Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Oracle Sued For 'Extortion, Lies' By Montclair State University

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the their-reputation-precedes-them dept.

Oracle 359

angry tapir writes "Montclair State University is suing Oracle in connection with a troubled ERP (enterprise resource planning) project. Montclair's complaint, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, states that Oracle made an array of 'intentionally false statements' regarding the functionality of its base ERP system, the amount of customization that would be required, and the amount of 'time, resources, and personnel that the University would have to devote.' 'Ultimately, after missing a critical go-live deadline for the University's finance system, Oracle sought to extort millions of dollars from the University by advising the University that it would not complete the implementation of the ... project unless the University agreed to pay millions of dollars more than the fixed fee the University and Oracle had previously agreed to,' it adds."

cancel ×

359 comments

It's not lying (5, Funny)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382298)

It's not lying, it's marketing and/or sales.

Re:It's not lying (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382362)

Agreed. I've read a lot of product white papers, and they manage to say what sounds like a whole lot, but when you read it, you find out it isn't actually saying anything much really. That doesn't account for the incorrect estimates though.

Re:It's not lying (2, Insightful)

ibib (464750) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383016)

Institutions and companies as well for that matter, REALLY need to learn how to; read contracts and agreements, formulate needs and demands (preferably with help of a third party) and not to trust the seller of a product or service.

How hard can it really be? REALLY!? (If you really wanted and devoted resources to it, that is)

Re:It's not lying (5, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383056)

That's why you have lawyers on retainer to hand these to for review before signing anything. They either hand it back to you and say "looks good" or they tear it up and toss it in their bin and say "we need to talk".

Any decent lawyer can spot BS in a contract. Longer contracts just take longer to examine, they don't add a lot of risk of missing something if the lawyer is any good.

I think it's safe to assume that a university has and uses intelligent lawyers and that they have a case. But time will tell.

Re:It's not lying (5, Insightful)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382368)

It's not lying, it's marketing and/or sales.

Right. Just like how the universities tell everyone how much better their lives will be, if we all just go $60,000 in debt and sign up for classes.

I find it ironic that the institutions that aggressively market themselves, seem to be highly susceptible to the marketing of like institutions.

That said, if Oracle did indeed promise, under contract, to complete project X for Y amount of money, and it's not complete, then good for Montclair. Get the funds back, or make Oracle finish the job. Otherwise, it'll be the students or the taxpayers paying for it, at some point, after the risk transfer process trickles down.

Tuition math lesson (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382538)

A four-year degree at an in-state school should not cost more than $15-20,000 including fees. If you went $60k into debt for school, consider that a $40-45k math lesson. Teach your kids that one at home so they don't have to pay for it again.

Re:Tuition math lesson (5, Insightful)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382728)

A four-year degree at an in-state school should not cost more than $15-20,000 including fees. If you went $60k into debt for school, consider that a $40-45k math lesson. Teach your kids that one at home so they don't have to pay for it again.

Bingo. My sister went to a private university (local) all the way to grad school for a STEM degree, and she piled no more than $45K (again, in a private school.) I went to grad school in a in-state university, and my total debt was about $25K. My other sisters went also to in-state schools (biomed, fine-arts, PT) and none racked that much of debt either. The only person I know that justifiably had like $60K in debt was this guy who went to grad school in PT with a lot of specialized training. Medical and law students would be the other camp in which I could see a justification for such an amount of student loan debt.

OTH, people getting into $60K for a degree in History or Social Science is just absolutely retarded. I could understand that debt in those degrees if the student 1) goes to a private Ivy League school, and 2) go all the way for a Ph.D. But for a B.A in those fields?

I mean seriously, I see these shows and interviews with people being burdened with $60K, $80K even $100K and not having a job or a job that pays well to get rid of that debt, and when they get asked what degree they have, we don't hear STEM or law or medicine, we don't hear post-grad education. We hear 4-year degrees in History or Social Sciences. WTF? WTF? WTF??????

Yeah, universities keep racking up the cost of education, but let's not delude ourselves into blaming these institutions when people rack up student loans on 4-year degrees with no market value. There is a difference between a freshman entering school and not knowing what to study, and that same person cruising around for the next 4 years without ever thinking "shit, how is my education going to get me a job with which to repay by debt?" Living life in cruise control is a stupid and costly way of doing things.

Re:Tuition math lesson (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382800)

Medical and law students would be the other camp in which I could see a justification for such an amount of student loan debt.

Law school is not worth it. Many recent law graduates are regretting their decision (and their debt) because the legal market dove just as much if not more than the housing market. There aren't jobs. If you want to have >$100,00 of loan debt and work as an insurance agent, go to law school.

