SAM tools capabilities for SAP products
Previously, we had a look at the most common SAM tools used for SAP, as well as the product groups covered. Now we’ll dive into the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of these tools. With some exceptions, most SAM tools available for inventorying SAP’s licenses and usage are providing similar functionalities. We will further see which of the software programs are detectable as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each area.
Manage license contract information
One of the simplest functionalities the SAM tools offer is the management of the SAP license entitlements. Having all the licenses consolidated in one place is, as ordinary as it may sound, the first step to enforce healthy SAM habits. Uploading the license entitlements correctly in your SAM tool will ensure that you start administering your entitlements, after which the configuration/mapping of the exact licenses to the discovered and/or used software programs can start.
Each license entitlement is defined by a product ID and a metric ID. Both should match the installation in order to have an automated compliance overview created. This matching should be reviewed and adjusted manually, if and when needed. For user license types, the user ID under which the users should be classified is defined by the pricelist you activated according to your SAP contract. For engine licenses, you need to check the product ID and the metric ID on the SAP Support Portal to make sure you register in under the appropriate indicators.
If you do not match the right license ID and metric ID of the entitlements, you may cause a discrepancy between the installation and the acquired licenses that will lead to a situation in which the installed SAP software programs will display as unlicensed in your SAM tool. The limitation of the SAM tool is the result of the fact that the SAM tool is built to only list the licensed entitlements (quantities and metrics). Obviously, your SAP agreements also stipulate the specific use rights of the entitlements (e.g. what type of use is allowed) and includes specific terms and conditions, limitations and specific clauses (e.g. what legal entities are allowed to make use of the software), which apply to your organization. The correct interpretation of these contractual terms and as such the correct configuration of your SAM tool still needs to be done manually. This requires extensive SAP licensing knowledge to make sure that you make best use of your tool.
SAP Business Suite – Managing users and user license types
SAM tools support you in identifying all the individuals (users) classified under each license type (e.g. Professional User, Employee User) in accordance with your SAP pricelist and SAP agreement. The SAM tool helps you to determine the status (validity, last login date) and the activities performed by the users. By comparing the behavior of a user with a defined profile (as defined for each license type), you can determine if the license type as assigned is in line with their actual activity. Typically, you would see that individuals who have a Professional User license assigned may only need a (cheaper) Limited Professional User license. As such, tools are useful to determine cost saving opportunities by allocating the right license to the right user and its associated behavior.
SAM tools support your organization in de-duplicating users from multiple SAP systems. This is particularly important as there can be cases when one individual has multiple user accounts over multiple SAP systems, and such individual requires only one SAP user license. The fact that a SAM tool helps in maintaining a healthy license type allocation based on the users’ activity and the fact that it is able to export potential changes you have performed on a user directly in the SAP system itself (e.g. end-dating a user, reclassification of a user) is seen as a true benefit.
A practice that is commonly seen among SAP end users using SAM tools to manage their SAP users is that they often reclassify users who no longer need access in SAP under the free of charge Test License Type (ID 91) instead of end-dating their account. Having users classified as Test in a production environment is not accepted by SAP and it’s raised as a compliance issue during an audit. We have described the consequences of having test users in production in our whitepaper – SAP – Top 10 most common compliance issues seen.
SAP Business Suite – Managing engines
Engines are split in two categories, depending if the engine can be measured:
- measurable engines
- self-declarable engines
The measurable engines’ data sources are ABAP tables. Their usage evidences are determined by the USMM transaction or a SAM tool. If the detected usage indicator (metric ID) is the same as the licensed metric ID, then the compliance position is automatically calculated when running the specific usage report (in Snow Optimizer for SAP’s case) or on the Dashboard (in FlexNet for SAP’s case). If the metric ID of the detected engine is not matching the licensed metric ID, then you as an end user need to investigate the reason of the mismatch and to perform manual updates in the tool to display accurate information.
