SAP extends support and maintenance on R/3 4.6c

With many customers still on older releases, SAP announced it would extend the timeline for support and maintenance, allowing customers more time to move to ECC 6.0.

Customers on SAP R/3 4.6c releases will now be supported through March of 2013, a release originally scheduled to go out of support at the end of this year, SAP said today.

Extended maintenance and support for R/3 4.6c was scheduled to run out on December 31, at which point customers would have needed to either upgrade to ECC 6.0 or get limited customer-specific support.

The move gives the nearly 15% of its customers still on R/3 4.6c more time to upgrade, SAP said Tuesday. A little more than half of its customers have upgraded to ECC 6.0, the latest release.

“With the previously planned expiration date for extended maintenance looming and the economy, while improving in some markets, remaining difficult overall, SAP believes it is fair and reasonable to extend the deadline with a small price increase,” SAP said in a written statement. “This modification to our maintenance strategy is designed to provide more flexibility to customers’ upgrade timelines and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to our customers’ success.”

R/3 4.6c customers on Enterprise Support, SAP’s enhanced but pricier support and maintenance structure, haven’t been paying fees for extended support and maintenance this year. Customers on Standard Support have been paying 4%, on top of the 18% of net licensing fees, for extended support.

With the timeline increase, prices changes are as follows:

•         SAP Enterprise Support customers: Extended maintenance for SAP R/3 4.6c is included in SAP Enterprise Support services.

•         SAP Standard Support customers: Extended maintenance for SAP R/3 4.6C at an additional fee of 6% per year, up from 4%.

With this change, support for all older releases -- 4.7 and ERP 2004 -- will end in March, 2013. All SAP software releases go through a seven year cycle of mainstream maintenance, at list price, followed by a two year period of extended maintenance at an increased list price.  

SAP’s rollout of its enhanced, but costlier, support and maintenance offering has been surrounded by controversy. In 2008, SAP ditched its lower-cost support offering, at 17% of net licensing fees, and announced that all customers would be moved to Enterprise Support at 22% of net licensing fees. After an outcry from its customers, SAP worked with SUGEN to start a benchmarking program. Enterprise Support costs would increase on a graduated timeline only if certain KPIs were met to the satisfaction of a designated group of customers using the new support offering.

It’s since altered that plan, and has reintroduced a tiered maintenance and support structure. Now, it’s working with a Customer Advisory Council to help customers get the most for their money out of Enterprise Support.

SUGEN praised the move, attributing it to the work with the recently-formed Customer Advisory Council, a group of customers working with SAP on communicating and tweaking its Enterprise Support program.

"Without this extension, all 4.6C customers world have required customer specific maintenance from 2011," said Alan Bowling, chairman UK & Ireland SAP User Group.

SAP said their support offerings provide customers with one of the longest timelines on the market.

“This extension demonstrates that we are committed to support their mission-critical applications and further will allow customers to plan and execute on upgrading to SAP ERP 6.0, from which they’ll benefit from new innovations for their respective businesses,” SAP said.

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