In summary, if you are thinking about law school, RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!! If you are in your first year of law school, and you aren't in a top 10 institution or in the top 10% of your class, cut your losses and RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!! Student debt can't be discharged in bankruptcy! You will be SCREWED if you stay in!!!!

Re:Tuition math lesson (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382870)

There is a bubble in education. Universities have all these titles for faculty, vice president of affairs, etc, and they pay outrageous salaries, claiming they have to be competitive. In the meantime, many of the real folks who teach, don't get paid a decent salary. So what happens, tuition goes up. Lots. Even in public universities. What happens, the poor student is stuck with a lot of debt. I've heard that some MD's are now about 300k in debt getting through medical school.

Re:Tuition math lesson (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382922)

Yes because an 18 year old out of high school understands all that you just said and not that college = high paying job. I'll get off your lawn now...

You are part of the problem (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382948)

If you want to be treated like an adult, act like an adult.

If some big company advises you to go into $60K of debt for their marvelous services, and you didn't even check that they can meet the goals that you've laid out for yourself....

Stop whining and take some accountability. Go to a cheaper school. If you're 12 years old surely you can understand that.

Re:Tuition math lesson (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382738)

Tuition and fees? In 2011-12, public four-year colleges charge, on average, $8,244 in tuition and fees for in-state students. Per year

Books? which at four-year public colleges in 2011-12 is $1,168 per year

You mean you have to LIVE too? The national average in 2011-12 for four-year public college students who live on campus is $2,066 (off campus $1,082) These are expenses that a college student has to pay that a non-student doesn't. Per year

Average cost of a four-year degree at an in-state school for someone living off-campus?

(8244+1168+1082)*4 = $41,976

Did you skip the math classes?

Citation: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/pay/add-it-up/4494.html

Re:Tuition math lesson (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382852)

I'm pretty sure you have a cost of living regardless of whether you go school or not.

Re:Tuition math lesson (2, Informative)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383050)

Ah, no. If my kids were not in college they would probably still be at home. As it is, each of them are paying $7200/yr in rent which they otherwise would not be paying. They also pay for heating and utilities which they would not be paying. That is at least $32000 over four years that is a direct cost of going to college.

Re:Tuition math lesson (2)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383052)

Students can often continue living at home, too. On top of that, if you go to a local college for two years and then finish up at a university you can save a lot of money and your degree stills says you graduated from [insert name of prestigious university].

I'll come right out and admit my stupidity... I moved across country to go to a worse school, pay MORE money PLUS living expenses I wouldn't have had living at home, just to get away from where I lived (not to get away from my parents, who were pretty cool, actually).

Re:Tuition math lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382988)

WTH do you find room and board for $90 - 120/month?
Live all year: 1082 / 12 = 90.17
Live just during school: 1082 / 9 = 120.22

Re:Tuition math lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38383012)

I agree his number on tuition and fees was a bit low, but 1168 for books? What are you doing, buying them all new from the campus book store? You deserve to be in debt if you don't try to find them used online, then used in the book store, then new online, and then new at the book store, with the possibility of going new online before looking used at the book store. Sorry, but I never paid more than $100 for a book, and I was royally pissed when I had to pay that much. That was only 4 years ago, so don't give me any of the "things have gotten way more expensive" crap.

And as for living, sorry, but if you're having trouble affording to live, do what I did, go to a school close enough to your parents house, and live with your parents. Unless you were a horrible child and they kicked you out, or if they're terrible parents, they'd probably let you live there rent free while you were in school. If any of those concessions seem unreasonable, well, go ahead an OWS, and mock and ridicule you.

Re:Tuition math lesson (2)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383084)

Assuming, of course, that there just happens to be a school offering the courses you want near your parent's house.

Re:Tuition math lesson (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382768)

That was true 10-15 years ago when I went to college... not true now

Re:Tuition math lesson (5, Informative)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382836)

I'd like to know in what year you managed to complete four years of college for 15 to 20 thousand dollars. That much money wouldn't have paid for basic tuition in several decades. And, that's assuming that your mom and dad lived so close to the university that you could live at home and commute.

http://web.saumag.edu/international/tuition-scholarships/cost/ [saumag.edu]
At SAU, which is your typical "in-state school", 4 years of education is going to cost about $60k. That doesn't include books, of course, or snacks, or any damned thing, except the tuition. Projects, supplies, transportation, a night out once in awhile, toothpaste and soap are all additional.

