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SAP User Group Claims Victory In Support Battle

The SAP User Group Executive Network is credited with winning a two-tiered support plan through direct negotiations with SAP executives.

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The Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG) yesterday declared victory in helping SAP customers win a choice between Standard and Enterprise support.

"The good news is that there is a choice, and the [cost] delta between the two plans is not great in 2010," said Bridgette Chambers, ASUG's CEO.

The support battle has been bruising for ASUG, having led to the November 2008 firing of then-president Steven Strout after only 15 months on the job. Strout had encouraged members to support SAP's original plan, which would have moved all customers to Enterprise Support priced at 22% per year by 2012. Chambers was hired as interim CEO in 2009 and was named to the post permanently in October.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Chambers asserted ASUG was "instrumental in voicing its members' concerns" by collaborating through the SAP User Group Executive Network (SUGEN). Representing a dozen major SAP user groups worldwide, SUGEN is credited with winning the two-tiered support plan through direct negotiations with SAP executives.

Chambers noted that ASUG board member Mike Stoko has served as the chairman of SUGEN throughout the impass.

Now that two support options exist, SAP customers face a March 15 deadline to downgrade to Standard Support for 2010. ASUG announced yesterday that it is launching an educational Webinar series in mid February that will help SAP customers understand the tradeoffs between the two support options.

Standard Support has been described by SAP executives as reactive, geared to customers who want to keep systems up and running with bug fixes, support and software upgrades. Enterprise Support is said to be proactive, adding best practices for IT operations and monitoring and reporting tools, such as Solution Manager software, to the Standard Support services.

"When you're coming out of a down economic cycle, there are organizations that are struggling, so saving every dollar possible by choosing Standard Support may be part of what they have to do," Chambers said. "For organizations that are better capitalized and looking to drive innovation, Enterprise Support might help them adopt new technologies, streamline process and create competitive advantage."

Given that SAP agreed to freeze the price of Enterprise Support contracts for one year at 18.36 percent, few customers may wish to downgrade to Standard Support, which is priced at 18 percent. But the calculation will get harder when Enterprise Support price increases resume in 2011 and gradually step up to 22 percent by 2016.

"It looks like SAP has put together a thoughtful approach to creating a choice and then providing incentives for organizations to move either to Enterprise Support or stay with Standard Support if that suits their needs," Chambers said.

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