Hot on the heels of Rimini Street's announcement that it will extend its third-party cut-price support services to SAP R/3, comes SAP's announcement of its next-generation support offering, SAP Enterprise Support.
Announced at SAPPHIRE, the SAP (NYSE: SAP) international customer conference being held in Florida May 4-7, this represents a move from the traditional bug fixing and maintenance to a holistic offering.
It will support both SAP and non-SAP solutions, addresses continuous innovation and investment protection, and focus heavily on service-oriented architecture (SOA), SAP said.
SAP Enterprise Support offers standardized and integrated solution lifecycle management and "facilitates the implementation and adoption of enhancement packages, support packages and technical upgrade capabilities," making ongoing maintenance and upgrading "much easier," SAP said.
There are three components in SAP Enterprise Support. First is Mission-Critical Support, which keeps core mission-critical applications running with continuous quality checks for technical risk analysis and continuous improvement, 24x7 direct access to the SAP support advisory center, leading-edge service level agreements (SLAs), and on-demand support integration.
Global Support Backbone, based on SAP Solution Manager, which covers "all key aspects of solution deployment, operation and continued improvement," combining tools, content and direct access to SAP and its partners. Solution Manager's newest release also maps out SAP's new standards for solution operations.
Fees for SAP Enterprise Support are 22 percent of license fees, up from SAP's norm of 17 percent, in a move that Rimini Street founder and CEO Seth Ravin has described as following Oracle's lead.
In a bid to steal SAP's thunder, Oracle announced that several organizations worldwide have selected Oracle over SAP, and listed a few.
"Globalization is driving executives to focus on efficient innovation, rapid new product introduction, and better customer management," said Ed Abbo, Oracle's senior vice president, applications development.
"In today's global environment – which requires rapid change – the native flexibility within Oracle Applications compared to SAP's inherent rigidity creates a unique selling advantage for us over SAP."
Melinda Ballou, program director for application life-cycle management at IDC, says that while SAP and Oracle are making progress, they still have their flaws.
Oracle "needs to better articulate its lifecycle management strategy and SAP needs to broaden what they offer to be effective for service lifecycle management from inception through to operations," she said.
"Both are saying 'Users, make that transition to SOA', and they need a clear framework from the lifecycle support position to support their users," she added, because, as users make the transition to SOA, they must have "effective support across the application lifecycle, from the requirements of business process modeling through to testing, software change management, version control and configuration management."
While SAP does offer certain capabilities internally for lifecycle support, it will need to "partner avidly in areas not represented within their portfolio such as requirements and effective testing tools beyond what they currently offer themselves internally," Ballou warned.
That's important "because people have all these changes they have to make but have to make better decisions as to what they should do in a difficult economy."
With Solution Manager, SAP "offers a good basis from which to launch their support initiative such as this one and I believe that they're better positioned than Oracle in this context," Ballou said, adding that Solution Manager "is a good start to what needs to happen to support end users effectively."
Oracle's recent acquisition of Empirix to target testing, and the finalization of its acquisition of BEA, "does position them to better support the services lifecycle," but "they need to pull that together in a clear way."
Read more about SAP ERP here.