Confused by SAP licensing? You're not alone

Imminent licensing changes for SAP customers should start with consistent product names and further improvement by the vendor to answer questions, according to a user group representative.The German business software giant will this month announce changes to its global policy on licensing and Web services.

Imminent licensing changes for SAP customers should start with consistent product names and further improvement by the vendor to answer questions, according to a user group representative.

The German business software giant will this month announce changes to its global policy on licensing and Web services. Like other vendors, SAP has faced many questions from customers in recent years as to how it will package and license Web services with its software.

A spokesperson for SAP would not reveal more details before the announcement.

The SAP Australian user group (SAUG) was unaware of the impending announcement when contacted by ZDNet Australia, but representative Paul Hawking said customers wanted "simplified transparency" in licensing.

"Stabilisation of naming would be a good start. You're talking about one product one day, and then a little while later it's called something else," said Hawking, who is the SAP academic program director at Victoria University. SAP supplies the University with much of its software free of charge for teaching programs.

"SAP has such a broad range of solutions that it has to fit all under one policy. The problem is what they come up with might not suit the next innovation."

Hawking participated in a couple of licensing discussions with SAP last year through his role with SAUG. He cited Web services as one contributor to customers' problems in understanding licensing.

"Web services has caused a large advent of product development. There's been more products developed in the last year and a half than I've ever seen."

SAP includes basic functionality for Web services through enterprise core components, formerly R/3.

If you want a custom Web service, however, there is an additional charge, according to Hawking.

"My personal opinion is I don't think we'll get things back to where [SAP] had a Microsoft style where you just get everything. I don't think we'll have that again.

"If [SAP] come up with something new [in Web services], they'll want extra money for that."

Web services were generating a lot of questions from SAP users, and SAUG had been working to ensure they were answered.

SAUG has held meetings with SAP, Webcasts of the meetings for members who couldn't attend, as well as generally collecting member queries and presenting them to the vendor.

"SAP have been very good in terms of providing answers and people to present," said Hawking, adding there didn't seem to be "too much angst" from users.

The confusion around licensing and Web services, however, meant few would be prepared to use Web services extensively.

"Most companies won't have any idea they're using Web services," he said.

"They'll buy a product and they'll use it. Few will extend [Web services].

"To do that you need to map your Web services. And how many companies in Australia have done that?"

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