Oracle users worry upcoming support site upgrade will be another 'fiasco'

A next-generation user interface is set for launch later this month

Oracle's impending upgrade to its support portal promises to deliver a "next-generation" experience, but some users are worried they'll endure another "fiasco" of the sort that occurred when Oracle revamped the site in 2009.

"Are there any fond memories about the last time this happened?" one poster on the Oracle-L mailing list wrote recently. "Here's hoping they have learned a lesson on that and make real improvements this time, and make a smooth transition."

"The Flash version got me to the point of complaining every time I talked about Oracle, which ultimately led me to stop posting in various forums," another user on the list wrote. "Perhaps I will be able to start posting again without cringing. One can only hope that MOS will put their experience to good use and provide something that actually provides us with support with minimal frustration.

After the 2009 overhaul, users reported a wide range of severe login, performance and usability problems, with many heaping particular scorn on its Flash-based user interface. The site, which was renamed My Oracle Support, superseded an earlier platform called Metalink. Oracle later restored an HTML option for MOS.

Overall, the experience was a bitter pill for Oracle professionals, whose employers and clients pay large sums of money for access to the support site as part of their annual maintenance fees.

Now the upcoming upgrade will provide a new user interface built with Oracle's Application Development Framework, according to a message on the company's website. Improvements will include a "streamlined, three-step process for initiating new Service Requests"; a "single, consistent workflow for both hardware and software incidents"; "enhanced personalization and filtering; and additional accessibility features, such as large fonts."

Both the current HTML and Flash UIs will be replaced by the new-and-improved ADF version, Oracle said. HTML users will make the switch late this month, with the cutover for Flash users coming about three months later, the message added.

But a number of users also questioned how much the new UI, no matter how slick, will actually improve Oracle's support service.

"I wonder if the rewrite can do away with problems like: 1) [service request] allocated to another follow-the-sun site so they always miss my responses and I always missed theirs; 2) Total failure to understand what the problem is," another Oracle-L subscriber wrote.

An Oracle spokeswoman couldn't immediately provide comment on the company's preparedness for the site upgrade.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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