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Do SAP’s licensing changes signal a break with complexity?

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Will SAP’s new licensing model reassure customers or is it back to the drawing board?

Against a backdrop of multi-million dollar legal battles with high profile customers, SAP is trying to reassure its vast user base that it doesn’t hold a grudge.

It’s doing that by addressing an issue at the heart of its litigation – indirect licensing.

As systems become more interconnected, it’s increasingly common for an ERP system to touch not just other aspects of an organisation’s infrastructure, but third-party systems too, whether that’s another firm’s or a customer’s device.

That’s roughly the situation UK firm Diageo found itself in this year when SAP took it to court, demanding $54 million in damages for all the licenses Diageo hadn’t bought for customers and staff accessing data via third-party applications that hooked into SAP’s ERP and database software.

Diageo lost that case, though the damages are still to be decided. An even bigger $600 million compensation claim against Stella Artois brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev is underway – Anheuser allegedly allowed indirect and direct access without user licenses.

This left many of SAP’s other 350,000 customers feeling uneasy. A poll conducted by the ITAM Review of its SAP Special Interest Group¬†members found that indirect access was the greatest concern for 32% of respondents.

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