Aug 14, 2018

SAP Indirect Access Rules are Changing, but Details Remain Foggy

When the High Court in London ruled in 2017 that Diageo owes over £54 million in back payments to SAP® for indirect access to its software, SAP customers everywhere were jittery about what was next, or who was next.

In early April 2018, SAP tried to calm those fears with adding new rules for indirect access licensing and rebranding it to digital access with the aim to drag the licensing model into the fast-moving 21st century digital landscape of devices, clouds, bots, and third-party platforms and applications.

The move should offer more clarity with a new license metric, however, it still raises lots of questions and uncertainty regards the ongoing SAP license management.

Human Access vs. Digital Access

SAP Direct access or now the so-called “Human access” has been and continues to be licensed based on the SAP Named User plus Package License Model for the most on-premises solutions. Until now, this licensing model (now referred to as “legacy” licensing model) was applied as well to almost all indirect/digital access scenarios, resulting in high additional costs.

According to the legacy licensing model and new policy introduced in July 2017 for indirect access, in most 3rd Party Access Scenarios – with some exceptions in the Order-to-Cash and Procure-to-Pay Business Scenarios, and “Indirect Static Read” – the Named user plus Package policy still applies.

SAP’s new licensing rules (valid from April 2018) for digital access now offer licensing based on the metric “Documents” that recognize nine different document types for sales, invoices, and other business outcomes. Only the initial creation of one of these document types determines the document license demand. Reading, updating, or deleting accesses attributed to that document don’t incur further charges.

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Complexity Out. Complexity In?

The new licensing model based on document types has opened new grey areas and has still lots of unanswered questions. Therefore, it is recommended to stay put, see how things and information will develop and slowly prepare.

Since the document based licensing is the designated licensing model exclusively for digital access, a separation between the different types of access that possibly lead to a creation of documents is required on the technical side. While the creation of documents via human access & SAP application access (incl. 3rd party applications from SAP LPC) is covered by other license types, incoming traffic from digital access will trigger the document license counter.

Accordingly, respective identifiers on the sender side and measurability on the receiver side are required. According to SAP, both won’t be fully available before August 2018.

SAP customers have three options:

  1. Do nothing and keep their existing contracts – legacy licensing model applies to all scenarios
  2. Swap existing licenses (e.g. Sales/Service Order Execution) to the new document based license model
  3. Roll current contracts into a new contract with the document licenses and the S/4HANA

The third option makes S/4HANA an attractive option, because SAP wants to drive customers to it. The second option’s glaring question is, if the license swap will cost less or be more expensive. Without the availability of receiver side measurability, a valid/precise cost comparison seems to be difficult or even impossible.

Let the SAP waiting game begin

In the meantime, Software Asset Management providers will work with SAP to get the technical details.

The document licenses are a positive development for dealing with indirect/digital access. The rules now address the reality of today’s digital landscape, but there are enough unknowns to be only cautiously optimistic.

Until SAP’s promise to be transparent actually becomes transparent, customers should take a wait-and-see approach to learn as much as they can and see what comes next.

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Topics: SAP