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SAP License and User Management Group Test – Flexera

This independent review is part of our SAP Tool Review.

Also participating are:

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications is a software license optimization solution that allows organisations to optimize their SAP estate. FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications helps identify the optimal SAP named user license type for each user within an organisation via the analysis of detailed usage data, and also helps eradicate any idle or duplicate users from your license count. In addition, FlexNet Manager for SAP provides proactive SAP package license management and helps reduce audit risk associated with indirect access.The solution helps organizations to be proactive in the management of their SAP estate, and it helps recommend the optimal license types that should be in use whilst adhering to the contractual agreement.
Strengths
  • Comprehensive SAP license management and optimization based on detailed SAP usage data analysis
  • Includes ‘Product Use Rights’ and standard metrics for SAP packages to provide SAP Package license management; also supports creation of customer defined metrics where no standard metrics exist
  • Helps uncover SAP indirect access to mitigate audit risk associated with indirect usage; ensures that indirect users are checked against SAP users to avoid double counting
Weaknesses
  • Cloud based products not currently supported (HANA);

 

Primary Market Focus
  • Size: Mid to large Enterprise
  • Use: Collecting SAP information for license management
  • Environment: SAP systems

Commercial Summary

Vendor Flexera Software
Product FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications
Version Reviewed Version 2014
Date of version release February 2014
Year founded N/A
Customers 1200+
Pricing structure FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications is priced per SAP user on a volume discount schedule
Competitive Differentiators
  • Ability to provide SAP named user license recommendations based on detailed system usage analysis
  • Includes standard metrics for SAP Package license consumption calculations
  • Indirect access detection and risk mitigation; minimises duplicate users across systems to reduce SAP licensing costs

Independent Review

Flexera

FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications is a sophisticated SAP license and user management tool from Flexera Software. It provides SAP license managers with the ability to ensure they maintain and optimize their software licenses. It also helps establish usage data so that the correct named user licenses can be assigned to the right users to ensure license compliancy is maintained and avoid over spending on SAP licenses.

The inbuilt Product Use Rights Library is a unique selling point of this solution, and provides SAP license managers with pre-installed standard license metrics and consumption rules for SAP packages. This will aid SAP license management and license compliancy and will help with the overall management of SAP applications, licenses and users.

The ability to provide users with recommendations based on license usage is a really impressive feature, and one we really liked. This will help organisations save money on licenses and ensure compliancy is maintained throughout the SAP estate.

Whilst obviously the data within a tool is important, the user interface is also just as important. If the tool takes a rocket scientist to manage then it’s not fit for purpose. FlexNet Manager for SAP however has an attractive user interface, and it is easy to identify a number of different datasets. We think the data is displayed in a useful, easy to use manner, with important pieces of information easily seen.

The only issue we had with FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications was the fact that Cloud based applications are not currently supported, so users can’t manage HANA (Cloud model) in this version of the solution. However, Flexera have stated that Cloud based applications will be integrated into future products and is firmly on their product roadmap.

 

SAP License Management

SAP is increasing the number of software applications in its product portfolio through acquisitions and the introduction of new technologies. Flexera Software have categorized SAP products into three different brackets for license management:

  • Core SAP – ERP, CRM, Business Warehouse
  • Acquired Products – Ariba, Sybase, Business Objects
  • Cloud Products – HANA, OpenHub

For the core SAP products, FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications provides agentless inventory collection for on premises customers and inventory for cloud/SaaS (Software as a Service) customers. The inventory collection uses SAP’s own external remote function call (RFC) connections to pull in user licensing, role and usage data from all of SAP’s systems, and also applications running on a JAVA stack with an ABAP layer.

SAP packages require a unique approach, as there are no external connections provided to collect the needed license metrics. Flexera install SAP admin module on a central SAP system (e.g. Solution Manager or CUA) to manage the extraction of package data from relevant systems. Customers also need to install transports on systems to be measured to extract the package measurements. The data is then transferred to FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications by SOAP interface. The central Product Use Rights Library (PURL) contains the package license metrics and license consumption calculation rules for a large number of SAP packages out of the box. This allows organizations to proactively calculate package license consumption independently of an SAP system measurement.

For SAP acquired products such as Ariba, Sybase and Business Objects, FlexNet Manager Platform for SAP Applications discovers the applications and collects usage data. In the case of these systems, the implementation team would create custom business adapters during the customer implementation to collect the necessary usage data. Cloud products such as SAP HANA are not currently supported out of the box, but HANA is a priority on the product roadmap and will be driven by customer demand.

Furthermore, FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications is a fully automated solution that helps deliver continuous license compliance for SAP products. Inventory is periodically collected from all SAP systems on a schedule, and from this inventory data, the SAP license position is automatically re-calculated. The license position is actually calculated two ways:

  • The current position— equivalent to what SAP LAW would report, and
  • The optimized license position— the target license position which includes user retirements, duplicate user remediation, and named user license optimization.

Flexera Software state that an accurate and up-to-date license position is available at all times for SAP applications.

FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications provides a license simulation capability that allows organizations to perform best case and worst-case analyses of their SAP license position. Users can plan for future purchases or contract negotiations and also plan for future projects that may have an impact on SAP licenses. This license simulation capability also allows organizations to ensure that they are ‘audit ready’. We think this is extremely important in allowing the organisation to effectively manage SAP licenses both in the present, and the future.

FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications provides a Product Use Rights Library that incorporates SAP package licensing rules. These rules are used by the product to calculate license consumption, independently of taking an SAP system measurement. The licensing rules define how metrics are combined to determine a single license consumption figure for each SAP package. This allows organizations to proactively manage their SAP package licenses and avoid any true-up surprises during the annual audit. We believe that the PUR incorporated into the FlexNet Manager Suite is a key selling point of this solution as it provides another source of licensing and usage data for the end user and helps automate complex license management tasks.

