Brightwork Indirect Access Alliance

What This Article Covers

  • Membership in the BIAA
  • How Software Vendors Struggle with Indirect Access
  • How SAP Customers Struggle with Indirect Access
  • The BIAA Primary Objective: Improved Clarity on Indirect Access
  • The Objectivity in Indirect Access?
  • The Standard IT Media Indirect Access Media Output
  • Media Case Study: SAPPHIRE 2017 Announcement
  • The Benefits of Membership in the BIAA
  • Supporting Future Indirect Access Media Output
  • Information Sharing and Resources
  • SAM Software Knowledge Support
  • Anonymity of Member Vendors
  • A Simple Quarterly Membership
  • How Membership Fees are Determined


  • Indirect access claims have been brought with more frequency by SAP against customers than is generally known.
  • Actual indirect access claims by SAP, as well as the threat of such claims, have the effect of blocking out other vendors from deals that in many cases they rightfully won.
  • Indirect access claims can be brought for any system when integrated to an SAP system. This is why the discussion around “what connection to an SAP system is indirect access?” is not helpful.
  • Indirect access is problematic because SAP has changed the definition of indirect access to be essentially any system being connected to SAP, as is covered in the article Type 1 Versus Type 2 Indirect Access.
  • Indirect access forms an anti-competitive barrier to other vendors. This is one of the reasons that SAP is so secretive about IA and obscures in its language how IA claims are determined.

How Software Vendors Struggle with Indirect Access

With indirect access (IA), as with other things, competing with SAP is simply quite different than competing with most other vendors, and how vendors can react to this is to a great degree dependent upon their size.

  • Larger Vendors: Even the largest vendors frequently lack access to information as to how SAP actually operates. Many have competitive intelligence groups, but there is a limited ability of such groups to deal with an issue like indirect access as it requires obtaining data points that are cross vendor and cross application category.
  • Smaller Vendors: Smaller vendors, often don’t have anyone tracking SAP, and SAP is so complex, with so many “ins and outs” that tracking SAP is a full-time job, and requires experience with SAP and long term focus in order to make sense of.

In both large vendors and small vendors, however, it is quite common to hear things from these vendors that they assume to be true about SAP, but are in fact not true. In this way, SAP marketing concepts are used not only against SAP’s customers but against their competition. We work in and analyze SAP for a living, and can’t find an equal to SAP when it comes to providing inaccurate information about their applications. This causes losses on other software vendors.

Now, while it is quite rare to find a software vendor that is incapable in explaining its value proposition or performing quality demos to prospects, in our estimation, the number of software vendors that understand how SAP operates, the reality of their applications, and their licensing and other important elements for competing against SAP is actually quite small.

The Problem: This leaves vendors at a distinct disadvantage generally, but even more so when trying to react to something like indirect access. Indirect access is kept quite secretive by SAP, and their public statements about indirect access are more designed to obscure what they are doing with IA than illuminating.

How Customers Struggle with Indirect Access

Virtually any connection to SAP is indirect access. SAP has obscured this issue through confusing language, but that is the bottom line. Secondly, every time SAP releases a new “clarification” of indirect access it seems it takes that opportunity to make more things indirect access. The upshot is that SAP customers are paying in a major way and having their IT spent held hostage by what SAP wants. And the number of course of information on this topic that are not in some way connected by a payment or allegiance to SAP is extremely small. SAP develops and refines its indirect access globally, and is able to fine tune them and spring indirect access claims on customers at will.

The Problem: Customers do not have the overview of what is happening in indirect access and find it very difficult to access non pro-SAP sources of information on the topic. This means that customers often go into negotiations with SAP with bad information. Some customers even rely upon entities that have specific allegiance to SAP, such as ASUG to serve as “impartial intermediaries.”

The BIAA Objective: Improved Clarity on Indirect Access

Clarity on indirect access is difficult to find anywhere, and SAP is deliberately secretive and opaque on this topic. Most of SAP’s direct statements on indirect access are confusing and not representative of SAP’s policy. SAP employs surrogates, like ASUG (the SAP user group) that disseminate in published form, and in oral explanations at ASUG conferences, information that SAP would like communicated.

