However, Snabe's discussion of SAP moving to a bundled license approach over time could mean customers face the same challenges as Oracle shops in determining whether they're getting the best deal.
Bundles will also require customers to be more flexible and a "little more vanilla" in their tastes, said IDC analyst Amy Konary. "A lot of times what happens on the customer side is they'll be presented with a bundle but it doesn't meet their needs." That makes the customer the one potentially introducing more complexity if they decide to make changes in the deal, Konary said.
It will likely take a long time for SAP to phase in major changes to its licensing model, but doing so is important for both customers as well as the company, Konary added.
For one thing, complex license arrangements could expose customers to a higher risk of failing a license audit by SAP, she said. While a customer may have a few employees working on deals who do understand the details, "there are a lot of other people that come into contact with [software] that have the opportunity to misuse it inadvertently," he said.
Even for internal people or partners, licensing "should not be overly complex" as it introduces friction and uncertainty in the sales process, Konary added. "What ends up happening is a customer goes to a sales rep or a partner and asks for a quote, and they'll get a different answer from every person."
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com