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Cloud increases licensing complexity, warns SAP user group

Why is it so hard to communicate with our vendor, asks user group chair

The move to cloud computing is creating headaches for SAP users, who are struggling to get their heads around the complex licensing structure that a hybrid environment entails.

This was the message from Alan Bowling, chairman of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group, speaking at a conference in Birmingham today. Bowling said users want greater clarity around pricing and licensing from SAP, as trends like virtualisation and cloud computing create added complexity.

"We understand that SAP deals across the breadth of the enterprise processes, which can make licensing complex," said Bolwing. "However, in these times of austerity and changing models of IT delivery, we as customers have to prioritise license management. To do this we need simplicity, not complexity."

Research by the SAP User Group earlier this year showed that 80% of organisations expect their SAP implementations to be a mixture of on-premise, on-demand and on-device services in the future. "This is good news: it fits with SAP's strategy, and it shows that we as users are finding new ways to benefit from and use SAP," said Bolwing.

However, 59% of respondents to the same survey to say they did not understand how to upgrade to or integrate SAP On-Demand modules.

Bowling said that the SAP User Group is now working with the company on a licensing model for its HANA in-memory database, as well as for mobile. "Who knows where this will lead, but it is great to have SAP engaging with us on this topic," said Bowling. Only time will tell whether this leads to the benefits we are all looking for."

The licensing issue is symptomatic of a wider problem, to do with communication between the company and its customers. According to Bowling, SAP is too focused on winning new customers, and is not doing enough to keep its existing customers informed of new products and services.

"SAP quotes 65% of all transactions in the world will run on an SAP system somewhere," he said. "That means they've got this massive population that they should be talking to about how they can use the engine more effectively."

Last year, the company appointed an executive sponsor for the UK & Ireland User Group, with the aim of improving in the relationship between the User Group and SAP locally, and the User Group is also involved with the company in a 'customer connect' programme. However, Bowling says the real problem is one of bureaucracy.

"SAP are making it incredibly hard to connect with them. And that's the process that sits behind it, all the forms that have to be filled in before you can play," said Bowling. "The reality is that every single one of the customers within the SAP user group has already signed an agreement about confidentiality because we're using their software. I just don't get why it becomes so hard to do this stuff."

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