SAP Indirect Usage – Your questions answered

On March 15, Snow Software ran a webinar in collaboration with KPMG to explain SAP Indirect Usage and provide a five-step plan to reduce risk. We were asked several related questions and as promised, we have collated these questions.

On March 15, Snow Software ran a webinar in collaboration with KPMG to explain SAP Indirect Usage and provide a five-step plan to reduce risk. Throughout the webinar we were asked several related questions. As promised, we have collated these questions and Joachim Paulini, Lead Architect of Snow Optimizer for SAP Software and SAP licensing expert, has answered them for you.

Except for editing corrections, the questions remain largely unaltered and in the interests of privacy for our attendees we have anonymized all questions.

Joachim Paulini: “In some of the answers I have indicated that individual circumstances must be considered before making any conclusions about whether you are liable or not for licensing costs from Indirect Usage. My general advice to you is that you must have absolute clarity on the technical methods with which third-party systems connect to your SAP system(s). Amendments to terms and conditions, special terms, contract dates and many more factors determine your liability and these attributes must be taken into consideration.”


Q: My understanding that indirect usage is mainly for the cases of Real-time, Synchronous and Bi-directional use of SAP, is this correct? What about data extraction? Does this also go under the definition of indirect usage?

A: This is not correct. The scenario (data extraction) you mention could be considered as indirect usage as well. For a proper evaluation of the licensing implications, your individual circumstances must be considered.


Q: You mentioned […] that one of the shortcomings for the moment is that there is no specific license type for third party users. Should we not wait for SAP to come up with a license type or how do we mitigate this in the meantime? Is SAP planning to come up with a third party license type?

A: SAP already has devised license types  for indirect usage. However, we don’t think that these license types are appropriate in most scenarios.


Q: Is open hub only for transferring data from BW system to external applications or from any SAP system to external applications?

A: The OpenHub license is restricted to the BW case.


Q: I have some data (own data) in SAP bespoke tables and distributed to non-SAP systems. Distributed mostly in batch but planning to use Service. What’s the licencing implications of distributing such data?

A: It’s highly likely that this constitutes indirect usage. For a proper evaluation of the licensing implications, your individual circumstances have to be taken into account.


Q: Work time check/ Volume of work/ Cross-Component usage -> is there a special transaction to identify this data apart from the LAW tool?

A: We make the results of these checks easily available in Snow Optimizer for SAP Software from a central point of control.


Q: Which SAP products have license metrics that are not user-based and may provide a workaround for the indirect licensing problem? For example, MDG-C (MDG for Customers) maintains customer master data and is not licensed by user. It seems like a good answer on some integrations. Are there other options like that?  Does looking for integration points outside the user-based license metric seem like a good strategy?

A: Even if the type of software by SAP isn’t licensed by named users, this seems like a risky endeavor. You will always indirectly use the underlying technical platform of SAP for which these users may not have a license.


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This is the result of live polling during the webinar showing that42% of respondents ranked “Mitigate Indirect Usage Risk” as their top priority with regards to SAP (n=92)


Q: At what point does indirect usage become applicable? We have a time management system with thousands of users and managers who log hours. We intend to bring these hours back for the intention of billing. Does each user who logs hours need a license, or is it the person who pulls the data back in that needs the license classified as amending the data in the SAP System?

A: Probably all users need to have a license. For a proper evaluation of the licensing implications your individual circumstances have to be taken into account..


Q: Is indirect access against “SAP functionality” specifically or does it also include access to SAP data that sits in data warehouses?

A: We don’t think that a general answer to this question is possible. SAP doesn’t own your data, but a substantial amount of SAP processing may have gone into the data.


Q: Our contract allows for unlimited usage via “Asynchronous Connections” What is your opinion of the definition of asynchronous vs. synchronous as regards to SAP?

A: If this definition is in your license contract, then you should be fine in all cases where you use batch processes and when there is a sufficient time delay involved. Be very sure to check your contract and the wording to confirm.


Q: How does SAP classify scenarios where external users access internal SAP system via externally facing web portals? And if the backend data is extracted into non-SAP tools, would a separate licence be needed for that?

A: Probably yes for both questions. For a proper evaluation of the licensing implications your individual circumstances should be taken into account.


Q: Does the indirect usage case apply to SAP interfaces to custom build ‘own’ databases i.e. developed in-house?

A: Yes.


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This is the result of the second question we posed through live polling during the webinar showing that63% of respondents intend to assess and reduce Indirect Usage risk within 12 months (n=89)


Q: In your opinion, would the scenario where SAP data is extracted and ‘broadcast’ to many users constitute indirect usage? For example, if a report was run (as a background job) and emailed out to a large number users?

A: In principle, yes. But individual circumstances should be considered here.


Q: You spoke about in-house empi.e. Access and place orders online which are passed to SAP

A: Customer self-service scenarios can also constitute indirect usage. This was exactly the case in the recent UK court ruling in favour of SAP.


Q: Is consumption viewed as data ‘created’ within the SAP landscape or merely data that moves through the SAP landscape and then feeds external or third party systems?  In other words, if data was created outside of SAP, it moves through SAP, then to an external or third party system, does that still fall into an indirect usage scenario?

A: Probably yes, but individual circumstances have to be taken into account here.


Q:I assume that the SAP user type (dialog, system, communication, etc) which the third party system uses to access SAP doesn’t have any effect on how indirect usage is taken into account. Can you confirm?

A: Yes. The SAP user type is irrelevant.


Q: Was the court’s verdict under English law? Are there any other verdicts on the topic of indirect usage from anywhere else in the world? Do you have any opinion of whether there are reasons to think that this case could have had another outcome under any other applicable law, such as civil law (in contrary to common law)? Was SAP’s User Guide (User Terms?) part of the agreement between SAP and Diageo?

A: This was under UK law. SAP baked their usual terms & conditions into the customer’s license contract. It is likely that courts in other countries, even those with civil law, will come to similar conclusions as the UK court. But it is, of course clear that the outcome of court cases will be highly dependent on local laws.


Q:How to identify third party software/ applications that are being used by a customer?

A: That’s usually a mixture of technical detection tools and manual identification processes. For example, Snow Optimizer for SAP Software identifies potential indirect usage based upon anomalous activities of named users. It reports on communications to and from external third-party systems to identify the originating user in the third-party system, highlighting the users who are indirectly querying SAP and through which system.


In conclusion, SAP licensing and Indirect Usage remains a complex beast. We hope you’ve found these answers useful. There are plenty of related articles you can refer to in the Snow Blog and, if you would like to find out more, you can always contact us