SAP is now offering its MaxAttention support service to companies with software that was designed and built by SAP's custom development organisation, in a move that caters to customers with complicated environments and also stands to capture additional, lucrative maintenance revenue.

Custom-built SAP installations "are often mission-critical and complex, addressing unique and competitive business needs for customers," SAP said.

By adding MaxAttention, customers can "call in experts on demand and engage the on-call duty support at critical times, such as a new software go-live or an application upgrade," it added.

Other MaxAttention features include volume testing and performance optimisation. MaxAttention is meant to be used in conjunction with SAP's Enterprise Support service, for which customers pay an annual fee that's calculated based on their software licences.

SAP and other vendors are facing various pressures on their maintenance revenue streams, as customers look at third-party services and seek to "park" unused licences in order to stop paying maintenance on them.

Some large customers are reportedly even asking for discounts on maintenance, although SAP recently denied it has any official policy allowing such a thing.

SAP has also argued that services such as Enterprise Support and MaxAttention allow customers to save on their total costs of ownership by driving out inefficiencies and improving system performance.

It's not clear how eager customers running custom SAP applications will be to adopt MaxAttention, though.

"I've mostly heard good things about MaxAttention except that it's expensive as all get out," said Jon Reed, an independent analyst who closely tracks SAP.

Pricing information for MaxAttention wasn't immediately available. Enterprise Support is charged at 22% of software licence fees.

However, "last I heard you could negotiate MaxAttention contracts so there may be some wiggle room for savvy customers to get," Reed said.

But there are other matters to consider regarding SAP's announcement, according to Reed.

"I hope SAP is not only rolling out premium support for custom code but educating customers that custom code is not best practice in ERP now," he said. Instead, standard code plus add-on applications, including ones delivered from the cloud, is the better way to go, according to Reed.

Still, "it's good to see SAP supporting customers who have custom-coded their environments," Reed added. "If you're going to take the risk to do heavy customisations, getting a proper level of support does make sense."