What is ‘Indirect Access’ ?

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According to SAP ‘indirect access’ is a term (beware: a term, not a definition !) for: “SAP data use by an end user or by an application, which is not via SAPGUI” and then SAP points to the System Measurement Guide.

In this System measurement Guide the named user is defined in article 1.2 and there is also a paragraph about indirect use:

Indirect Use
Named users primarily use the SAP software. Users from upstream or interposed technical systems require licenses as named users if they exchange information with the software in dialog or prompt mode, regardless of whether the software is accessed directly or indirectly.

Indirect access means that the user is communicating with a system upstream from the SAP software that transfers communication activities to the SAP software installation or otherwise accesses the SAP software or uses its functions.
In particular, the following are examples of indirect use:
• Users in an upstream system enter or make data available that is transferred to, or interacts with, the SAP software – for example, order entry in a mobile system, or users of a portal to the extent that they use functions of the software.
• Users operate non-SAP software to access data that is read, modified, or stored using SAP software and for which they use SAP programs such as the BAPI® programming interface, remote function calls (RFC), or transaction calls.
Again no strict definitions, but open statements. When you ask your SAP account manager for a definition of indirect use, you certainly will not get a straight forward answer.
So to bring some clarity: named users are – most of the time – warm blooded people but also systems and applications using an account to exchange information between systems via an interface. Both cases of named users require a license.
In case of :
• exchanging information between a user, application or system and a SAP system
• there must be a dialog or prompt mode between the user or application or system and the SAP system
there is “ indirect access” with a SAP system and licenses are required.
However I wonder if you require licenses when you have a webpage on your intranet where employees can submit expenses. This webpage generates an Excel sheet or csv file on the background and saves that in a particular folder on a server. The SAP system accesses this folder on a regular basis, picks up the Excel sheet or csv file and imports the data. This (automated) user is licensed with a Professional User license.
In my opinion in this example this situation cannot be considered as indirect access: the only thing this webpage does is creating an Excel sheet or csv file and it’s not exchanging information, neither by dialog nor prompt mode, with the SAP System. So, again in my opinion, users of this webpage do not require a SAP license. And this is all what this is about for SAP: generating extra licensing money.
I wonder if organizations – when buying SAP licenses – talk about and negotiate licensing when interfacing whit a SAP system.
Re-negotiating a SAP contract is hard unless the organization considers to move to an entirely new SAP system or towards a system of an entirely other brand.
In case the organization is new to SAP demand all information about SAP licensing, negotiate firmly and amend contracts if necessary on subjects like indirect access. When in this situation: “Put your foot down !” In2SAM can help you with that.

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