Oracle nemesis Rimini Street fires another salvo

Unfazed by Oracle's lawsuit, the third-party maintenance provider has added support for E-Business Suite to its lineup

Oracle's ongoing lawsuit against Rimini Street has not deterred the latter company from announcing another addition to its lineup of lower-cost support options for Oracle's software.

Rimini Street will begin inking contracts with a small group of E-Business Suite charter clients in April 2011 and roll out broader availability in January 2012, CEO Seth Ravin said in an interview during the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco on Monday. Supported versions will include 11.5.9 through 12.0, and potentially 12.1.

The company, which also offers support for SAP applications, promises that customers will save at least half off their vendor-provided maintenance bills. Companies such as Oracle covet their maintenance revenue streams, which provide healthy profits in a time of slowing software license sales

Although third-party support means customers don't receive product upgrades, Rimini Street caters to companies that have stable systems and no immediate need for new functionality. Customers do get features like tax and regulatory updates, and receive around-the-clock responses from senior engineers in 30 minutes or less, according to the company.

But Rimini Street is also the target of a lawsuit Oracle filed in January. Oracle maintains that Rimini Street's workers have downloaded software and support materials "in excess of the customer's authorization under its license agreement." Rimini has countersued, saying it has committed no wrongdoing and will mount a vigorous defense.

Ravin was the co-founder of TomorrowNow, a company and one-time SAP subsidiary that provided services similar to Rimini Street's. He left TomorrowNow after its sale to SAP in 2005. Oracle sued SAP in 2007, alleging that TomorrowNow workers had illegally downloaded materials from its support systems. That suit is still ongoing and is set to go to trial in November.

Oracle's suit cost Rimini some business at first, Ravin said. "We suffered probably a dozen deals that went sideways."

Still, the privately held business is growing this year at a pace slower than in the past, but which is "nothing to sneeze at," Ravin said. "It's certainly not what Oracle would want. They wanted zero percent and customers running for the hills.".

Rimini's cost of litigation, which Ravin estimates will be US$3- to 4 million annually as the suit unfolds, is surely dragging down the privately held company's numbers.

But on the other hand, it's a worthy investment in its future, Ravin added. Rimini is now serving 325 customers, which is just scratching the surface of an estimated $16 billion ERP (enterprise resource planning) software maintenance market, Ravin said. "We want to be a $1 billion company."

An Oracle spokeswoman declined comment.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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