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Fancy talking to SAP about your indirect licensing concerns? Straw poll says no

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Users fear fees and audits despite firm’s promise not to pursue back-payments

SAP has been told that customers are too afraid to strike up a conversation about indirect access, as a survey indicated most users had concerns that opening up to the firm could backfire.

SAP rules on indirect access mean customers can be hit with licensing fees to cover any and all software that connects – even indirectly – to data stored on SAP systems. This can affect systems like those used for order processing or stock checks.

The software giant has been pursuing such cases with increased determination, hitting headlines earlier this year when alcohol mega-biz Diageo was told by the UK’s High Court to cough up £54.5m in additional licence and maintenance fees after introducing two new systems.

In the aftermath of the case, SAP pledged to “modernise” and simplify its pricing policy, and, in guidance issued to users last month, said it was “committed to working with customers”, telling them to “engage with us”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given software vendors’ propensity towards audits and increased charges, the offer has been met with limited enthusiasm.

According to a straw poll carried out by licensing site the ITAM Review, more than three-quarters of users have some level of concern about talking to SAP about indirect access.

This is despite SAP saying that it “will not pursue back maintenance payments” for customers who “proactively engage with us in good faith”.

Martin Thompson, chairman of the Campaign for Clear Licensing and founder of ITAM Review, said that asking customers to talk to them was “typical licensing spiel from a dinosaur vendor”.

“They are old farts dad-dancing at a cloud party, they can’t initiate a conversation through innovation or business transformation, so let”s initiate one via audit threat or licensing confusion,” he said.

Of the 50 users sampled in the poll, 30 per cent said they feared the consequences, 36 per cent said had concerns about talking and 10 per cent said they wouldn’t be happy to talk.

A further 16 per cent said they would be happy to talk, while just 8 per cent said they would talk openly.

Better to let sleeping dogs lie?


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