Rimini Street Inc, a young start-up offering third-party maintenance for Siebel customers, has declared itself open for business with the immediate availability of Rimini Street Support Services for Siebel Products. However, if Siebel Systems Inc follows up on its previous threats, Rimini could face a legal challenge.
Shortly after the company launched last autumn, with neither customers nor revenue stream, Siebel sent a letter to Rimini demanding that it stop making false and misleading statements about the services it planned to offer Siebel users.
At the time, Las Vegas, Nevada-based Rimini claimed: Siebel’s licenses give customers the right to modify their own software and to hire outside consultants to do so. It said this was the basis on which it planned to offer its maintenance and support services.
Siebel said this was wrong and fired off a letter from its attorneys telling Rimini that Siebel customers were not allowed to provide Siebel competitors with access to its code. You have to own the source code to offer support and bug fixes, said Bruce Cleveland, senior vice president of products at Siebel last October when the Rimini issue first arose. They are misleading comments [because] they imply [a third party] can answer questions and provide code to make it work. We are not against the free market, but making customers understand what they can and cannot do. You cannot change the source code.
Siebel’s threats appear to have had little effect because since then Rimini has been building the necessary processes, tools, and infrastructure to provide a support program Siebel 5.x, 6.x (2000), and 7.x licensees, which it said will allow users to remain on their current release for years to come and deliver annual savings of 50% or more.
Rimini also said that instead of only supporting vanilla uncustomized code, it will also support customizations at no additional fee. Its support service will also address performance-tuning issues at the application and technology foundation layers of clients’ systems, which it said are usually excluded from support contracts.
Other characteristics of the program include support coverage of environmental issues and a promise that it will work with other software vendor support organizations to try to diagnose and recommend solutions to complex environmental interoperability issues. It will also offer flexible support whereby Rimini will not seek prepayment or non-cancellable long-term support contacts. Customers will have the option of monthly, quarterly, or annual billing options and agreements that can be canceled at any time, for any reason, with pro-rated fees.
Rimini does not appear to have addressed Siebel’s claim that it has no right to Siebel source code and that it needs this to provide a full support service. The question is whether Siebel will do anything about it given that its acquisition by Oracle Corp is likely to be completed over the next few weeks, or whether Oracle itself will take the issue up.
It may well be that neither company will take action because Rimini is not a major threat to the maintenance revenue stream. At the time of its launch there was uncertainty over the length of support Oracle would offer Siebel customers but Oracle has since provided clarification. Additionally, its actions regarding length and quality of support for its previously acquired PeopleSoft and JD Edwards customers and the levels of customer satisfaction achieved has allayed many fears about future support for all the customers of its acquired companies.