DB2 For i Support Now Offered by Rimini Street
June 26, 2017 Alex Woodie
IBM i shops now have another option for obtaining technical support and maintenance services in support their DB2 for i environment: Rimini Street. And in some cases, owing to the uniquely integrated nature of this platform, the vendor will even provide support for the IBM i operating system as well.
Earlier this month, the Las Vegas, Nevada, company announced that it’s now offering third-party support services for all three versions of IBM‘s DB2 database – DB2 for i, DB2 for z/OS, and DB2 for Linux, Unix, and Windows (a.k.a. “Cousin LUWy”), in addition to the SQL Server database from Microsoft and SAP‘s Sybase database family.
Rimini Street said it will provide the same sort of database support services for DB2 for i and other databases that it has been providing for Oracle‘s eponymous relational store for some time. That includes operational break/fix support, diagnostics and troubleshooting, and support with configuring the database. It will also help clients with interoperability issues and assist them with database performance tasks.
The company says its primary support engineers, or PSEs, have an average of 15 years of real-world experience, and that customers are guaranteed a response from Rimini Street for their database problems within 15 minutes. The company often claims that customers can save 50 percent of their maintenance fees while getting better services.
The DB2 for i database is unique among relational database because it is so deeply entwined with other components of the IBM i server. For starters, IBM does not license the DB2 for i software separately from the operating system. And in some cases the database and operating system support agreements are part of the support agreement for the Power Systems hardware.
This is decidedly different from how the wider IT world buys and supports its database software. When procuring a new X86 server, a company may buy its operating system (and thus technical support) from Red Hat or Microsoft, while buying the database (and ensuing support services) from Oracle or MongoDB or EnterpriseDB or whichever database company they choose.
In light of these important platform differences, we reached out to Rimini for clarification on the exact scope of its new third-party support business for DB2 for i. A company spokesperson replied, saying Rimini Street can support DB2 for i in three different ways, depending on how the IBM i customer’s maintenance and support agreement was written up with Big Blue.
“For those customers with IBM support agreements where DB2 and the i platform are separate from the hardware, we can provide comprehensive support for both DB2 and the OS, replacing IBM support,” Michelle McGlocklin, vice president of global communications, tells IT Jungle via email.
“For those customers with bundled agreements with IBM where the database and OS support cannot be separated from the hardware, we can provide supplemental support that provides more responsive support with additional value-add services like interoperability support and performance tuning,” she adds.
“Customers may also opt out of their IBM agreement entirely, procuring third-party hardware support from another company and DB2 and the i platform support from Rimini Street.”
This certainly sounds intriguing. While the IBM i platform runs all sorts of open source software, the operating system itself is a closed, proprietary platform. Nobody but IBM gets through the Technology Independent Machine Interface (TIMI) to access the underlying pieces that interface with the Power processors, system RAM, and other hardware elements. Suffice it to say, we will need to explore this topic a little more.
In the meantime, it’s clear that Rimini Street has greater ambitions to service a bigger chunk of its customers’ computing stacks than it currently does. The upstart business that Seth Ravin started 12 years ago to provide third-party ERP support for Oracle and JD Edwards ERP customers is now morphing into a full-blown stack provider.
“Today’s announcement further executes on our plan to broaden our product coverage portfolio, expand our service capabilities, and increase our service footprint with clients,” Ravin, the CEO, stated in the June 7, 2017, announcement.
Ravin’s first attempt to blow the doors open on the ERP maintenance racket did not end well – TomorrowNow was acquired by SAP and then the service was sued into oblivion by Oracle. His second endeavor with Rimini Street hasn’t avoided legal warfare with Oracle either. But the long-running lawsuits are now over, and the result is that Rimini Street has basically been given a judicial stamp of approval by the federal courts that the third-party ERP support business is legal.
From time to time, we have heard of IBM i resellers and business partners talk about how it provides a tech support lifeline to IBM i shops that are short on personnel. In most cases, the services essentially mimic what operators, administrators, and programmers would provide. If the IBM i shop has fallen off software maintenance with IBM or their ERP provider, they may lean on the business partner a bit more to ensure the system stays up and running.
But none of these firms have sought to essentially replicate the maintenance and support provided by IBM for the operating system and the database, as Rimini now is doing. Can the company deliver? Only time will tell.