back to article Fear the SAP-slap? Users can anonymously submit questions about licensing naughtiness

SAP is to offer feedback on anonymised indirect licensing as concern and confusion about the rules grows among customers. The German firm's rules on indirect access mean customers can be hit with licensing fees to cover any and all software that connects – even indirectly – to data stored on SAP systems. Following a high- …

  1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Anonymity, heh?

    Although the system won't ask for your name, you need to provide use cases. If the use case is vague, the "generic" answer you'll get will be useseless, and if it's precise enough to allow for the correct "generic" answer one would presume that it makes your identification trivial. Hard to see the point then. Especially as they promise a "generic" answer, i.e. a non-binding one... and also it's unclear whether they would consider anonymous question to be proof of good faith.

  2. AMBxx Silver badge

    Complex licensing

    Maybe simplify the licence structure instead??

    I only work with SAP BI, so not sure how the ERP stuff works. For indirect access - if you dump data into a spreadsheet, then work and distribute from that - does that count as indirect? Just how daft is it?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Complex licensing


      But then, that's SAP's business model, isn't it? Along with Oracle? Make the licensing sound so attractive while you're small and then sting you on absolutely everything once you're larger.

      To be honest, SAP's stuff isn't even the worst. But I fail to see how what someone does with the output of a program can somehow still be "licensed". A basic licence for the software, sure. A licence per seat, sure (but I would add that support costs should be included in such a licence). A licence to unlock features, sure. But the "licence because your computer has another core/processor"? That's just getting silly. Hell, charge a fortune for an integration licence, that gives your data out in a specified API that others can use - I get that. Hell, charge per API call or something if you like. But if you CAN miscalculate to the tune of £50m just by taking the output from the software and using it somewhere else in your own business, that's really getting a bit stupid.

      I have to say, for this reason, when people who don't work in IT talk to me about IT and are so keen to tell me that they've just moved over to SAP, or Oracle, or whatever, I shake my head and walk away. Some day it will come back to hurt them. Many of them don't even know what it is and certainly don't work in a company large enough to justify it, they've just heard that other bigger people do, so they end up on the same things.

      1. VinceH

        Re: Complex licensing

        "I have to say, for this reason, when people who don't work in IT talk to me about IT and are so keen to tell me that they've just moved over to SAP, or Oracle, or whatever, I shake my head and walk away. Some day it will come back to hurt them. Many of them don't even know what it is and certainly don't work in a company large enough to justify it, they've just heard that other bigger people do, so they end up on the same things."


        The subject is very timely because where I am today, one of the front-office guys said to me last week that "we need SAP." Knowing eff all about it, I looked it up, and decided that we don't - but asking the guy for more details (such as which SAP product specifically), he wasn't able to give me any, other than "a potential customer uses it, but they can't use us unless we do too."

        Unsurprisingly, that sounds like utter nonsense to me - if true, it would surely means no SAP-using business can use the services of any non-SAP-using business; the logical progression if that claim were true is that if we used this (unspecified) SAP product, our suppliers would have to as well - and would the same problem occur the other way? Would our customers also therefore need to use it?

        So his reason was probably down to his not having a clue about it (as per what Lee says above), or whoever he's spoken to at this potential customer not having a clue about it (ditto) - or both.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Complex licensing

      Yes it does.

      I had these problems with Infovista, for example.

      They wanted I think 10-100e per seat.

      As the telco wanted to offer it to 100.000 customers, and full data, it was 10.000.000e. And they would want consulting hours paid on top of that if we had problems with our in-house development.

      So we spent the money to do a better system for 5.000.000.

      With SAP, the same problem happens.. they want to count all external users.

      If you offer it to all your customers and you have 1.000.000, well, multiply.

      So the only logical thing to do is not to use their systems.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Who owns the data ?

    SAP or the company/customer ?

    So if a company exports all the data, say every night at 4am, into a MySQL database then SAP can surely not demand $$ for queries against the MySQL database ?

    1. Frank Bitterlich

      Re: Who owns the data ?

      Well, I can't speak for SAP, but I can speak about MS Dynamics (at the time still known as Navision.) Our vendor was trying to convince our company that data that was imported into Navision and later re-exported was subject to licensing fees for any and all future uses.

      According to their interpretation of licensing rules pipe dreams, storing that data in a separate backend DB and accessing that DB from a web server would require a license for every user of the web portal.

      That drove the last nail into the coffin of our use of overpriced CRM systems sold pimped out by such arrogant vendors.

      1. Aitor 1

        Re: Who owns the data ?

        They would sue you in texas and you would lose.

        That is why many ppl cannot really afford these licenses, as they are breaking the contracts and might get sued for millions, and, contrary to diageo, not have them in the bank.

        1. DavidRa

          Re: Who owns the data ?

          Well sure, but SAP seems to be attempting to say something like "Because the number 1 was stored in a SAP system for a time, you need to license all the 1s with which you interact". How many steps do you have to be away from SAP before exhaustion? Infinite.

          Actually, I'm surprised they haven't attempted to charge/sue indirect users who have deliberately or inadvertently redistributed "SAP licensed" data (e.g. by sharing invoices that were generated in SAP or something similar). Stupid, ridiculous, and malicious, but when has that ever stopped them?

          1. VinceH

            Re: Who owns the data ?

            Homeopathic software, then. Once any given piece of data has been in contact with SAP, it carries the memory of SAP (and is therefore subject to licence fees) forever more.

  4. Fatman

    When will they ever learn...

    ..that SAP stands for

    Shut up



  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SAP and Oracle licensing

    Well SAP did pull a similar trick with oracle years back.

    All user logons where via the application without a corresponding oracle log-in (only 3 users logged into Oracle).

    The issue here is more to do with a large system with hundreds of users (say salesforce), that logs into SAP with a batch user and passes through hundreds of transactions. Before the use of salesforce you may have had the same users log directly into SAP to perform the transactions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SAP and Oracle licensing

      The previous company I worked in did/does something similar. I raised it to several people in the company after the diageo fiasco, particularly my line manager, another manager in the department, their boss, and an IT manager. Whether or not they looked into it I'm not sure. Considering they employ a few thousand permanent people it will be pretty expensive if they were out of license.

  6. HmmmYes

    Ah yes. That license signed by someone years ago that noone's read.

    Company changes - as they do - merger/grows/whatever.

    That real good deal on 10 seats suddenly needs to be redone for 50, 100, different countries.

    What do you mean you only do a minimum of 50 seats per site?

    Ive 10 sites now, with only 10 people in.

    My licenign has gone from ~5k/y to 200k!!!!!

    Sometmes, you are bit by the price going up.

    I had to ship a produce based on W2k + MS DB.

    At the initial time, I ummed + ahhed - COuld we use Linux and this new fangled MySQL - its not aving to do a lot really.

    Oh no, <x> knows MS and the MS cost per unit will only be ~300/unit.

    This was the right decision back then.

    Fast forward 10 years, W2K (100/uni) replaces by WS2008R (800/unit)

    MS whatever (200/unit) replace by update @ 1000/core - but its a 16 core machine!

    The MS unit licensing cost went from ~300 -> 5K

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