Gartner: Oracle Offer is Meaningless

GartnerGroupis weighing in on Oracle’s recent offer to pay $1 million if the company can’ttriple Web site speed with its products. Gartner’s conclusion is that theoffer, while sounding legitimate on the surface, falls apart on examination ofthe details.

The offer,for users of Microsoft’s SQL Server and IBM’s DB2 databases, says Oracle canmake a Web site perform three times faster with Oracle8i database and 9iApplication Server. If it can’t, Oracle will shell out $1 million.

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

That soundsgood, but digging into the offer’s legal clauses reveals significantlimitations and conditions. There are 11 of these, which Gartner analyzes.

Condition5, for example, says a consumer must buy the products and services recommendedby Oracle, which probably means converting the entire Web infrastructure.“First and foremost,” Gartner responds, “is [Oracle’s] stipulation that theproduction Web-hosting system -- not a parallel nonproduction benchmarkenvironment -- be converted and provide the basis for measurement. This meansrisk of outage or disruption to the enterprise Web site arising from theconversion process, even if the Oracle products function perfectly from dayone.”

Gartneralso contends that making all those changes -- again, mandated by Oracle --could easily cost a mid-sized or large enterprise more than the $1 millionoffered as a prize. In addition, Oracle can change any of the conditions itwants at any time -- per condition 10 -- and Oracle prevents challengeacceptors from telling anyone about what happened if it fails, but lets thecompany post that person’s face all over its ads if Oracle succeeds --condition 11.

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

Gartnerthinks the long-lasting impact of the Oracle offer will be negligible. Thereport states that “By 31 January 2001, the time limit Oracle has set on its $1million Web performance guarantee, the money will remain unpaid.”


Oracle Corp., Redwood Shores, Calif.,

GartnerGroupInc., Stamford, Conn.,