A square off: Questioning the risks of third-party support

Opting for third-party support can feel like stepping into the unknown. Of course, mega-vendors, such as Oracle and SAP, will not be too forthcoming with the benefits (of which there are plenty) of moving away from them.  

On the ropes, the mega-vendors have tried multiple tactics to dissuade customers from moving away from vendor support (their biggest cash cow).  

Oracle recently tried to land a few blows by publishing guides highlighting the “risks” of third-party support1. The vendor’s guidance details a series of questions that organisations “should” ask third-party support providers before signing up.  

Now, the gloves are off, and we’re poised and ready with a counter to shed light on4 the (not so subtle) aspersions cast. 

Round 1: Security 

“How will the third-party provider address any security concerns in your enterprise software, especially as new threats arise and new vulnerabilities are discovered?” 

As we all know, time is most definitely of the essence – especially when we are talking cybersecurity. That is why, at Support Revolution, we offer a service unrivalled by the likes of Oracle and SAP.  

Typically, the mega-vendors will release patches and bug fixes as part of a larger and reactive cycle or system upgrade, which means you can be waiting between three and six months (yes, it really can be that long) before receiving the fix. That is a long time for your system to be left vulnerable to cyber attacks. 

In addition, due to the varying size of Oracle estates, from the F500 companies to the smaller retailers of the world, there is such a wide scope of requirements to cover that broadly patching is the preferred method for the vendor.  

We say ‘preferred’ method because there are, in fact, alternative patching methods not adopted by Oracle as they invest too much time and money in other projects.  

Such a laissez-faire attitude to cybersecurity from these mega-vendors seems rather like a low blow (especially when they’re pointing the finger at third-party support), doesn’t it?  

Well, if you value a sense of urgency when resolving your security matters, then we have that in common.  

We use Trend Micro’s advanced, and world-leading, security protocol to ensure you are not left open to the real risks posed by vulnerabilities. The robust solution places a virtual fence around your organisation’s entire Oracle/SAP estate, protecting all servers, applications, and databases inside it. 

Unlike mega-vendors, like Oracle, we use virtual patching to ensure any new vulnerabilities discovered are rapidly patched, providing instant protection against new threats.  

Round 2: Compliance and governance 

“Is the third-party provider capable of meeting the procedures and regulations required by your auditing and compliance team? Can it follow your governance guidelines?” 

Some of the largest organisations in the world requiring the highest levels of compliance, such as the FCA, use Support Revolution.  

We are ISO (9001 and 27001) accredited which means we are held to, and comply with, the highest standards of security, uptime, and resilience. If that’s not testament to the standard of our service delivery, then please allow us to elaborate further. 

We like to ensure we’re completely in the loop (and that you are too) about how regulatory changes can impact your business, so we have forged relationships with several independent organisations and government bodies and are promptly informed of any upcoming changes.   

We recognise the necessity of security and, equally, we recognise the necessity of compliance. So, we don’t compromise on either and will provide updates in line with legislative changes.  

Once we’ve received a blow-by-blow of the latest legislative requirements, we will begin the process of creating and testing bespoke patches straight onto your systems. You can rest easy, knowing you will remain fully compliant when those deadlines roll around.

Round 3: Software support features and functionality 

“Can the third-party provider meet any specific SLAs that are required for internal or external customers?” 

We already know that the likes of Oracle and SAP are unlikely to provide any imminent fixes for their customers’ systems, and you may not receive patches until three months later or until the next upgrade – whichever comes first.  

It is also worth noting that these mega-vendors, whilst they have SLAs for response times (often caveated by clauses in their contracts), do not actually stipulate any SLAs for fixes and resolutions, regardless of priority level.  

Instead, they opt to leave you hanging, bobbing and weaving from person to person, department to department, and back again. Or, they might issue you with a self-help guide so they can close your support ticket while you fumble about with the DIY kit.  

