By Dan Ashton, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Rimini StreetBlog

How a new mindset can empower Oracle Database users

By Dan Ashton, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Rimini Street

The paradigm shift in the wake of COVID-19 has companies asking whether it is possible to continue to run older and stable Oracle Database releases to help maximize the ROI (return on investment) of their existing software. The thinking is that by spending less on vendor support from Oracle, organizations could free up resources to focus on other business objectives.

Indeed, roughly one-quarter (26%) of surveyed Oracle Database licensees stated that they don’t receive any valuable database enhancements from Oracle, and 47% wished they got more enhancements from their Oracle upgrades.

What’s needed to tackle this challenge maybe isn’t an updated database, but an updated mindset among organizations that have already invested heavily in their infrastructure. The key for businesses is to embark on a journey based on their business goals and available funds and resources, as opposed to adhering to a roadmap where the vendor dictates when upgrades and migrations are required.

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What Oracle users are saying

Perhaps because many organizations have hundreds or even thousands of Oracle Database instances, 68% of respondents in a recent Rimini Street survey indicated they’re struggling to stay current with the latest releases. Similarly, nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents said they have older database instances that aren’t current or would no longer be fully supported by Oracle as of December 2020 (or don’t know).

This creates a conundrum for these organizations because it may expose them to significant security and operational risks while still paying high annual support fees to Oracle for its Sustaining Support service. According to Oracle’s own Lifetime Support Policy, databases under Sustaining Support no longer receive new updates, fixes, security alerts, data fixes, critical patch updates, new upgrade scripts, or certification with new Oracle or third-party products/versions.

Oracle Sustaining Support typically costs 22% of license fees for these old fixes, files, and patches with little to nothing new. And even if they spend the time and budget to upgrade to attain full support, they are likely not seeing any value in the enhancements provided. It’s no surprise, then, that 97% of survey respondents said that the high cost of Oracle Database is a key challenge.

Again, this is a mindset that needs to change from a software roadmap dictated by an enterprise resource planning
(ERP) and database vendor to one that keeps an organization’s unique and specific business needs and goals at the forefront.

Implementing a business-driven roadmap

Overall, the survey results suggest that most Oracle Database licensees are frustrated with high annual maintenance fees and costly forced upgrades under Oracle support and are seeking better options for managing their Oracle Database strategy and landscape. With third-party support, Oracle licensees can help maximize the return on their investment by extending the lifespan of current releases, significantly reducing annual maintenance costs, and not requiring unnecessary upgrades to maintain full support.

For businesses investing in the Oracle ecosystem, there are three things to consider that can help free up resources that put them in a better position that benefits them, not the vendor:

  1. Upgrades. Many Oracle users with third-party support have upgraded using an archive created before they leave Oracle support. Upgrades aren’t typically required because the database is working fine and little or no new functionality is needed or available. In fact, the Rimini Street survey found that over a quarter (26%) of Oracle Database licensees stated that they don’t receive any valuable database enhancements, while 47% wished they got more enhancements from their Oracle upgrades.

If there is a need for the latest essential release that is not available in the archive, users can and do return to Oracle to upgrade. Analysts and experts have found that there is typically no penalty; even if Oracle initially threatens this, customers are generally welcomed back with open arms and many at a discount. As Gartner has stated, “about three-quarters of the enterprises that leave third-party support end up rebuying their licenses at a future price (with significant negotiated license discounts and annual maintenance fees less than what was paid to the third-party provider).”

  1. Security. Those who opt out of Oracle support to take charge of their business roadmap will no longer receive security patches from Oracle. However, some believe that vendor security patches provide a false sense of security. Traditional vendor patching models are considered dated and ineffective because they are often incomplete, published late, and applied slowly, which can leave enterprise systems vulnerable for months, sometimes even years.

The next-gen layered security approach, regardless of whether a business uses third-party support, is to implement a database-specific security solution that includes zero-day protection through compensating controls. Compensating controls like virtual patching are often more comprehensive, more effective, faster, safer, and easier to apply than traditional vendor patching and give organizations faster time-to-protection against vulnerabilities with a more cost-effective solution and no impact on production systems.

  1. A new mindset. One of the biggest obstacles in divorcing from Oracle support for Database Administrators (DBAs) is a fear that third-party support will jeopardize their jobs. But third-party support can actually enhance DBAs’ value since it allows them to be reallocated to more strategic projects and learn new skills.

DBAs are also usually accustomed to solving their own issues because Oracle’s support process can be difficult to navigate, 54.6% of survey respondents find that they resolve the majority of their Oracle Database cases on their own without Oracle (or are not sure). But third-party support engineers become part of their team and take on personal responsibility for resolving their issues helping eliminate research to resolve issues. This newfound freedom gives DBAs the ability to help lead their business to new heights that might not be attainable while locked into an overpriced support plan.

It all begins with self-reflection

Organizations looking to leave Oracle’s pricey support to instead focus on pursuing their own business-driven roadmap should first assess and remediate the risk of anything that is not fully supported. They need to review their Oracle Database releases and understand which are not fully supported or will not be fully supported by Oracle in the coming months. In fact, by July 2021, only two of the current Oracle Database releases will be fully supported by Oracle. Running releases that are no longer fully supported can create operations and security risks.

Next, organizations should consider third-party support to enhance their financial strength, flexibility, and control while continuing to use the dependable Oracle Database. Leveraging independent, third-party support for Oracle Database can save up to 90% on total maintenance and support costs while delivering the freedom to further leverage software investments and move to a database of choice when it makes sense.

Finally, best-in-class third-party support fully supports Oracle Database releases without requiring upgrades. Organizations reduce costs and improve service for ERP applications like SAP, EBS, JD Edwards, and PeopleSoft that run on Oracle Database with third-party support.

All of this leads to a final question for organizations that find themselves in this position. Who do you want to decide the roadmap for your business — your own executives, or Oracle

Dan Ashton is responsible for Oracle Technology and Strategic Services at Rimini Street and has over 18 years in enterprise product marketing and marketing management. Previously he was principal product director, Procurement Marketing, at Oracle and has also held several key product marketing roles at SAP/Ariba.

Rimini Street is a global firm that provides independent, third-party enterprise software support services, serving over 4,000 clients to date. Rimini Street replaces traditional vendor support and enables licensees of Oracle, SAP, IBM, Microsoft, and other enterprise software to save up to 90% on total software support costs, extract more value from their enterprise software investments, invest in innovation, and create competitive advantage and growth.