By hiring David Boies of Microsoft and Bush vs. Gore fame, Oracle’s at the very least making a strong threat to litigate the TomorrowNow case.
When TomorrowNow closed a couple of years back, it was assumed that the case would settle rather quickly. There is the possibility Oracle’s hired Boies to push SAP to settle for the “billions” it’s alleging SAP/TomorrowNow cost it. But a settlement conference scheduled for this month has been pushed off to September. It’ll be the third such conference, and with every conference the likelihood gets less and less that the case will settle.
But was this case really about the past? Does Oracle really care about money lost through TomorrowNow? Or is it about the future – the potential of third-party support to chip away at profits?
In subsequently filing suit against Rimini Street, the most well-known third-party support provider, Oracle made its intentions clear. Payment for access to upgrades makes Oracle a lot of money. Third-party maintenance threatens that.
But lawsuits won’t make an inconvenient fact disappear – loads of users are staying put on older releases, and aren’t going to be too pleased about paying maintenance for functions they don’t plan to use.
SAP’s of course in this game too. But at Sapphire, it gave us an indication that it’s starting to realize that it has to confront this issue. In saying that in-memory technology will apply to R/3 customers, it acknowledged that not all of its customers are ready, or willing, to move to ECC 6.0. Hasso Plattner said that customers are interested in in-memory, but they “currently have no money, they currently have no time, and they don’t want to risk what they already have.” Until they are ready to move to the latest version of SAP’s software, they will be offered the ability to innovate using in-memory technology.
“Instead of moving forward, we have to move back,” Plattner said. “We have to apply the new technology to the existing base.”
Maybe Boies can work his magic on third-party support. But you know what the biggest competition is for third-party support providers? Customers supporting themselves. That might be tougher case to win.