NVIDIA, a longtime SAP customer, knows a lot about innovation. Known for its invention of the Graphics Processing Unit, NVIDIA has driven change in fields ranging from gaming and professional visualization to self-driving cars and cloud data centers.

Removing SAP Licensing Uncertainty

After building an IT landscape around its SAP ERP system for more than 20 years, with growing complexities, integration technologies advancements, and lack of automatic measurements of the usage, it became challenging for NVIDIA to keep track of its indirect use. That’s what drove Enterprise Architect Bala Gampa to pursue the SAP Digital Access licensing model. Once he learned of the Digital Access model and the incentives associated with the Digital Access Adoption Program (DAAP), he realized that this new way of licensing the use of SAP applications would resolve this challenge.

ASUG spoke with Bala to find out how the company went through the process of evaluating the pros and cons of remaining with the traditional user-based licensing model versus making a move to digital access.

ASUG: What does your current SAP landscape look like at NVIDIA?

Bala: We are a big SAP customer and we have been using SAP software for more than 20 years. We have SAP ECC along with all the main modules such as APO, BW, GTS, CRM, SRM Portals, PO.

We have also adopted some of the cloud solutions such as SAP Concur and SAP Ariba. In addition, we use SAP BW on HANA, SAP BusinessObjects, and SAP Data Services. We have recently started using the SAP Cloud Platform and SAP Cloud Platform Integration and Delivery.

ASUG: What inspired you to assess whether to move to the SAP Digital Access licensing model?

Bala: Anything to do with indirect licensing is always a challenge. We had no easy way to measure our indirect use. Any time we deal with technology vendors, we need measurability to trust that we are within compliance.

When the SAP Digital Access model came to our attention, we spent time reviewing it. Our reaction was, “This is just what SAP customers need to put all of the confusion about indirect licensing behind them.” Our primary driver to switch to digital access was to get comfortable with the indirect use and its measurement and compliance.

ASUG: How did you plan and conduct your assessment of SAP Digital Access? Who was involved in the project?

Bala: I have been at NVIDIA for the last 17 years. In my first 10 years, I was responsible for all the SAP custom development. Since then, I’ve moved on to an architecture role focused on our SAP systems. In those roles, I became very familiar with all our SAP-related applications, interfaces, integrations, and capabilities. I was in a good position to have a deep understanding of our licensing. I was already the SAP licensing point of contact here at NVIDIA.

ASUG: You were the walking history book of NVIDIA’s SAP development and systems, then. It’s helpful when SAP customers have someone like you because often that knowledge is lost when employees move on or retire.

Bala: This did help a lot with our journey. We didn’t need a big team to work through this. It was just me working with our procurement, SAP Business Applications (BSA) and SAP operations management teams (BASIS).

ASUG: Which resources helped you understand the SAP Digital Access model and the Digital Access adoption program (DAAP)?

Bala: I studied the DAAP in detail. Once I understood it to the best of my knowledge, I have presented it to our managements responsible for SAP and procurement. When I received the management team’s OK, I engaged our account executive to answer our questions. Our account executive pulled in the global licensing audit and compliance (GLAC) team at SAP to work with me. We began working with the GLAC team, so we had subject-matter experts on both sides. Our colleagues at SAP were helpful in clarifying any and all of our questions.

ASUG: Did you use any of the tools SAP provided, such as SAP passport or the estimation note to determine your document counts? Or did you rely on the GLAC team to help you count these?

Bala: I used the SAP estimation note and ran the SAP program. Then I got in touch with the GLAC to review the results and align with the GLAC on the final documents count from the report and our explanation of each of the line items and needed adjustments thereby. This required understanding of the DAAP program aspects such as concessions factor for finance and material movement documents. This was a quick exercise. On a side note, though, this program requires future enhancements relating to the concession factor and to avoid double counting documents in a document flow. I am hoping SAP will soon make those refinements if not already done so. Nevertheless, it is greatly useful in its current state.

ASUG: Once you received your document count, how did you ultimately decide to adopt the new model?

Bala: The most important thing that the new model provides is transparency and avoids the ambiguity in our SAP licensing. Compliance, measurement, and transparency are the three key factors that drove NVIDIA to take advantage of the DAAP.

As we adopted the digital access model, our account executive highlighted other current SAP licensing programs, including on-premise and cloud extension, which helped streamline our maintenance and partially fund other solutions we wished to purchase. In restructuring our agreements with SAP, there was a long negotiation and back-and-forth process because they’ve been in place for years. It meant we had to review everything we had in place at that time. Fortunately, we knew what our shelfware was, so we did not need to run another exercise to identify that. We could mold that into this whole new deal.

ASUG: Do you have any plans or policies in place to manage your contracts and entitlements as your use evolves when you take on more projects and innovations?

Bala: It’s best practice to remain aware of your licensing as you implement new projects and make new deals.

As far as digital access is concerned, we have set a policy for ourselves to periodically measure our document use and review it with our management team. We have added a significant and sufficient buffer, so that we don’t have to measure these documents every month, for example. We established a three-to-five-year plan based on our current usage and known growth.

ASUG: How are you planning to manage your future costs? It sounds like your policy of reviewing your use on a regular cadence will help you keep an eye on it.

Bala: For our business, the document creation is not so dynamically different to go beyond our buffer. It does not change by millions of documents without us expecting it in advance. For example, when NVIDIA acquires a company, we have processes in place that make us aware that we acquired a company that will add certain documents count. Otherwise, our use is relatively stable. We have a good handle on it.

ASUG: What would you say to other SAP customers who are considering a move to the SAP Digital Access model?

Bala: I would tell them this is the right solution for all those that are in dilemma about indirect use licenses. The value of the Digital Access program is better optimization of your SAP license entitlements, user licenses, transparency, measurability, compliance, and gives you peace of mind. SAP customers should consider a move to this model to avoid uncertainty, reduce risk, remove ambiguity, and measure indirect use of their SAP applications.

ASUG: Bala, thank you for sharing your SAP licensing experience with us.

Visit our SAP licensing insights for in-depth coverage of this topic. You can also visit the SAP Digital Access microsite for details.