Software License Management and the Butterfly Effect

By Chris Hughes

Chaos theory is a mathematical field of study in which small variations in starting conditions can lead to dramatically different outcomes. The butterfly effect is a popular theoretical example whereby the formation of a hurricane results from the flapping of a butterfly’s wings.

Hopefully chaos isn’t the word that comes to mind when considering your organization’s management of software licenses, but there are situations in which the licensing implications of seemingly minor changes are much farther reaching than might initially be assumed.

Consider the software licensing costs and requirements associated with provisioning a new SAP system:

  1. SAP Named User licenses:
    Who will use this system? Are they new or existing SAP users? For new SAP users, which named user license types are required? Have you optimized the consumption of existing SAP Named User licenses by identifying inactive and duplicate users and assigning license types based on real usage data? For existing SAP users, can you be confident that SAP’s License Administration Workbench (LAW) will combine the new user accounts with existing accounts on other SAP systems?
  2. SAP Package licenses:
    Which SAP packages will be installed on this system? What are their business metrics? Do you have cost-effective and reliable means to calculate Package license consumption based on those metrics?
  3. Operating system licenses:
    On which operating system will the SAP system be installed? Will it operate in a virtualized environment? What are the server hardware specifications? Using Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Standard as an example, its license model is based on the number of physical processors and the number of virtual machines running on the server. Provisioning a new virtual machine and upgrading the server’s hardware specifications to match the increased resource requirements of a new SAP system may require additional operating system licenses, and may even affect the license requirements of other software running on the same physical server.
  4. Database licenses: Which database product will be used? Oracle Database and Microsoft SQL Server 2012 both offer core-based license models which utilize core factor tables to apply weighted counting of processor cores based on processor type; they also offer user-centric license models (e.g. Oracle Named User Plus). How many people will use this system, both now and in the future? What is the most cost-effective license model based on the hardware and usage requirements?

When looking through the lens of SAP software licensing, the need to consider SAP Named User and Package licenses is obvious. However, what begins as an SAP-specific enhancement may end up requiring licenses from up to 3 major publishers and spanning multiple volume license agreements!

All large software publishers have license models with characteristics that are uniquely their own.  While understanding and embracing these differences, a single view across all software licenses and computer assets is essential to understanding the full ramifications of changes you plan to make to your hardware and/or software environment.

The next time a butterfly flaps its wings; will you be faced with order or chaos?


Learn more about SAP license management by viewing our on-demand webinar: Lifting the Lid on SAP Licensing.



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