 

Managing SAP Users

Inactive users

FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications collects detailed SAP usage data and provides customizable user inactive and retirement rules that are used to determine which users should be retired or a license revoked based on criteria such as the following:

  • Number of days since the user was last logged on
  • Whether the user has been locked and how long the user has been locked
  • Whether the user has run any SAP transactions during a specified time period
  • The user’s current license type (e.g. Professional, Limited Professional, Employee User, etc.) – this influences the length of time a user should be inactive before being considered for retirement
  • Whether the user only logs on to change password or browse menus

For retirement, users can be retired one-at-a-time, in a single bulk retirement action that spans multiple SAP systems, or anything in between. Being able to see inactive SAP users allows organisations to pursue license optimization with their SAP licenses.

Duplicate users

Identifying duplicate users starts by establishing a baseline of what SAP’s License Administration Workbench (LAW) tool detects. FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications allows you to specify the user fields used by LAW to consolidate users, which is used to identify the outcomes of the LAW tool for duplicate user detection. What then happens is the customizable user consolidation rules in FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications are used to identify additional duplicate users.

In practice, a single user field is rarely sufficient to reliably consolidate all users across all SAP systems in a large organization. What FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications provides are customizable duplicate user rules that can compare users using additional user attributes. The product also finds users with similar but not identical attributes. Once the complete list of duplicate users is found, changes can be made in SAP to reduce the number of duplicate User-IDs. LAW will subsequently pick up this data. We think having this feature within FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications is key to ensuring licenses are optimized and the organisation are not purchasing two licenses for the same user unnecessarily.

License types for users

Every SAP contract has unique requirements, and SAP license optimization requires a highly flexible solution to meet the needs of a broad range of SAP customers. Many SAP contracts provide vague license definitions, with Limited Professional defined as being a user who performs “limited” operational functions, while some provide a very specific set of actions that these users can perform.

FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications has the ability to collect information and datasets around the user, role and usage information and provides a range of license rules that help translate this information to determine the optimal user license type for each user. The license type calculation is based on the user license definition in the contract, their role and the user’s individual usage of SAP.

Transaction profiles can be created to identify transactions, reports and jobs used by different types of users. Users are then matched against the profiles to determine whether their usage or activity matches those of the specified license types. It also shows groups of people who could have a Special License type based on usage. These profiles can be used for users with existing user definitions as well as for users with a certain usage pattern and license type not yet negotiated or associated with SAP. The ITAM Review believes this will help SAP administrators manage SAP users effectively, and ensure that the users have the correct licensing types to meet their usage needs at the lowest possible cost.

 

Indirect Usage

FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications provides a comprehensive solution for identifying, managing and optimizing indirect access to SAP applications. To begin with, all SAP systems are monitored for key metrics that might indicate the presence of indirect access. So FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications uses these metrics to identify any indirect access.

The solution then uses three steps to identify and manage indirect usage:

  1. Normalization of discovery records
  2. Introspection of external systems
  3. Optimization of license consumption, including user de-duplication, so that existing SAP users have the correct and optimal named user license overall (i.e. for both direct and indirect access if applicable to that user) and not two licenses where only one is required

We believe indirect access to SAP applications is a licensing ‘gotcha’, so there needs to be active management of any applications that are using SAP data indirectly to ensure license compliancy is maintained and to avoid any unbudgeted audit true-up expenses.

 

In Summary

We believe that FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications is a fantastic offering for any organisation with an investment in SAP to help manage their licenses and users.

In Their Own Words

“FlexNet Manager for SAP® Applications is a scalable Software License Optimization solution that is built on the FlexNet Manager Platform. It optimizes SAP named user licenses by detecting idle users, identifying duplicate users, and assigning the optimal license type for each user based on user roles and an analysis of real usage data. It recommends the optimal license classification (Developer, Professional, Limited Professional, Employee Self Service, etc.) while also adhering to contractual requirements. This includes the ability to take into account a minimum ratio of Professional to Limited Professional User Licenses.

FlexNet Manager for SAP® Applications also helps organizations proactively manage SAP package licenses. Package (aka engine) measurements can be run independently of a system measurement, allowing collection of package metrics at any time. Its SAP Product Use Rights Library contains licensing rules that define how metrics are combined to determine a single license consumption figure for each SAP package. This streamlines the process of calculating SAP package license consumption, reducing true-up preparation time.

The product helps organizations discover instances of indirect access and optimizes the license requirements for users of non-SAP systems that access SAP data. This minimizes the license compliance risk and reduces the cost associated with SAP indirect access.”

 

Links from the Vendor

FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications product webpage:

http://www.flexerasoftware.com/products/software-license-management/flexnet-sap-licensing/

 

FlexNet Manager for SAP Applications Datasheet:

http://media.flexerasoftware.com/documents/Datasheet_FNM-SAP.pdf

 

Whitepaper:

Curing the SAP Overpayment Syndrome

 

Webinar:

SAP License Management Challenges and Opportunities

Screenshots

 

About David Foxen

David Foxen is a Software Asset Management expert and enthusiast. He had a vast experience of successfully implementing SAM, SAM tools and also made huge cost savings. A member of the ISO Standards WG21, David is a massive ITAM geek, so uses any opportunity to talk about the subject to who-ever will listen. He believes that the industry needs to share its knowledge and success stories to help the SAM industry mature and become more effective. Always willing to help, his primary goal is to make a difference to organisations and the SAM industry so everyone will know how epic SAM is!

One Comment

  1. Maciej Chachulski says:

    Thanks for sharing this analysis. Which is very interesting and useful.

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