SAP customers must act quickly to avoid higher support fees

SAP customers must act by 30 September if they want to move off more expensive SAP "customer specific maintenance" from extended maintenance for older products, they have been warned.

In a blog on softwareinsider.org, Ray Wang, an analyst and CEO of Constellation Research Group, says that despite the support window ending in March 2013 for extended maintenance, SAP is requiring organisations to serve notice by 30 September to move off customer specific maintenance.

Key products impacted by this deadline include SAP ERP 2004 (ECC 5.0), SAP NetWeaver 7.0, SAP CRM 6.0, SAP SCM 5.1, SAP SRM 6.0, SAP Netweaver 2004, and SAP R/3 Enterprise (4.7), among a number of others.

In his blog Wang said, "In the past SAP has taken a hard line on the notification date and customers need to immediately take action should they wish to have the maximum support options available to them."

While SAP will tout many benefits of customer specific maintenance, he said, "most" customers can expect a big increase in support fees, no new tax and regulatory updates, no new fixes, no new support packages or direct upgrade paths for new releases, and no SLA’s for service and support.

Wang said the increase in support fees for most customers do not justify the benefits delivered.

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Wang said customers should explore third party maintenance. Companies such as Rimini Street provide third party support for SAP products. The analyst said filing notice before 30 September also improved negotiating leverage for 2013 maintenance contracts.

SAP customers should also resist the temptation to consolidate contracts.  Consolidation means you can’t renegotiate licenses in increments, said Wang, and it eliminates options to sell used SAP software in Europe for credit.

Wang stressed that customers on SAP’s Business Suite 7 have a longer maintenance support window as those products will be supported with mainstream maintenance until 2020.

SAP may be hoping the issue of support contract costs for older products will become less of a source of friction as large numbers of users are upgrading to newer versions.

The UK and Ireland SAP User Group member survey, for instance, found that just over three quarters (76 percent) of members were now using ERP 6.0, the latest version of SAP’s core ERP business suite.

The figure for ERP 6.0 take up the previous year was 69 percent. "More members are realising the functionality and support benefits of upgrading to the latest release," said the SAP User Group in May, when the survey was published.