UK, Ireland users call on SAP to extend indirect licensing deadline again as COVID-19 ravages project plans

'People are going to lose a lot of time this year'

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The UK & Ireland SAP User Group has called on SAP to further extend its indirect software access licensing programme to give users time to respond to project timetables delayed by COVID-19.

While welcoming SAP's recent decision to extend the Digital Access Adoption Program (DAAP) – the means by which users ensure software accessing SAP databases and applications complies with the licence regime – to the end of next year, Paul Cooper, UK&I SAP User Group chairman, told The Register that this year's added disruption meant users needed even more time to plan for future licence changes.

"People are going to lose a lot of time this year dealing with the outcomes of COVID. That may well mean that they can't give the time that is required [to negotiating DAAP], or those projects are just not getting initiated. They need to do whatever they need to do with their business or organisation following the very strange period of time that we're in the midst of at the moment… and who knows how much longer it will carry on?

"The end of 2021 is not that far off, and we would like to see some clarity as to how this works after that."

He said that projects delayed by lockdown disruption could be forced into rushed negotiations as the DAAP reaches its current end date.

"This time next year, I may well change a business process that might expose me to some indirect digital access issues," Cooper said. "Am I going to have enough time to have a robust negotiation with SAP to get the best outcome for me, as a customer, if I'm coming up to the endpoint at the end of 2021?"

According to recent research by Canalys, complex consulting-led projects are taking being paused. It highlighted "SAP migrations, hybrid cloud deployments and transformational projects", as specific examples.

"Cost reduction and protection of capital are priorities as the global economy weakens," said chief analyst Matthew Ball.

SAP's DAAP was introduced at customer conference Sapphire Now 2019 after long negotiations with its user groups from around the world.

At the time, SAP said the move was designed to address user groups' "concerns regarding transparency and predictability."

Initially, SAP planned for DAAP to only be available for one year. Last week, it extended the programme until the end of next year.

At the time, SAP chief performance officer Robin Manherz said the programme was extended "due to the high level of interest and positive feedback, including triple-digit increase in customers taking advantage of the model, as well as an immense amount of encouragement received from customers, analysts, and user groups".

SAP has so far declined to comment on calls for a further extension. The introduction of DAAP was preceded by a decision to change the licensing model in 2018 in response to user pressure. A court case in which drinks company Diageo was ordered to pay $54.5m in additional licence and maintenance fees after introducing two new Salesforce.com systems led to widespread disquiet among users.

As part of a spate of litigation, the approach discouraged users from talking to SAP to get more information about their licence compliance.

SAP then introduced a model which distinguished between direct or "human" access to its software and indirect, or "digital" access. This model was modified to become the DAAP, which is based on the number of documents accessed.

"In close collaboration with our user groups and based on candid conversations with customers, partners, and analysts, SAP decided to make radical changes to its previous digital access licensing policies," Manherz said in 2019. "As a result, we developed an outcome-based pricing model that differentiates between direct human access and indirect digital access. Reflecting greater demand for business data across an increasingly fragmented IT landscape, Digital Access is designed to address all indirect access scenarios for the digital age."

As the developing COVID-19 situation is predicted to herald a new era of rapid application modernisation and automation, organisations' IT estates may get a whole lot more complex, with software robots often accessing other applications. As these projects are set to reach well into 2021 and beyond, it is understandable users are looking for more detail on licensing plans from SAP. ®

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