It was a banner that caught Joe Tait's eye while at an information management conference. "Save 50% on Oracle Maintenance," it read.
"We did not have an appetite for the every three year [update] model," said Tait, CIO for Manchester, Connecticut-based engineering company Lydall Inc. "We wanted to get off the forced update path." As a midsize business, the time and expense that went into Oracle's periodic updates began to take a toll, especially when each upgrade cost Lydall millions of dollars.
The banner was at SIMposium, the conference for the Society for Information Management, and was an advertisement for Rimini Street, an Oracle and SAP third-party support provider.
Once you cut the umbilical, you can't go back to Oracle.
Joe Tait, CIO, Lydall
Lydall became an Oracle customer in 1998 and has been running a predominantly Oracle shop ever since. The IT team runs Oracle Linux on physical systems with a primary cluster and a mirror backup. In January 2013, Lydall moved from Oracle Support to Rimini Street.
When Lydall began working with Rimini Street, it was running Peoplesoft HCM 9.1, Oracle EBS 11.5.8 (financials, procurement and manufacturing) and Oracle Database 11.1.0. In January 2013, Lydall wanted to update EBS to 184.108.40.206 to escape excess customization. It sought to stay on the new version for at least 10 years, and wanted a provider that would support it. Tait described upgrading at Lydall as "sort of like changing the wheels while you're driving the train." This is because, as a manufacturing company, it can't afford to have server downtime.
"If we're not shipping product Monday morning, we missed the boat," he said.
Tait described the service Rimini Street provided as "terrific." However, he also explained that it took time for Lydall to get used to Rimini Street's service model. For instance, instead of looking up a question on Oracle's vast database, they now call Rimini Street and speak to a person on the other end of the line.
As with any new partnership, there were hiccups in the beginning. For instance, when leaving Oracle Support, Rimini Street instructs companies to take everything they will need in the future from Oracle before they leave. Lydall tried to be thorough, but ended up leaving the Chinese language pack behind by mistake. This might not have been a serious problem for another company, but Lydall has servers in China. Tait found that it was cheaper to buy non-Oracle servers for China than to get the Chinese language pack from Oracle.
"Once you cut the umbilical, you can't go back to Oracle," he said.
Tait and his team of three analysts, three developers and three infrastructure people, as well as sundry support personnel, handled the upgrade to Oracle EBS 220.127.116.11 primarily in-house, relying on Rimini Street to run extra testing. However, whenever a member of Lydall's IT team needed help, he or she could call Rimini Street for support. The upgrade meant some late nights for the Lydall IT team and Tait stressed that Rimini Street was ready to answer the phone at any time. "You ring the fire bell; they respond." One of the most important things for Tait about Rimini Street's service was that it was 24/7. That meant it was ready to accept late night calls from western France, one of the eleven locations where Lydall has servers.
Lydall's Oracle EBS 18.104.22.168 implementation went smoothly with Rimini Street's help, and Lydall has no plans to do another upgrade any time soon.
"We're happy on this version," Tait said. "Why should we upgrade it?"