SAP will delay increasing its customers' maintenance fees until early 2010 and assemble a task force to hear feedback from customers and user groups, in what could be seen as an acknowledgment of the pressures on businesses' IT budgets in a moribund global economy. In July 2008, SAP had announced that customers would be transferred to SAP Enterprise Support, which featured steadily rising maintenance fees through 2015.
SAP announced on Dec. 1 that it will delay
a decision on increasing customers' maintenance fees until the beginning of
2010, in recognition of "ongoing pressures" on IT budgets in the
aftermath of a global recession.
Furthermore, SAP said, it will convene a
task force to solicit feedback from customers and user groups and then use that
information to leverage improvements in SAP's
support offerings. The results of the task force will be provided in the
beginning of 2010.
"Until then, a decision on pricing for Enterprise Support has therefore
been postponed," SAP said in a
In July 2008, SAP
announced a plan
wherein all SAP customers would be transferred to SAP
Enterprise Support as of Jan. 1, 2009.
Under that plan, customers would have seen their maintenance fees increase to
22 percent of their base licensing fee by 2015. That plan now seems temporarily
derailed until next year.
The announcement also comes as SAP shifts
its focus to SMBs (small to midsize businesses) as a potential market for its
software. Seeking to appeal to cost-conscious companies, SAP
has been offering its Business Suite 7 as deployable in modules without
customers needing to upgrade to the whole platform. But issues such as
maintenance fees remain of keen concern to both SMBs and the enterprise, which
have found their IT budgets squeezed by the recession.
SAP saw its revenues fall by 9 percent
during the most recent quarter, due to an ecosystemwide decrease in spending on
business software. During the company's Oct. 28 quarterly earnings call, SAP
executives predicted a 6 percent to 8 percent dip in software and service
revenue overall for 2009. Net income rose 12 percent overall, however, and SAP
executives have appeared publicly unconcerned about a competitive challenge
from rival Oracle, which is on the verge of absorbing Sun Microsystems in a
$7.4 billion deal.
SAP has also been exploring ways to
leverage its relationships in order to expand its customer base, including
partnering with Microsoft to offer the SAP BusinessObjects Planning and
through the latter's channel. In February 2009,
it also partnered with IBM and other companies for the SAP Business Suite 7