Oracle is beefing up its support services.

At the International Oracle Users Group (IOUG) Live 2005 database user event this week, its new CIO David Thompson highlighted improvements to the company's database and technology software maintenance policies. He also discussed newly added features, such as live Web conferencing, to the company's MetaLink online support offering.

Oracle will now support each release of its database and Oracle Application Server for five years, starting with version 9.2 of the database and version 10.1.2 of the application server, said Thompson. Customers can purchase additional maintenance indefinitely, but they must contract to do so two years prior to the end date.

The company is also offering new types of content on MetaLink. The content includes live product demonstrations, hundreds of tips and tricks for customers and an improved search engine to help direct customers looking for work-arounds or specific answers, he said. To speed up information delivery, the company has cut the time required to post content to MetaLink from 47 days to two or three days.

Since late last year, Oracle has also been offering Web collaboration technology to help customers link up with a technician to troubleshoot problems, said Thompson. The sessions allow an Oracle technician to more quickly diagnose problems, speeding up resolution times by 30 percent, or about 20 minutes per diagnostic session.

Users at the IOUG event were generally upbeat about the support changes, although several found the way Oracle distributes its patches and security fixes to be troublesome.