Gartner: Oracle Offer Essentially Meaningless

GartnerGroup has weighed in on Oracle’s recent offer to pay $1 million if they can’t triple your Web site’s speed with their products. Gartner’s conclusion? The offer, while sounding legitimate on the surface, falls apart when looking at the details.

The offer, for users of Microsoft SQL Server and IBM’s DB2 databases, says that Oracle can make your Web site perform three times faster with Oracle 8i database and 9i application server than what you’re currently using. If it can’t, Oracle will pay you $1 million.

By faster, Oracle says on their Web site, “We mean that your web site will be able to support at least three times as many page views per second as your old IBM or Microsoft based web site.”

While that sounds good, digging into the offer’s legalese reveals significant limitations and conditions. There are 11 of these, which Gartner analyzes.

Condition 5, for example, says you must buy the products and services recommended by Oracle, which probably means converting your entire Web infrastructure. “First and foremost,” Gartner responds, “is [Oracle’s] stipulation that the production Web-hosting system -- not a parallel nonproduction benchmark environment -- be converted and provide the basis for measurement. This means risk of outage or disruption to the enterprise Web site, arising from the conversion process, even if the Oracle products function perfectly from day one.”

Gartner also contends that making all those changes -- again, mandated by Oracle -- could easily cost a mid-sized or large enterprise more than the $1 million offered as a prize. In addition, Oracle can change any of the conditions it wants at any time (condition 10), and Oracle keeps you from telling anyone about what happened if they fail, but lets them post your face all over their ads if they succeed (condition 11).

In short, Oracle has devised a “heads I win, tails you lose” proposition for Web sites. Gartner says that “clients should view the Oracle $1M guarantee as a publicity device - shrewd or gimmicky, depending on your point of view - rather than an indicator of enduring competitive advantage in website performance.”

What does Gartner think the long-lasting impact of the Oracle offer will be? Negligible. The report states that, “[b]y 31 January 2001, the time limit Oracle has set on its $1 million Web performance guarantee, the money will remain unpaid and the offer forgotten.” - Keith Ward

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.