Campaign for Clear Licensing has IBM and SAP in its sights after Oracle assessment

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.


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Updated The Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL) has called for feedback on IBM and SAP’s software licensing practices, after an open letter was sent to Oracle addressing its concerns.

CloudTech broke the news that IBM and SAP were the next two vendors in the firing line earlier this month. The CCL hopes to present findings and recommendations at a roundtable on February 2.

Potential issues include complexity brought about by changing terms and conditions, forced product bundling, as well as a lack of clarification over licensing terminology and metrics, according to the CCL.

“After Oracle, our members overwhelmingly called out IBM and SAP as the next most prolific auditors and vendors commonly associated with testing vendor-customer relationships,” said Mark Flynn, CCL chief executive. “The issues raised by customers of IBM and SAP are not too dissimilar to those raised with other vendors.

“We will be looking into these issues and any others that our members highlight in the coming months, and hope that by exposing bad practice we can continue to work towards a more harmonious software licensing environment for vendors and customers alike,” he added.

The CCL released its report on Oracle in November, finding the majority of customers have an “arms length, impoverished” relationship with the tech giant. Among the recommendations were to ensure there is only one corporate voice, to invest in a well organised knowledge base, and to provide better business communications.

CCL chairman Martin Thompson insisted that the spotlight had not moved away from Oracle, saying the not-for-profit will continue to work with the Redwood firm as well as scrutinising IBM and SAP.

IBM and SAP both released financial results earlier this month, with both companies looking to shift its core revenue streams away from traditional software and into cloud. IBM hit $7bn of cloud revenue in 2014 but saw net income fall 7% year on year, while SAP’s cloud subscriptions and support went up 45% but at the same time shifting its 2017 operating profit goals to the right.

Anybody looking to send feedback should look here for IBM and here for SAP.

Updated Feb 3: SAP has released a statement to CloudTech: “We are committed to working closely with our customers to ensure that our licensing practices are communicated clearly and that our customers are receiving the best possible guidance from SAP, as well as our partners.

“The Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL) is a third party organisation based in the UK that has no affiliation with SAP. However, we welcome any customer feedback following CCL’s audit and will closely monitor the results to ensure our customers get the guidance they need.”

CloudTech has also contacted IBM, who had not replied at the time of writing.

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