Internal document suggests SAP's goal of simplifying licensing will be a tall order

SAP still requires 131 pages of fine print to describe software licensing rules for its products

By , IDG News Service |  Software

SAP customers have made it no secret they believe the vendor's software licensing and pricing is far too complex, and a top company leader recently made a public pledge that things are changing for the better. But a recently created internal SAP document obtained by IDG News Service suggests that the company has its work cut out for it.

The document, marked "confidential," runs to 131 pages and indicates it was updated in January. Contained within is a detailed rundown of SAP's licensing policies, which on balance suggest that customers indeed face a wall of complexity when dealing with the vendor.

For example, the document lists roughly 15 named user types for SAP's flagship Business Suite alone. They include Developer, Business Expert, Professional, Limited Professional, Business Information, Employee, Employee Self-Service, Employee Self-Service Core, Business Expert Upgrade, B2B Sales, Professional Upgrade, Limited Professional Upgrade, Business Information Upgrade, and Employee Upgrade, according to the document.

SAP's wording of the descriptions is also simply too complicated and confusing for customers, said analyst Frank Scavo, president of the IT consulting firm Strativa.

Scavo cited the description for SAP's CRM Rapid Deployment Edition User licenses. These users are "solely authorized to (i) access the SAP CRM Rapid Deployment Edition and (ii) perform SAP ERP order-status checks through SAP CRM," the document states. "Access to other SAP software requires a SAP Application Business Expert User, a SAP Application Professional User or a SAP Application Limited Professional User license. The rights granted to a SAP CRM Rapid Deployment Edition User are included in the existing SAP Application Business Expert User, SAP Application Professional User and SAP Application Limited Professional User. The SAP CRM Rapid Deployment Edition User also includes the rights granted under the SAP Application Employee User."

"These rights are not easy to understand," Scavo added. "I challenge any SAP prospect to read these definitions and explain what they mean."

Overall, the document suggests that "it might be that SAP lawyers are being paid by the word," Scavo added.

SAP users have made their discontent with the vendor's licensing policies well known. Survey results released in October by the UK and Ireland SAP User Group found that 95 percent of respondents believed SAP's policies are too complex.

SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe responded to those concerns in an interview later that month with IDG News Service.

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