One aspect that is not currently covered by all the SAM tool providers is the relevancy of a usage result. A system on which the SAP Notes have not been properly implemented before running a compliance check may generate false positive results (e.g. by other SAP software applications that are actually in use) or historical records that are incorrectly showing the use of some engines (e.g. for SAP software applications that are no longer in use). FlexNet for SAP is able to highlight some of these cases by showing some brief details about the usage validation.
However, when calculating the compliance of the detected engines, it is recommended to manually check the latest information on the SAP Support Portal. This will help you decide whether the usage should be counted as relevant or not. Unfortunately, at this point in time, these notes are not fully showed by any of the SAM tools. As a result of this the end user should not rely on these results without double checking the information on the SAP Support Portal.
For the self-declarable engines, the SAM tools provide the possibility to create new entries for your specific license entitlements with their specific metrics. In addition, the SAM tools allow you to register the usage value of these self-declarable engines (e.g. revenue). Once the license entitlement has been created and the usage values has been registered, the license compliance check can be performed. The usage values are entered manually and as such highly depending on the correct interpretation or understanding of how the usage values should be determined (e.g. should the revenue be declared for the whole company or for a limited amount of legal entities). This manual approach is error sensitive and highly depending on the knowledge and expertise of the person that enters the usage values for the self-declarable engines.
For example, if you have recently merged with another company and you started to monitor your own SAP licenses in an SAP tool, whose number of employees will you consider when you will set up the usage quantity in your SAM tool against that particular license? Your former number of employees? The number of employees of the company resulted after the merger? The number of employees in the Business Unit that is making use of the software program licensed on this metric?
SAP Business Suite – Running usage reports
All the functionalities listed above are supported by a series of reports that can be run in most of the SAM tools for SAP available. Reports related to user licenses consumption, user login dates, user licenses compliance, engines consumption and compliance can be created and exported for further use.
SAP Business Suite – System measurement
A common functionality of the SAM tools for SAP is triggering the SAP system measurement directly from the SAP interface. You can select which systems should be included in scope of the measurement and you can consolidate the individual system measurement results in LAW.
BusinessObjects – Running usage reports
BusinessObjects product group is covered by Snow Optimizer for SAP (SOS). By linking the BusinessObjects systems to the Optimizer, you will retrieve usage information for the licensed concurrent users as well as information about CPU consumption. You can check the last login information of the users accessing BusinessObjects data sources and run a usage report to retrieve the users that have accessed BusinessObjects by filtering per objects.
SAP HANA Database – Running usage reports
SAP HANA Database’s usage can be detected by Snow Optimizer for SAP if the SAP HANA systems are linked to it. The Optimizer retrieves the Gigabytes consumption representing the memory usage at a specific date (or in a specific range). However, depending on your contractual agreement, the metric definition can contain indicators of how to calculate the compliance position. Make sure you take into consideration the memory consumption indicator or usage indicator that is suitable for your contract.
SAP Indirect Access
Most of the SAM tools offer different functionalities that can support a SAM specialist or an SAP administrator to identify abnormal user behaviors, RFC (Remote Function Call) connections or Web Services connections between SAP systems (linked to the SAM tool) and non-SAP Systems.
These evidences will be used as a starting point for a more precise indirect access analysis.
Discovering users that have logged in for more than 72 hours and identifying the RFC connections to a non-SAP system will not be sufficient in order to investigate the risk of indirect access. It is important to complement the information provided by the SAM tool with the information that can be obtained from the architectural setup (typically available at your SAP architects) to understand the nature, frequency and types of data transfer between SAP and non-SAP systems. Find out more about what it takes to tackle the risk of indirect access by reading our whitepaper: Is SAP Indirect Access an exact science yet?
SAP Sybase and SAP Cloud
Currently there are no inventory tools to manage or check the compliance of these two product categories. Although there are no inventory tools available for these programs, a SAM specialist can help you to obtain the necessary deployment and usage information to determine your actual consumption and the compliance position for these solutions. Understanding your entitlements is key to understand what data gathering instructions should be followed to obtain the necessary data. Applying the right licensing knowledge to interpret the outcome in line with your entitlements is important to achieve accurate reporting.
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.