2013 Conference – selling very well!

Get in quick to get your tickets. If your supplier or SAP partner is exhibiting or an affiliate member contact them to see if they have a discount code arranged before booking.

Apart from the excellent conference sessions (especially looking forward to Jim Snabe and Mandy Hickson), the Gala Dinner and Evening will be the best we have ever run to celebrate 25 years of success and growth as a User Group.

NOTE: The main conference hotel – the Birmingham Crowne Plaza has sold out already – still spaces in other affiliate hotels.

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All go in the world of SAP

As we fast approach this year’s User Group conference, the IT media has been awash with S A P news (not to mention on the hot topic of licensing).  So what have been the key announcements that may be shaping the agenda?

SAP has announced its intention to build a brand for itself in the enterprise mobility space, in much the same way that Apple  has in the consumer space. SAP has also been active in the areas of cloud and big data. The company has recently announced plans to unveil its HANA Cloud, based on in-memory technology. SAP NetWeaver Cloud Service and SAP HANA One Platform are the first applications to become available on Amazon Web Services, and can be deployed for production use with small data sets in minutes, opening a door to starter projects from customers, ISVs and startups.

New packages that integrate Hadoop software with SAP’s analytics and database technologies have also been recently launched. These will allow users to employ a data warehousing solution for real-time analysis on large data sets from a number of different sources.

At the conference we’ll look to understand more about how SAP’s investments in mobile, cloud and big data will impact on and benefit users in the future.  So make sure to check out the conference programme to ensure you don’t miss the latest updates from SAP and the opportunity to hear from and network with your industry peers.

Breaking News

Only 20 days to go until our conference and one organisation has booked 22 places for its staff – what an outstanding endorsement for value!

Survey reveals SAP users’ licensing concerns

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, here at the User Group we recently surveyed our membership regarding their thoughts on SAP licensing.  I can now reveal some of the top-level findings from the study:

95% of SAP users believe that the company’s software licensing policy is overly complicated

  • 89% of users stated that they would like SAP to reduce complexity by offering software that is only limited by one license or usage metric
  • 67% stated that as SAP’s product catalogue has continued to expand they have found it increasingly difficult to track license usage
  • 97% stated they should have the ability to ‘park’ unused licenses for support periods
  • 97% didn’t believe that SAP has effectively explained the migration path of moving from on-premise to its mobile or cloud offerings and how this impacts on their existing licensing agreements

In many respects the results aren’t a surprise, as in the current business climate many organisations are looking to ensure they are getting maximum value from their software licenses.  At the same time the changing IT landscape is also having an impact on the complexity of software licensing.  This is an issue currently facing a lot of software vendors and their customers, as many license terms were agreed at a time when workforces were larger and the vast majority of deployments were on premise.

SAP users are no different and these findings illustrate that they would like to see license costs and conditions that are transparent and flexible.  Encouragingly SAP has acknowledged these concerns and is starting to work with SUGEN to engage on a topic that is clearly challenging for both parties.

We will be looking to work closely with SAP in the UK, to ensure users are provided with greater clarity when it comes to licensing.  To find out more about the licensing workshop we are running at this year’s User Group Conference click here.

 

Conference early bird rate rate only 7 days remaining!

We’ve only got 7 days remaining for the early bird rate. Remember additional rate discounts for groups, and if your supplier is exhibiting they may be able to offer discounts.

Check out the Conference Website for details:    www.sapusers.org/conference2012/

 

Driving licenses: why software licensing need to be more flexible as IT becomes more complex

New technologies such as in-memory computing and virtualisation together with new ways of accessing and exploiting that technology (e.g. cloud or mobile computing) are changing the way that IT is bought and used.   A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is no longer suitable in today’s increasingly mobile and on-demand world, as today’s organisations are wanting greater flexibility from their licensing terms.

Currently the battle that many organisations face when it comes to licensing is that original license terms were agreed at a time when workforces were larger and the vast majority of deployments were on premise.  But in today’s business climate many organisations are now looking to re-negotiate their licensing terms.  As organisations’ IT needs change, licensing can vary in terms of length, cost per user and associated support costs.  In addition, there is the need to ensure that every element of the IT the business uses is covered by a license.

For their part users need to keep a tight rein on licenses.  However, many are doing so with one hand tied behind their back due to a lack of vendor flexibility when it comes to licensing and associated maintenance fees.

Indeed, the greatest responsibility for reducing the complexity and increasing the accessibility of licenses lies with the vendors themselves. There are many actions that they could take. For example, licenses should be made transferrable or easily replaceable when users up- or side-grade across their products. Licensing should also be consistent across the product range regardless of how it is delivered: whether software is accessed on-premise or as a service, users getting the same capability should be on comparable licenses. Yet vendors should make sure that their license costs and conditions are transparent and flexible so that customers can make more informed decisions.

Vendors should not see this as a call to reduce costs or otherwise hamper their business: ideally, by making licensing as flexible, consistent and open as possible they can reap the benefits of a customer base that understands exactly what they are paying for. Neither IT users nor vendors exist in a vacuum: each needs the other to survive. By simplifying and opening up licensing on one hand, and keeping a tight rein on it on the other, both can ensure that they are getting the maximum benefit from their relationship.

In the next few weeks, we will be releasing the results of our member survey which looks at their views on licensing – so watch this space!

Cutting through the technology hype

Gartner’s recently released Hype Cycle report noted that the bubble of expectations around cloud computing has finally burst. Expectations around Big Data, however, are on the up.  From the perspective of an SAP user such predictions are ‘interesting’ considering the investment the company has made in both areas over the last 12-18 months.

While the Gartner report signals that cloud may have lost some of its lustre, this is probably more of an indication of greater realism.  While cloud computing clearly offers some exciting possibilities it does still present a number of challenges when it comes to things like compliance and application customisation.  As I have mentioned in the past, I think certainly for the foreseeable future we will see many organisations implement a hybrid model, whereby vendors such as SAP will supply both on-premise and cloud solutions.  This approach can reduce integration issues and also means organisations don’t have to put business-critical processes in the cloud if they felt it was too risky.

It makes sense that Big Data is on the up in Gartner’s Hype Cycle with CIO expectations around its potential growing fast.   Certainly SAP is addressing this as it is vigorously driving HANA adoption and the development of compatible applications, which means that businesses of all sizes, can take advantage of incredibly swift information analysis. This is already becoming a disruptive technology for industry sectors such as utilities or finance where huge amounts of data are being generated. The potential elsewhere is also huge if you believe industry commentators.

Here at the User Group we always encourage organisations to really cut through the hype surrounding new technologies and services. Reports from the likes of Gartner can help, but every organisation is different. It’s always wisest to make a really thorough evaluation of your business needs and capabilities before taking the plunge implementing a complex and costly project.  For the latest information on cloud, Big Data and beyond make sure you are signed up for our latest SIGs and our User Conference in November.