In what many will see as a welcome change of heart, reports are emerging that SAP has relented on the forced march to higher maintenance prices. According to a German edition of the FT Online, SAP has agreed that its German and Austrian customers can retain their existing maintenance contracts at existing prices. At least through 2009.
There will be a price rise but this won't kick in until 2010. A similar story has appeared in Computerwoche (in German) Details are sketchy at this time and a representative from SAP agreed with me that it would be difficult for SAP to restrict this olive branch to a segment of its whole customer base.
This is a major victory for SAP customers who, despite SAP management's protestations to the contrary have continued to lobby for reconsideration of SAP's maintenance package pricing. According to the FT, some 50-60% of SAP customers in Germany and Austria were deeply unhappy with the measures, citing economic pressures contributing to difficulty in justifying what was already a tough budgetary sell. Computerwoche confirms that SAP had only managed to persuade 25% of its customers to changeover from standard to enterprise support.
Update: In a research note issued by Merrill Lynch, the authors say that SAP was forced into the situation due to legal reasons. Even so, Merrill's also say: "However, the issue is how to explain this to customers outside of Germany. We see a real risk that the whole pricing structure needs to be changed again, creating total confusion in the installed base."
Updates will be provided as further information emerges.