There are important changes coming to the way support is provided for JD Edwards customers who currently run on the Oracle supported 'Blue Stack.' By way of Q&A, Ray Grigsby, Vice President, JD Edwards Service Delivery, Rimini Street sets out the current known position, and suggests how an alternative might make more sense for customers.
What does Oracle's Blue Stack support currently include and what specifically will change on September 30, 2016?
Oracle has provided support for The EnterpriseOne Technology Foundation (Blue Stack.) This consists of IBM DB2 for Linux, Unix and Windows, IBM WebSphere Application Server, and the IBM WebSphere Portal. On September 30, 2016, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne IBM Technology Foundation and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne IBM Technology Foundation Upgrade will no longer be supported by Oracle.
If software licensees want to continue running their tried and true combination of IBM Blue Stack technology and JD Edwards applications while fully supported, they will have to purchase a new Blue Stack support agreement from IBM or a Value Added Reseller (VAR).
Licensees using the JDE World software are not affected since they license DB2 as part of their iSeries support.
That seems drastic. Why do you think Oracle is ending Blue Stack support?
Oracle’s strategy appears to be a consistent move towards a single-vendor approach including hardware, software and services, which for some licensees could present well-known challenges associated with vendor lock-in but which might make sense where the customer has decided strategically on a ‘single throat to choke’ approach to licensing.
What are the options for current Blue Stack licensees?
There are currently three options Blue Stack licensees can choose from before September 30, 2016:
- Licensees can continue running Blue Stack but will need to purchase a new support agreement from IBM by September 30, 2016. This is an additional agreement to the existing JDE support and maintenance agreement currently in place with Oracle, forcing the customers to manage support issues between two vendors.
- Licensees can migrate to Oracle Technology Foundation (Red Stack) but are required to purchase a new Oracle Red Stack license and support contract. Additional costs potentially include upgrading to the most current JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1 / 9.2 versions, data migration, re-engineering of custom modules, process modifications and Red Stack staffing and skills training.
- Licensees can switch to Independent Software Support Services and take back control of their JD Edwards application strategy. By switching to an independent support service, licensees can continue to run their existing JD Edwards applications and use a portion of their savings, such as the 50% savings guaranteed by specific independent software service providers, to acquire full support for Blue Stack from IBM. A third party support provider typically assumes responsibility for all JD Edwards support management and problem resolution, along with interoperability and customizations. This saves time, money and resources by offloading these tasks to an independent software support service provider, while saving overall costs.
How does getting Blue Stack support from IBM actually work? Is IBM stepping up to make this a feasible option for its customers running JDE on IBM?
Many licensees will choose to continue using Blue Stack in conjunction with their JD Edwards software, but will need to procure Blue Stack support from IBM. They will still be able to purchase new products directly from IBM or a Value Added Reseller (VAR).
Licensees will need to find new budget to purchase Blue Stack support from IBM on top of their pre-existing Oracle annual support and maintenance agreement for JD Edwards software. The impacts for licensees to continue running Blue Stack under IBM support include:
- Potential requirements for increasing funding for IBM Blue Stack support agreements and JD Edwards application support
- Dedicating substantial time and more internal resources to managing, coordinating and resolving support issues amongst multiple support services from Oracle and IBM
- Working with potential interoperability issues between JD Edwards applications and Blue Stack components
What would you estimate moving to Red Stack would cost for an average sized JDE Blue Stack customer running on IBM?
These things are always difficult to assess, however, history is a good guide.
For a start, pricing could be significant but is dependent on each specific JD Edwards implementation. More important, it could be a disruptive, potentially risky move for a licensee to switch platforms to Red Stack. Customers will also have to consider the following:
- New capital expenditures and operational expenditures for Red Stack products, licenses and support because moving to a new stack is an intricate process and not a simple one-step migration However, some users on older versions of E1 may require two upgrades to get to the current 9.1 / 9.2 versions. But all upgrades require retrofitting, patching and testing. (Source: Oracle, Planned EnterpriseOne Upgrade Innovations, 2015 - PDF)
- Mandatory upgrade to the most current JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1 / 9.2 versions in order to run Red Stack, which may necessitate re-engineering custom modules and process modifications because various layers must be re-implemented including applications, middleware, database, operating systems, virtual machines and storage.
- Cost to migrate data and redeploy other components as required from Blue Stack to Red Stack.
- Potential Red Stack staff training, availability and cost issues.
It is difficult to be precise about any of these costs for the reasons stated above but based upon our research in similar environments, we are seeing a very rough estimate in the range of $200K+ to $1M in annualized costs per implementation on individual configurations. This rough estimate is for a single Oracle 12c database and would still require additional hardware, licensing, middleware, training, support and more. These are all costs that will be required to keep the lights on. Check this article for further color on aspects of Oracle licensing and pricing.
What are the benefits for customers making the choice to go to a third party?
You would expect me to say this, but by switching to independent support, JD Edwards support services customers can reduce their total maintenance costs by up to 90% to fund Blue Stack support from IBM.
A good third party support provider should offer access to a dedicated Primary Support Engineer who will assess, diagnose and remediate all support issues; and help you find savings that allow you to redeploy IT staff onto strategic projects that move the business forward in a positive manner. Net-net, not only can customers protect their existing investments, but they can also get more out of their resources.
Where can customers find out more?
We think it is important that potential customers discover which customers have taken the plunge and opted for an independent support approach. Companies like Liz Claiborne and Pitney-Bowes spring to mind but there are many more that can be found in this comprehensive resource.
Note:  Source: Rimini Street: http://www.riministreet.com/company. Details are based upon ongoing internal analysis using total maintenance savings accounting for upgrades, customizations and support resources.