back to article Busted Oracle finance cloud leaves Rutgers Uni unable to foot bills

Rutgers University is struggling to pay its bills on time amid a prolonged outage of its Oracle-powered management systems. It is claimed this IT failure led to power outages within its campus after supplies were cut off due to non-payment. The hedgerow-league college, in New Jersey, US, has publicly admitted its Cornerstone …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did they...

    Try turning it off and back on again? That usually does the trick.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oracle plus Cloud?!

    Are they fucking mental?

    A recipe for disaster.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Oracle plus Cloud?!

      Gee, I wonder why Oracle don't use "Unbreakable" as their slogan any more.

      Well, other than in reference to their customers' resolve to keep shoveling money at them regardless of number of screwups, I guess...

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Oracle plus Cloud?!

      This kind of reaction is what you get when your lock-in can generate price structures that are not warranted by your technology benefits.

  3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Deserve Each Other?

    Oracle and Rutgers, one is a third rate (if lucky) software vendor while the other is a third rate state university. Rutgers has had such poor reputation that many New Jersey college age kids never considered going to the "flagship" state university unless they were desperate. (Rutgers is the official state university of New Jersey; there is no 'University of New Jersey'.) So it seems like they were made for each other.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Deserve Each Other?

      There is, however, a College of New Jersey. Not sure what rate they are though... They have a nice teaching program in Mallorca or so I'm told.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Deserve Each Other?

      Didn't it used to be good, though?

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Deserve Each Other?

      "while the other is a third rate state university."

      yes, but the co-ed in the photo has a nice pair of jugs. If I go there, can I find a girl with a nice pair of jugs?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deserve Each Other?

        Rutgers brings only one thing to mind...

        How to "Make It" as an "Artist"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A glorious opportunity for fraud here

    What's to stop someone trying this: "I supplied you 10,000 widgets, and haven't been paid!"

    Or this: "Yes, I definitely paid all my tuition this year"?

    I visited New Brunswick once for a college tour, it was the most depressing experience of my life. For you Brits, New Brunswick is a series of dark grey concrete monstrosities at the edge of a polluted slick of a river populated by dimwitted frat boys. A bit like Hull, but without the charm.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A glorious opportunity for fraud here

      "A bit like Hull, but without the charm."

      Hey, Hull is the UK's 2017 City of Culture!

      (Maybe they could become twin towns and open a joint venture yoghurt factory?)

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: A glorious opportunity for fraud here

      For you Brits, New Brunswick is a series of dark grey concrete monstrosities at the edge of a polluted slick of a river populated by dimwitted frat boys. A bit like Hull, but without the charm.

      Sounds like it should be twinned with the University of York - substitute "geese pond" for river and the similarity's uncanny.

      Beer icon in memory of happy times spent in Vanbrugh/Alcuin/Langwith bars.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A glorious opportunity for fraud here

        "Sounds like it should be twinned with the University of York - substitute "geese pond" for river and the similarity's uncanny.

        Beer icon in memory of happy times spent in Vanbrugh/Alcuin/Langwith bars."

        It was ducks, not geese ;-)

        And what about Derwent and Goodricke? Depending on your vintage, "old Derwent snug" was very nice. Alcuin as a 50's cocktail bar was awesome.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: A glorious opportunity for fraud here

          It was ducks, not geese ;-)

          Really? I remember it being Canada Geese, but it was over 20 years ago so I'm probably mistaken. Add geriatric anatidaeslexia to my list of foibles.

          And what about Derwent and Goodricke? Depending on your vintage, "old Derwent snug" was very nice. Alcuin as a 50's cocktail bar was awesome.

          I'd forgotten about those. Good call.

          On a side note, I went back to the campus about 3 years ago, and discovered that the place had been extensively redeveloped. So "dark grey concrete monstrosities" is perhaps a little unfair.

          1. x 7

            Re: A glorious opportunity for fraud here

            " I remember it being Canada Geese,"

            Probably got shot as illegal immigrants

    3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: AC Re: A glorious opportunity for fraud here

      ".... A bit like Hull, but without the charm." Strangely, the "charm" has been missing from every visit I've made to Hull. Perchance, were you comparing Hull to Aleppo?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: AC A glorious opportunity for fraud here

        Perchance, were you comparing Hull to Aleppo?

        The only americans are weapon-delivery CIA and there are bearded headcutters east of the river?

    4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: A glorious opportunity for fraud here

      You are being kind to the over-glorified sewer called New Brunswick. I can not think of a redeeming feature other than it's not Newark (a genuine hellhole that looks like its been nuked).

    5. elf25s

      Re: A glorious opportunity for fraud here

      lmao you are BEING generous...i live there and i love it so much i would not mind if some one just napalm the whole town and steam rolled the area flat....trust me it would be an improvement and all local mini towns in area residents would throw a party that would last years!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A glorious opportunity for fraud here

      > A bit like Hull, but without the charm

      Fuck you buddy. City of Culture mofo

  5. SomeoneInDelaware
    Devil

    Look out

    Maybe it's time for Rutgers to contract the issue to Tony Soprano for correction. Make Larry Ellison an offer he can't refuse.

