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Indirect Usage of SAP Software

The topic of the indirect use of SAP software has recently come back into focus. In the case of SAP vs. Diageo  an Englisch court ruled in favor of SAP, making a clear statement . While it is unclear what effect this ruling will have on German court rulings, the complications that can arise through licensing of SAP Software are evident.

What is the indirect usage of SAP Software?

It is important to understand what falls under „indirect usage of SAP Software. SAP defines indirect usage as the communication and data exchange between third-party software and SAP software via an interface.

Consider the following example. A customer receives a delivery of goods and scans each package with a manual scanner for inventory purposes. To determine the exact shelf where the package should be stored, the software of the scanner system (e.g. SAP Product identification) connects to SAP and confirms the proper storage location. The triggered communication, and associated data query from SAP, is decisive. In this case, a software license is required to obtain a software license. This can lead to high licensing costs for the corresponding number of users. Any company that uses SAP in connection with a third-party software is affected by this rule.

However, there are also scenarios which SAP does not determine to be “indirect usage”.  This is the case when information from SAP is merely "statically read" (so-called static read as "outbound" communication). If there is neither a specific query from a user, and if information from SAP is only read, but not edited, no additional licenses need to be purchased on a named-user basis. So-called “aggregators” play an important role in this determination. If users are able to approve or reject queries between a third-party software and SAP, these named users must be licensed.

SAP is eager to design attractive commercial solutions for its customers with indirect usage Scenarios.

Unawareness does not protect against risks

Based on the risks and aforementioned developments, SAP customers should diligently manage their software usage and utilize adapted technical processes when possible. A good overview of possible risks can be obtained by consolidating all third-party applications and evaluation how they operate in conjunction with SAP. ConSalt can assist customers carring out this consolidation and issue an initial risk assessment based on the documentation of individual applications. From this assessment, scenarios to adapt application usage and minimize licensing risks can be developed.

See also:

[1] „Assessing Legal Dispute SAP vs. Diageo“, Marco Widlok, unter: (last accessed 25.08.2017)

[2] [2017] EWHC 189 (TCC), unter: (last accessed 25.08.2017)




  • #compliance
  • #Hachenberger
  • #indirect access
  • #SAP

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