SAP has changed its pricing model following mass confusion among customers and fears of litigation over indirect access.
As part of the overhaul, the German ERP giant today promised users greater transparency – as well as pledging a “clear separation” between licence sales and audit departments – in a bid to convince customers it isn’t using audits as a sales tactic.
The new pricing model (PDF), which is available from this month on, differentiates between direct and indirect access – the latter being the subject of great debate after the firm started ramping up litigation against customers.
SAP’s rules on indirect access mean that customers could be hit with licensing fees to cover any and all software that connects – even indirectly – to data stored on SAP systems, such as those used for order processing or stock checks. This wasn’t such a huge problem until recent years, when the number of other systems accessing SAP systems increased rapidly.
In 2017, SAP started cracking down, lobbing high-profile sueballs at customers, including drinks corp Diageo being ordered to pay $54.5m in additional licence and maintenance fees after introducing two new Salesforce.com systems.
Later that year, SAP sued AB InBev for damages worth more than $600m, based on allegations that employees had used SAP systems and data without appropriate licences. That case was settled out of court on 30 June 2017, but the SEC filing in which this was revealed – published last month (PDF) – offered no detail on the settlement or SAP’s stance.
The high-profile and aggressive actions earned SAP a bad rep and – where its enterprise tech vendor peers might have shrugged it off and got on with it – the German outfit instead went on a desperate PR offensive.
This included offers of an anonymous help centre for customers confused about indirect access and a lot of fluffy words about trust. But the “we’ve changed, honest guv” approach didn’t do much to reassure customerswho continued to be wary and wanted to see concrete evidence of change.