The Stack

As an ERP support contract expires, UK’s largest county council makes a choice to set Oracle fuming.

Kent County Council offices.

With an Oracle support contract for its Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1 application and Oracle Database software expiring in April, Kent County Council — one of the UK’s largest local authorities — has opted to neither upgrade to 12.2.8, nor migrate to the Oracle Cloud, but instead buy extended support from Oracle’s bête noire

“Don’t be fooled by third-party support providers like Rimini Street. Your business deserves an innovative, long-term IT roadmap, with critical software security patches” shouts Oracle in a dedicated “Oracle vs Rimini Street” sub-page on its website. Buying extended support for legacy software prevents customers from getting patches, stops them from getting new innovations, and “leaves you open to attack” as a result, claims Oracle.

Kent County Council is among the customers deciding to carefully consider and then ignore that advice; opting instead for the multi-million-pound savings afforded by going for third-party support and not messing with otherwise stable, mission-critical software that is used by 1,759 core and 21,096 self-service users.

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“Upgrading your enterprise application environment is a once-in-a-decade decision for any organization and once made, it ties you to a specific choice and all the costs that entail,” said Vincent Godfrey, strategic commissioner, Kent County Council. “It was not the right decision to divert critical resources or disrupt our stable, mission-critical software with an upgrade, especially when dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Turning to Rimini Street has bought us the luxury of time and saved us significant resources that we can apply to support essential services while knowing we have expert support enabling us to properly plan our transformation strategy.”

Speaking to The Stack today, Godfrey said: “Going for 12.2.8 would have involved a big, costly, complex update of middleware with little extra functionality. Oracle Cloud: a big change for a lot of money”. We went through an awful lot of due diligence before making this decision in terms of understanding their [Rimini Street’s] people, their capabilities; we looked at the legal history around this and spoke to other customers.”

The council — which has an annual budget of circa £1.6 billion, of which £1 billion goes on external contractors — is not averse to cloud migrations and software modernisation, Godfrey notes; it is on Office 365 and running other workloads in Azure. As part of the shift to Oracle support from Rimini Street it will actually be moving off on-premises servers to IaaS as well (he did not provide further details vis-a-vis the new cloud infrastructure).

Read this: Q&A: Deryck Mitchelson, Director of National Digital & Information Security, NHS National Services Scotland.

But, as he puts it: “[Taking the ERP system] to the cloud would be a major investment decision; you’d need a multi-million pound investment case and on that investment profile you’re making a decision for a decade. Platform-as-a-Service is developing really fast and right now we have the luxury of a stable platform.”

(KCC won’t put a hard number on its expected savings, but Godfrey points to Rimini Street figures that suggest cost savings of up to 60% relative to support from Oracle itself. With local authorities under huge, unrelenting pressure on their budgets, the move is going to draw interested eyes across the public sector.)

“We are delighted to be working with Kent County Council to help them realize their business objectives by enabling the organization not only to drive greater efficiencies but modernize their systems as well – something they were unable to accomplish while on the vendor’s march to the latest software release,” said Gerard Brossard, COO of Rimini Street in a canned release meanwhile.

“The UK public sector has had to face immense challenges in the last year, but Kent County Council shows public sector bodies have far more flexibility to meet the genuine needs of their organizations. 2021 is going to be no different as authorities seek to balance the books while still modernising IT systems, so we believe third-party support has a crucial role to play in enabling the public sector to navigate the path forward successfully.”

Nasdaq-listed Rimini Street meanwhile reported annual earnings late Wednesday. Revenue was $326.8 million for 2020, up 16.3% compared to $281.1 million for 2019. The company reported 2,487 active clients.

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