back to article Fancy talking to SAP about your indirect licensing concerns? Straw poll says no

SAP has been told that customers are too afraid to strike up a conversation about indirect access, as a survey indicated most users had concerns that opening up to the firm could backfire. SAP rules on indirect access mean customers can be hit with licensing fees to cover any and all software that connects – even indirectly – …

  1. Korev Silver badge

    Overlicensing?

    I wonder if SAP find an organisation who have too many licences if they will refund the difference...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Overlicensing?

      "too many licences"

      Does this concept actually exist?

    2. Rob 54

      Re: Overlicensing?

      Depends on what type of agreement you have in place, and it's typically easier if there is a new license deal to be done at the same time.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trust SAP?

    This needs to be done with a backing track from Jungle Book - the bit with the ssssnake.

    I've had 2 customers fall foul of SAP licences. Not the Indirect stuff, just confusion about what counts as a CPU. Penalties and backdated fees.

    Lost both customers now - thanks SAP.

    They've moved the team responsible for channel licencing agreements to South America now - sometimes takes over a month to get even a small sale through all the paperwork.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Trust SAP?

      I'm surprised their licensing teams don't operate from Sicily.

      I'm sure a certain family business there would be able to fully implement their licensing policies with little change to their standard operating procedures. They could make a fortune doing outsourcing work for Oracle, SAP, CA etc...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trust SAP?

      "They've moved the team responsible for channel licencing agreements to South America now"

      SAP behaving like Nazis... licensing moved to South America... it all adds up.

      I thought the original Nazis on the run would all be dead (or incredibly aged) by now, but maybe "The Boys from Brazil" wasn't fiction after all. That was forty years ago, so... bingo! Those kids must be in their early fifties now and working for SAP...

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Trust SAP?

        Have an upvote, but keep taking the meds.

  3. LeoP

    Anyone actually still using SAP?

    That's what takes me wonder - what exactly is the value using SAP gives you, that couldn't be had at half the price with a trivial amount of brains?

    A client of mine once was asked to actually pay for the privilege of exporting his data from his legacy SAP system - we ended up "printing" it to a "text-only line printer" which of course was a linux box set up to receive this CSV-like data and put it into a database. Printing was "allowed".

    1. theblackhand Silver badge

      Re: Anyone actually still using SAP?

      "Printing was "allowed"."

      Lucky you didn't fart at the same time - SAP would have found a way to bill you for energy production...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone actually still using SAP?

      Yep. Plenty. Still making a small fortune each year as a contractor. Usually fixing what the outsource resources morons have thoroughly bored.

  4. Velv Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "Yes Mr Police Officer. Even though nobody saw me I'll happily discuss driving at 120mph on the empty motorway with you."

    Given what appears to be a ludicrous licence offering from SAP, like one of those asked, I'm surprised anyone is willing to discuss the situation with SAP given its almost entirely likely you're going to get screwed.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I talked to McDermott about this earlier in the year, and it's clear to me that SAP really want to deal with this in a fair and reasonable way, and they get that dealing with it badly will create customer issues. There are three compounding factors that make this hard:

    1) A lot of customers have ERP systems with very old contacts that don't represent the world we live in now.

    2) A number of those have knowingly broken the terms of those contracts and have used the systems in ways which are not permitted.

    3) SAP went after a small number of those for compliance.

    Work has been done to modernize the license contracts for the cloud and mobile world we live in, but some customers are cynical.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      I'm not sure about "cynical". I think "realistic" is the better word here.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "and it's clear to me that SAP really want to deal with this in a fair and reasonable way,"

      Then don't post AC. Put your name to that bilge, and we can judge you by your previous posting credibility.

      IM very HO, SAP may well be a bunch of rapacious bastards, ruthlessly exploiting the stranglehold they have on their customers' business, as the Diageo case might imply. But perhaps I'm wrong.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Work has been done to modernize the license contracts for the cloud and mobile world we live in,

      So there exists an iOS/Android SAP licensing app/website where a user can tick boxes etc. and so can understand and determine the licencing costs of their configuration?

      Obviously, once a user has determined their licence configuration, they can then print off the result and pay SAP accordingly, as SAP stand by the results outputted by the tool.

      I mean if HMRC can do it for IR35, I'm sure SAP can do it...

      >but some customers are cynical.

      Only some? I thought customers being cynical about package licensing costs was normal...

  6. MJI Silver badge

    SAP lack of support

    We use a product aquired by them and since their acquisition the support has gone to toilet.

    Used to have seminars and regular new versions. But since SAP bought the company nothing.

    Even the developers have been let go.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...typical licensing spiel from a dinosaur vendor. They are old farts dad-dancing at a cloud party" ...is the best description of SAP - ever!

    They don't know they are dead yet but the meteorite is on it's way !

    1. arthoss

      Probably, just like it's for the cloud thing. Although sap (classic) might outlive the cloud-hype.

