Most common SAM tools for SAP
Disclaimer: This article is an independent review of the SAP product groups that the SAM tools cover in general and is not intending to particularly promote any of the tools mentioned in the paper.
More and more end users are interested in buying a software asset management tool (SAM tool) to support them in managing their software deployments in relation to the available software entitlements. This is, in simple words, what a SAM tool does: first it centralizes your contractual agreements and your software installations, then it discovers your software usage evidences and correlates them to the available license entitlements.
A SAM tool is designed to make end users’ lives easier by having “everything in one place”. Amazing, right? It can be, but in order to use a SAM tool wisely, you still need to understand how the licensing part works and how that is linked to the software deployment and software usage part, and that requires in-depth expertise. A SAM tool on its own will never result in a complete and accurate compliance position.
Typically, SAM tools focus on the larger software publishers (e.g. IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP). However, driven by a number of licensing disputes between SAP and their users (e.g. Diageo, AB Inbev) and the desire of end users to have more control of their SAP licenses, multiple SAM tool providers have improved their services to cover as many SAP program groups as possible.
In a series of articles we will provide an overview of the capabilities of both Flexera’s FlexNet Manager and Snow Optimizer for SAP, as they are the most commonly used “SAM tools for SAP”. Next to these two tools, we are familiar with the existence of samQ, Voquz’s SAP License Management tool and Aspera’s License Control for SAP software but we have not seen them (yet) being used broadly. However, this may change in the future. Our article series looks into the coverage of the SAM tools in determining the compliance position, what program groups are covered, what parts can a SAM tool do automatically and what parts still need manual intervention and human decision making.
SAM tools for SAP
The different SAM tools that currently have an SAP capability include:
- Flexera’s FlexNet Manager for SAP
- Snow Optimizer for SA
- samQ, Voquz’s SAP License Management tool
- Aspera’s License Control for SAP Software
As previously mentioned, we will focus on the solutions from Snow and Flexera. One of the major benefits of using a SAM tool is that you will have a consolidated overview of all your SAP systems in one place. You can manage your SAP license entitlements and – to a certain extent – determine your compliance position by comparing the usage detected with the quantity of licenses that you are entitled to use. Another positive aspect of the SAM tools is that you can easily manage the SAP Business Suite users license types assigned to every user in all the SAP Systems. This functionality enables you to monitor the users’ activity in SAP and decide whether the license type (e.g. Professional User, Employee User) assigned is the one each individual user needs. You can change the license type assigned to an individual based on previously defined use profiles. A use profile represents the behavior a user has in the SAP Systems. The type of transactions and activities (e.g. operational and system administration, standard or self-service HR transactions) of a user will provide an indication of what license type (e.g. Professional User, Employee User) is most likely applicable. However, you should, at all times, authorize an individual according to the contractual definition and applicable price list as discussed and agreed between SAP and your organization.
FlexNet Manager for SAP by Flexera
FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications by Flexera is built on the FlexNet Manager platform itself.
This helps end users to have a consolidated overview of their SAP deployments while also having access to the rest of the software vendors covered by FlexNet Manager Suite (such as Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Adobe, VMware or Symantec). It is particularly helpful to configure Flexera in such a way that includes products/components that are part of a license so those can be taken into account as well. The complete and accurate configuration of Flexera is required to make sure that you’ll get an accurate compliance report. If the licenses are not correctly configured, then the financial overview displayed will obviously not be accurate.
Managing SAP users and user license types
This is one of the functionalities covered by all the SAM tools designed for SAP. A healthy license configuration starts with matching the license entitlements with the SAP user types associated to the end users’ pricelist. Once the configuration is completed, the current use of user license types is shown. For optimization purposes, end users can create different license rules meant to highlight the potential license savings (such as displaying the users having a license type assigned but who haven’t been using their account in more than 12 months).
FlexNet for SAP shows comments and usage calculation methods of the different engines for which usage evidences are detected. Though manual intervention and understanding of the SAP licensing rules applicable for every engine is required, you can at least update the usage calculation formula by combining the usage results of different metrics detected to meet your license metric’s definition.
Indications of indirect access of SAP ERP
FlexNet Manager for SAP is identifying potential risks of indirect access by highlighting the users having an abnormal behavior (concurrent logon, long periods of activity) and by collecting evidences of remote systems (non-SAP systems) communicating with the SAP systems via RFC Connections (Remote Function Call).
