Featured Article from Software Licensing

SAP Users Find Licensing a Serious Hassle

October 15, 2012

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of managing software, especially for an environment with multiple users, is keeping track of all the licenses involved. Too few licenses to cover the users can leave the business open to fines and further fees. Too many is just a waste of perfectly good money. Sometimes, users can't even manage to figure out how many licenses they need for a given piece of software. According to a recent study from the SAP (News - Alert) Users Group, SAP licensing is one of the worst offenders in the lot.

The SAP Users Group survey, which focused on 336 SAP users across 150 different organizations, discovered that a whopping 95 percent of SAP users find the licensing scheme for the software to be "overly complicated." What's more, 89 percent of users are in favor of a version of SAP that only has one license or similar usage metric involved.

Flexera Software, a provider of strategic solutions for application usage management, explored the study in a recent blog post, discussing the concerns about SAP software licensing. In the company’s webinar, “SAP Software Licenses Could be Costing You,” it reveals that there are two main SAP license models: Named User and Package (aka Engine) licenses.

The Named User version of the licensing arrangement requires classifications of each user, and there are several such classifications available. From Professional User to Employee Self Service to Test user, it requires the SAP administrator to make a whole lot of guesses based on a handful of criteria over just which user gets which kind of license, and so on. Worse, the licenses are priced differently according to their brand; Professional User costs more than Limited Professional, which costs more than Employee Self Service. Incorrect guesses can result in license liabilities when a "true-up"--the process by which software makers evaluate the number and types, where applicable, of licenses purchased--occurs, and that means unexpected expenses.

Image via Flexera Software

Package licenses are even more difficult to work with, requiring careful computation of several different metrics, and the potential for, again, unexpected expenses when a "true-up" is launched.

It's not hard to see why users are hungry for simple licenses, licenses that don't come with high-stakes guessing games or that almost require a flow chart to accurately plan for. Worse, many companies find themselves buying licenses they don't need just to protect against unexpected expenses when the "true-up" arrives. Saving money by not spending what doesn't need to be spent is undoubtedly a welcome development, so license simplification would be well received by the user community as a whole.

Whether SAP will take this information to heart remains to be seen, but the longer they wait to give the customer what they want, the more likely it is for a competitor to step in and do the job for them. That should make simple licensing a priority for SAP.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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