Risk
1/15/2010
08:41 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
50%
50%

Global CIO: SAP Blows Huge Opportunity With Timid Support Changes

SAP is overblowing its new support plan, which gives customers only marginally more choice.

Business is all about opportunities, and SAP just blew a big one. After summoning the institutional will to address its ancient pricing structure in light of today's dramatically different customer requirements and desires, SAP missed a golden opportunity to establish itself as the clear market leader over Oracle as SAP chose to make only minimal changes in its support pricing.

Yes, SAP deserves some credit for offering its customers and prospects a second option for support and maintenance—any alternative, however humble, is far more than Oracle's one-size-fits-all approach. But after all the melodrama of the past several months—user-group revolts over SAP's earlier plan for monolithic price increases, followed by peace talks that promised KPI-driven price changes to be announced in December, followed by a postponement for a month so that SAP could reconsider its reconsiderations—it's hard not to feel underwhelmed by SAP's new plan.

That new plan involves two versions of support: the company's traditional and much-loved Enterprise Support, and the newly arrived but clearly unloved stepchild called Standard Support. I say "clearly unloved" because if SAP itself can't be excited about the product, how the heck can it expect customers to get all whipped into a lather? To prove my point, check out this less than ringing endorsement for Standard from the SAP executive whose team is responsible for it:

"Standard Support is really a reactive offering for our customers; if they've got a problem, we'll fix it," said Janet Wood, vice president of maintenance.

Steady there, Janet, steady—you keep pumping up your products with that type of passionate enthusiasm and the customers will be beating your door down. (And for extensive background on SAP and its support policies and corporate strategies, please be sure to check out our "Recommended Reading" list at the end of this column.)

Global CIO
Global CIOs: A Site Just For You
Visit InformationWeek's Global CIO -- our new online community and information resource for CIOs operating in the global economy.

You can learn the full details of the announcement in this excellent news analysis by my colleague Doug Henschen, who's editor-in-chief of our sister site Intelligent Enterprise. Doug's analysis includes the above comment from SAP's Wood, who went on to contrast the "reactive" Standard option with the "proactive" Enterprise option:

"Standard Support also includes enhancement packages and new releases but the Enterprise Support offering is proactive, so it's about working with customers to see issues before they experience a problem," said Woods.

In addition, Doug offers this insight about what the new SAP support offerings mean for CIOs:

Bowing to customer complaints about economic hardships, SAP also has frozen prices for existing Enterprise Support contracts at the 2009 level of 18.36%. The plan to gradually increase that rate will resume in 2011, bringing Enterprise contracts to 22% by 2016 instead of 2015, as previously planned. . . .

The change is a victory for SAP customers, user groups and the many who complained bitterly about the application vendor's July 2008 decision to increase maintenance and support fees from 17% to 22% over five years. But it's not a complete victory in that the Standard Support option—which was available only in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2009 but will be reintroduced worldwide—is set at 18%, a 1% increase from 2008 rates. What's more, Standard Support will be subject to inflationary price increases—a common practice but one that does not apply to Enterprise Support through 2016.

Those numbers underscore my contention that this minimalist approach allows SAP to put a check-mark in the box that says "customers say they want more support and maintenance options" without really advancing the long-term interests of its customers. Technically, SAP now offers tiered support options; practically, customer options are extremely limited.

It's as if McDonald's rolled out a new soft-drink policy along these lines: "We now have two and only two drink sizes and prices: Sumptuously Supreme and Not As Good. Here are the descriptions:

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-5427
Published: 2015-03-29
Johnson Controls Metasys 4.1 through 6.5, as used in Application and Data Server (ADS), Extended Application and Data Server (aka ADX), LonWorks Control Server 85 LCS8520, Network Automation Engine (NAE) 55xx-x, Network Integration Engine (NIE) 5xxx-x, and NxE8500, allows remote attackers to read pa...

CVE-2014-5428
Published: 2015-03-29
Unrestricted file upload vulnerability in unspecified web services in Johnson Controls Metasys 4.1 through 6.5, as used in Application and Data Server (ADS), Extended Application and Data Server (aka ADX), LonWorks Control Server 85 LCS8520, Network Automation Engine (NAE) 55xx-x, Network Integratio...

CVE-2014-9205
Published: 2015-03-29
Stack-based buffer overflow in the PmBase64Decode function in an unspecified demonstration application in MICROSYS PROMOTIC stable before 8.2.19 and PROMOTIC development before 8.3.2 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code by providing a large amount of data.

CVE-2015-0528
Published: 2015-03-29
The RPC daemon in EMC Isilon OneFS 6.5.x and 7.0.x before 7.0.2.13, 7.1.0 before 7.1.0.6, 7.1.1 before 7.1.1.2, and 7.2.0 before 7.2.0.1 allows local users to gain privileges by leveraging an ability to modify system files.

CVE-2015-0996
Published: 2015-03-29
Schneider Electric InduSoft Web Studio before 7.1.3.4 SP3 Patch 4 and InTouch Machine Edition 2014 before 7.1.3.4 SP3 Patch 4 rely on a hardcoded cleartext password to control read access to Project files and Project Configuration files, which makes it easier for local users to obtain sensitive info...

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Good hackers--aka security researchers--are worried about the possible legal and professional ramifications of President Obama's new proposed crackdown on cyber criminals.