Still have a single CPU licence for reports?

This is the first in a series of posts about licence compliance. It’s always difficult to get independent advice on licensing, so I’m attempting to highlight some potential pitfalls. Given the complexities and potential liabilities, you should always refer to your own licences. I’ve been trying to source some useful guidelines from SAP without success.

First of all, CPU licences are no longer available through channel sales (resellers). Nor are they available through the normal Partner program. I’m sure they’d be available as part of a direct sale, but they’re able to do anything if the customer is big enough.

If you have a CPU licence, the chances are that you bought it some time ago (Crystal Enterprise 9 or 10). They were popular years ago as they allowed an unlimited number of users on a single server provided it only had a single CPU. Rough price was £100k with annual maintenance of £20k.

The problem is the definition of a single CPU – it’s not just having a single socket on the motherboard any more! I have 2 PCs on my desk. Both are single processor. One has 4 CPU cores, the other 6 (AMD like to do things differently). Take a guess at how many CPU licences I need for each.

Did you get 3 and 4 respectively? I didn’t think so. To calculate the number of CPU licences, you count 1 for the first core, then 0.5 for each of the other cores. Then round up.

What causes the licence problem then? You have your old server running with a single old CPU with just one core. You’ve migrated to a new server which now has a CPU with 8 cores. As you’re not a licensing expert, you have no idea you’ve done something wrong.

You may have even virtualised the server and left it running on just one CPU. Wrong – your old licence didn’t include virtualisation rights.

Next step is you decide to upgrade to a new release. Requesting a new CPU key on the SAP Portal will potentially trigger a licence audit. You’re not aware of having done anything wrong, so you just return the information requested. You even confirm that you’ve been using the 8 Core server for the last 3 years.

Next, you’re notified of a potential bill for £400k for licences, £240k for 3 years of maintenance plus a percentage penalty on top. In negotiating terms, this is called ‘anchoring’. It’s a scary big figure that ensures you’ll feel grateful for whatever the final settlement is. Chances are that you’ll settle on a change in licence type, but it’s not going to be cheap.

I have a CPU licence what should I do?

Since originally writing this advice, I’ve been warned by SAP that the licence term specifies that your first action must be to contact them, not any 3rd party. This makes it more important than ever that you have an understanding of the licences.

Get compliant is the easy answer, there are different routes though. First, don’t contact SAP or any of the large partners. You’ll soon be in audit hell.

If you have a CPU licence, are curently compliant, but needing to move to a new server, it will probably be cheaper to drop the old server and start afresh with new licences. Depending upon the report types you use (Crystal Reports, WebI etc), you may be able to manage with the 50 Concurrent/100 Named user limits of Crystal Server or SAP BI Edge. If you need more users than that, you need the bigger SAP Business Objects Enterprise.

Alternatively, dust off the old single CPU server and migrate back to it. It’s easier to discuss your licence options if you’re currently compliant.

Want to discuss further? You’ll need to phone, not email.

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