SAP rolls out expanded but pricier support package

New offering unveiled at Sapphire includes support for non-SAP applications

SAP AG today formally unveiled a new Enterprise Support offering, which marks the first time that the company has offered to provide round-the-clock support for non-SAP applications. As expected, the updated service carries an annual fee that amounts to 22% of a user's software-license fees. The previous support package was priced at 17% of the license fees.

New customers can use only the new service, while existing SAP users can retain the older service.

The new support program was introduced at the company's Sapphire 2008 user conference in Orlando, along with new business process management (BPM) tools and updates to the NetWeaver middleware that are intended to enable IT to more quickly respond to business requests.

The new support program is designed to help smooth the transition to next-generation SAP applications that incorporate SOA-based NetWeaver technology by providing continuous quality checks and risk-analysis services, said Peter Graf, executive vice president of global marketing at SAP.

The support package includes the installation of SAP's Solution Manager portal at customer sites to provide services personnel with a real-time view of operations across distributed systems. The Enterprise Support package also includes access to the Run SAP methodology to better manage service-oriented architectures.

"This is all about operations support and having a watchdog on hand to find out if any mission-critical systems are at risk and how SAP can help," remarked Graf. About 200 customers have already signed up for the new support service, he said.

After SAP initiated a limited early rollout of the new support program in March, Forrester Research Inc. analyst Ray Wang had warned that new SAP users forced to use the program would "overpay for services" that would be underutilized. Wang had noted that corporate users were already growing increasingly frustrated over vendor practices surrounding software licensing.

Meanwhile, SAP said that the new BPM components, developed under the code name Project Galaxy, include a process composer, which models business processes and integrates data into Eclipse developer framework; a process server that reduces translation coding to execute process models; and a process desk that provides an interface to run and collaborate on assigned tasks.

Set to be part of the SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment, the new SAP BPM components will be available in early 2009.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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