  8. Joe 35

    Back payments isnt the issue

    The issue is, forward payments.

    Lets say it turns out that due to the arcane way the license works, you owe them £5M for licences each year. OK they wont ask for the back payment of several squidzillion, but an unexpected (on your part) £5M each year going forward is no chicken feed either. So, by genuinely not asking for backpayment, SAP still clean up since you've effectively just promised to pay them some large amount ongoing without even understanding what it will be until you ask !

    Any sensible organisation will be using specialist 3rd parties to audit connectivity and recommend how to adjust systems so they dont contravene, or at least significantly minimise contravention, and *only then* go to SAP.

    Oracle believe it or not are generally better here, at least if you've managed to negotiate an employee based license for your finance etc, then it doesn't matter what or who you connect to. Do SAP not do such licenses?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Back payments isnt the issue

      I think many of these contracts were negotiated so long ago that no one ever thought about companies doing things like providing portals so their customers could log on and look at their bills or pay bills. They thought they were buying back office accounting software so the idea that thousands of "indirect" users would be looking at their finance data probably was never even raised when they negotiated the contract in 1994. I think had they known and objected at the time, SAP would have agreed that the licensing terms are not meant to include end user customers who may see a snippet of data through a third party system... which uses none of SAP's business logic.

  9. SailingDutchman

    SAP seems to be mum about the decentralization/dispersion of apps inherent to cloud migrations. Such migrations tend to greatly increase "indirect access" and SAP is catching on.

    The official statement conveys that customers will not be charged with back maintenance. However, it appears likely that many companies will suddenly find themselves owing additional fees moving forward. SAP's move may in fact drive some customers to find alternative vendors since paying increased fees may not be exceed the budget. Of course, SAP's tack isn't new; many vendors will (deeply) discount the initial acquisition. But ne'er the annual maintenance.

    Extracting oneself from SAP is a costly and lengthy preposition as well, so it remains to be seen SAP will lose ground there. On the other hand, I would not be unsurprising to see a drop in new customers.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Such migrations tend to greatly increase "indirect access" and SAP is catching on.

      But surely you would only do an in-house SAP to cloud SAP migration with an SAP partner - who will as part of their remit work out your new licencing configuration and associated costs.

      So it would seem that what is actually going on here is SAP are not trusting their partners to correctly assess user organisation licencing needs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think that is definitely part of this. SAP has been around for many decades. Every company of size is either already on SAP or there is a good reason why they are not on SAP (not because SAP just hasn't spoken with them). There isn't much green space in the ERP market for SAP or new business to go after. As such, they are looking for opportunities to extract more cash out of existing accounts. They know it is a giant project to migrate away from SAP if they get upset.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        The market is companies that are currently using Sage and have expanded to the point that they have outgrown it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          True, that is a relatively small number of companies every year though. SAP's core market was always huge companies too, generally huge manufacturing companies. The mid market was never their strong suit. Those companies coming up today are also more likely to use some SaaS solution, or many SaaS solutions, instead of the giant monolithic ERP.

  10. whoseyourdaddy

    I've been told (as I manually copy a 250+item electronics bom, one..cell..at..a..time.. into a SAP web form) SAP has the best automation for companies with a ton of currency conversion and country jurisdiction headaches.

    Only other thing I remember is documentation that caused more questions than it answered.

  11. EveryTime

    8% of the ..

    I'm guessing 8% of the survey respondents didn't understand the question, or were afraid of being trapped.

    What would you say if a police officer asked if you ever speed?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 8% of the ..

      It isn't even like a police officer asking you if you have ever sped. It is more like a police officer asking you if you ever borrowed your car to anyone and then having them tell you that you have stolen your own car and need to pay General Motors for that car... again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: 8% of the ..

      "What would you say if a police officer asked if you ever speed"

      No, officer, I only do MDMA.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who can rest easy knowing that there is the possibility that SAP may... or may not, depends on how they are feeling... sue your company for $50m in indirect licensing fees? The entire concept is ridiculous. If you have data stored in a database, probably not even an SAP database, which originated in SAP's finance module or something of that sort, SAP is claiming they own your data and you need to take a license even if you write your own customer billing portal where customer can go in and work with their historical bills... which is nothing to do with SAP. Basically saying that anyone who touches any of your company's data, even an end user customer or supplier, needs to be licensed, even if they have never logged into an SAP system.

  13. sambayer

    Charging for Indirect Access is illegal

    A recent review of the legality of SAP charging for indirect access in light of their monopoly position in the market has concluded that they are more than likely in violation of US AntiTrust laws. UK and the EU can't be far behind. You can get access to the Duke Law Memorandum on SAP Indirect Access here http://www.corevist.com/duke-law-professor-says-sap-indirect-access-license-fees-illegal/

  14. PeterM42
    FAIL

    I always thought

    that SAP was Kraut for CRAP.

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