SAP has laid out a set of pricing and policies for tying together its array of cloud-based and on-premises applications, providing some options at no charge, but others that will cost customers additional money.
Application integration is a crucial question for SAP and its customers, particularly given the vigor with which the company has advocated for hybrid deployments that retain users' large investments in on-premises ERP (enterprise resource planning) and HCM (human capital management) software while adding new capabilities from the cloud.
A new cloud-based integration service is now available only as an additional option for SAP's Customer OnDemand application, but will be added to others, including Travel OnDemand and BizX Talent Management, the latter of which was gained through the acquisition of SuccessFactors, according to an internal SAP presentation which was given earlier this month.
Right now, SAP charges 7.5 percent of a Customer OnDemand subscription for the new cloud integration option, with a minimum pricing "floor" of ¬2000 per month, according to a presentation slide. Pricing for adding it to other cloud apps is expected to take a similar approach.
The cloud integration service will be offered in stand-alone form in the second half of next year, according to the presentation.
SAP customers who have already invested in an on-premises NetWeaver Process Integration platform can use it instead of the new service, and won't be charged extra on top of their PI license. SAP is planning to release prebuilt integration mappings through its service marketplace for these customers.
SAP has also created a certification program for third-party data integration platforms such as IBM's Cast Iron and Mulesoft, for customers who want to interface SAP's cloud applications with non-SAP systems, according to the presentation.
In addition, customers who have standardized on non-SAP middleware can use it to build out integrations for SAP cloud applications, but this will take more time and cost additional money compared to prepackaged integrations, the presentation added.
Right now, SuccessFactors Employee Central is bundled with integration capabilities from Dell's Boomi software, and customers using the combination will be supported "for the terms of their subscription," according to a slide shown during the presentation.
In addition, "Boomi should not be explicitly positioned for any other SAP integration scenarios," as SAP will be building them out with PI and the new cloud integration service, a slide presentation stated.
One observer expressed a mixed opinion of SAP's integration plans.
"It's reasonable for SAP to charge for their integration platforms when it comes to SAP integrating with third-party vendors, or if customers require a tool to handle unique business requirements," said Jarret Pazahanick, a veteran SAP HCM consultant and member of the vendor's Mentor program for especially involved community members.
But it's not fair for SAP to charge more money for the new cloud integration between SAP HCM and SuccessFactors, Pazahanick said. "Customers have every reason to expect SAP to build, be responsible and provide robust two-way integration for no additional costs especially since they are heavily pushing the hybrid approach."
Apart from using PI at no additional charge, customers can take advantage of a flat-file integration process for no additional fee. But this second option is inferior to the capabilities provided by the cloud integration offering, in Pazahanick's view.
"SAP has talked for years how integration was in their DNA and what a key competitive advantage it was for SAP customers, which was obviously easier when they were building organically versus acquisitions," he added. "The bottom line is, I believe the onus is on SAP to deliver value for their customers and offering a one-way CSV file load from SAP HCM to SuccessFactors doesn't cut it."
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com