This topic is covered in the article Is ASUG Lying About the Frequency of SAP Indirect Access? 

What vendors would like to achieve is clear guidance from SAP on how indirect licenses work with examples of how and when they would and wouldn’t apply. SAP is deliberately vague on the topic so no customer knows what their exposure actually is. Under SAP’s definition virtually any system connected to SAP is indirect access. Yet indirect access fees are sometimes applied and sometimes not. Without that clarity, customers are always at the mercy of SAP threatening the customer and there is nothing the vendor can do to reassure them that they are not at risk. This allows SAP to suggest in individual situations there might be an issue and this is often enough to frighten the customer and influence their purchasing decision. The BIAA’s primary objective is to bring clarity and transparency by SAP to indirect license fees and when they are due.

Where is The Objectivity on Indirect Access?

Most IT media has supported SAP’s view of indirect access, and in effect by taking their assumptions as true have normalized SAP’s version of indirect access. For example, a commonly presented view on SAP’s perspective on indirect access in coverage on the topic does not differentiate between Type 1 and Type 2 indirect access (see how we explained the distinction). However, it is critical to acknowledge this difference, yet more articles on indirect access don’t. SAP vendors should know that the deck is stacked against them on this topic, so when the issue is surfaced at the time of SAP’s choosing, SAP comes with the media advantage.

That is how a policy can be developed that is completely ridiculous but supported by media entities that rely upon SAP for funding.

The Standard IT Indirect Access Media Output

What is the problem with the standard IT media output on indirect access? The standard IT media have done an atrocious job of covering this topic with any semblance of objectivity.

Membership in the BIAA allows for the support of media efforts to bring to light truths about indirect access that the normal IT media outlets will not publish. Most media entities either have not invested the time to actually understand indirect access as applied by SAP or due to financial conflicts of interest propose that SAP’s activities with indirect access have validity and or are perfectly “within bounds.”

Media Case Study: SAPPHIRE 2017 IA Announcement

In 2017 at SAPPHIRE (which is SAP’s major yearly conference), SAP released inaccurate information regarding indirect access that was specifically designed to have customers lower their guard on this topic.

  • Brightwork Research & Analysis contradicted the information in this announcement in detail as is covered in the article How to Best Understand SAP’s Faux Policy Announcement at SAPPHIRE. 
  • The only other two entities that we could find that wrote similar articles regarding the announcement were UpperEdge and DSAG (the German speaking SAP user group). However, the other entities that wrote puff pieces on the announcement which covered it the way SAP wanted it covered, have a far larger readership than UpperEdge, DSAG & Brightwork combined.
  • This means that most SAP customers probably took the SAP announcement the way SAP intended. The media content that we will continue to publish will be shareable with prospects that face the threat of or a real indirect access claim.

Benefits of Membership in the BIAA

The benefits of membership are specifically designed around the needs of software vendors that compete with SAP.

Supporting the BIAA’s Future Indirect Access Media Output

Our future indirect access media output can be enhanced through vendor’s membership. Not only the factoring into the quantity of our output but our ability to engage in other skills related to media distribution, social sharing, etc.. that help to promote the content to a wider audience. Unlike almost all other media outlets, we publish information that exposes indirect access for what it is. Information that SAP does not want out in the minds of SAP customers. SAP is banking on having a compliant media that obscures indirect access making it as opaque and as supportive of SAP as possible. A counterbalance is required. We have the expertise in this area and the media footprint to be that counterbalance.

Information Sharing

Vendors tend to not only be fighting SAP indirect access independently of the other vendors but in many of the larger vendors, frequently sales people in one area don’t know what is going on in other areas of the company. This is not true at every vendor, but it is true at many vendors. This lack of coordination reduces the vendor’s ability to effectively fight back. Furthermore, salespeople do not have the research background, sufficient cross-client and cross software category indirect access exposure or the time or interest to become experts in indirect access.

Nor should they have to.

Membership in the BIAA means access to experience in indirect access across multiple vendors which can be leveraged by sales teams when facing an indirect access threat or an indirect access claim.

