Central monitor: Licensing solution simplifies asset management in SAP, other software deployments

Acresso Software (formerly Macrovision) says its License Manager for the SAP Business Suite helps companies using SAP reduce their license requirements by 30 percent. That’s a significant amount given that an enterprisewide SAP system represents the top one or two technology investments that an organization will make over a 10-year period, according to Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor September 26, 2008

Enterprise software consumes a sizeable proportion of a company’s annual IT budget. And as licensing fees based on user classification get even more complex—and maintenance fees start to rise—companies are looking for ways to optimize usage and reduce costs without jeopardizing worker performance.

It’s all much like trying to optimize equipment on the factory floor to accrue the greatest value at least cost.

Such was the case with Fritz Egger , a wood products manufacturer based in St. Johann, Austria. As the size of its SAP implementation grew significantly from initial implementation in the late 1990s—i.e., 200 end users to more than 2,300 across 16 facilities—manual efforts to ensure correct user classification and optimal usage became unmanageable.

In short, Fritz Egger wanted to ensure it had enough software in terms of its usage license, but not too much. Not enough and annual SAP audits would result in additional unanticipated charges; too much—at a time when SAP is adjusting annual maintenance upwards from 17 percent to 22 percent by 2012—and Fritz Egger was missing an opportunity to maintain and even reduce costs.

“The SAP user landscape in our company was growing quite fast and we wanted a central monitor that could tell us who was logging into what system, what transactions they were using, and how much they were using it,” says Thomas Berger, Fritz Egger administrator. “We wanted to know if we had the right level of classification for all users.”

The company wanted to automate what had been a highly cumbersome manual function in off-loading data from SAP tables to Excel spreadsheets to review usage and classification. Fritz Egger selected License Manager for SAP Business Suite from Acresso Software , a company created in a spinoff of the software division of Macrovision, long known for its FlexNet and InstallShield, resident on

License Manager for SAP Business Suite eliminates duplicate or unused user licenses, and identifies those users whose classifications need to be adjusted to properly reflect usage levels. It proactively ensures compliance and helps to accurately budget for additional rights. The solution also enables companies to easily allocate usage charges to individual cost centers.

The product has been certified by both SAP and New York-based consultancy Ernst & Young . Pricing starts at $200,000 for an enterprise license.

“Acresso’s License Manager is about software asset management in the broadest sense,” says Derek Prior, a director with Boston-based AMR Research . “Companies are encouraged by software vendors to buy as much software up front as possible to get big discounts. The licensing models are getting more complex with a portfolio of license metrics, but companies often end up with shelfware—that is, software they don’t use but for which they have to pay maintenance. It’s important not to take a project view of software implementation, but rather a long-term asset view to ensure you accurately measure benefits and costs over time. ”

All in all, License Manager helped Fritz Egger dramatically reduce the time it takes to prepare for an SAP audit.

“What used to take us two days now takes us 30 minutes,” says Berger. “With the click of a mouse, we know exactly how many active users we have.”

More important, the solution actually reduced company licenses by 10 percent for Fritz Egger. Support for allocation of costs to specific cost centers also resulted in elimination of internal development supporting an in-house tool the company had been using.

“Now it’s easy to precisely know how many licenses are being used by each cost center,” Berger concludes.