Has Oracle inadvertently approved third-party support?

There is an ongoing rivalry between Oracle and third-party support providers. Over the past few years, the mega-vendor has used a mixture of approaches against its secret competitors – from content posted passively on its own site to one rather infamous legal battle. But then, Oracle went in a new direction, and unveiled the latest in its arsenal: Oracle Applications Unlimited (OAU).

What is Oracle Applications Unlimited?

OAU appears to be another variety of Oracle Support. It doesn’t follow the same rules as Oracle’s standard support service, devised of three tiers: Premier, Extended, and Sustaining Support. Usually, product versions gradually receive a reduced support service the older they get.

OAU overrules this system. It is a specialised term for what is, effectively, ten more years of Oracle’s Premier Support. OAU is available only for the following products:

  • JD Edwards EnterpriseOne
  • Oracle E-Business Suite
  • Oracle Hyperion
  • PeopleSoft
  • Siebel CRM

And to the users of these products: don’t rejoice just yet.

Oracle also says it will “deliver new functionality to cover Oracle Applications as updates to the existing release. Major upgrades aren’t required to get to new features.”

‘Updates to the existing release’ suggests that Oracle will provide the service on just the most recent versions of the above five products.

What does Oracle Applications Unlimited include?

OAU is sold on some promising (if rather familiar) qualities:

Oracle recognises that Applications Unlimited products are central to your strategy and long-term roadmap. We’re committed to helping you maximise your investment. Applications Unlimited gives you the latest features and functionality without major upgrades […] saving you time and money that you can apply to your business priorities.

Sources: Oracle Applications Unlimited & OAU letter

Let’s break this down. Oracle Applications Unlimited is a way for organisations to retain mainstream support, defer upgrades, and protect their investments on software they’ve owned and developed for years.

You know what this means, don’t you?

Oracle has produced a solution to the problem that Oracle created.

Of course, the simpler solution would be for Oracle to stop end-of-support deadlines, but that would remove a huge revenue stream for the vendor in the form of upgrades.

Instead, Oracle Applications Unlimited can stop customers from being left unsupported (and then potentially moving to third-party support).

It seems then that Oracle is not a believer in ‘the best solution to a problem is usually the easiest one.’

Oracle Applications Unlimited is not new

OAU is a tactic in customer retention – that’s nothing new for the vendor – and it has also produced a solution that has already existed for some time.

Oracle has arrived late to a game already in play and then – possibly without realising – started cheering for the wrong team. Because one thing that Oracle Applications Unlimited also does is validate the worth of third-party support services.

All of the following examples are from the OAU documents, available on Oracle’s website:

  • “Helping you maximise your investment.”
  • “On-premise or in Oracle Cloud infrastructure, it’s your choice.”
  • “More value from your business customisations.”

The third-party support industry has offered precisely these services, collectively, for about 20 years. Oracle waited so long to provide this kind of service for its customers, a whole new industry came along.

OAU lets organisations plan their IT strategy with no forced migrations, protect investments, and achieve an enhanced ownership experience – but these are all things that we already do.

Evidently, the vendor has seen the worth in third-party support services and decided it wants in, too.

Third-party support: verified by Oracle, no less

The introduction and promotion of Oracle Applications Unlimited hints towards an entertaining U-turn in the vendor’s approach. For the past 15 years, Oracle has tried its hardest to not even acknowledge the third-party support industry. The vendor might have believed that the industry would just fade into irrelevancy, but instead, it has become too big and too in demand to ignore.

Now, releasing OAU suggests that Oracle has finally accepted third-party support as a direct competitor and challenger to its business practices (perhaps the vendor happened upon a recent article of ours in Enterprise Times: Oracle and SAP’s secret competitor).

Interestingly, though, this is not Oracle’s first faux pas.

Oracle vs Rimini

When Oracle first inadvertently verified its competition, it went big. It happened during the court case fable that is: Oracle vs Rimini Street.

Oracle accused the third-party provider Rimini Street of copyright infringement and took the organisation to court. Oracle was undoubtedly delighted at the chance to denounce third-party support publicly. And through appeals court and additional battles to win more money in legal fees, Oracle did its best to end Rimini Street.

Ultimately, however, Oracle’s efforts backfired. Rimini Street was found to be conducting its practices in a way that infringed on Oracle’s copyright. But, the actual business model was justified to the world, on the biggest stage of all. The courts officially deemed third-party support as a legal, legitimate business practice. 

By its own actions, Oracle had inadvertently validated its competition.

Since this happened, third-party support has taken the driver’s seat in the support market. The industry is recognised by organisations like Gartner and Forrester. It stands at the top of any CIOs list to investigate in 2021.

And unlike Rimini, other third-party support providers like Support Revolution have risen to challenge vendors like Oracle (and SAP), with no legal accusations whatsoever.

Three warnings for Oracle Applications Unlimited

We have addressed OAU before, and our advice remains the same now as it did then.

First, Oracle Applications Unlimited is not a new or enhanced version of Oracle Support. It doesn’t unlock a superior service. It’s just another ten years of Premier Support that you might not otherwise have had.

Second, Oracle isn’t forthcoming with the pricing for Oracle Applications Unlimited. With its fancy new name, will it be more expensive? Is it another ten years of the same support cost you start with? Will it be subject to Oracle’s annual 4% support price increase as per usual? It’s not obvious, and when Oracle isn’t obvious, it is concerning.

Third, Oracle Applications Unlimited is also a deadline. The vendor will commit to providing Premier Support until “at least” 2031. Ten more years of Premier Support, and ten years without upgrades may offer some reassurance, but it won’t last forever.

This neatly demonstrates Oracle’s creativity with naming things. Oracle Market Driven Support was not ‘market driven.’ Applications Unlimited has a deadline of 2031 – unlimited, it most certainly is not.

Support without limitations

Oracle Applications Unlimited might intrigue you. But remember that Oracle is new to this ‘sweat existing assets’ approach to support, and only recently conceded on its ‘upgrades solve everything’ ideology (on these five products, anyway).

Its service features might be heading in the right direction. But Oracle still has a lot to be desired in terms of its pricing, and its commitment to customers.

Meanwhile, you could receive these kinds of beneficial services with Support Revolution. We don’t have a 2031 deadline – or any deadline at all, for that matter. We can also provide these services for a greatly reduced price. Plus, because we can support all versions indefinitely, only with us will your support be truly ‘unlimited.’

A key difference between us and Oracle: we are not a vendor, but a genuine support partner, one that’s been providing this kind of service for years. Support is what we do; it’s in our name and in our heritage.

Plus, Forrester and Gartner recommend us, and it seems that Oracle (indirectly) recommends our services, too.

So, what are you waiting for?

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