A New Answer to Your SAP Digital Access Questions

Geoff Scott
Geoff Scott in Indirect Access, Licensing May 06, 2019

Today, ASUG is excited to team up with DSAG and SAP to announce the Digital Access Adoption Program (DAAP). This new program is designed to help customers move to the digital access license model. According to Robin Manherz, SVP of global portfolio planning and commercialization at SAP, the new program promises “to remove uncertainty or trepidation associated with historic transactions, audits, and/or negotiated indirect licensing terms that may have, over time, become difficult for customers and SAP to succinctly rationalize.”

A Clear Path to SAP Licensing

This is a major move forward to help customers understand and mitigate the risk of potential indirect access compliance issues. And, more importantly, it provides a clear path, so your organization is prepared for the transformation projects you’ll need to stay competitive in the future.

While you may not greet all of this news with cheers, rest assured that we are far clearer on the topic of indirect access than we ever have been. We remain committed to working with SAP on behalf of customers. This is a journey that dates back to 2017 when ASUG and DSAG brought the customer’s point of view to our discussions with SAP as we pushed for transparency around licensing and indirect use.

Solving the EDI Licensing Puzzle

One of the most frequently asked questions from ASUG Members about SAP’s digital access policy is how EDI fits in. Candidly, the licensing of EDI over the years has been a challenge for many customers. Some have allocated user-based licensing to cover EDI, others have purchased licenses such as Sales Order Processing, and some have assumed that EDI is covered by XI or PI solutions or is simply included in their ECC entitlements.

How to appropriately license EDI has been a topic that ASUG and other global user groups have been wrestling with SAP on since the initial digital access announcements in April 2018 when SAP introduced this new pricing model. ASUG’s quest for a reasonable answer is a journey that has taken many twists and turns that included some stressful meetings and heated discussions with SAP.

What We’ve Learned About Indirect Access

Let’s begin here: Transactions created in an SAP system (ECC or SAP S/4HANA) through EDI are considered indirect access. That’s pretty bold and direct. This may even take you aback. Yet it is important to understand this: If your organization is creating, reading, updating, or deleting records in ECC or SAP S/4HANA through EDI or any other type of interface, this meets the definition of indirect access unless you’ve specifically licensed that activity. Just like direct (hands on keyboard) access, indirect access requires a license in some way, shape, or form.

SAP introduced the digital access license model in 2018 to make it easier to license scenarios like these. This is also known as the documents-based licensing model because of the nine document types that trigger a charge when they’re created. Full details on SAP’s model are available here.

Start with the Document Counts

Now that we have clarified what indirect access is, the next question should be, how much transactional volume is my organization’s EDI and/or interface activity creating? The good news is that there are now two ways to determine this, known in SAP language as measurability.

The first measurability option is an estimation tool delivered through SAP Notes. Once applied, these notes will provide reports that estimate the volume of documents you’re creating. Keep in mind that these are estimates and may require some effort to fine-tune. As part of the Digital Access Adoption Program, SAP will provide resources from its Global License Audit and Compliance (GLAC) team to help you adjust and validate these estimates.

The second measurability option requires you to implement service packs to install the SAP Passport technical components. Once installed on the appropriate systems, the SAP Passport technology will begin tracking the actual number of documents you’re creating through indirect access. Be aware that getting an accurate count will take some time though, as the SAP Passport technology will only count documents that you generate after the point of installation.

Know Your SAP Contracts

Once you are comfortable with the volume of transactions your organization is creating, you can assess your current license levels to support this volume. Determining this requires you to understand your SAP contracts and how your licenses are allocated to your various activities. Unfortunately, ASUG has found that customer licensing practices are diverse and complex, so it’s impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all answer here.

Based on your understanding of your current contract, you can decide how you want to allocate licenses to any indirect access areas that may turn up. And SAP now offers guidelines that will give you an approximate conversion to a digital access license.

Are You Right, Over, or Under Licensed?

Following these steps outlined here, you can now determine if your organization is right licensed, over licensed, or under licensed. If you are right or over licensed, it is up to you if you want to initiate a formal conversion to the digital access license model based on your project priorities and any identified compliance risk. Keep in mind that any new digital transformation projects or innovations that you have planned in the near future may affect what you’re currently licensed for. This is why ASUG always advocates that customers know what they own and what they’re licensed to do with it.

If you find that you are under licensed or you simply want to move to the digital access license model, the Digital Access Adoption Program offers two financially attractive options. Determining which option best fits your needs is based on your current situation, expected growth rates for your organization, and your business case. There’s a lot more detail on both of these options in this blog post on the program from SAP.

The Time to Make a Licensing Change Is Now

ASUG recommends that you determine your level of license compliance within the next six months—and certainly in advance of your 2020 budgeting process. Why? If you happen to determine that you are under licensed, the two options available to resolve this with SAP have a time limit of one year (expiring in May 2020). Given that it will take time to understand your current indirect access exposure, current licensing entitlements, and negotiations to update your license—you have very little time to spare. Starting now will help make sure you and your organization is prepared to make the best decision.

SAP is offering additional resources through GLAC and your account executive to help you better understand your options, should you decide to participate in the program. And ASUG is here to lend our support and to connect you with peers who are going through similar situations. ASUG, DSAG, and SAP are eager to make sure SAP customers understand the benefits of this program and how it can help you find a path forward to resolve indirect access questions once and for all.

What’s the Right Move for You?

If you believe you may be facing indirect access compliance risk, you have these options: You can choose to do nothing. You can evaluate your document use and choose to stay with your existing license, adding named users or other license entitlements to cover your licensing gap. Or you can evaluate your use and decide to move to the digital access model. There are pros and cons to each of these scenarios. But if you think you need to move, now is the time to seriously consider the benefits you’ll get from SAP’s Digital Access Adoption Program.

Progress Through Collaboration

As mentioned, this has been a winding road. ASUG extends a big thank you to everyone on the SAP Licensing Team for their hard work championing this topic internally. The team was open to hearing opinions from ASUG and other user groups, which presented consolidated feedback from customers around the world. We did not always agree on every point, but we did agree that providing customers a path forward was critically important. Collectively, we believe we have clarified SAP’s position and developed a reasonable approach to this issue. Now we need to hear your thoughts and feedback about whether this program is helpful to you.

This program has support across SAP from the highest levels. “The Digital Access Adoption Program (DAAP) is an amazing achievement since we introduced licensing for indirect access back in April 2018. This was only possible thanks to the close collaboration and fruitful partnership with our user groups. I am certain our customers will see tremendous benefits from this team effort,” said Christian Klein, member of the executive board and Chief Operating Officer, SAP.

Connect with Us on this Topic

We recommend that you read SAP’s blog on the SAP Digital Access Adoption Program and the Enterprise Applications Focus Report on this topic from Joshua Greenbaum. We also will be discussing this in a session at SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference and in follow-up webcasts that will be broadcast in late May and early June. In the meantime, we welcome your feedback and questions on the digital access model, the Digital Access Adoption Program, and other indirect access issues.

Visit our Licensing Resource Center for in-depth coverage of this topic. You can also send your questions to licensing@asug.com or register for one of our licensing webcasts for ASUG Members.