SAP users frustrated over complex licensing and 'licence parking'

By Peter Gothard
19 Nov 2012 View Comments

"If you wanted specific examples," said Noble, "say you wanted to do any further transaction with SAP, you could migrate to a separate set of services – get some different software or embrace some of our acquisitions – then in any transaction you did with SAP, we would absolutely work with any of the unused licences you had, and come to some kind of commercial arrangement."

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Noble went so far as to say that such an agreement could equate to a like-for-like service licence transfer: "That could be the same value as an unused licence. That's what I'm trying to say."

But when Computing spoke with analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research, he cited a licensing workshop held only yesterday in which 40 delegates, "about 15 per cent", had benefited from parking.

"When Tim Noble's up there saying ‘We don't park licences', I have to smile, because I know he does. He just doesn't want to talk about that. It's not the corporate line to say you park licences," Wang told Computing.

"Basically, he wants you to spend your money before you get store credit."

Bowling and Adams are disappointed with the apparently grey area between SAP's – and other organisations' – public line on licence parking, and what apparently goes on behind the scenes.

While Adams stressed that, as an independent organisation with all users' interests at heart, the SAP User Group "can't get involved in individual commercial agreements between partners", he stated that "there are customers out there that believe it happens".

"And if there is favouritism or not, and a policy or not, please make it public and let people know," Adams urged SAP.

Bowling added that going public with such a transparent policy could be an excellent opportunity for SAP to "make a game-changing play" in the field of licensing conventions.

"If SAP suddenly came out and said 'Yeah, we park licences,' that would shock the rest of the software world and, as the bigger player, if they really wanted to play the market place, they have that opportunity," said Bowling.

"So, I guess what we're doing is pushing a little bit harder, because now it's the time to do something. Particularly if SAP wants to maintain the loyalty of its customer base.

"People have been investing in SAP for 15 or 20 years, but times are difficult for a lot of organisations right now. It's a shrinking marketplace, I hesitate to guess how much shelfware there is out there, but there will always be a degree of that. And that's an opportunity to work with customers."

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