Many business leaders are already familiar with the pitfalls of their vendor’s software support. For example, vendors such as Oracle and SAP have both increased support costs in recent months, and SAP has also announced plans to end innovation for on-premise customers to drive their cloud business.
This cost customers money, largely because the vendors give themselves a large profit margin. And what do enterprises get for that money? They end up tethered to lengthy and unwieldy contracts, with the vendor’s roadmap dictating how the customer’s software environment will run and managed, and then they are often pressured into paying even more for extended and “on top” support.
Still, many enterprises stay with this support model instead of questioning the viability of the alternatives – even if tech leaders know full-well all the reasons in favor of switching. Others comfort themselves by asking: if third-party software support often makes better sense, then why isn’t every enterprise using it?
Well, some enterprises are wary of challenging the status quo or don’t want to risk damaging the relationship they have with their vendor. But often, enterprises are concerned about the specific business risks they view as inherent in third-party software support. And these business risks usually fall into three categories: security, compliance, and innovation-interoperability. Enterprises are frustrated with the high cost of software support, the depersonalized level of service, and the lack of commercial flexibility – but compromising on security and regulatory compliance could threaten their business’s very existence, making their current support costs the lesser of two evils.
CIOs are right to remain cautious when it comes to these issues – and, indeed, when it comes to making any significant change to their environments. But the perceived risks associated with third-party software support are inaccurate. Here are three of the most common objections that CIOs have to switching to third-party software support, and why third-party software can alleviate these concerns, rather than compound them:
- Security: Software vendors will try to convince their customers looking at support alternatives that they simply won’t be supported or protected if they make the move. In reality, many enterprises find that when they work with third-party support partners, their overall security posture actually improves because of the additional support they receive around vulnerability management. This vulnerability management is in the form of product fixes, configuration changes, and operational configurations to address security issues. It’s crucial for enterprises in regulated industries – those which are required to maintain a high level of security and vulnerability management.
Where the vendors offer patches that reactively address code defects that let vulnerabilities occur, third-party support providers focus on protecting the environment by reducing the attack surface and following defense in depth principles. Relying on patches alone is not enough in today’s increasingly hostile cyber threat landscape. Enterprises need full-stack security and vulnerability protection, with issues addressed at all levels of the infrastructure. Working with a software support partner that understands the crucial nature of infrastructure security and delivers comprehensive protection has become very important. Third-party software support services offer all of this, along with a personalized approach to security, tailoring solutions and security best practices that are relevant to the organization.
- Compliance: Regulatory compliance affects many industries and spans numerous issues – from cybersecurity and tax reporting to data protection. Security teams must make it a priority. The fear of non-compliance has become a barrier to businesses considering third-party support alternatives. We hear this a lot from enterprises that decide to stick with vendor support. However, third-party providers can bolster compliance by working with enterprises to streamline their compliance efforts. We can achieve this by offering support for enterprises running legacy software versions that the vendor no longer supports, thereby actually increasing the organization’s compliant technology footprint.
Holistic compliance and security solutions simply aren’t offered as standard by software vendors – especially if the enterprise runs a legacy version of Oracle or SAP. Why? These systems aren’t fully supported by the vendors because they’re eager to move their customers onto the latest versions of their software. As a result, many enterprises may miss out on critical vulnerability management options for their legacy versions that are required for industry compliance. By discovering potential vulnerabilities, strengthening the environment and threat intelligence protocols, third-party support helps enterprises achieve and maintain compliance. Third-party software support never leaves customers unsupported – even if they’re using customized, legacy versions of software. Security mitigations are provided to these customers, helping them meet compliance objectives, and ensuring that they can continue to run their functional software systems safely and securely, in line with regulatory frameworks – regardless of which version of software they’re running. Third-party software partners will also tackle complex, time-sensitive tax and regulatory issues, customizing exact needs in line with industry and geography.
- Interoperability: Modern enterprise software systems are vast, interconnected, and require seamless integration with external systems and surrounding technologies. All too often, vendors do not offer the level of interoperability support that modern enterprises require for their legacy versions. Businesses should settle for nothing short of peak software performance. With a third-party support partner, businesses have on-hand expertise for all issues related to interoperability. Such a partner ensures that the life of the customer’s software investment gets extended as long as possible by allowing it to continue to interoperate with other aspects of your technology infrastructure. Achieving this requires an understanding of a broad set of technologies--not only the vendor product. All systems must adhere to published industry standards security and encryption.
Third-party software support leverages industry standardized tools and services that maintain a system’s ability to interoperate at the application, database, and server level. Third-party software support also considers how enterprises can streamline, optimize, and innovate their systems. A support partner has expert product knowledge, ensuring applications are communicating fully with the technology stack – at speed and at scale – and always looking for ways to optimize your processes. Many enterprises are often surprised that third-party software support not only addresses these business issues, but can overcome the challenges faced by businesses in ensuring security, compliance, and interoperability objectives are met. This all gets offered on top of the headline benefits offered by software support alternatives: it’s more cost-effective than vendor support, the expertise and service offering is unparalleled, the assigned engineers have decades of experience in software systems, and as a result, enterprises can keep their legacy systems running efficiently for years to come.
In this way, enterprises can view the transition to third-party support as a transformative step for enterprises seeking to tackle business challenges head-on and unlock their software’s full operational potential. A personalized, comprehensive approach to security and compliance offers something to enterprises that vendors can’t: a confident, innovative, fully-supported software environment, free from constraints, and uncompromising roadmaps.
Trust in the right software support partner, and enterprises can guarantee a future for their infrastructures that’s flexible, efficient, secure, and compliant.
Iain Saunderson, chief technology officer, Spinnaker Support