SAP Users Slam Complex And Rigid Licensing
A survey of British SAP users has revealed that many are unhappy over licensing complexity and lack of flexibility
Enterprise software giant SAP AG stands accused of having overly complex and rigid licensing schemes, according to a survey of British and Irish SAP users.
The survey came from the UK & Ireland SAP User Group, which operates independently of the German software behemoth. It asked the opinions of 336 SAP users spanning 150 organisations in the UK and Ireland.
And the findings will not make for a pleasant reading by SAP officials. The survey found that a clear majority (95 percent) of SAP users believe that the company’s software licensing policy is overly complicated and too rigid.
And it is seems that this is an ongoing complaint, as users already complained last November about SAP’s licensing irritations.
But the new survey also revealed a desire among SAP’s user base for greater transparency when it comes to licensing costs, with 88 percent of respondents believing that SAP should make its price list public.
Users admitted that they are finding it difficult to establish which licences they needed through the lifecycle of their SAP software. This has been blamed on the fact that some SAP software packages come with multiple licences with different limits in usage rights. 89 percent of users said they would like SAP to reduce complexity by offering software that is only limited by one licence or usage metric.
It is well known that the advent of virtualisation, the cloud, outsourcing, and even workforce reductions have dramatically increased the complexity surrounding software licensing. And it seems that over two-thirds (67 percent) of users blame the bloated nature of SAP’s product catalogue, which makes it increasingly difficult to keep track of licence usage, especially as certain SAP modules can be installed automatically.
The survey found that as a result, users had found themselves paying for modules they weren’t even using. Meanwhile the financial penalties for not ensuring that your software licensing is correct can be quite stiff, as some companies have found out to their cost.
“In the current business climate many organisations are looking to ensure they are getting maximum value from their software licenses,” said Philip Adams, vice chairman of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group.
“This is an issue currently facing a lot of software vendors and their customers as many licence terms were agreed at a time when workforces were larger and the vast majority of deployments were on premise,” Adams pointed out.
The survey found that as staff numbers reduce and usage patterns change, organisations want to be able to reflect these changes in support costs so they are only paying for what they are using. This has led to 97 percent wishing they should have the ability to ‘park’ unused licenses for support periods.
“SAP users are no different and these findings illustrate that they would like to see licence costs and conditions that are transparent and flexible,” he said.
And he pointed out that SAP is aware of the complaints and is working on a solution.
“Encouragingly SAP has acknowledged these concerns and is starting to work with SUGEN (SAP User Group Executive Network) to engage on a topic that is clearly challenging for both parties,” said Adams.
“We acknowledge the results of this survey and are continuing to address some of the perceived complexities around SAP’s software licensing through a number of measures,” said Tim Noble, Managing Director SAP UK and Ireland. “These include standardising our terms and conditions globally so that the same licensing terms apply, no matter in which country our customers reside, as well as publishing our software rights online for all SAP products and services – including the full Sybase suite.”
“We’ve also spent a significant amount of time on simplifying the buying process so that it’s easy to understand, as well as ensuring implementation of SAP’s products and services are tailored to meet our customers’ individual and specific needs,” said Noble. “Our ultimate goal is to make our user’s experiences of software licensing as efficient as possible and we will continue to focus on this.”
The SAP survey has served a useful purpose as it highlights how difficult it is becoming to properly manage an organisation’s licences.
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) meanwhile has said that software piracy costs the industry billions worldwide. In September 2010 it released a report that claimed the UK could be missing out on as much as £5.4 billion in lost economic activity by 2013. However many commentators dismissed the findings of the report as “propaganda”.
The alliance has also called Birmingham an “illegal software hotspot” after it was revealed that the city was the source of 15 percent of piracy reports in the UK.
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