Maybe you're referring to a vocational / agricultural education, in a local community college? Yeah, you can get by for a whole lot less,

Re:Tuition math lesson (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382844)

I got may engineering degree at about 500€ tuition and ~100-200€ in books per year for 4 years?
Happily paid for by my parents of course.
If schooling gets you that much into debt, your doing something very wrong. Perhaps divert some of that bailout money/warmongering money to your education system?

Re:Tuition math lesson (2, Informative)

proud american (1003577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382874)

Dont know where you get your numbers from.

USA Today: In 2009-10, average published tuition and fees for in-state students at public flagship universities in the U.S. are $8,353, compared to $7,797 at all public doctorate-granting universities and $7,020 at all public four-year institutions:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-10-20-college-costs_N.htm [usatoday.com]

Annual in-state commuter student tuition at state schools in my area

Delaware - about 11,500. http://www.udel.edu/admissions/finance/ [udel.edu]
NJ Rutgers - $12,755. http://admissions.rutgers.edu/Costs/TuitionAndFees.aspx [rutgers.edu]
NY SUNY - $14,750. http://www.suny.edu/student/paying_tuition.cfm [suny.edu]
Pennsylvania - 15,000 - 17,500. http://tuition.psu.edu/tuitiondynamic/rates.aspx?location=up [psu.edu]

Re:Tuition math lesson (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382876)

Bullshit. My daughter has a full-tuition scholarship at a state school. It still costs about $11K/year. Why? Turns out she actually has to pay rent, buy food, pay utilities, etc. My son, who attends the same school, does not have the scholarship, so it costs him about $16K/year. I don't know where you got your numbers from, but they are far from reality.

Re:Tuition math lesson (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383072)

Rent/Utilities/Food, etc do NOT count - you would have to pay for them whether you went to school or not, so including them as part of the cost of getting an education is disingenuous.

Re:It's not lying (2)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382838)

I find it ironic that the institutions that aggressively market themselves, seem to be highly susceptible to the marketing of like institutions.

My theory there is that they believe the shit they are feeding customers. Since in their minds they aren't lying, they don't think other companies are either.

More data? (2, Insightful)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383030)

I would like to know a little more about how the project developed before forming an opinion.

My experience with public organizations is that higher-ups in the administration are all for it ready to take merit, until they realize how much work it does take. They organize a functional group including only the bosses, who happen to(*):

  • Don't have too much time for meetings/extra work.
  • Don't really know how things really work at lower levels.
  • Think that their asses are covered.
  • Want everything at everytime completely organized, even if it means losing flexibility and increasing workload without ROI.

Most probably, whatever system based in the specifications that such guys give won't survive the first time it is tested "on the field". These same guys will later claim that the failure was of the contractor, and will show their anger in an attempt to hide their responsability.

In most of the projects I have been, it happens that the bosses discover how the organization really works through it, and what it really needs. The earlier they discover it, the better the project results.

The issue about being told that another project at another university is moot, that is not part of the contract (unless the other university wanted the same functionality and had been given other estimates, that could show a double standard).

My take? So far we only have a one sided story, I would like to know more about the project management to assign blame. Anyway, the fact that the University is going bold and suing for "Extortion" (instead of the standard "Breach of contract") makes me think that they are, at the very minimum, not totally innocent.

(*)Of course, I do not mean that every boss is like that but I see that a little too much...

Re:It's not lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38383098)

There's no better customer than another salesman.

Re:It's not lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382436)

That's what they said, lying. ;)

Sigh...this is why I love Slashdot (1)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382488)

Predictable response from Slashdot:

"Stupid sales/marketing drones. It's Oracle, of course. They should've asked technical support, then they'd get the real answer. These things always take five times as much money as the salesman says."

In January 2012 there will be a story on some major project with high visibility that is suffering cost overruns. Slashdot will respond.

"How can it take so long? That's what you get for hiring Lockheed (or whomever). Here's the solution, it'd take three weeks and cost a tenth the price. Salesmen overselling, get the technical guys in, we'll do it quickly and much cheaper."

Re:Sigh...this is why I love Slashdot (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382544)

But is it a predictable response because it true?

Re:It's not lying (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382938)

It's not lying, it's marketing and/or sales.

It's voiding a contract.

Happens all the time. Not only one IT projects. This is where you need to write into the contract the clause - "failure to meet agreed upon time and goals will be paid for by the contractor to completion"

Going over budget on public sector contracts has at least a century of tradition behind it.

Re:It's not lying (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382958)

It they win this suit, it's the end of IT industry as we know it. And construction and other industries, too. Who would have though of this, projects delivered in time and budget? OMFG, we're all going to diiiiiie!!!!

