SAP Cuts Hefty Fees For Partners Using The Vendor's Software For Testing, Product Demonstrations

At its SapphireNow show this week, SAP also launched a new cloud database offering to compete with AWS and reached out to developers beyond the SAP ecosystem with a new integration partner option.


SAP is providing channel partners with free 12-month access to the company's S/4HANA Cloud ERP applications and C/4HANA CRM applications for testing and demonstrating solutions based on the SAP software—eliminating a fee that started at 5,000 euros (more than U.S. $5,600).

The offer was one of several steps SAP announced at this week's SapphireNow conference to enhance its PartnerEdge channel program. The company is offering a new option through which ISVs and other solution providers who develop software for outside the SAP environment can integrate their offerings with SAP products.

On the technology side, SAP unveiled SAP HANA Cloud Services, a line of public cloud services based on the HANA database that will compete with database services from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and others.

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The decision to offer free access to S/4HANA Cloud and C/4HANA Suite for testing and demonstration purposes for a year was the most significant channel-related announcement at SapphireNow.

"We wouldn't charge our internal presales people to show our products to the customers. But we were doing that with the partners," said Karl Fahrbach, SAP chief partner officer, in an interview at SapphireNow. "That's something we don't want to do anymore. We want to be sure our partners are properly equipped the same way we equip our sales team internally to go to market to show our products.”

Channel partners hailed the move as a major step toward making it easier for them to develop solutions around the vendor's application sets.

"It was really cost-prohibitive, very high risk," said Kurt Ramcharan, head of marketing at Beyond Technologies, of the old practice. The Montreal-based consulting firm and SAP Gold partner develops solutions, including its Accelerator system with preconfigured business processes and workflows, that already run on S/4HANA. But Ramcharan said in an interview at SapphireNow that free access to the C/4HANA Suite could open up new opportunities for his company.

"It's a good gesture to make it easier for partners to work with SAP," said Mike Maiolo, CEO of Rizing, an SAP partner that works with the vendor's SuccessFactors HR management applications, Enterprise Asset Management software and retail management applications. While Rizing already has its test landscape in place, Maiolo, also at SapphireNow, said the new offer should prove especially attractive to smaller partners.

Fahrbach, who was just named chief partner office in March, said SAP has been hearing complaints from partners about the old practice for several years. "We want to make it easy for the partners to access our technology … and to build IP [intellectual property] on top of the technology so we can complete the 'Intelligent Enterprise,'" the executive said.

Partners in the SAP PartnerEdge program who have three consultants certified in operations capabilities for SAP applications running on SAP S/4HANA Cloud or three consultants certified in operations capabilities for solutions running on SAP C/4HANA will qualify for the free access program.

The offers will be available starting in the third quarter of 2019, with partner registration remaining open until Sept. 30, 2019. Qualified partners who already purchased test and demo systems on SAP S/4HANA Cloud or SAP C/4HANA may renew their subscription for 12 months at no charge, the company said.

Beyond the 12 months of free access, SAP said test and demo systems on SAP S/4HANA Cloud will be available to partners at a significantly reduced price starting in the third quarter of 2019.

The move follows an offer last December of 12-month free access to the SAP Cloud Platform for partners to build applications and make them available in the SAP App Center. SAP said that so far 850 partners have subscribed to that program.

The new integrate option for the Build engagement model in the SAP PartnerEdge program is designed to attract solution providers who build solutions outside the SAP software environment and want to integrate those solutions with SAP systems.

Previously, SAP required that solution providers "build on top of the SAP Cloud Platform in order to be considered part of the ecosystem," Fahrbach said. The change, according to the executive, is recognition that there are "capabilities and IP out there that we don't necessarily need developed on our platform," but could be integrated with SAP systems at the data, content or business process level.

Partners can apply for the integrate option in SAP PartnerEdge, Build, exclusively or in combination with other engagement offerings of the SAP PartnerEdge program. The option currently covers most SAP solutions, whether delivered as a cloud service or on-premises deployment, except for SAP Concur applications and Experience Management solutions from SAP (Qualtrics), according to the company.

Thompson Reuters participated in a pilot program for the new option, integrating the company's OneSource tax determination engine with SAP's Ariba spend management applications.

"It's a good extension of their partner program," said Stephen McGerty, enterprise partner lead in the Thompson Reuters' corporate segment, in an interview at SapphireNow. He sees the new option as not just a way to integrate software with SAP, but also create a way for partners to develop go-to-market initiatives with the software giant.

The new SAP HANA Cloud Services, introduced at SapphireNow Wednesday, will make the HANA database available through the cloud outside traditional SAP environments. The system will act as a gateway to data that may reside anywhere across a distributed landscape.

Key to the new offering is HANA's in-memory technology and data virtualization capabilities, which will provide virtual access to data in multiple sources without moving it, said Hasso Plattner, chairman of the SAP Supervisory Board and one of the company's founders, in a presentation at SapphireNow.

"We don't want to transfer data anymore," he said. "The highest risk we have is when we transfer data."