MDS - Guide
Market Driven Support (MDS) is an Oracle support product for its Database 184.108.40.206 and E-Business Suite 12.1.3. But it falls short in a number of ways...
The REAL Cost of Oracle's Market Driven Support
What is MDS and when is it ending?
Oracle is attempting to play the third-party game.
Market Driven Support (MDS) is an Oracle support offering for its Database 220.127.116.11 and E-Business Suite 12.1.3.
(These are two versions MDS is currently supporting, but this can change as and when old versions fall out of Extended Support and into Sustaining Support.)
MDS is Oracle’s attempt at third-party support – albeit its poorer cousin.
Separate from their traditional three-tier system of support (Premier, Extended, and Sustaining), MDS aims to keep customers tied into Oracle's support eco-system by offering them an artificial extension of Extended Support for a set period (usually two years).
We’ll go into why this 'extension' is a false support economy on a later page.
It promises to keep customers supported over the contract period while they figure out their next move: do they upgrade to the latest product version (at great cost) or migrate to the Cloud (at great cost).
This choice puts customers between a rock and a hard place.
MDS is also not a free offering.
The price isn’t openly disclosed, but customers pay an additional fee (we’ve seen sums of £250k per year), on top of paying for Extended Support.
In theory, customers are essentially buying themselves (at great cost) time before slipping into Sustaining Support or having to upgrade to the latest software version, while retaining some level of support for the software that they’re still running.
But as is the Oracle way, it’s never that simple…
Another support product;
Oracle are obsessed with deadlines!
Despite MDS promising to be the fuel that keeps the support engine running, MDS won’t be available forever if you’re on product versions Oracle no longer wishes to support.
Oracle Database 18.104.22.168 falls out of MDS support at the end of this year (2022), while Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1.3 will stop receiving MDS support 2 years later in December 2024.
Oracle will support organisations on MDS, but only for as long as it can bear them not being on their most recent database versions or latest Cloud product.
MDS is a nice little sales tool for Oracle to pull out of the bag if a customer looks like they have wandering eyes towards an alternative support provider, or if they’re not ready, or not interested in upgrading at that time.
It’s protecting its support cash-cow* while claiming to have an alternative to third-party support.
Our next section will show how far short MDS falls at this…
Are you currently paying for Market Driven Support?
*Remember from our previous guide, Oracle makes a ~90% profit margin from your support fees; it’s important they don’t lose this revenue generator.
A broken bridge to nowhere
3 Reasons why Oracle Market Driven Support isn’t right for you
A bridge is built to provide passage over an obstacle which is otherwise difficult to pass.
Stick with us while we run with this analogy…
Upgrading part of your IT estate is a big project, and you may not quite be ready to take the leap from on-premise to the Cloud. Support assistance is vital to ensure the smooth running of a project of this complexity.
MDS is meant to bridge the gap between Extended Support and an upgrade.
It’s (supposedly) been designed to carry the customer over the obstacles that come with these long-term migration projects until they’re ready, and until they reach the other side.
But MDS is no Brooklyn Bridge.
It’s constructed out of poor-quality materials and built on unstable foundations, guiding the customer to a destination miles away from where they want to be heading.
Here are 3 reasons why…
Where MDS falls short
1. Unsolved issues
Customers can only log Severity 1 issues for Oracle Database 22.214.171.124 on MDS, and only Severity 1 & 2 issues on Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1.3.
According to Oracle, a Severity 1 issue is defined by: “Your production use of the Oracle Services is stopped or so severely impacted that you cannot reasonably continue work. You experience a complete loss of service. The impacted operation is mission critical to the business and the situation is an emergency.”
Source: Support Process Guide, 2021.
So, an MDS customer issue that’s raised is only resolved in the case of an emergency that severely impacts the business.
An issue could still be considerably impacting, but if the issue is anything other than serious (defined by Oracle), you’re on your own.
Furthermore, Oracle has a tendency to fix issues in bulk. It may be more inclined to wait until this issue occurs with several customers before deciding to address it.
So even if they get around to fixing it, customers may be in for a long wait.
Even Severity 2 issues are only resolved if they’re ‘newly discovered’. But Oracle are unlikely to take quick action to non-business critical issues raised by customers.
By using MDS for older, unsupported versions, such as the two above, there’s a very small window where Oracle will find a newly discovered issue that qualifies under its Severity 2 definition.
Coming back to our bridge analogy, this promise to fix new issues only represents the unstable foundations the MDS bridge is built upon.
One small push (one question of integrity) and the structure comes crashing down with the customer left to pick up the pieces despite paying for the service.
How often do you raise a support ticket with Oracle of any severity level?
- Almost never
2. Weaker negotiating position
If a bridge is unstable and poorly made, but is your only choice, there’s no option but to take the risk and cross.
Crossing the MDS bridge weakens your negotiating position by forcing you to commit your interest to upgrading and/or moving to the Oracle Cloud once the contract is up.
