Third-party support asks questions...
TomorrowNow, the SAP subsidiary at the centre of a major legal dispute between its parent and Oracle, has questioned the latter's ability to provide good value support to its customers and to innovate in software over the long term.
Andrew Nelson, TomorrowNow CEO, told silicon.com: "[Oracle] is aware of the companies coming to us [for support]. We've got blue chip customers from all around the world."
The support specialist has little or no contact with Oracle but prides itself on personnel that understand various enterprise apps intimately, often having worked at those vendors at times over the past decade.
Its customers in the UK include Allied Bakeries, DHL and Hyundai Motors.
How it works
Take Baan, a European ERP vendor whose influence arguably peaked in the 1990s. Its software is currently a fertile ground for a TomorrowNow. There are thousands of Baan installations of the "mature and stable" type - which makes them attractive, purely in terms of support - involving no ongoing development work. TomorrowNow CEO Nelson: "Baan is a classic example. That product has a tenacity."
Nelson said: "With PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel we've got, in every one of those, at least one of the top 20 maintenance-paying customers in the world."
In March this year Oracle alleged SAP had hacked into its customer support centre and downloaded copies of its proprietary software code. In the lawsuit both SAP and its TomorrowNow unit were named as defendants, facing a raft of serious complaints.
The analogy TomorrowNow execs like is that of servicing a car. Most car-owners use a third party rather than a manufacturer's dealership network, often because it is cheaper. However, despite the low-cost boast - with savings of up to 50 per cent on Oracle's own support - many point to TomorrowNow as a way for SAP to transition large customers onto its software over the long term.
Oracle was unavailable to comment immediately for this story.
Nelson added: "I don't envy [Oracle's] position. I think they need to decide whether they're going to become a holding company, long-term, or whether they're serious about being in the innovative applications business."
At the time Oracle's purchase of PeopleSoft - which had earlier swallowed JD Edwards - was going through, there was talk of a suite of combined products by the name of Fusion.
TomorrowNow's Nelson added: "Oracle customers no longer value pre-funding a Fusion application that they no longer understand, that's uncertain to them and that they're not sure they will ever user.
"Oracle has to respond to that. The challenges they've created through their M&A strategy... they've really dug a hole for themselves."
Bought by SAP at the start of 2005, TomorrowNow has a presence in around 40 countries and made its name supporting applications created by JD Edwards and PeopleSoft. More recently it has also turned its hand to Siebel apps. All these software names are now part of the Oracle stable, though it also looks at other packages such as Baan.