Rimini Street challenges SAP on support services

SAP customers struggling with the cost of annual maintenance fees will soon have an alternative, as Rimini Street detailed its plans to provide third-party support for a range of SAP platforms.

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SAP customers struggling with the cost of annual maintenance fees will soon have an alternative, as Rimini Street detailed its plans to provide third-party support for a range of SAP platforms.

Rimini Street will initially offer support for SAP R/3 4.x, ECC 5.0, ECC 6.0, and BW 3.5 and earlier releases. It says clients will save at least 50 percent off their current SAP support bills.

The company, which also supports a number of Oracle applications, has traditionally targeted customers on older platforms who don't want to upgrade or pay for official support.

Last year, when Rimini Street first announced plans to add SAP support, it indicated it would focus on earlier releases like R/3. But due to great demand from customers, it has also decided to support the newer ECC 5.0 and 6.0 platforms, said CEO Seth Ravin.

The company's SAP service includes a named, local support engineer, with 24-7 coverage and 30-minutes-or-less response time; support through 2020 and later for existing releases; fixing of "serious issues" along with tax and regulatory updates; and support for client-created customizations at no further cost.

Rimini Street's SAP support is currently in an initial "charter quarter" with a select group of customers, allowing the company to finetune the service before making it generally available toward the end of the third quarter, according to Ravin.

Meanwhile, eager SAP customers are pounding down Rimini Street's door, he claimed. "We've been beating them back with a stick."

The company is also hoping to capitalize on SAP customer discontent over the vendor's plans to roll out a fuller-featured but more expensive Enterprise Support service. However, in response to pressure from user groups, SAP recently agreed to slow down how quickly it phases in the rate increase.

The vendor and user groups also hammered out a set of KPIs (key performance indicators) that are supposed to prove Enterprise Support's value.

Ravin said the KPIs and SAP's concession won't have any effect on Rimini Street's success, and claimed there is "huge skepticism" about the KPIs.

But SAP should be given a chance to prove its word, said Rod Masney, past chairperson of the Americas SAP Users Group (ASUG), which helped develop the KPIs.

"This is something where they believe they have a true value proposition [in Enterprise Support] and they're saying, let's prove it together," Masney said.

Meanwhile, SAP users who are considering third-party support have to weigh a number of considerations, said Forrester Research analyst Ray Wang.

For example, ECC 6 customers are able to get the add-on enhancement packages SAP has been releasing, Wang noted. Therefore, customers on that platform should consider waiting until they have the enhancement packages they want before signing on for third-party maintenance.

Users should also resist vendors' entreaties to combine multiple support contracts under a single new agreement. Doing so will limit a customer's ability to selectively support various applications or ERP (enterprise resource planning) instances through third-party providers, Wang said.

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