You’ve essentially handed Oracle your IT roadmap and given them say on when you’ll be upgrading and what you’ll be upgrading to.
Oracle’s support business is intent on pretending it knows your organisation better than you and forcing you down an expensive upgrade path as a result.
But what if you’re still not ready? Well… tough luck! Oracle holds all the cards.
It acts like it’s already done you the favour by offering MDS in the first place and extending support past the point that the version has gone unsupported.
They’ve provided a bridge to upgrade (albeit badly made), what more do you want?!
Now you face two choices once the MDS contract ends: go unsupported (lose compliance, lost services etc.), or upgrade (at great cost!).
You’re now between a rock and a hard place, all while stood on a rickety bridge that’s already pointing in the wrong direction with it about to be removed from beneath your feet.
3. Support by force
Not only has Oracle built you an inadequate MDS bridge to ‘help’ you between support and upgrading, it'll also be following behind, pushing you along it.
Advanced Customer Service (ACS) is an additional support service (on top of everything else) that includes a dedicated Oracle Technical Account Manager (TAM).
TAMs act as the go-to contact. It's Oracle’s way of making sure you meet the deadline they themselves have set you to upgrade.
This is an additional paid service that appears to be working in the interest of the customer but enables Oracle to further guarantee your IT roadmap is followed through.
One example of the ineptness of ACS is that tickets raised by customers who use it will be given priority. But if only Priority 1 tickets are resolved on MDS, then you could barely class that a benefit.
ACS could easily be of some help to customers who need that little bit extra assistance navigating a very technical IT project, but almost serves as the sword in the back of the shipmate who’s currently walking the plank.
Enough analogies now.
ACS is an additional cost to the customer, however this service comes as standard with third-party providers like Support Revolution… but we won’t brag about that just yet.
Now let's look at how Oracle's brand power facilitates MDS >>
The cost of MDS
And how Oracle keeps you hooked on its support.
Unlike third-party support, Market Driven Support isn’t designed to last.
It’s a temporary ‘solution’ designed to be used as a stopgap to keep organisations supported only until they upgrade.
(We’d rather use ‘option’ as it doesn’t seem to ‘solve’ much at all.)
BUT… alongside the three points we made in the previous section, MDS comes at considerable cost, despite its evident shortfall in support services.
The assigned Account Manager is there to nudge you down the Cloud sales cycle and make sure upgrade targets are hit.
Many organisations just want to remain supported, and Oracle knows this – particularly for those who must remain supported to comply with regulations.
Because it knows so many of its customers are trapped in the support cycle, Oracle can afford to offer less for more, while marketing a support product that pretends its working in their best interest.
... if you strolled into an Apple Store tomorrow and were told you need to renew your AppleCare cover, but were told you’re now not only going to be paying more, you’re also no longer getting 24/7 support (only 9/5 support), and will no longer be covered for accidental damage - only theft - would you accept that?.
So how does Oracle keep getting away with it?
- Brand power – it has the big name, the shiny marketing partnerships, and offices across the world that wins the mindshare of the customer and wider market.
- First to market – it was one of the first into the ERP market, and with that comes an image of historicity and expertise.
- Compliance obligations – Many organisations will need to remain fully supported to remain compliant with their governing body.
MDS offers a combination of a short-term fix and a recognisable name.
But MDS can cost your organisation more than you think…
- You pay 22% of the license price for Premier support & maintenance.
- +20% of the 22% if you fell into Extended Support.
- +20% of the 22% if you fell into Sustaining Support.
- That’s an accumulative 26.4% for support for old software that’s now fallen into best endeavor support.
- +MDS cost (we’ve seen sums of £250k per year).
- +additional inflationary annual increases (early reports that this could be upwards of 8%).
The less support you receive, the less ROI you generate from your support contracts.
Support costs stack and compound as you move through support levels.
Differences between MDS and third-party support
Financial, Strategic, and Technical differences.
Oracle's Market Driven Support
- MDS is an additional cost on top of what customers have already paid for with Extended Support.
- MDS merely delays a future upgrade. The cost is only deferred rather than avoided.
MDS only covers Priority 1 fixes for two product versions (Priority 2 only if 'newly discovered').
What's more, this is only ever if Oracle deem them 'commercially viable' and 'appropriate'.
- Support Revolution provides fixes for all priorities, no matter the product or product version.
- Issues raised are never deemed unworthy of addressing.
Unlike third-party support, MDS fails to break the upgrade cycle...
MDS essentially adds a further stage to this already lengthy and unnecessary merry-go-round.
Organisations can delay upgrading by using MDS but will receive reduced support at greater cost.
This is only a temporary measure. They will eventually rejoin the cycle at Stage 5 once MDS ends (when Oracle decides).
Find out how Tifco Hotel Group broke this cycle >>