Integration of the SAP Blade within the FlexNet Manager Suite
FlexNet Manager for SAP is integrated in the FlexNet Manager Suite. Having all the software vendors discoveries in one place is a benefit for software asset managers since they can have an overview of all the software products/components from the different software vendors managed with Flexera as well as all their contracts in one place.
No BusinessObjects discovery
BusinessObjects is not yet properly integrated in FlexNet Manager for SAP. You can upload the licenses in the contracts management blade, but Flexera is not able to discover the usage evidences or accurate usage for BusinessObjects.
Usage results accuracy highly dependent on license configuration
The risk of displaying a wrong financial overview of your license consumption is high because, like any other tool, FlexNet for SAP needs to be complemented by licensing knowledge and extensive understanding of the engines’ measurement. Details such as matching the licenses with the installation based on the metric and license ID for engines and based on pricelist for users are required to ensure accurate results. Moreover, all the non-relevant usage evidences need to be manually filtered out in order to not be displayed as unlicensed and therefore considered compliance risks (e.g. false positive results, results of engines licensed on different metrics than the ones detected via the measurement, etc.).
Snow Optimizer for SAP (SOS) by Snow Software
SOS is an add-on to SAP accessible via your SAP GUI (Graphic User Interface), which makes it easy to work with for people used to the SAP format and graphics. SOS covers users’ administration, user license types management, engines analysis, possibility of creating new licenses to cover for self-declared engines and indirect use detection. What SOS additionally brings to the SAM tools market is the BusinessObjects analysis.
Managing SAP users and user license types
Usage detection and user license types allocation and administration is the key functionality of SOS (as for all the SAM tools for SAP).
SOS has integrated BusinessObjects usage detection and usage analysis in 2016, being a solid starting point in managing the BusinessObjects installations.
Starting point in identifying indirect access of SAP ERP
SOS is also offering the possibility to identify the indicators of indirect access visible in the SAP systems.
SOS is not integrated with Snow License Management
SOS is built as an add-on to SAP, using SAP’s Graphic User Interface (GUI) to login. While this can be seen as an advantage by those used to work directly with SAP, most of the times the software asset managers are not necessarily using SAP. Thus, not having the SAP Optimizer integrated with the rest of the vendors which Snow License Management is covering might be an inconvenience for some end users.
Usage results highly dependent on license configuration
Not only applicable to Flexera or Snow, but more of a general downside of using solely a SAM tool to manage your usage and licenses is the fact that compliance overviews and financial calculations are not guaranteed only by using the tool. A proper configuration and maintenance of the SAM tool is needed to ensure accuracy.
The use of a SAM tool is definitely helpful for SAP end users, as long as the limitations of such tool and the required actions that need to be performed outside the tool are fully understood. Based on our experience, in almost any case the end users do not have a complete and accurate view of what the SAM tool of choice can or cannot do. By not having this clear from the beginning end users typically don’t make the right decision when choosing their SAM tool, resulting in an unpleasant surprise during an SAP audit. A SAM tool is doing what it says; it’s a tool that is helping you to obtain (parts of) the necessary deployment and usage information needed to avoid costs and achieve cost saving opportunities.
Any SAM practice that relies only on a SAM tool (and does not pay attention to the necessary processes and people with deep licensing knowledge and expertise) will fail in achieving its cost avoidance and cost saving objectives. Our article series will continue this week with a piece which gets into details regarding the SAP product groups covered by the most common SAM tools. Stay tuned!
Catalina has been working in the license management industry since 2015. Before joining B-lay, she worked as a Senior Technical Consultant for the License Management Services (LMS) Department within Oracle for two years, performing technical measurements during audits.
Currently, she is conducting the technical analyzes for SAP and Oracle Applications as well as working as a Solution Advisor for Oracle Siebel, Oracle Hyperion and SAP Applications. Over the past years, Catalina has supported Oracle and SAP customers globally and she leverages her technical and licensing knowledge to help organizations discover, understand and overcome their compliance challenges.
Catalina holds a bachelor’s degree in Economic Cybernetics and a master’s degree in Cybernetics and Quantitative Economy from Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies.