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

"We now have multiple products in five categories," Snabe said, referring to SAP's range of cloud software, mobile technology, HANA in-memory database and other offerings. "That puts you in a more complex situation. What we're trying to do is come to a solutions approach."

SAP wants to roll up various products into bundles "that have high value for the customer," and simplified pricing. SAP's series of Rapid Deployment Solutions, which have been rolled out in recent years, represent this approach, Snabe added.

Snabe also cautioned, however, that users shouldn't expect a major announcement regarding license simplification "in the immediate future."

Overall, the sheer scope of SAP's licensing policies suggests Snabe was wise to set no great expectations, given how long it could take to fully unravel and simplify them, as well as retrain SAP's sales team and channel partners on a new model.

SAP has made further strides in the area of licensing simplification, and also seeks to effectively educate its customers on the topic, according to SAP spokesman James Dever.

The 131-page document is not meant for public consumption, aimed instead at "sales people who need to be knowledgeable chapter-and-verse in order to talk to customers," Dever said Thursday. SAP has provided another, public document meant for customers which is easier to grasp and runs about 25 pages including appendices, Dever noted.

Dever declined to comment on the contents of the longer document.

There's a rationale for the level of detail in SAP's licensing, Dever added. "The various types of use cases is a decision by SAP to define the value and the types of use with some precision," he said. "We're not taking a one-size-fits-all approach. That said, we're doing things that we can to make things simpler. We acknowledge it's an ongoing effort."

SAP is also getting deeper into the SaaS (software as a service) business, which tends to be sold in simpler terms via monthly subscription. "As our cloud business grows, we gain experience from that and find opportunities to simplify," Dever said.

Some significant progress has already been made in recent times, such as SAP's successfully creating a standardized set of contract templates for use worldwide, Dever added. "That's a pretty major victory for us."

There's also a fresh example of the bundling approach Snabe referred to, in the form of SAP's recently announced 360 Customer product, Dever said.

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