Re:It's not lying (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383044)

Oracle? Evil? Never!

It's Oracle. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382316)

Seriously... what did they expect?

Re:It's Oracle. (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382428)

People and organizations have to learn the hard way... on an individual basis. Oracle is everywhere and is quite visible. People who don't understand make some presumptions and follow the "nobody ever got fired for buying...[usually Microsoft, but in this case Oracle]" notion and try to make the safest decision possible.

My first knowledge of Oracle's personality came to me when I learned they price their software based on the performance of the hardware you are running it on. So the more expensive the hardware you run, the more expensive Oracle's software becomes. Something strikes me as terribly wrong with that model. (And yes, I know other vendors do this too... still strikes me as wrong. If you want to upgrade your hardware, suddenly you are in violation of your software license?) Once I learned they were willing to exploit [tax?] people and businesses who are able to spend more or require better, I learned all I needed to know about Oracle and their mindset. They don't price and value their product on their own merits, but on the merits of who, how and where it is to be used. If McDonald's operated this way, the results would be interesting wouldn't they.

Re:It's Oracle. (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382762)

You should have seen Oracle's pricing in the mid-late 1990s. I always feel like comparatively they are giving it away.

Re:It's Oracle. (4, Insightful)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382868)

They don't price and value their product on their own merits, but on the merits of who, how and where it is to be used. If McDonald's operated this way, the results would be interesting wouldn't they.

No, you are confused. Noboby in their right mind prices their products based on their own merits. You price your products based on what the market will bear and pocket the profit. Economics 101.

Re:It's Oracle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382932)

It might combat obesity - the fatter you get, the more expensive your fix becomes.

Re:It's Oracle. (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383062)

PeopleSoft (before Oracle bought them) had an even more draconian pricing model. It was based on total gross revenues. They even require specific documentation and audits of your income. This sounds so much like an organized crime racket I'm stunned they got so large doing it.

"Okay, so how much with this great ERP system cost."

"That depends. How much do you make?"

Re:It's Oracle. (4, Insightful)

john82 (68332) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382474)

What did Montclair expect? Let's see: Legally binding contract. Contract not met. Customer sues for breach of contract.

Seems to me that Montclair has the upper hand here. It all falls on the conditions of the contract.

Re:It's Oracle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382754)

Again. Oracle. What did they REALLY expect? Maybe the administrators should have gone to a better school.

Re:It's Oracle. (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382890)

Again. Oracle. What did they REALLY expect? Maybe the administrators should have gone to a better school.

It sounds to me like they expected Oracle to honor the contract or pay damages for violating it.

Re:It's Oracle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382782)

Totally depends on what the contract says. What if the university didn't allocate the resources specified and changed the scope originally agreed upon? Could be the millions Oracle is asking for is because things the University agreed to weren't there to meet the timelines.

Granted having been through a deployment of Peoplesoft at a University I can say it was the most messed up deployment and so unstable it was nearly immpossible to register for classes. My sister had to transfer out because the system going down so much made it so she wasn't able to get into classes she needed (it took so long and was down so much that lower year students were able to start registering for the classes at the same time and filled them up on her) Thank goodness the school of engineering did a work around... They used paper and had workstudy students key in the classes for you when the system did come back up.

Re:It's Oracle. (4, Interesting)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382540)

We are running a SAM project here (software asset management) and Oracle is one of our biggest offenders. They have the most weird, complex, and obnoxious licensing terms in their contracts, but the problem is we USE IT A LOT. I'd happily suggest people to swap off, but since I'm far from a DBA my word carries no weight, and even if it did, there's a lot of politics in play that keep it planted firmly.

I am hoping that after the discovery of this project and seeing how much money we piss away on Oracle (needlessly), that people's eyes will open. This behavior really is just much of the same from this company.

Re:It's Oracle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382952)

Seriously... what did they expect?

Actually, because it's Oracle, the school documented all of Oracle's lies & misrepresentations.

Larry is going to have to cough up some serious cash (pocket change to him) for this one...

This is why... (5, Insightful)

dremspider (562073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382334)

When you purchase something like professional services of a new system, you need to make sure that throughout the process you are receiving and own all the code and documentation and have at least a high level overview of what is going on. Too many people just say "Make this XYZ system for me, heres money to do it" and then expect to be barely involved with the process from there on until the product is done.

Re:This is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382696)

No, unless the vendor specifically says that up front, everything should be worked out before signing the contract. You don't have to be involved in the making of your car, although that might be nice, as can be done at that new VW factory in Dresden.

