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SAP forces customers onto premium support package

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SAP is forcing users to migrate to its top level support program, and charging them an additional 5 per cent of their license maintenance fees a year for the privilege.

SAP launched its Enterprise Support Offering in May, making it the default for new customers. The ESO scheme costs customers 22 per cent of their licence fees per year, compared to, for example, 17 per cent for the vendor’s Stand Support package.

This week it announced that customers on its existing plans will “begin experiencing some of the added benefits of SAP Enterprise Support, beginning in July at no additional cost.”

Well, not until January, when SAP will start ratcheting up the price.

So, the customer on Standard Support will see his fee jump to 18.3 per cent of maintenance next year, climbing to 22 per cent by 2012. One analyst quoted by Bloomberg reckoned the shift will generate an extra €1bn for SAP by the time the shift is complete.

The ESO plan includes 24/7 support, continuous quality checks, and all sorts of enhanced support. SAP claims it provides “an unrivalled comprehensive support offering at a cost that is below the average of maintenance fees found elsewhere”. It also emphasises the increasingly heterogenous nature of IT environments these days.

Who wouldn’t say yes to that? Well, companies who have been managing perfectly well with a support offering that costs them considerably less.

Of course, SAP has a better view of where its product roadmap is heading. It may be that it accepts that it will have to take the lead in support as its products are squeezed in alongside ever more rival vendors’ products.

Or to put it another way, it knows its products are going to provoke even more support headaches from its customers and it’s getting its punches in first. ®

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