    (For the Brits out there -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sopranos)

  6. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

    Win-win

    Looks like win-win to me. They successfully bullet-tested their system (result: it doesn't work) without having to hire Russian hackers to do it!

  7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
  8. jamesb2147
    Paris Hilton

    Oracle's fortunes

    Does this mean their next quarterly report will show cloud services growth or shrinkage?

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: jamesb2147Re: Oracle's fortunes

      "....or shrinkage?" Unfortunately (for the Rutgers' staff) that's unlikely. You see, once Cloud operators have your data locked up in their systems, it's like they have your genitals in a vice - tearing yourself away will hemorrhage money and probably kill your business, either through outright expense or through loss of business during the exit. The majority of migrations to the Cloud I've seen have also seen "efficiencies" made amongst the staff that could provide a fallback service, ensuring that it's even harder for the victim to tear away even if they could extract their data. I'm pretty certain the next quarter will still see fees from Rutgers in the Oracle "plus" column and some dean desperately insisting through gritted teeth that "the worst is behind us, the partnership with Oracle is working", etc., etc.

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Oracle... kind of says it all, doesn't it?

  10. Dick

    At least Rutgers has the perfect excuse next time Oracle asks to be paid :)

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      damn, beat me to it! +1

  11. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    It's a feautre

    Who can afford to pay bills after buying an Oracle enterprise solution?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so, which version of Oracle financial product is that?

    As far as I can tell, this is Oracle Cloud Fusion (their new puppy, first announced in 2006 when they acquired PeopleSoft).

    http://cornerstone.rutgers.edu/sites/fst/files/Cornerstone%20overview%20-%20July%202016.pdf

    But it would be nice for the article to specify, seeing as Oracle has a number of different ERP systems handy to sell. Some of which might even work.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: so, which version of Oracle financial product is that?

      It would be nice but we get the feeling it's a customized package of ERP products being phased in gradually - the best we can determine at the moment is that it's a suite of tools running on Oracle Cloud Financials and Oracle Cloud Fusion.

      C.

  13. doug_bostrom

    "The full rollout of Cornerstone is set to be completed by 2018."

    Preceded by a transitional period of public humiliation with no recourse. Oracle is the current champ at playing as the Lockheed-Martin of the IT world.

    Isn't private sector out-sourced pixie dust supposed to make this kind of thing impossible, what with greater efficiencies, less waste and all that?

  14. SVV Silver badge

    Ah, remember the good old days of the cloud hype......

    It's the future of everything! What could possibly go wrong? Entrust everything to us!

    What's that you say? You can't access the cloud because your electricity has been cut off due to a problem with the cloud based payments system........Er, just log onto the "emergency" bit of the system, oh sorry you can't do that either can you?

    How about you use the wifi at the coffee shop on the high street?

  15. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    So...

    I'm not sure how it works in the States but cutting off the power due to the non payment of a bill is the very last extreme measure taken by a supply company after they have exhausted all other remediative actions. Putting the Oracle issues aside, I draw the conclusion that Rutgers are seemingly totally inept at FO management by default if they have no manual backup process to receipt and match an invoice to make an emergency manual payment to a regular supplier for something as important as keeping the lights and power on.

    As I said, maybe in the States things are different in terms of how they go about dealing with business customers in default.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So...

      Here in the States, the first thing they do is cut you off and "negotiate" your account settlement; if you are lucky you will get a 24 hour notice, by email. This email usually carries the header "Important Notice" thus guaranteeing it will go straight into the junk mail folder...

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Typically one has to a couple of months in arrears in the US to be endanger of an utility cut off. So there is plenty of incompetence in the Rutger's finance department not to keep on top the utility bills. But this the NJ state government at work, an outfit that makes your average PHB look like brilliant business leader. (Originally from the hellhole of NJ)

    3. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: So...

      In my state of California they give residents a72 hour notice. After that you have to pay fines. Some power companies only take cash or debit after being cut off. If it's a commercial on industrial they just flip the switch/

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Err ...

    Not my typical comment, but about that pic ..... please, El Reg, you're not Fleet Street, you don't need to cover stories about IT screw ups at uni/college in the same blatantly wrong the way the papers cover exam results

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Err ...

      I thought the connection was that the Rutgers admin were real boobs?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Err ...

        What's the problem, need a university safe zone due to beautiful mam sightings?

  17. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    no love lost for Oracle around here then?

    But... who is the most hated by the El Reg commentards then?

    1) Oracle (placed 1st because they are mentioned in the topic title)

    2) Microsoft (for Windows 10)

    3) Apple

    4) A.N. Other (please specify who and why)

    5) All of 1,2 & 3 Equally

    Don't be shy now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: no love lost for Oracle around here then?

