Behind Enemy Lines:, Rimini Street

Behind Enemy Lines:, Rimini Street

Both tech vendors are aiming to change the rules of game for enterprise software. And while they're going about it with two different business models, the companies share some things in common.

Thirty minutes after meeting with Kelman, I walked up a block to the Westin Hotel, to the presidential suite to catch up with Rimini Street CEO Seth Ravin.

Rimini Street's alternative enterprise-software play is this: It offers third-party maintenance and support for a wide range of Oracle and SAP enterprise software products-at half the cost customers pay Oracle and SAP.

Because the global economic downturn has forced all companies to critically examine their IT spend (including those rather large maintenance contracts), Rimini Street has been able to grow its business not only in the U.S. but around the globe, recently opening offices in London, Sydney, Singapore, Rio and Amsterdam. "We'll be fully global by the end of the year," Ravin says.

But it is Rimini Street's new office in Munich, Germany, that has created the biggest stir. Last month, news broke that Siemens, one of SAP's biggest customers whose partnership is decades' old, was reportedly reconsidering its SAP maintenance agreements. Rumors swirled that Siemens was considering Rimini Street. (For more on this, see Siemens and SAP Flap: Much Ado About Nothing-Yet.)

While Ravin does not hide the fact that he has spent considerable time in Germany as of late, he declines to say anything more about any potential deal with the Siemens mothership.

Nevertheless, he's his usual bold self in making predictions: "Many of SAP's top-level customers are in discussion with us," and adds, a little bit later, "Within a year, we will have one or more of SAP's largest customers on board." To meet the increases in demand Rimini Street has experienced and expects, the company will staff up to 200 employees by the start of 2010. He pledges that the company will not dilute the ratio between the number of employees and customers.

Another thing that and Rimini Street have in common is that the economic recession has driven companies to cut IT costs and keep them low now and in the future. Both companies' models attack the legacy costs of traditional on-premise software, and both companies are going hard after the entrenched competition in the enterprise software space.

Which leads to one more thing they share: They're the frequent target of corporate disdain and competitive venom from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. (Nothing legitimizes your company better than an insult or slight from Larry.)

Sums up Ravin: "We have a healthy respect for our competitors, and we hope they have a healthy respect for us. Sure, you occasionally trade slugs, but you don't go after the largest companies' main revenue source and not expect them to come back at you."

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