Brace for Impact: SAP’s Indirect Access Pricing Changes are a clear indication of what’s to come

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In a blog post titled “Modern Pricing for Modern Times”, SAP for the first time made a statement this morning on the issue of Indirect Access litigation, after a series of high-profile lawsuits had sent shockwaves through the SAP community.

During his opening remarks at SAPPHIRE NOW 2017, SAP SE CEO Bill McDermott put it this way: “I hear that indirect access is causing some anxiety out there, so let’s tell it like it is. Protecting IP and accommodating ways of doing business is a delicate balance.” We attended the keynote, and there seemed to have been little applause and appreciation from the audience. Though presented as customer-friendly, the announcement brings little clarity to what will certainly be an on-going issue. SAP has found a profitable revenue stream in Indirect Access, and is expected to keep up its auditing and litigation practice.

 

 

In summary, changes have been made to three scenarios, namely Procure-to-Pay, Order-to-Cash, and Indirect Static Read. While changes to the first two now mirror how SAP engines are licensed based on volume, granting free Indirect Static Read access simply makes official what was a fact before: customer data stored within SAP belongs to you, not SAP – which, as a side note, did not stop SAP from trying to monetize it in the past.

I encourage you to read between the lines here. Data being displayed outside of SAP through a dynamic interface (as in, click a button and recent or realtime data gets displayed) still constitutes Indirect Access and requires proper license agreements to be in place. But which license types at which price? SAP didn’t say. The onus remains on customers to investigate their IT landscape and understand their exposure as a direct function of their interface usage.

Be careful before you rush to update existing contracts with this new definition of Indirect Static Read. It introduces no new information and we haven’t seen the fine print yet. Another well known fact I’d like to draw your attention to, is this quote from SAP blog post:

If you’re fully licensed, there’s no action for you. However, if you’re questioning whether you are under-licensed, let’s talk about it. We want customers to proactively engage us on this topic. SAP assures customers who proactively engage with SAP to resolve such under-licensing of SAP software that we will not collect back maintenance payments for such under-licensing.”

This was the case before, which is why we recommend you develop your own licensing strategy that takes into account the exact ROI you’re receiving from 3rd party & homegrown integrations, and factors in the overall direction you’re moving in with your SAP investment. Our Indirect Access Checklist remains unchanged: discover your interfaces, understand their data throughput, and create a custom licensing strategy centered around utility and ROI.

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