SAP: Can licensing keep pace with IoT innovation?

Core principles vs customer blueprints

However, the User Group's chairman, Adams, thinks customers would prefer a set of "core principles" governing usage, rather than blueprints defining different types of customers.

"There's so many different scenarios and you can't define them all," he said. "Products will change, customers' situations will change, but if 10 or 15 core principles were there it should be loose enough to provide the background to something, you could take the principles and apply the particulars."

Bond, head of ICT at Hillarys, agrees. "The old rules have moved and we haven't yet worked out what the new rules are. Whatever new incarnation they come up with, it will work for someone and not another," he said.

What counts as fair?

Both customers and SAP want to come up with pricing models that are a fair reflection of SAP's IP, and of customers' use of that IP.

The complicated question is whether they can come up with a method of pricing that both parties are satisfied with.

Customers want a set of guaranteed principles governing pricing as base level guidance, so they can adopt a tool with confidence that it will not result in a punitive audit down the line.

SAP, though, must account for a wide variety of different usages among its extensive customer base, hence its desire to come up with customer blueprints.

The vendor is already holding some discussions with customers over licensing; now customers want SAP to be more transparent about licensing roadmaps, too.

Bond believes Zeine is a catalyst for this kind of change, but that this open approach goes against the grain of SAP's usual behaviour.

"Hala is absolutely trying to do some of that, but she's the only person in 10 years that I've ever found," he said.

Zeine clearly grasps the nature of the problem, telling IT Pro: "What happens over time, because this area [of the IoT] is moving so quickly, [is] you have areas that are licensed separately and the question is how do you make it in a way that is more meaningful for customers?"

That's SAP's challenge as it tries to bring its customers along with it into the world of connected devices.