Oracle's weird support model strikes again...
I'm sure these guys probably were trying to pull a fast one on Oracle, but resellers could really get burned.
Oracle, Cisco and others have an interesting model. You can go on Oracle's website, and download the latest major release of any of their software, with no licensing. If you were crazy, you could just take their software and use it in production. Or...could you? Our company has legit, paid-for support for Oracle and Solaris and we play the per-core, per-socket licensing game every year with them. And it turns out that you actually need it. Why?
1. No patches without a support contract
2. Oracle doesn't put out point releases on the web for free. Any problems that require you to patch the original media remain unsolved on the "free" side of the website.
3. Oracle also doesn't update the official product manuals, instead relying on "Notes" to tell you the real deal once they find a problem, again, only available on the support site.
Now, adding Solaris and Sun hardware into the mix, there are no more Solaris patches for download, and no more firmware updates for Sun kit without a corresponding contract. So in one shot, Oracle killed the hobbyist SPARC and Solaris ecosystem.
It could be that Oracle is working to keep their consultant base in business, but the simple RAC setup I did in our lab last month took WAY longer than it had to. I ran into spots in the install that I would never be able to overcome without patching the media, reading the 12 or so linked support notes, finding out what in the original install guide was just plain wrong. etc. etc. Compare that with a 45-60 minute install of a SQL Server cluster, a couple hours messing with DB2, etc.
So, given how critical support is to making Oracle products work, I could see a bunch of resellers falling into this trap. It's like Oracle is giving them enough rope to hang themselves, then swooping in when they discover someone has been sharing support contracts.