The Beneficial Outcome: There is a reciprocal process at play. The more involvement BIAA has in indirect access claims, the more that information is shared with other vendors.

SAM Software & Other Knowledge Support

Part of getting your customer or prospect in better negotiation footing is using a software asset management application. This is the software category called SAM, and it is the software category that SAP wishes their customers did not know about.

Furthermore, SAM applications cannot determine the usage of all of SAP’s applications. This is because many of SAP’s applications are acquired. Examples of this include Sybase, Hybris and Business Objects. For those products, we can provide contacts to entities that know how to determine usage information for these “non-core” SAP applications.

Beneficial Outcome: When you join we provide you with information within the context of SAM vendors on which we provide independent information. Several SAM vendors are part of the BIAA.

Anonymity of Member Vendors

SAP could retaliate against vendors that publish information that questions indirect access or anything else SAP proposes. Many of the vendors that need the information about indirect access to get out are part of SAP’s partnership program. It is the condition that vendors be able to receive SAP’s approval through being a “certified solution” that in great part created the need for software vendors that compete with SAP to enter into partnership agreements to be able to have partnership graphics placed on their websites and in their presentation materials. But partnership agreements with SAP limit how the software vendor can write about SAP or how they position their software versus SAP’s software. SAP expects its partner vendors to accept any and all of SAP’s indirect access claims and to recognize that SAP is in control and determines when they want to use indirect access to block a partner vendor out.

For this reason, the funding and membership in the BIAA is to be kept anonymous. Vendors accumulate information about exposures to indirect access. Yet due to the concern over retaliation on the part of SAP, they can’t get this information out themselves.

Beneficial Outcome: Vendors that participate, share information, support publication of accurate information on indirect access without concern for identification as a supporter of the BIAA.

Membership Fees

The fees for membership are based upon revenues for the following reasons:

  • Vendor Size and Subscription Cost: The larger the vendor (other things being equal) the more the vendor stands to gain from being part of the membership.
  • Vendors Size and Consumption of BIAA Resources & Time: The larger the vendor, the more time is consumed on the part of the BIAA staff in answering queries, supporting indirect access claims and otherwise providing services. And of course the greater the ability to fund the BIAA.

Due to the differing sizes of software vendors, it is not feasible to develop a schedule that accounts for each vendor is fair to both the vendor and to us. For this reason, we price based on an interaction you based upon the factors listed above.

The Beneficial Outcome: The membership fee is customized to the vendor to allow it to be recoverable several times over through improving the likelihood of not losing deals that have already been won.

Next Steps After Obtaining a Membership from Us

The BIAA is not a passive membership entity. Being a member of BIAA puts resources at your fingertips for IA and related SAP intel. We see vendors miss out on opportunities because they too often accept the statements provided to customers because they are not able to fact check them. Vendors lose out on indirect access because they are not actively tracking indirect access claims and their outcomes. Why try to do this yourself, when that is what we can do, combining the experiences of many vendors.

Upon membership, the following steps occur:

  1. Introductory Conference Call: Introduction to the resources that BIAA has to offer, including articles, research areas covered, contacts, etc.. That takes place over a web conference.
  2. Communication of BIAA Contact Details to Your Team: Here the member sends out an internal communication within your company with BIAA contacts and explanation to appropriate internal parties related to BIAA. At that point, we can be the contact for SAP questions for your salespeople.
  3. Dealing with Urgent Issues: If you have a pressing indirect access challenge you are facing, you can begin using BIAA resources as soon as your membership application is accepted.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about BIAA, reach out to us at [email protected].

A Sampling of Brightwork Indirect Access Articles

The Danger of Underestimating Indirect Access

How to Best Understand SAP’s Faux Change on Indirect Access

Taking a MultiDimensional Approach to SAP Indirect Access

Indirect Access and Abusive Relationship

Indirect Access Research Announcement

JNC and Indirect Access

Type 1 Versus Type 2 Indirect Access

ASUG and Indirect Access Coverage

A Legal Framework for Fighting SAP Indirect Access

How SAP is Strip Mining its Customers

The HANA Police and Indirect Access

Hidden Indirect Access Issues with SAP HANA

Surprise SAP License Charges