Re:This is why... (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382826)

The code has nothing to do with it. Right now Oracle could send its entire codebase to the university yet it would not serve them (they would have to hire people, train them, and do the project)

That said, having been in a lot of projects in public administration, I agree that involment is the key. A lots of higher-ups feel themselves "safe" and think that they have all the time of the world to make up his mind about what they want (and even better, many of them think that they know the entire university and fail to take input from other stakeholders). Off-the-shelf software/hardware is sheldom the culprit when IT project go south.

You have angered the Larry (5, Funny)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382340)

Pray you do not anger Him further.

Re:You have angered the Larry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382914)

Cmon, Larry is out there in dire financial straits. He only has ONE SPACE YACHT.

WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE LARRY?

Larry Awesome. (3, Funny)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382342)

Ellison will rock up to court, invite the judge and jury to party hard on one of his many yachts and justice will be served.

He is just that awesome.

Re:Larry Awesome. (2)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382970)

Ellison will rock up to court, invite the judge and jury to party hard on one of his many yachts and justice will be serviced.

The university deserves it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382344)

Any company/university who believes the sales guys, without doing their own evaluation of the software, deserves to waste millions and millions to implement the software. In my 15 years I've seen this happen more often then not. Ya, it sucks, but let the technical people choose products and negotiate with the vendor instead of the management and lawyers talking to sales guys. You end up with parties that don't really understand the software (sales guys) talking to the upper management and lawyers who have no concept of the work it's going to take to implement. Doomed to fail. Every time.

Re:The university deserves it (4, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382402)

This isn't just the sales guys, even from TFS, this is an initial contract that had to have been breached by at least one party, and Oracle is now requiring millions of dollars to fix the issue caused by the breach. The university is claiming the breach was by Oracle, and therefore the university should not have to pay.

Re:The university deserves it (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382564)

Yep. I wonder how many actual programmers were consulted over Oracles numbers for "the amount of customization that would be required, and the amount of 'time, resources, and personnel that the University would have to devote".

A simple "Do these numbers seem reasonable?" might have saved them this embarrassment.

(Assuming they listen to the answer)

Bad business practices (2)

simula67 (2518552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382346)

Why there are so many cases about bad business practices about Oracle? 1) Oracle not honouring an agreement with HP to continue to support Itanium 2) Oracle failing to file profit returns correctly 3) Oracle sued for 'extortion and lies' I thought legal and management departments where more important than engineering departments in a tech company

Re:Bad business practices (3, Insightful)

Rennt (582550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382442)

You are surprised? Oracle used to make Microsoft look like model corporate citizens - and this was back when MS was still a dangerous monopoly hell bent on choking the industry.

Re:Bad business practices (0)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382646)

and this was back when MS was still a dangerous monopoly hell bent on choking the industry.

You mean this morning? They're still hell bent on destroying any competitors using any means possible - though their desktop monopoly is thankfully becoming less relevant as the mobile space grows.

Re:Bad business practices (1)

Rennt (582550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382676)

Their attitude hasn't changed, but their capacity to execute certainly has. They are more threating then dangerous these days.

Re:Bad business practices (0)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382692)

Oon Rich Asshole Called Larry Ellison...

As someone who works at a university with... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382350)

Contractors, I will say that this is common place here, and probably at many universities. I think part of it is that many companies think that the government is an infinite source of funds and a deserving target to be ripped off. Another part of it is the bidding mechanisms which are supposed to ensure an unbiased picking of vendors, but has the added "bonus" of tending to favor groups that under-represent their cost, and no real mechanism to enforce them to stick to their estimates.

Re:As someone who works at a university with... (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382416)

Another part of it is the bidding mechanisms which are supposed to ensure an unbiased picking of vendors, but has the added "bonus" of tending to favor groups that under-represent their cost, and no real mechanism to enforce them to stick to their estimates.

Um, the "real mechanism to enforce them to stick to their estimates" would be the contract. If the wronged party chooses not to seek enforcement of the contract when it's breached, that's their fault.

Re:As someone who works at a university with... (2)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382430)

Yea, that's not how public-sector procurement works.

Re:As someone who works at a university with... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382496)

"Another part of it is the bidding mechanisms which are supposed to ensure an unbiased picking of vendors, but has the added "bonus" of tending to favor groups that under-represent their cost, and no real mechanism to enforce them to stick to their estimates."

Um, the "real mechanism to enforce them to stick to their estimates" would be the contract. If the wronged party chooses not to seek enforcement of the contract when it's breached, that's their fault.

Yea, that's not how public-sector procurement works.

