The Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG) this week held the first in a series of Web seminars on SAP's enterprise-level support service, which recently became mandatory for all customers, leading to cost increases over time for many.
SAP's move prompted some outrage from user group leaders and customers, with a common refrain being whether mid-sized companies with less complicated environments needed the additional support.
The enterprise support offering will replace the standard and premium support options. Customers at those support levels will start seeing some enterprise support benefits now but no price increases until Jan. 1. SAP will phase in the additional costs gradually until 2012, eventually reaching the enterprise support level of 22 percent of maintenance base, compared to 17 percent for standard support.
SAP has contended that customer environments are becoming increasingly complex, and the service's additional benefits could provide efficiencies and cost savings.
The Webcast series appears to be an attempt to provide some specifics to back up that assertion.
The initial seminar, held Tuesday, was hosted by an SAP marketing official and provided an overview of the enterprise support offering, focusing on how it can aid "innovation and protection of investment in SAP," according to an ASUG statement.
The next one is scheduled for Sept. 24 and will discuss enterprise support features such as continuous quality checks and around-the-clock root cause analysis. Additional sessions are scheduled for Oct. 16 and Nov. 12.
ASUG representatives could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
One industry observer said the Webcasts represent a natural progression of the debate over SAP's move.
"There's definitely a broad consensus among our clients that there may need to be some concessions on SAP's piece, but it's also important to understand what value they may receive. That's a fair discussion," said Forrester Research analyst Ray Wang.
Marc Songini, an analyst with Nucleus Research, said he has heard mixed reactions from users toward enterprise support: "Some are definitely not enthused about a forced march and not thrilled about the level of service they're already getting. The flip side is some customers don't mind this hike because they're going to get every penny out of it."
Meanwhile, SAP customers are weighing the prospect of third-party support from providers such as Rimini Street, which is preparing to launch such a service next year.