CONTRIBUTOR
CIO,
Spinnaker Support

Having a stable and effective software environment that works hard for your enterprise’s operations is one thing. Ensuring this environment remains compliant with relevant regulatory frameworks and requirements, as any CIO knows, is another.

Navigating the intricate maze of U.S. corporate compliance and regulatory standards is a challenge for any business leader, in any industry. But now, in the digital age, where cybersecurity risks are ever evolving and data protection standards are becoming increasingly important at a state and federal level, the stakes are even higher for businesses.

So, what’s the issue here, you might ask? If you’re running an advanced and established Oracle or SAP system which is supported and maintained by the vendors themselves, surely your environment is, by design, compliant and secure? What are you paying those millions of dollars in support fees for, if not?

The Legacy System Issue

Say you’ve spent years – maybe even decades – refining your highly customized ERP system, complete with bespoke integrations and apps. This legacy system works perfectly for your corporation’s unique operational needs. Suddenly, you’re presented with an urgent regulatory mandate, a directive that affects your data handling, financial reporting or cybersecurity protocols. You’ve got to make some critical changes to your system to stay compliant. Or, in another instance, a latent software vulnerability is discovered in your system, and you need an immediate fix to meet compliance requirements. Non-compliance simply is not an option. The potential downtime, data breaches or compliance penalties could translate into millions of dollars in losses.

Your corporation, simply because it’s chosen to stay on its highly effective legacy infrastructure, could now be in trouble.

Vendors like Oracle and SAP are offering increasingly less support for legacy software environments because it’s simply no longer a business imperative. Instead, ERP providers are pivoting towards cloud-centric models, and they want their customers to follow suit. This evolution, while beneficial for the vendors’ growth, casts a shadow on on-premise, legacy software systems.

This is a problem for several reasons. Firstly – the financial imperative. When Oracle and SAP decide that older versions of their software will no longer be supported, this doesn’t translate into reduced support fees.

Consider this example: Earlier this year, Oracle downgraded all database releases prior to 19c to Sustaining Support status. This means no more critical patches, security fixes or compliance with legislative changes. But enterprises relying on these older database versions will still have to pay their full support package costs. There’s no discount, despite the huge reduction in the level of support and maintenance being offered.

The bigger issue here is the lack of security and compliance support.

Moves to wind down critical support and maintenance doesn’t just disrupt operations – they directly challenge a company’s ability to adhere to regulatory standards. If your software vendor simply no longer provides necessary security patches for vulnerabilities in your legacy system, your corporation is immediately at risk. If your firm operates in the financial industry, for example, and complies with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley-Act, how can you ensure that you’re maintaining strict protection against consumer data threats? Similarly, if your enterprise works with federal agencies, you’ll be familiar with the Federal Information Security Modernization Act. Any organization dealing with the government in some capacity must ensure their systems align with these standards, or they risk losing contracts.

These statutes aren’t just guidelines; they’re imperative directives that companies must adhere to. These nuances underscore that the stakes aren’t just about meeting bare-minimum standards. They’re about safeguarding brand reputation, ensuring smooth international operations, and preserving stakeholder trust.

Some corporations opt to take on the management of software security and compliance in their own hands – racing against the clock to build custom solutions and stay one step ahead of legislative changes that may affect their compliance requirements. But this is a huge endeavor that puts strain on your resources and takes your enterprise into a reactive stance rather than a proactive one. Your corporation needs to stay compliant and remain profitable.

If the software vendors themselves won’t help you achieve that, who will?

The Software Support Alternative

In an evolving landscape, where technology and regulations intersect, relying solely on original software vendors for critical support is a risky strategy. As corporations face the complex dual challenge of maintaining both operational efficiency and regulatory compliance, a more adaptive, tailored approach to software support is needed.

Working with a third-party software support partner can solve these compliance questions. This support addresses critical vulnerabilities, helps address time-sensitive security issues, and ensures compliance with a range of regulatory or legislative requirements. Your exact compliance needs are taken care of, no matter where you’re operating from. Your third-party support partner will stay one step ahead of the cybersecurity and regulatory landscape, anticipating the next change and identifying emerging vulnerabilities.

Third-party support takes a holistic approach to security and compliance. Unlike Oracle or SAP, third-party providers aren’t confined to piecemeal solutions. They engage with your business, establishing continuous communication channels, updating you on potential security vulnerabilities, and proactively mitigating threats. And because they’re unrestricted by a vendor’s shifting priorities, you can keep your legacy system – fully supported, and at a fraction of the cost you pay for your vendor’s in-house support.

In today’s age, adaptability is crucial. The software ecosystem is evolving, and with it, the expectations of stakeholders, clients and regulatory bodies.

By strategically investing in third-party support, organizations aren’t just safeguarding their present systems. They’re laying the foundation for a future where innovation, security and compliance combine to ensure sustainable growth. In a world that’s continually transforming, this proactive stance will be a defining factor that sets the frontrunners apart from the crowd.