Oracles two-and-a-half-year spending spree on over 20 companies has sprung forth a whole new era of competition: third-party companies that support Oracles software stepchildren—PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel—at about half the maintenance cost offered by Oracle.
Rimini Street, one such company that sprung up last year, announced that its going global Oct. 25 at Oracles annual OpenWorld conference in San Francisco. The company will open offices in the Asia-Pacific region first, with support services available in Australia and New Zealand during the first quarter of 2007. Additional geographic areas of expansion include other major regions of Asia-Pacific, as well as Europe.
True to its mission, Rimini Street will offer third-party support for PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel applications at a time when Oracle customers may be taking a wait-and-see approach to SOA (service oriented architecture) and the next generation suite of applications from Oracle that are part of upgrading to a services-based infrastructure.
"Customers are looking to us specifically for value. They need to cut the overall cost of maintenance," said Seth Ravin, founder and CEO of Rimini Street, based in Las Vegas. "Theyre stable on releases and not ready to make a move to SOA—its not even proven yet, and theres no business case yet."
Rimini Streets main competitor is TomorrowNow, a company founded in 1998 to provide third-party support for PeopleSoft applications. About the time Oracle announced its intended (hostile) acquisition of PeopleSoft in 2004, TomorrowNow started offering support for JD Edwards, which had been acquired by PeopleSoft.
Once Oracle succeeded in its 18-month battle to acquire PeopleSoft, Oracles main applications rival SAP AG bought TomorrowNow—a prescient move that assured a stable landing pad for those customers shaken by Oracles SOA (read: Fusion) plans. Oracle is in the midst of developing Fusion Applications, a next-generation suite, based on the Oracle E-Business Suite, which brings together the best of functionality from PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Seibel.
Fusion Applications sit on top of Oracle Fusion Middleware; the two layers will be intrinsically bound together and optimized to run interdependently (though Oracle maintains a hot pluggable approach to development). The question still remains if Fusion Applications will run on Oracles database only.
SAP too is heading down its own SOA path with its NetWeaver middleware and development platform and mySAP ERP applications stack, all based on a services model. SAPs Enterprise Service Architecture roadmap is expected to be complete next year; Fusion Applications are due sometime in 2008.
The period of flux with both companies leaves customers a gap to reevaluate their options, according to Rimini Streets Ravin.
"I think there are a lot of unanswered questions around SOA," said Ravin. "Clearly there are some benefits in reducing integration costs between applications…but Gartner be-lieves the cost of moving [to Fusion] for J.D. Edwards and Siebel users could be as much as 90 percent. And looking at the way SAP is moving their products, the individual components [could amount to] a 60-percent license increase."
While Rimini Street clearly is in a position to profit from any customer confusion around Fusion—users have the ability to park support with a third-party provider until they decide which way to go with SAO—Ravin brings up a valid point: Mainly, what do customers stand to gain by moving to a SOA-based architecture?
At OpenWorld, Oracle will look to answer some of those questions around SOA and Fusion. It will, according to an Oracle spokeswoman, continue the message that PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel applica-tions are stable for as long as users want to main-tain them.
That said, at some point users will have to look at migrating (or upgrading, as the case may be) to Fusion. "Oracle is going to attempt to play down Fusion—it scared customers early on," said Ravin. "Theyve done a pretty good job of trying to change their messaging.
Unfortunately the concepts of lifetime support and Applications Unlimited are not what they say. Lifetime support still has end dates... Once Oracle finishes Fusion, theres no doubt the pressure will begin."
Rimini Street too has its work cut out for it. The company, launched last year at Oracle OpenWorld, has only a smattering of customers to its credit.
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