See also: Rimini Street in 20 companies to watch in 2012\nIf you own a car, since the middle of 2010 EU antitrust legislation has meant that you can get it serviced not just at a franchised main dealer, but also at your local country garage.\nCar manufacturers are now obliged to supply both parts and technical data on their cars to help your local grease monkey service the car.\nAnd, if it\u2019s under warranty, as long as your man (or woman) follows the required servicing routines, the manufacturer must continue to honour that warranty.\nWhat a different world from that of the ERP suite.\nBoth items have a lifespan of around 10 years, but enterprise software vendors in general remain determined to force their customers into binding contracts which force them into in-house support prices and upgrade programmes.\nEvery CIO is on the lookout for ways to cut costs, so if someone comes along and offers to slash software support costs in half, they are going to take notice.\nThey certainly have in government circles, where one name has been on the lips of quite a few senior IT people in recent months: that of leading US third-party support company Rimini Street.\nIf you use an Oracle-related product, you\u2019ll probably have heard of Rimini Street, though Oracle would rather you hadn\u2019t.\nThe company offers support services across Oracle\u2019s range of products and acquisitions: Siebel, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Oracle as well as competitor SAP\u2019s ERP products.\nRimini Street\u2019s proposition is simple: whatever you pay Oracle at the moment, we\u2019ll halve the price and keep your systems operating.\nIt is an offer of particular interest to keepers of ERP systems of a certain age.\nIf you\u2019ve had an installation for a few years already, chances are you\u2019ve ironed out its wrinkles, made it do the things you need using bits of custom code and would now like it to earn its keep until you decide to go for a root and branch upgrade.\nIf so, you may be wondering why you are paying a premium rate for a support contract which includes upgrades you rarely need, is probably not the main focus of development activity for a vendor and which its reducing in value as a result.\n\u201cCustomers are fed up with getting little or nothing,\u201d says Nigel Pullan, Rimini Street\u2019s European group vice president, of in-house support programmes.\n\nUnnecessary upgrades, he adds, have other knock-on costs such as complex regression testing programmes.\nPullan says that more than 30 UK government bodies are talking to Rimini Street, with one central agency hoping to make an announcement within six months.\nBut what are the risks for a CIO of taking such a course? Well, Oracle, understandably, is not happy about Rimini Street occupying its territory.\nA legal battle to challenge Rimini Street\u2019s operations has been in play for over a year and will not even get to court for another year. The outcome won\u2019t be clear until late 2013.\nRimini Street is postponing its IPO until the result is known. However, Pullan is confident that Oracle can\u2019t make anything stick and that the company\u2019s continuing success proves it.\n\u201cForty-five of the top 500 global corporations already use the product,\u201d he points out, \u201cand they have done their due diligence.\u201d\nThe whole episode echoes events of 2010 when a third-party maintenance company called TomorrowNow, acquired by Oracle\u2019s arch rival SAP, was found guilty of infringing Oracle\u2019s intellectual property in the course of providing maintenance services for some Oracle customers.\nThis guilty verdict wasn\u2019t the end of the affair: an original $1.3bn jury award was reduced by the judge to $272m (\u00a3229m), followed by a further $20m (\u00a316.8m) fine late last year. But, unhappy with this decision, Oracle has announced its intention to go back to court to challenge the reduction.\nBut if you can continue to get support on old systems at a much reduced price now, the result of what might transpire between two of your suppliers one or two years down the line may be irrelevant.