Financial pressure on local authorities may render many unable to manage database software compliance and leave them open to heavy auditing costs and licensing fees.

Our latest research has revealed that local councils are experiencing increasing costs for their Oracle database software, lengthy software licenses and expensive audit processes. The data has emerged following a Freedom of Information request sent to 75 local authorities, to establish the cost and operational burdens on local councils using Oracle relational database software.

Local council are operating under unprecedented budgetary pressure, with funding cuts from central government leaving many councils struggling to deliver crucial services. The increasing costs of Oracle’s relational database software licenses and the immensely complex process of auditing software can place an additional financial strain upon local councils, who may not have the budgetary or personnel resources to ensure that they are always in compliance with Oracle’s licensing terms. The rate at which Oracle is auditing local councils, as revealed by our Freedom of Information request, may leave many councils operating outside the terms of their license agreements.

Key findings included:

  • 77 UK councils were questioned under the Freedom of Information Act and 60 responded within the legal timeframe
  • Of those that responded, 92% are currently using Oracle database software
  • However, in this age of austerity over 32% of the sample that responded stated that in the past two years their spend on Oracle had increased by 20% with 2% stating their spend had increased over 100%
  • 20% of UK councils also reported that they had spent over £100,000 or more on Oracle in the past two years, with 2% claiming the spend had tipped the £500,000 mark
  • Councils also appear to be being tied into long term license arrangements with over 20% stating that their existing license agreement was over four years; 43% stated that their license arrangement was between one and two years
  • Of those that responded 5% had had an Oracle audit in the past year – in other words roughly 21 of the 418 councils in the UK

The pace of the audits conducted by Oracle must be a concern for local councils. It is, of course, the responsibility of the council to make sure that it adheres to the terms of its software licenses but, with Oracle auditing just 5% of councils per year, there is a real risk that some cash-strapped local authorities may be operating outside of the remit of their software licenses without knowing it. This could have very expensive ramifications, as councils may find themselves forced to purchase additional, costly licenses from Oracle. Many councils find themselves operating within an opaque, rigid licensing system, where they often do not know exactly what they are paying for and how many licenses they need.

We have seen from our research that, despite the growing number of alternative providers, 92% of the 60 local councils that responded to our Freedom of Information request are still using Oracle relational database software. In the era of austerity, where local councils are having to make cuts to all areas of their budgets, it is critical that IT infrastructure deliver value for money for the taxpayer. All too often, local councils find themselves navigating complex licensing terms, convoluted pricing structures and legacy technology, which can increase costs and distract IT departments from the fundamental task of enabling service delivery, forcing them to prepare for arbitrary software audits, pay for infrastructure they’re not using due to restrictive licensing agreements and spend time integrating these databases with new technology.

Our RDBMS, Tibero, is designed to address many of these issues. Tibero bridges the gap between outdated relational databases and the new paradigm of running workloads in virtualised data centres and the cloud, allowing local authorities to fully leverage their investment by embracing a simple, true utilisation licensing model. This flexibility enables IT teams to drive innovation forward, without being weighed down by unnecessary costs and complexity. Databases should ultimately be the IT bedrock that enables local councils to deliver services to residents and businesses, not a burden that distracts them from this crucial task.

UK councils – 418 in total

England (353 total)

  • 27 County Councils (upper tier)
  • 201 District Councils (lower tier)
  • 32 London Boroughs (unitary)
  • 36 Metropolitan Boroughs (unitary)
  • 55 Unitary authorities (unitary)
  • 2 Sui Generis authorities – City of London Corporation and Isles of Scilly (unitary)

 Wales (22 total)

  • 22 Unitary authorities (unitary)

 Scotland (32 total)

  • 32 Unitary authorities (unitary)

 Northern Ireland (11 total)

  • 11 Unitary authorities (unitary)