SAP Indirect Access: So Many Questions, So Few Answers

Chris Crone
Chris Crone in Community Advocates October 10, 2017

SAP customers are still thinking about indirect access. More accurately, they’re still asking questions—in fact, more than we at ASUG think should be asked at this juncture. At a recent gathering of IT leaders I attended, for instance, there was a lively, candid dialog on the topic of SAP indirect access. Along with the conversation, came a flurry of questions:

  • What is the latest on the SAP indirect access topic since May?
  • Has there been any new information since the SAP white paper in July?
  • What does my AE know about the topic, and what is their role in engaging with me?
  • Where is the clarity? I read one thing and my AE says something different.
  • When is there going to be more public information?
  • What am I supposed to do about future projects and initiatives with this cloud hanging over me?

Most customers in the room were knowledgeable on the topic. Yet there were a few—likely the key individuals in their organizations who maintain the relationship with SAP—who were unaware of the issue. This in and of itself raises two more questions:

  • What is SAP’s role in ensuring customer awareness?
  • Are they waiting until the customer—or worse—the license audit team brings up the topic?

Then there were these further questions, which ASUG has also been asking SAP about:

  • How do previously licensed EDI engines (PI) figure into this equation? What about e-commerce?
  • And what about timing—if there is an issue, what is the expectation on timing of resolution?

High Anxiety

The general sentiment in the room was one of uncertainty edging up to high anxietyfear of the unknown, which manifests in caution on further SAP investments and projects. One attendee stated: “SAP may be going from the position of a trusted business partner to a disliked distant relative.” Ouch.

The realization is that the decades-old, user-based licensing model has not kept pace with technology nor is it appropriate for the way that business is conducted today. That is a fact. The introduction of “outcome based” pricing models may indeed be the model of the future. However, this shift has led to more immediate questions:

  • How do I know if the cost impact is neutral with the new model?
  • Will there be a “grandfathering” opportunity?
  • What does this mean to my existing contract?
  • How will my existing named user licenses be treated?

At the conclusion of the conversation, which could have gone on for several hours, there were three very concerning themes:

  1. The ambiguity and uncertainty around indirect access is slowing innovation and investment with and around SAP products.
  2. Organizations are rethinking their existing “SAP first” strategies and even seriously considering divorcing themselves from SAP.
  3. Trust has eroded.

The introduction of a new licensing model by SAP does not, at this point, address these questions. If indeed customers are slowing investment, reconsidering their existing SAP strategy or opening the doors to solutions other than SAP, it may be likely that other factors are at play. One thing is clear, though: There are lots of unanswered questions that need answers.

Bottom Line for ASUG Members

The topic of SAP indirect access and licensing is not dead, nor far from over.

If you have stories and insight on this topic, I would welcome hearing from you. Collectively, there is power in the voice of many. ASUG has been actively engaged in this topic directly with customers, analysts, licensing experts, SUGEN (the network of global SAP user groups) and with SAP executives since February. This engagement continues. As your user community, we are here to advocate on your behalf, create a louder voice and work toward solutions.  

You can email me here.

Chris Crone, SVP Strategic Relationships and Communities, ASUG