      Anon, coz i work for one of 'em, but you have missed out the big consultancy firms ...

      Crapita, CSC, Accenture, EDS, Fujitsu, BT, IBM, EDS, HP, Toilet & Douche, A Toss, ... etc. etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: no love lost for Oracle around here then?

      You forgot Adobe

    3. taupehat

      Re: no love lost for Oracle around here then?

      If you've ever been employed by an organization as they brought Oracle on board, you'd understand. After decades of work in the field, the contempt with which they treat their customers is still shocking.

  18. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Great marketing, for once

    "Oracle Cloud Expense solution", you say? Yes, that brand certainly seems to capture some of the key features of Larry's offerings in some indefinable way...

  19. andy 103
    FAIL

    Don't put all your eggs in one basket

    No really, don't.

    That's all.

  20. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    I thought that British universities were the Kings of IT screw ups...

  21. Christoph Silver badge
    FAIL

    So what's the problem?

    Why wasn't this found during the period of parallel running of the old and new systems?

    And why haven't they implemented the roll-back scheme they prepared before the transition?

    Err, they did have those, didn't they? Since it would be so obviously silly not to?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what's the problem?

      Heh. I love it even more when the running in parallel shows the old system to have huge problems, like a payroll system consistently overpaying some employees, underpaying others, and ignoring various taxes and deductions.

      Wheee. (BTDT, thus anon)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what's the problem?

      "during the period of parallel running of the old and new systems?"

      HAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, that didn't happen. Nor did they do an adequate amount of training nor did they beta test or listen to their potential users enough.

      On the bright side, we currently can't pay the parking office for our yearly tags yet!

  22. elf25s

    funny that ...vendors did not get paid ut the administrators did...wonder why that happened? btw it is not a first time this happens at least 2 to 3 times a year here and very rarely it makes any sort of news

  23. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Facepalm

    poor widdle snowflakes

    poor widdle snowflakes, don't know what to do on their own. Things like this USED to be handled by accountants and accounting staff. But now it's Oracle cloudy something. Maybe it's time to hire a temp for the interrim? Someone who learned how to add and subtract would be a plus.

    and 1 more reason why "the cloud" is HIGHLY overrated... and 'higher' education as well.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outsourcing is the problem

    NJ State Government entities are often required by the legislature to outsource new systems, when there are perfectly capable programmers and developers already employed by the State and its entities who can slowly, carefully, upgrade a system. This is a problem throughout all of NJ Government as well as entities like universities and quasi-independent authorities.

    Rutgers has long been a leader in computer science; it was one of the original ARPAnet nodes. If Rutgers had been permitted to do the upgrade in-house, this wouldn't be happening. I've seen this same sort of screwup happen in other NJ state agencies as some well-connected vendor gets a lot of money to put the State in a worse position than it was before.

  25. x 7

    Oh Shit...........the hospital I'm currently contracting for is moving its payments to Oracle cloud systems in March

    Hope I'll be elsewhere by then

  26. aghast

    Help with idiom?

    I live in the US, in New Jersey. I have no idea what "hedgerow-league" means or implies. Can you clarify the sense of hedgerow for this?

    I could see "bush league" (which Rutgers isn't), but hedgerow to me means "Invasion of Normandy," and I'm not connecting those dots...

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: hedgerow-league

      Not quite ivy-league.

      C.

      1. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: hedgerow-league

        We'd call Rutgers a "Public Ivy" since they're a state sponsored and/or land grant school that offers an education comparable to an Ivy League university, and has roughly the same level of prestige but for a hell of a lot less in terms of Tuition and with a much easier admissions policy since they're public.

        I finished my bachelor's at a so-called "Hidden Ivy", but I have no idea how admissions was for normal entrants or transfers because my Brigade's career counselor did most of the leg work. I was in the US Army Student Detachment, a program that Training and Doctrine Command had (and maybe still has) for Active Duty Soldiers to finish up their degree while still getting their pay, allowances, and Tricare in exchange for assisting the School's ROTC cadre with training the ROTC Cadets, and also extending your contract (or outright re-enlisting) for however many years you're in the detachment.

        Hedgerow league would work I guess, though aren't most hedgerows made out of Ivy?

  27. FrankAlphaXII
    Joke

    What they're not telling you is

    Oracle's system worked just fine.

    Its just so ridiculously expensive that everything Rutgers tried to pay got kicked back for insufficient funds.

    Give it a couple days and you'll be seeing the university's President standing next a Jersey Turnpike off-ramp holding a sign asking for a couple million in spare change, along with their gofundme URL and a bitcoin wallet address.

  28. EJ

    "If you are contacted by a vendor who is requesting immediate payment, please advise that we have an emergency process in place, and your unit will submit a request for expedited payment," the bulletin reads.

    That should put the crims on notice to submit phony invoices, El Reg. Nicely done.

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