As I do once a year, I caught up with Dave Rowe, SVP of Global Marketing and Alliances at Rimini Street. Dave and I meet periodically to reminisce about the time we played golf with Johnny Miller, the 1973 U.S. Golf Association Open champion and 1976 winner of The Open Championship (better known as the British Open). Admittedly, we only played with Miller for one hole, as part of a conference event run by PeopleSoft, where Dave worked at the time. But we have photos to prove it. (I don't know about Dave's photo but my wife has removed my keepsake to the basement. Sorry, Johnny.)
So while we were reminiscing, I got an update on Rimini Street's third-party maintenance service business, which began in 2005. I was particularly interested that Rimini has expanded its portfolio to include SAP ERP support, adding to its previous set of PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards' and Siebel support services (note: not Oracle EBS). Rimini starts by promising users it can cut current maintenance bill by 50 percent. Often it can find additional savings by eliminating maintenance costs for shelfware. It also offers support for customizations, something the suppliers themselves do not like to do.
The SAP practice, about which Rimini announced intentions in May 2008, is in its final testing stages. The company completed a year of building a team of functional (primarily taxation and governance) and technical experts, building out a physical infrastructure, and adapting the methodologies used in Siebel, PeopleSoft and Edwards' practices into services processes unique to SAP. The new offering is now in what Rimini calls a multiple-month charter program, which is like a limited product release. In this phase the processes-including the way it provides support across 17 European countries-are tested in real like situations. Ironically, Dave formally kicked off the charter program in Berlin in May 2009 talking to a group of SAP-oriented CIOs saying it was "last place he thought he would be giving first presentation" on the subject, on SAP's home turf.
Dave reports that charter members include users of both early (e.g., R/3 rev 4.6) and current versions of SAP enterprise applications. Coincidentally on the day we talked, Rimini announced a new round of investor funding that will help Rimini build out the SAP practice and broaden all four service lines worldwide.
We marketing guys will never tell you this, but the best marketing plans includes the strategic ingredient of being in the right place at the right time. That has certainly been the case for Rimini with the 2007 and ongoing Oracle/SAP TomorrowNow dustup, the 2008-2009 drumbeat of Software as a Service (SaaS)-vendor-instigated analyst drivel against the way enterprise software suppliers have been charging for software for 20 years, and other current events nibbling at the established license/maintenance-fee order. But Dave and team have done a great job of executing against the marketing plan once they realized their serendipitous circumstances. The idea of third-party maintenance of enterprise software is as natural as for systems and Rimini Street is proving that.