What exactly is SAP CAL
In order to fully understand SAP CAL, it is important to clarify what Instance and Appliance are.
In the SAP help page, it is stated that:
“An SAP instance defines a group of resources such as memory, work processes and so on, usually in support of a single application server or database server within a client/server environment. Application servers share the same memory areas and are controlled by the same dispatcher process.”
For non-technical people, an instance is any of the different entries you see in the SAP Logon. This means the production environment is one instance, the quality environment another one, and so on.
The concept appliance is a little bit different. An appliance is like a template. This can be applied in the creation of an Instance. It is a prepared environment that you can simply take and copy to your server to start working. It is like when you copy a pre-defined template for a Power Point presentation and start creating your presentation from there. Doing it that way is much quicker than having to design everything from scratch, isn’t it?
When you activate an instance in SAP CAL, what you are doing is mirroring the appliance chosen from the library. An expert could take on average between 2 and 3 days to install an S/4HANA instance from scratch without any configuration and data. Using SAP CAL, the instance can be ready in less than one hour. Additionally, it can include configuration and data. The ones including everything are called Fully Activated Appliances.
Cloud Appliance Library
SAP Cloud Appliance Library is a repository of appliances for different on-premise products. It is a way to easily get access to an instance. You will find products in the library such as different versions of SAP S/4HANA, SAP Business One, SAP BW/4HANA among others. It is perfect if you want to explore any of the products available in the list and you do not have access to a system.
The limitation is that you would need an account in a cloud Hyperscaler to be able to use this cloud service. Currently, it is not possible to activate the instance directly on your own computer using SAP CAL. But to be fair, the installation of a Fully Activated Appliance of S/4HANA 2020 occupies 869 GB, it would be a little bit too much to run it in a normal laptop.
Costs in detail
When you visit SAP CAL and simulate the cost for SAP S/4HANA 2020 installed on Google Cloud Platform in zone Europe-west4, you see the following prices:
Image 1: Screenshot of costs in SAP CAL
The first time I saw those prices, I was not able to fully understand them. I think they can be a little bit misleading. I will explain here how they work for the specific appliance shown in the image. In the video, you can find a step by step simulation for two different scenarios.
An instance can have three different statuses:
- Active is when the cloud server is up and running. As presented in the image above, the price when active refers to the price when the server is in this status.
- Suspended is when the cloud server is off. It would be the equivalent of shutting down your computer, the next time you reboot, your data will still be there. That has a cost in the cloud because you are using resources to store your data. The fee of 100.43 USD is per month. If we consider that a month is 30 days and a day has 24 hours, that rate could be translated to 0.14 USD/h.
- Terminated is the equivalent of not having any instance. It is like if you get rid of your computer. You will not be consuming any service in the Hyperscaler so the price will be zero.
When you explore the Library in SAP CAL, you will see tags in the appliances such as TRIAL, EDU, DEV or MC.
- TRIAL is an appliance that can be tested for free for 30 days. Once the trial has been consumed, you can continue using the instance paying a SAP CAL subscription. This option is only possible if you have an SAP License for the product.
- DEV is an appliance that can be used for development purposes only. These appliances don’t have an expiration date in SAP CAL, but you still need a Hyperscaler to use the service.
- EDU is an appliance to be used only for educational purposes. It cannot be extended after the trial period. This is mainly used in opensap courses. You would need to read the terms and conditions for the appliance you would like to activate but usually the trial period is 90 days.
You can find more information about the tags in this post in the SAP community.
Once the trial period has been consumed, the instance is set to status “locked” and you cannot access it anymore unless you have a SAP CAL subscription. My piece of advice is that you schedule an automatic termination of the instance before the trial period ends, otherwise you run the risk of not being able to terminate it. I tried to terminate my S/4HANA instance directly from Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and didn’t work, GCP told me that I cannot end a Virtual Machine of more than 120GB directly from there. So, I had to do it from SAP CAL.
The good thing is that only the appliance you used gets locked, the others are still available after the trial period of an instance has been consumed. If you look for S/4HANA Fully Activated Appliances, you will find 8 different versions. If your only purpose is just exploring to get familiar with S/4HANA, it might be better if you start exploring older versions of the product and then move to newer while they are getting locked. Only the ones that have the status “Available” can be activated.
Image 2: Screenshot of statuses in SAP CAL
If you visit this webpage, you will see the monthly price for an instance in your local currency. Currently, despite a monthly fee being presented, you need to hire a minimum period of three months.
For the appliances with the tag TRIAL, SAP creates 30-day free licenses. They will never expire before your trial period of SAP CAL so, no need to pay for any license. Only in case you want continue using your instance after the trial period, you will have to bring your own SAP product license.
In case you are just like me, an SAP consultant who wants to explore different SAP products with the purpose of self-learning, then you will never have to worry for those topics, they will always be out of your budget.
Before completing this post, I would like to give you my personal tips.
- Start using older versions of the product you want to explore and move to higher versions after the appliance is locked. That way, you will have several free months of SAP CAL for that specific product. Currently you can get 8 months for S/4HANA Fully Activated Appliance.
- If you have more than one e-mail account, use them to create a new account in SAP CAL. You will be able to use the same appliance more than once. Use them also to create different accounts in the Hyperscaler to get more free credit.
- Schedule the automatic suspension and termination of the instance to avoid unexpected costs in case you forget to do it manually.
- Always check the consumption in the Hyperscaler one or two days after terminating an instance. If you observe that the price is still moving up, check what service is still active. In my case, in Google Cloud Platform, I had that issue with the service for keeping a fixed IP.
- If you don’t know what to test in an S/4HANA instance, I recommend you to activate a Fully Activated Appliance and have a look to this post from the SAP community. You will find the links to different guidelines depending on the version you want to test. In those files, you will find examples to follow.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post. Feel free to leave a comment sharing your experience with SAP CAL if you already try it. I would really like to know about it.