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Third-party Oracle support: To be or not to be

Even after the 2008 shutdown of TomorrowNow, we are often asked by company executives about third-party alternatives for Oracle support. While we understand that this is being driven by the need to reduce IT support costs, there are some distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Companies – such as newcomer Spinnaker – are creating opportunities for themselves with claims of cutting third-party support costs in half. And, since these alternative 3rd party support providers are essentially cutting out the annual support and maintenance costs, it makes sense that they are saving you the cost of year-over-year annual fees. This can translate to millions of dollars. While, there are a lot of happy clients out there, enterprise IT organizations need to take into account whether or not it is prudent to completely cut out the annual support and maintenance.

Third-party support cannot always adequately fill the gaps left by the discontinuance of Oracle software updates and license support. It can, however, function in an important augmentative role to Oracle support (Though, we are told by one of the 3rd party support firms that they have several clients that retain Oracle support in order to get access to a release). Several firms provide this support with various offerings, including long-term engagements for hosting, outsourced database administration, and performance tuning as well as one-time or short-term events such as migrations, upgrades and temporary or emergency staff augmentation. The costs associated with this additional support should be carefully assessed with regard to each organization’s unique requirements. Some firms primarily support Oracle Database, while others focus on Oracle Applications such as PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel.

Oracle offers software update and license support (SULS), which is mandatory for the first year, but clients can elect to discontinue SULS in subsequent years. However, we usually recommend against this for several reasons:

  • The status of the software is effectively frozen. No further updates will be provided by Oracle, nor is the Client entitled to any, including those required for regulatory compliance, security or other critical events.
  • License compliance must be maintained – an important consideration for subsequent hardware upgrades or environment expansions.
  • Extended support offerings are no longer available to the Client.
  • The Client will no longer have access to MetaLink and other forums through which to acquire Oracle technical assistance.
  • Any advantages in changes in program bundling are no longer available.
  • Other reading of interest:

    Avoiding the Technical Risks of Third-Party Support

    Is Oracle support or third-party support the better choice?

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