Actually, this is exactly how public-sector procurement works. If the public employee writes a decent contract, then it gives the legal department exactly the ammunition needed to file a suit like this. It's when the original contract is full of holes, that no-one can enforce anything.

Re:As someone who works at a university with... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382552)

Ahh, I see you've never seen the 'company bankruptcy game"

Unfortunately, companies can't be blacklisted based on their CEOs, boards of directors, etc.

Re:As someone who works at a university with... (4, Insightful)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382636)

I'm too cynical about government to say you're never right about public-sector procurement (particularly historically). But I work in the public sector, and while I'm not involved in contracts, I can tell you, based on meetings I've sat in on and conversations I've had with those who are involved in contracts, that in general contracts are scrutinized very heavily at several levels, and requirements specified in almost absurd detail. That is simply the norm. If Montclair State University didn't do this, that's their fault. If they did, and Oracle didn't deliver, then MSU is doing exactly the right thing.

Other side? (5, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382354)

Of course, we're only hearing 1 side of this. I can easily imagine how this could come to be:

Oracle gives a quote that requires the University do things Oracle's way, on Oracle's timeline. University doesn't. Oracle then quotes a price to fix all the University's mistakes.

I can't for a minute imagine that Oracle wrote a contract for a fixed price that didn't outline exactly what the duties of each side were, and exactly what was covered.

However, I also can't imagine a University engaging in frivolous lawsuits.

It should be interesting to see what the facts are, and how this plays out.

Re:Other side? (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382418)

Having gone to college and seeing how bad they tend to screw things up, I could easily see this being the case. Of course, I went to a state school where you get the double whammy of crappy administration PLUS crappy government requirements. Because microbiology and astronomy totally helped my network admin degree.

Re:Other side? (3, Insightful)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382508)

Because microbiology and astronomy totally helped my network admin degree.Because microbiology and astronomy totally helped my network admin degree.

If you wanted a vocational degree, you should have gone to a vo-tech school

Re:Other side? (2)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382642)

Half credit. You can learn microbiology and astronomy at no cost to yourself. Also, you can learn IT without having to go to a vo-tech school (I myself dropped out of high school to do IT, and haven't made below $100K/yr for 10 of my 12 working years.

If anything, vocational schools are more valuable, as you're going to be paid more to do a job that can't be outsourced (HVAC, electrician, plumbing, mechanic) vs a job you'd get with a four year degree that can be outsourced to $new_lowest_wage_english_speaking_third_world_country.

Re:Other side? (4, Insightful)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382666)

Hate to break the news for you, but university is the new vocational school.

Re:Other side? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382548)

I don't know if microbiology and astronomy help in network admin, but I agree with Astrology and Quiropractic. :P

Re:Other side? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383054)

That is all the crap filler class that just drive up costs and time. network admin degree does not need to be 4 years. 2 years or some kind of mixed tech school + apprenticeship.

Re:Other side? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382440)

Oracle gives a quote that requires the University do things Oracle's way, on Oracle's timeline. University doesn't. Oracle then quotes a price to fix all the University's mistakes.

This I believe. Universities are as slow as the government about accomplishing anything. I have no doubt that the uni missed every target date that was agreed to.

Re:Other side? (1)

DikSeaCup (767041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382482)

Having worked for a university for 18 years (-1 for the recent year I spent working for corporate America/India) I can easily see how something like that (university not doing things they way a company would suggest) would happen.

Re:Other side? (4, Insightful)

Severus Snape (2376318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382518)

Of course, we're only hearing 1 side of this. I can easily imagine how this could come to be:

Oracle gives a quote that requires the University do things Oracle's way, on Oracle's timeline. University doesn't. Oracle then quotes a price to fix all the University's mistakes.

I can't for a minute imagine that Oracle wrote a contract for a fixed price that didn't outline exactly what the duties of each side were, and exactly what was covered.

However, I also can't imagine a University engaging in frivolous lawsuits.

It should be interesting to see what the facts are, and how this plays out.

Nail on the head. It worth noting that ERP projects are extremely difficult to implement and involve basically ripping up the whole entire infrastructure of an organisation and starting again. As well as being very costly and take years to get up and running. Half the time they aren't even worth the hit you take getting it up and running. When everything goes smooth and actually works, it's fantastic your organisation can make strategic decisions quickly and effectively, data becomes transparent across the organisation and systems become integrated. The problem is, this sort of situation that the university is now, is far to common.

Re:Other side? (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382532)

Pracle sells a product that is "capable" of anything the buyer wants. The trick is, it costs more money to make that capability into a functionality. They sell software and customization, with the base software nearly incapable of doing anything. And they try to avoid trining your people on how to customize it, they want to charge for it if possible. This is how Oracle and SAP and any other large services provider really makes their "software" money.

