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Image: Automation Needed to Help Manage SAP Landscapes and Licensing

Gartner analyst Derek Prior has recently published a research note entitled Give Your SAP Basis Operations Team the Automation Tools That They Need (G00275473). In the report, he makes the case that SAP landscapes have grown in size and complexity. As a result, SAP Basis operations teams need to leverage automation tools to reduce the workload, reduce costs and improve reliability. One of the major challenges is the fact that, generally, SAP Basis operations teams don’t have the budget for these automation tools. So, they need to develop a business case to justify investment in tools that will provide a positive return on investment (ROI) in the form of reduced software and/or operational costs.

The analyst discusses six different types of automation benefits, including: Avoid Downtime, Minimize Downtime Impact, Maintain Performance in SLA, Time Saving, Infrastructure Saving, etc. He also calls out two classes of SAP Basis operations activities—repetitive/recurring and SAP project based. The report has an extensive table (Table 1) that lists out frequent repetitive activities, the typical approach used by organizations today, the SAP automation tool that would apply, if any, leading 3rd party tool vendors, and the main automation benefit. For several of the listed activities, such as Database Backups, OS File and Storage Monitoring, High Availability Cluster and DR System Monitoring, and others, the SAP automation tool is SAP Solution Manager.

There’s a similar table (Table 2) in the report that addresses the project based SAP Basis operations activities. In this category, Prior has put “Annual SAP license audit” as one of the activities. For this one, there are no SAP Automation Tools in the table and there are only two Leading Automation Vendors, one of them being Flexera.

The Main Automation Benefit in his table for the Annual SAP License Audit activity is Time Saving, but I would argue that the benefits are both time saving and cost saving. It is clearly the case that Software License Optimization tools for SAP can reduce the time and effort to prepare for the annual SAP audit. But, they can also help minimize true-up costs by identifying idle and duplicate SAP users, for example. In addition, tools that provide SAP Package license management can reduce the risk of unbudgeted true-up expenses by providing the ability to assess package license consumption at any time, not just when you are preparing the SAP LAW report for the annual audit.

For longer term cost savings, license optimization tools for SAP can also analyze detailed system usage data and determine the optimal SAP Named User license type for each user. This can provide negotiating leverage for the next contract renewal, or system expansion. The cost savings from Software License Optimization can help fund the investment in other automation tools for SAP Basis operations teams.

For those who may have missed the ITAM Review’s SAP License and User Management Group Test report, published about a month ago, FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications was named the “Best in Class” solution.