Seeking to cut costs and extend the life of its PeopleSoft 8.8 Human Resources (HR) and Financials applications, the Birdville Independent School District has turned to SAP's TomorrowNow division.
Executives with the K-12 school district, which serves more than 22,000 students on 32 campuses in the Dallas/Fort Worth region of Texas, say they ultimately chose Rimini St. for its strong focus on supporting custom modifications to PeopleSoft implementations.
"We made a lot of modifications in HR because we pay quite differently than a normal business does," said Clark Strong, a systems engineer with Birdville. "Rimini St. had one feature that TomorrowNow didn't and that was [the ability to support those] modifications."
A noticeable ROI
Birdville switched to Rimini St. in December 2005 and now relies on the Las Vegas-based support vendor for PeopleSoft maintenance and the tax and regulatory updates that allow the organization to stay on PeopleSoft 8.8.
The school district reports a 50% to 60% drop in annual PeopleSoft maintenance fees since signing on with Rimini St. But the savings associated with third-party support providers don't stop there, according to Mike DePaola, Birdville's manager of information management systems.
Birdville, which has a very small IT staff and limited IT resources, is also achieving "non-quantifiable" savings, DePaola said, by avoiding costly PeopleSoft upgrades and the hefty consulting fees that go along with them.
"If we had stayed with Oracle and had continued to apply upgrades and patches and stuff like that, not having the staff, a lot of times we'd have to enlist outside help and that was another cost item," DePaola said.
Oracle-SAP suit shining a light on third-party support
Third-party support vendors were thrust into the media spotlight last March after Oracle filed a federal lawsuit charging TomorrowNow -- SAP's wholly owned subsidiary -- with illegally downloading copies of Oracle's proprietary software code.
The lawsuit, which is grinding its way through the courts, also alleges that TomorrowNow intentionally interfered with a prospective economic advantage, committed computer fraud, violated copyrights and breached contracts.
In an attempt to lure customers away from Oracle as part of its "safe passage program,"SAP purchased TomorrowNow from its founder, Seth Ravin, shortly after Oracle acquired PeopleSoft and its JD Edwards division. Ravin then went on to launch Rimini St.
Like TomorrowNow, Rimini St. focuses mainly on supporting Siebel, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards implementations. Other players in the third-party PeopleSoft-JD Edwards support space include netCustomer, Versytec and Conexus Partners.
Rimini St. vs. Oracle-PeopleSoft
During the first six months of Birdville's relationship with Rimini St., the school district maintained its support contract with Oracle-PeopleSoft. This allowed Birdville's IT executives to try an experiment.
Whenever an issue arose with the PeopleSoft implementation, Birdville would open support tickets with both Rimini St. and Oracle-PeopleSoft, just to see who would get the problem resolved first.
According to DePaola, Rimini St. won every time.
"Rimini St. got back and resolved the problems before Oracle even got back to us," DePaola said. "The people I call with Rimini start taking information and working on the problem the moment I call them."
What the future holds
Birdville, which runs its PeopleSoft applications on top of the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 database management system, tentatively plans to stick with PeopleSoft 8.8 through 2012. But the organization is mulling the possibility of a move to 8.9 prior to that.
"We reserve the right to go to 8.9, but we're not going any farther than that," DePaola said. "We just don't have the staff to do it."