The rise of third-party support for enterprise software

Sebastian Grady, President, Rimini Street. Image courtesy of Rimini Street.

Rimini Street was founded in 2005, with a singular and specific goal: to provide third-party support for large ERP and enterprise software brands at the “highest level of both value and customer service”. It is headquartered in Las Vegas with 24 worldwide offices and over 2,000 active clients across the globe today. According to the company’s President, Sebastian Grady, the company’s rapid growth (12% YoY) is a direct result of companies wanting to gain flexibility in their IT strategy while gaining freedom from “vendor-dictated roadmaps”.

We talk to Sebastian Grady on the company’s unique business model and why he believes large enterprises are tired of sinking their IT budgets into operations, leaving little for actual innovation.

For people who might not know, tell us about Rimini Street’s business model of third-party support for ERP software.

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We help companies reduce the costs of ERP support (specifically Oracle and SAP) so that they can use those savings to invest in innovation. All companies must innovate today to avoid being left behind by competitors, and Rimini Street’s support puts organisations in the position to identify and act on opportunities. Our businesses are focused on delivering high quality service and rapid response times to issues by experienced engineers. Our partnerships with organisations help them accelerate their business-driven IT strategies for competitive advantage, versus being held captive by a vendor-dictated roadmap. It is a highly responsive model with personalised service.

Why are businesses in Asia moving towards third-party support? What are the benefits besides cutting expenses?

CIOs and IT leaders in Asia are typically spending as much as 90% of their IT budget on operations, leaving just 10% of the budget for investments in new technologies and innovation. Businesses must innovate in the market to gain competitive advantage and growth. For many, the switch away from SAP and Oracle maintenance to third-party support helps companies gain more flexibility with limited resources, including time, money and personnel, and enables them to divert resource savings to more strategic initiatives across the company. Premium-level enterprise software support services help organisations maximise the value of their ERP systems as a result. Today we support more than 160 organizations with operations in South East Asia.

How exactly does third-party support help enterprises save money? And how much does it save them?

Third-party support from Rimini Street enables enterprises to use the savings to fund digital transformation projects that they did not have the resources to achieve in the support cycle of the ERP vendor. The cost savings from third-party support can be substantial, up to 50% for most customers, and potentially create opportunities to save up to 90% on total maintenance costs. Additionally, as issues arise, IT teams receive prompt responses and better overall service from a dedicated Primary Support Engineer, who has an average of 15 years’ experience in the company’s specific enterprise software system. That is a huge motivation for companies to switch to Rimini Street Support to maximize the ROI on their existing enterprise software investments by extending operating lifespan.

What are some of the things that Rimini Street has learned about businesses in Asia along the way in tackling their specific business challenges?

Businesses in Asia need to find ways to optimise their IT spending, improve competitive advantage and drive rapid growth, like organisations in other regions. With 90% of overall IT budgets spent on daily operating costs, the remainder left for investments in strategic initiatives isn’t enough to gain a competitive advantage. With Rimini Street as a trusted partner, businesses no longer need to commit to vendor-dictated roadmaps that take up the largest portion of their budget, including the massive amount of maintenance fees for upgrades and updates to keep the system fully supported. Great service and a focus on a more value-driven, flexible alternative is much preferred when businesses make the switch.  

In this time especially, company leaders are focused on protecting jobs by reducing budgets in areas that do not contribute to growth, and Rimini Street is well positioned to help organisations through these uncertain times and beyond.

What were the challenges that Rimini Street faced in the beginning when setting up shop in Asia and how did you overcome them?

We, like many in the technology sector, are always looking for experienced engineers to join our team, as talent is in high demand. In Asia, we actively employ engineers with local knowledge as our business grows. Our success has always been our customers’ success, and they trust us to solve anything for them through our support system. That is our primary motivation for maintaining a highly experienced, locally knowledgeable support team. 

You support several Oracle products, but Rimini Street and Oracle quite famously spent years in litigation over alleged copyright issues. How have the legal matters finally been resolved so you can offer support for Oracle products?

Our ability to provide support for Oracle products has never been in dispute. Even the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals noted that Rimini Street “provided third-party support for Oracle’s enterprise software, in lawful competition with Oracle’s direct maintenance services.” Instead, our long-running dispute with Oracle centers around the processes to provide third-party support.

Further, since the litigation started we have continued to add clients and more Oracle product lines to our support portfolio. In the nearly 15 years Rimini Street has been in business we have provided third-party enterprise software support services to nearly 3,400 Oracle and SAP clients around the world including more than 150 Fortune 500 companies.

A claim from Oracle is related to security patches, which Oracle said Rimini Street omitted at the time of the lawsuit. Assuming your customers know all this, how do you assure them or support them regarding security patches, etc?

Rimini Street Advanced Database, Application, and Middleware Security Solutions are state of the art virtual patching solutions for enterprise applications, middleware and databases. In our experience, virtual patching technology applied in concert with a client’s security policies, compliance mandates, and an improved security strategy, provides faster time-to-protection through accelerated delivery of updates, without impacting productivity.

This is in comparison to vendor security patching which requires regression testing and system downtime. In fact, many companies apply security patches only once a year — if at all — due to the testing and downtime required, as well as how labour- and time-intensive this process is. Layered security on the other hand, is a proven defence-in-depth model recommended by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States to “provide a complex barrier to entry, increase the likelihood of detection and decrease the likelihood of a successful compromise” for IT systems.