Oracle cuts Eskom IT support

Software giant Oracle has cut Eskom off from essential technical services the utility has previously said were crucial to its operations.

This is according to reports from Netwerk24 and News24, who said that an Eskom spokesperson on Friday confirmed there were no positive developments in a payment dispute between the two entities.

Eskom last week lost a court bid to stop Oracle from terminating the utility’s support for its software.

This comes after an audit by Oracle found that Eskom owed it R7.3 billion for gross overuse of its software. It revised this amount to R600 million, and later to R400 million.

Meanwhile, Eskom has maintained it only owes R166 million.

The utility previously warned if Oracle withdrew its services it would have catastrophic consequences on its ability to provide electricity to South Africa.

Among other things, Eskom uses Oracle’s software to support billing and accounts, plant maintenance, and electricity distribution.

In court documents lodged two weeks ago, the company warned that almost the entire country could be plunged into darkness and come to a standstill if it could no longer use Oracle’s software.

After the Johannesburg High Court dismissed Eskom’s application, the utility downplayed the impact of losing access to Oracle’s support services.

It claimed that it had assessed the risks in the event of Oracle withdrawing technical services support, and had interim risk mitigating processes in place to reduce the risk of its operations being disrupted.

Oracle building

According to Netwerk24 and News24, Eskom has now appealed the High Court’s ruling.

MyBroadband asked Eskom for comment on the latest developments, but did not immediately receive feedback.

Power and mining expert Ted Blom has warned that it was unlikely that Eskom could be run without Oracle’s software.

Blom said that Oracle could easily pull the plug on providing services to Eskom its data was stored in the cloud.

“One password change and Eskom will have to go back to carrier pigeons,” Blom said.

However, Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha previously said contingency measures had been put in place to ensure Eskom could continue operating in a worst-case scenario, including alternative software.

“If Oracle pulls out it will not cause a blackout. Oracle is one of thousands of contracts that are running at Eskom which work together to produce, supply, and distribute electricity,” he said.

He acknowledged there could  be “hiccups” in areas were Eskom used Oracle’s systems has Eskom would no longer have access to Oracle experts to assist in the event of problems with its software.

To address this, the utility has primed its internal team that Oracle helps to support.

Below is Eskom’s statement on the Johannesburg High Court’s ruling from last week.

Now read: Concerns over price of electricity from powerships

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Oracle cuts Eskom IT support