I sell you a copy of the .NET framework saying it can query your schedules and people and preferred times, and come out with a per-person schedule which best fits the peoples' preferences and still covers your hours. Then I say it needs customization, where I actualy write that part. Or copy it from existing modules we made for other customers.

Re:Other side? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382608)

Pracle sells a product that is "capable" of anything the buyer wants. The trick is, it costs more money to make that capability into a functionality. They sell software and customization, with the base software nearly incapable of doing anything.

Actually if you read TFA, Oracle claimed that the base product covered 95% of the desired & specified functionality.

Turns out the base product covered far, far less than 95%, leading to the lawsuit.

Re:Other side? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382580)

dunno, tfa has this from oracle: ""When issues arose during the course of the project, it became clear that MSU's leadership did not adequately understand the technology and the steps necessary to complete the project," it stated. "Instead of cooperating with Oracle and resolving issues through discussions and collaboration, MSU's project leadership, motivated by their own agenda and fearful of being blamed for delays, escalated manageable differences into major disputes.""

after that there's stuff like oracle said they already had a product that did 95% of the requirements on the 3200 point requirements letter. then oracle did a fake demo(like so often is done in the business) to demo that it's product did what the university wanted (and actually it seems oracle was going to sell them a 3rd party sw to do the thing, then botched up integration).

the sums we're talking about here are larger than it took for fb to get off the ground too, so it's pretty ridiculous. like really fucking ridiculous sums for the thing actually. and they didn't even get to the phase where it would have been actually working but unable to handle the load...

the oracle sales douches are probably genuinely surprised

Re:Other side? (1)

cthlptlk (210435) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382640)

There are probably three sides...Oracle, the nitwits who bought the system, and the administrators who are pissed at both of them.

Re:Other side? (1, Insightful)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383042)

From the TFA:

The school spent a year developing a detailed requirements list that ended up totaling some 3,200 items. This list was given to vendors ... ...
The revised complaint also includes a partial list of MSU's project requirements and in all runs 60 pages, nearly twice as many

So they doubled the requirements, and:

At the same time, Oracle was working out a contract with the Lone Star College System to install a similar set of software, it adds. Oracle repeatedly told MSU that the Lone Star project was comparable to its own plans, according to the complaint.

In fact, "the number of personnel and resources available to the Lone Star College System to complete its implementation ... was four times greater than the personnel and resources available to the University to implement its ERP system," the complaint states.

And they dedicated 1/4th number of people needed to implement it.

Now they want a refund... yeah right. The court should toss MSUs case in the trash.

Over-promise, Under-deliver. Standard Oracle... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382360)

"Instead of cooperating with Oracle and resolving issues through discussions and collaboration, MSU's project leadership, motivated by their own agenda and fearful of being blamed for delays, escalated manageable differences into major disputes."

This certainly reads like code for "We promised more than we could deliver. Instead of giving us more money as we demanded, the university decided to try to force us to deliver on our promises."

Not standard Oracle, standard (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382504)

I know of very few large implementations (ERP, WMS, eComm site) where the project goes on time, on budget, and feature complete. Usually, along the way, one of those is lost. I'd be willing to bet there was a fair amount of scope creep on the University side. I'd really like to hear Oracle's position.

Normal for Peoplesoft in higher ed (4, Interesting)

captbob2002 (411323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382444)

Isn't this standard for their Peoplesoft product? We went through hell with it where I work years ago. Cost around 20 million more than it should have. Some folks lost their jobs, sadly, not the people responsible for that debacle. Ten years and that project is still bringing us "joy."

Re:Normal for Peoplesoft in higher ed (5, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382858)

Isn't this standard for their Peoplesoft product? We went through hell with it where I work years ago. Cost around 20 million more than it should have.

I worked on a project several years ago involving some collaborative software from Oracle.

The software was not mature enough to be out of beta, definitely not mature enough to be sold to customers, and in the end required vast amounts of resources over and above what we were told it would.

In effect, they were selling snake oil, and they knew it. And, they wanted more money to deliver.

Not saying this is in any way similar to what is happening at this university, but I know first hand Oracle isn't above selling you a product they haven't finished writing yet. In fact, I think it's part of their business model.

all MRP / ERP is this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382446)

I implement MRP / ERP systems, it's the same story everywhere. Out of box, they are proud the product can save and recall data. BIG DEAL. To get anything useful out of the system is big $$. Look up lawsuits on Epicor, same thing.

