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Third-Party Maintenance: Simple, Really!

Third-party maintenance is a topic of growing interest in the SAP community. In this interview, Mark Smith, CEO of Support Revolution, talks about why that is and what benefits customers can expect if they decide on third-party support.

SAP’s software is complex. How well do you generally know when, where, and how to maintain it?

Mark Smith: We have been implementing and supporting SAP software since our inception in 1998. Support Revolution has some of the most experienced staff in the industry, and has a long track record of providing traditional SAP support and managed services. We started to offer third-party support in 2012 using our hugely experienced team. We therefore have a deep understanding of when, where and how to maintain SAP software built up over many years.

Using tools such as our own knowledge base, we know if there is a pre-existing fix to any SAP issue and if a software patch is available. We will also know if that customer has that patch available to them in an archive created before they left SAP for support. If a standard patch is available, we will help the customer to retrieve and apply it. If they do not have the original patch or find a new issue, then our team will develop our own version of the fix and then supply that to the customer. Simple, really!

For which SAP versions and applications do you offer maintenance and support?

We offer support and maintenance for all SAP versions and applications.

Do SAP customers use your offers as an addition or as an alternative to SAP maintenance?

As an alternative to SAP maintenance.

SAP customers can cancel their service contract annually. What benefits and challenges does this have for customers?

The major benefit is that this allows customers to evaluate SAP’s support service annually and to decide if they are receiving value for money. If they feel that their SAP system is stable and they do not see the value in further (mandatory) upgrades, they are free to switch to an alternative third-party support partner before the renewal point.

The main challenge of staying with SAP is that the customer is still at the whim of SAP, and so if SAP dictates something, all customers have to follow through, for example upgrade to a new version of one or more of their software products by a particular date and are therefore forced into an unwanted upgrade which may well cost them a lot of money for little or no benefit.

Which support services can customers continue to use from SAP itself?

In general, customers decide to use third-party support or to use SAP, so if they come to a vendor such as Support Revolution, they do not use support services from SAP. Customers can of course choose to purchase new products such as S/4 Hana from SAP and have us support their SAP Business Suite for example and have SAP support S/4 Hana in the SAP Cloud.

Is there a way for customers to switch back to SAP if they so choose?

Yes, the customer can of course switch back to SAP at any time. Having moved away, they restore much of their buying power as SAP will want to attract them back and may well be open to negotiate the terms for this return.

However, none of the customers that have come to us for support have gone back to SAP – and why would they, given the massive cost savings they have made by moving across to us in the first place!

How does your offer differ from competitors like Rimini Street?

Support Revolution does offer third-party support services similar to those from vendors such as Rimini Street. However, in contrast to those vendors, we were an SAP and Oracle partner right up to February 2019 when we decided to terminate these partnerships to allow us to offer more services to our customers. Our background as an SAP and Oracle partner means we have a deep understanding of working with both vendors.

We were therefore able to design our services to be fully compliant with the contracts from both vendors. Our background as an SAP and Oracle partner also means that we offer a number of value-added services that Rimini Street does not, including Cloud Hosting for SAP and Oracle products (with Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services or other Cloud providers).

This means, for example, that if a customer wants to maintain their SAP Business Suite ECC 6.0 system but move it to Amazon Cloud (to get all of the benefits of Cloud for their current ERP system), then we can do that for them and provide third-party support for their SAP system, offering cost savings on both their software support and maintenance fees and on their hosting charges.

Do you also offer support for Hana and S/4?

Yes, we offer support for both Hana and S/4.

If SAP customers currently use ECC 6.0 with your support offer, how can you support them in transitioning to Hana and S/4?

It is important here to explain what we see happening in the marketplace. SAP has imposed a 2025 deadline for ECC 6.0 customers to move across to S/4 Hana, so SAP and others are assuming that customers will move by this date.

However, we see that customers are happy with their ECC 6.0 system and do not want to move to S/4 Hana. By moving to us now, SAP customers can safely ignore this 2025 deadline and have us support their systems indefinitely.

If they want to move to S/4 Hana now or in the future, they can. Using us in this way puts the customer firmly in control of if and when they move to S/4 Hana.

Do you also offer services for Z functions?

Unlike SAP, we provide support for all customisations and bespoke programs (“Z functions”).

Do you leverage SolMan as part of your support offer?

We do not leverage Solman, SAP’s Solution Manager, as a part of our service offer because Solman is licensed by SAP as a component of its maintenance contract and not a part of the customers perpetual licenses. Instead we address this part of our support service via several monitoring, change control and auditing solutions.

In your opinion, why are SAP customers (specifically in the D/A/CH area) so hesitant to accept third-party maintenance and support?

This is definitely not the case.  We are seeing huge interest in D/A/CH and are contracting with customers in the region. It would be more accurate to say that the European marketplace is a little behind the US in the adoption of third-party support. However, after promoting and selling our services into this region for the last seven years, we have seen that customers did start out with a lot of questions about how third-party support works, but now, the marketplace generally understands the model and is much more open to the benefits of it.

In which industry do you have the most customers?

We are seeing the largest interest from customers in Financial Services, Retail, Manufacturing, Local and Central Government, although interest is coming thick and fast from all sectors.

Thank you for the interview.

Source:
Support Revolution

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