA better? Could be. It depends on what their applications are and what they do with it. However, PostgreSQL (MySQL, FireBird, other free ones, etc.) is *still* not suited for the task. Can you easily administrate PostgreSQL for 300,000 users? Can you cluster, perform fail-safe replication, etc? Can you perform not only on-line backups (which PostgreSQL can) but 'point-in-time' snapshots? How much would it cost to migrate your financial backend to something else? This includes not only re-writing the application but re-training your users to the new interface (300,000 user training-session?).

      The RDBMS is quickly becoming not simply an 'island' apart from the Enterprise - it is becoming the *heart* of the Enterprise. It is increasingly taking over analytical and business roles in which the RDBMS vendors have intimate experience with, and have the resources available to commit to bringing end-user requirements to life.

      Fortunately, the small, low-end RDBMS market (PostgreSQL, MySQL) has an appropriate cost - zero! This allows smaller shops to save a significant amount of money by using less advanced, less technologically superior tools. Sure, you can probably live with reconstructing a days worth of payroll for 25 people if your MySQL-backed system goes down. For 25,000 that is simply not an option.

      The "Slashdot party line" for these sorts of things, and really is unfortunate that they get modded up so often, is that "Anything you do (big commercial companies) we can do better!" Well, perhaps so. In the case of the Enterprise RDBMS market, however, this has not been the case, and probably will continue to be so. Stop trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole - it aint gonna fit without breaking something (or significant pain ;)).
    • I've been doing a simple analysis about switching us from Oracle to PostgreSQL. I came to the conclusion that, except for some of our GIS apps and data, we could recoup the cost of our licenses within 2 years.
      Does PostgreSQL support triggers and stored procedures? Those seem to be the killers when talking about replacing Oracle, DB2, etc.


      • Yes, I believe so. Foreign keys are implemented with triggers.

        I know that you can embed various languages into postgres (like perl), but I've rather avoided most of it (due to proprietary nature).

  • Government is in the pocket of big business. Elected officials waste tax dollars and sodomize constituents. Video footage at eleven.

    Not that I think we should just let this slide because it happens all the time, does. We're more likely to sit up and take notice because it's in the tech industry, but everyone here is acting like this is the first time government officials have wasted tax dollars. It's been going on for centuries. Sitting here and typing away about how this *could* be fixed isn't really solving anything. I don't have any answers, and I don't want to sound like a parrot, but it's not just the tech industry that's fucked up - it's every industry. Everyone buys politicians. This will take sweeping reforms to fix, and those with the power to fix it are far too taken with getting rich off the system to care. You can vote for 'the other guy' but he's probably corrupt too. They've got us all by the balls now...
  • Stated this in a previous thread but worth stating again. Having worked for the bucket-head-known-as Eli Cortez who was appointed the State CIO and got them in this mess, the governor and California are getting what they deserve. This man has a history of screwing everything up on a grand and global scale like some sort of nuclear picnic. Just shows how powerful the unqualified and criminially negligient can be if you place them in key positions. Having destroyed a county and now a state, I'm sure Eli Cortez is being recruited to run the federal government as we speak. Call it "destiny."
  • Blame Game (Score:5, Funny)

    by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Friday May 03, 2002 @10:55AM (#3457230) Homepage Journal

    The real question:

    How to the democrats blame this on Bush?
  • I was so happy about this. I thought they were finally going to get that annoying Miss Cleo off the air.

    I'll settle for Larry Ellison.

  • What this doesn't even take into account is that, while Oracle can be OK as a high-end database if you give it a dedicated DBA, it is absolutely awful as a quick-and-dirty databse. I doubt that there are 270000 Oracle licenses in the world that represent properly installed and maintained Oracle systems. Many users of databases would be served much better with something that's easier to intall and maintain than Oracle, even if that databse is less capable or less full-featured in some sense. In different words, if you take into account the high cost of installing and running an Oracle database properly, this contract is even more costly than it seems on paper.

Forty two.