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10/5/2011
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Rimini Street Expands Support To Oracle Database

Third-party support provider extends its 50% cost-savings promise. But will database management system customers go without patches and bug fixes?

Rimini Street, the third-party support provider for Oracle and SAP applications, ventured into a big new market this week when it announced support for Oracle database. With some 200,000 customers on various generations of that database, it's a huge potential market for an alternative maintenance services provider, but there's a catch.

Rimini says it will provide Oracle database support at a 50% cost savings over existing maintenance contracts. That's the same promise Rimini makes for support of Oracle's E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, and Siebel, as well as SAP applications. The key difference is that source code is open and available for applications, so Rimini can make direct changes to that code, including any and all changes required for tax, legal, or regulatory reasons. Databases, on the other hand, are compiled products, so Rimini can't touch the code and offer the same updates, patches, and bug fixes Oracle would supply as part of its maintenance services.

That sounds like a deal breaker for anybody willing to pay 22% annual maintenance, but Rimini CEO Seth Ravin told InformationWeek that some IT shops are so budget constrained they're dropping maintenance altogether. Rimini's new service is a far better risk-mitigation alternative, he said, and he contends that most database problems aren't related to code, so he's betting that many companies will consider the services Rimini can provide.

[Want more on Oracle OpenWorld? Read Oracle's Big Plans For Big Data Analysis. ]

The core database services include diagnostics, "super DBA services," configuration support, and application integration support. The diagnostic services are about figuring out where the problem lies when things go wrong, whether that's in the database, middleware, or applications.

"We can traverse the stack to find the issue without going to five different vendors," Ravin said. And if the issue does lie in the database, he adds, Rimini can help reset indexes or change configuration settings to solve a problem.

Super DBA services are about plugging the gaps in administrative knowledge for organizations that are stretched thin and that might not have seasoned DBAs that are familiar with Oracle database best practices. Configuration support is about tuning the database for better performance, particularly in transactional uses where the database works hand-in-hand with applications. Integration support ensures database connectivity to the application layer, coordinating database changes with applications support teams.

Rimini services include support for a minimum of 10 years without required upgrades, named support engineers assigned to each client with no offshoring of support calls, and 24/7 coverage with a 30-minute-or-less guaranteed response time.

The alternative database services won't be right for every company, Ravin admitted. That's true of app services as well, he said, yet the company has managed to win more than 450 customers, 60% of which are running the latest versions of Oracle or SAP apps. The latest application added to Rimini's support portfolio is Oracle E-Business suite, formally added this week after a one-year trial period with early-adopter customers.

Rimini declined to name any of its customers or any early adopters of database services. Several Oracle database customers canvassed at this week's Oracle OpenWorld event said they would not be likely to consider a database service that could not offer bug fixes and security patches. Nonetheless, Ravin said some organizations are most interested in system stability and longevity, so they actually skip updates that might destabilize their environment.

"Vendors hate to talk about it, but there are lots of customers that extend their use of releases [for] years longer than the vendors anticipate," Ravin said. "They're happy as long as their systems are stable, and they're not looking to invest in things with little ROI."

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