Categories: Founder's Blog


Sam Bayer


SAP Indirect Access & the Military Industrial Complex

[Updated 11/22/17 – We recently launched our ultimate guide on SAP Indirect Access which can be seen here]


The term “Military Industrial Complex” was popularized by America’s 34th President, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, during his 1961 farewell from office speech .  He warned the American people against “the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”  He went on to say that “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”  For everyone that has been following me since the publication of the Duke Anti-Trust Memorandum, you know why this resonates with me when I consider the ongoing SAP indirect access story.

Eisenhower knew that there was potential for the Military and Industry to enter into an impenetrable self-reinforcing alliance that produces intoxicating short term gains for everyone within the Complex.  Today I’m going to demonstrate how the same economic dynamics are playing out in the SAP ecosystem thanks to SAP’s weaponization of SAP Indirect Access.

The good news is that Eisenhower offered a solution to the abuses of an escalating Military Industrial Complex.  He put the responsibility back on all of us to remain “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” who has to keep the system honest.

That’s us.  You and me.  We’re the alert and knowledgeable citizenry in the SAP ecosystem and we have to keep the system honest.  At the end of this blog post I’ll offer you a way to take action.

By now, it should be a given that the question that SAP faces today is not whether to change their stance on Indirect Access, but how.  They know that suing their own customers isn’t a long term growth strategy, not to mention what it does to new companies considering migrating to the SAP platform.  They know that in the Internet of Things age the thought of light bulbs having to pay Indirect Access charges doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.  The challenge they face is that the “intoxicating short term gains” produced by the weaponization of SAP Indirect Access makes it hard to detox quickly.  I know all of the following to be true because I’ve witnessed, and have had direct conversation with, all parties in this ecosystem:

  • SAP salespeople get to bully clients into buying products that they otherwise wouldn’t have purchased (S/4Hana, hybris, Ariba, Successfactors etc.).  That’s very helpful in meeting shareholder expectations as SAP transitions to the cloud.
  • SAP salespeople get to financially punish (aka extort) their clients for not buying those SAP products.
  • SAP Implementation Partners (Accenture, CAP Gemini) love when SAP forces clients to buy big, transformational, difficult to implement software products.
  • SAP License Auditing Software providers (Snow Software, Aspera) love helping clients prepare for their SAP audits by inventorying their licenses.
  • SAP License Management Service providers (b.lay, Anglepoint) love helping clients organize their negotiations with SAP before and during their annual SAP audit.
  • SAP specializing legal firms (UpperEdge, Clifford Chance) can’t find enough $800/hr lawyers to advise clients about how to avoid/engage legal action with SAP.
  • SAP Industry Analysts (Gartner, Forrester, diginomica) get paid to share knowledge on this topic.  If the topic goes away they have nothing to share and if they go public with their information they have nothing to charge for.
  • SAP focused Associations (America SAP User Group, Australian SAP User Group, ITAMOrg etc.) are all walking a precarious tightrope on this topic.  The world’s third largest software company has a lot to offer these User Groups from both a financial, access and career perspective.  Contentious issues are the bane of their existence.
  • SAP focused Publications and Journalists (SAPInsider) benefit greatly from a growing, vital, advertising spending and content contributing, SAP.  Rarely do you see investigative reporting in the class of Gareth van Zyl ‘s of  South Africa’s BizNews that resulted in SAP’s bribery confession to the US Department of Justice!

So you see, I think the Military Industrial Complex and SAP Indirect Access are brothers of the same mother…greed.

So what’s an alert and concerned citizenry supposed to do?

Tell your story.

Here is one that I heard last week from the CIO of one of America’s largest Distributors who is in the midst of fighting off  SAP’s Indirect Access attacks.  When presented with a multi-million dollar proposal to either purchase (non-value adding) Indirect Access licenses or put all of his suppliers on the Ariba Network, his response to his SAP Account Manager was:

“Do you think this Indirect Access approach to getting me to buy your products is going to work?  I wouldn’t buy lemonade from you!”

Rumor has it that in the coming weeks, SAP is going to convene an Indirect Access Summit in Waldorf.  Let’s make sure your stories are represented.  I’ve created this survey as a starting point in collecting these stories.  It’s critical that SAP, their User Groups, and everyone else in the ecosystem understand how pervasive and noxious…and illegal…the SAP Indirect Access issue really is.

Please pass the link to this survey to any and all SAP clients that have a concern, or have direct experience, with this issue.  I’ll make sure the results get published and that SAP is made aware of them.

Please do your part as a member of an alert and concerned citizenry.  It’s the only way we can avert a nuclear meltdown.




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