Good, bring 'em on (5, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382452)

As one of the guys responsible for delivering on salesweasels' promises, I fully support customers being given a realistic appraisal of the time, effort and cost required to get them up and running.

Re:Good, bring 'em on (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382554)

As one of the guys responsible for delivering on salesweasels' promises,

It's ok, you're allowed to say "Engineer" here. You're amongst friends. :)

Re:Good, bring 'em on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382724)

Careful, you'll offend the butthurt sensibilities of the Professional Engineer crowd who want to reserve that word for themselves only.

Re:Good, bring 'em on (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382966)

Fuck em. Free speech.

Re:Good, bring 'em on (2)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383038)

Problem is, unless all your competitors are doing that, you'll stop winning any business and rapidly be out of a job...

Procurement processes, particularly public sector, are all biased towards lowest cost rather than honesty of cost, and box-ticking over real due dilligence, because it's more objective that way. Everyone (unless they are allready bust, or have so much business they can pick and choose - and then have hte nightmare of trying to resource it...) trys to get the deal by under quoting the base price and making it back on change control. Because the customer will always have forgotten something somewhere....

Rock and hard place - you have to keep your salesweasels on short enough leash to prevent the catastophic undersells, but you do have to give them enough leeway to actually sell something.

This is only going to end up with one winner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382648)

The solicitors. I'm sure they are rubbing their hands together for this one and can't wait for a long drawn out battle. I guess this points out the need to employe an intermediate - technical professional that has a proven track record for IT project management?

I know the article is ligth in facts but it does suggest that the university has a record of detailed information on why they feel they were mis sold the software. So In this case it does seem like Oracle mislead the university and this should result in some form of compensation, or a full refund?

What's a good ERP Alternative (1)

northerner (651751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382764)

Who is using moderate priced ERP software that they like?

What is a good choice of ERP software for a small company that will grow into a medium sized company ($5million to $20million)?

I would like to avoid the experience Montclair State University had, and work with a good software package that doesn't need a lot of expensive consulting to customize it for my company.

Re:What's a good ERP Alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382946)

What does ERP have to do with a University?
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is usually associated with manufacturing. The goal being to identify resources and raw materials available when it’s needed to hit delivery dates. Plus accurately track each step of manufacturing to know where all the sub part are and costs associated with each step.
If their looking for financials, look at MS Dynamics,, not and ERP package. Sounds like they were bent over the fence by a good sales person.
.

Isn't that covered by the EULA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382772)

THE COMPANY shall not be held liable for any lies, extortion, waste of time, resources and personnel, injury, plague or death that may result from use of THE SOFTWARE.

Marketing. It's always marketing. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382828)

I've seen this problem so many bloody times (and I've had to clean it up a handful of times), it's because marketing goes out and promises big when they don't really have a clue about what their product even is.
Fire the sales guy(s) that sold them the product, and have people who actually understand which end is up fix the problem.

Re:Marketing. It's always marketing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38383102)

the sales guy probably took his big fat commission and ran a long time ago

They've been doing this for years... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38382976)

I worked at an Oracle consultancy in the late 90's and they were notorious at the time for doing this. The ERP solution is so convoluted, it was painful to look at the code back then. I am convinced they know internally that this system is unwieldy and market it like plug-and-play. They would *have* to.

When I would see negative press over the years about how bad Microsoft is, I would always think "Where is the negative press about Oracle?"

They were also known for the practice of "Eating Their Young". In this case a small private consultancy goes into a client, scores a job. Then for whatever reason, they need more resources so they go to Oracle for extra consultants. Well, Oracle would try like hell to squeeze out the people that got them the contract, making all sorts of promises, and then play that game where they simply cycle people in and out of the client to increase the billable hours. So incredibly short sighted, because obviously that small consultancy would do *anything* not to bring them in again. They tried it with my company back then and somehow we were able to kick them out.

I can't understand how they've managed to stay so successful. You'd think their reputation would bite them in the ass - more than this Montclair lawsuit.

solution = Milestone billing (1)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382978)

I love milestone billing.. The project is $10. I'll give you $2 when you accomplish this, $2 when you finish that... Don't care if it takes 20 minutes or 5 years...

Darth Ellison (3, Funny)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 2 years ago | (#38383096)

Dr. Cole (President of Montclair State University): That was never a condition of our agreement, nor was devoting more personnel to this project!
Larry Ellison: Perhaps you think you're being treated unfairly?
Dr. Cole: [pauses] No.
Larry Ellison Good. It would be unfortunate if this project happened to have any further costly delays.
Dr. Cole: [under her breath] This deal is getting worse all the time.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...