Third-party support from the off provides a much greater level of customer service, with 24/7 support across three key touchpoints – portal, email, and telephone.  

Once logged, we are able to react quickly to support tickets and carry out all system fixes for you. In fact, our ability to work immediately on resolutions can see us take on open support tickets (some of which will have been logged many moons ago) and beating the mega-vendors to the punch. 

Here at Support Revolution, we work to not one, but two contractual SLAs: the first is for a response time, and the second is for resolution. This is a true rarity in the industry.  

Depending on the priority level and urgency of the issue raised, you can expect to receive acknowledgement of a support incident within 15 minutes of logging the issue, and high impact & priority incidents will be resolved in as little as two hours.    

We are so confident in our abilities to uphold our SLA agreements, we will give you a credit note in the (very unlikely) event that an issue cannot be resolved in the agreed time frame. 

Round 4: IT expertise and support 

“Does the third-party support offering include specific guidance, features, or deliverables that can help on a digital transformation journey?” 

Third-party support, as we’ve already explored, offers a far more personalised service. This is underpinned by dedicated account managers who take the time to understand your infrastructure, operations, and processes, as well the roadmap you want to take.  

Working backwards from the renewal date of the vendor’s contract, the assigned project manager will arrange a kick-off meeting with the necessary departments, support partners, and organisations to understand your systems and your IT strategy roadmap.  

Once equipped with an in-depth understanding of your requirements, and drawing on more than two decades of industry expertise, we will work with you to undertake your bespoke transition plans.  

Whether you’re looking to switch your systems to a different vendor (for example, moving your on-premise Oracle software to the AWS Cloud) or you want to reduce your support bills so you can focus on innovation projects, we’re in your corner. 

We really do aim to make the whole process as painless as possible for you, and we recognise that every organisation’s roadmap and long-term strategy is different, so we’ll roll with your punches and ensure a seamless experience.  

Check out some of our customers’ stories to find out more about the journey you could enjoy with us. 

Round 5: Annual support costs 

“Can the third-party provider include specific details about support cost for the life of the contract? How long can it guarantee the savings for these software applications?” 

It’s fair to say that vendors are not widely known for their competitive pricing, with many customers often paying out for hidden costs (such as remaking customisations that aren’t compatible with a recently upgraded system) and those notorious price increases.  

It is even less encouraging that those costly support and maintenance charges will be invested in the vendors’ own R&D schemes, and not improving the quality of your support.  

Mega-vendors, like Oracle, have different levels of support (on a sliding scale) which will see customers paying out (a lot) more money for a (much) lesser service. This is all part of the vendors’ below-the-belt tactics to coerce its customers to invest in its pricey system upgrades.  

In fact, rising vendor support and maintenance fees (increasing by as much as 24%) could see organisations paying out nearly £20 million in Oracle Support fees over 10 years. 

Comparatively, third-party support providers believe that organisations, like yours, deserve an excellent level of service, regardless of the database or system version you’re working from. 

Because we focus on providing an unrivalled level of support and don’t invest all our time, resources, and money into R&D projects, annual support and maintenance charges with third-party support are also substantially lower than vendor support. With third-party support, you could expect to secure annual savings of 50% as a minimum.  

So, rather than paying out to support the R&D of the vendors, consider third-party support for your organisation and reinvest those annual savings into those knockout projects. 

A vendor on the ropes

Upon reflection, Oracle’s “helpful questions” have got us wondering why it’s choosing to aim these specific punches at third-party support?  

The vendor is deflecting from its own downfalls, with many of its questions actually addressing issues that have largely been linked to vendor support. So, even if the hits don’t land, it’s easier to spar with a competitor than on your own. 

We feel these are the answers organisations, like yours, should be demanding of your vendors before you consider making the move to third-party support. 

Vendor support might not be down and out yet, but we’ll still keep up the good fight.

If you want to know how much we could save your organisation, click the link below.

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