​Ready or not SAP S/4HANA Cloud is here

By Peter Gergely, Solution Architect on

The debut of SAP S/4HANA, almost three years ago, laid the groundwork for SAP’s embrace of a new generation of digital technologies.

By now, most SAP customers and organisations actively looking to purchase a new ERP system will have heard of it, but confusion still exists around the options available and the best migration path.

SAP S/4HANA - what are your options?

The key thing to keep in mind is that there are two SAP S/4HANA options available. Which one customers choose depends on the investments made in their current SAP system and the objectives they wish to reach in the future.

Customers can install SAP S/4HANA on premise (or hosted in the cloud, on Amazon, for instance), or they can select SAP S/4HANA Cloud – SAP’s public cloud version of the solution.

SAP Cloud Platform

Choosing the former allows customers to have S/4HANA configured however they want it, but S/4HANA Cloud is a turnkey solution. It comes preconfigured with SAP best practices, and with extensibility rather than customisation tools.

This is a conscious decision by SAP. Instead of customising processes in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, it wants organisations to extend their solution using its cloud development platform (SAP Cloud Platform). This is where customers can develop value-added, custom apps using SAP Leonardo, a suite of new technologies such as big data, analytics, IoT, machine learning and AI. SAP S/4HANA Cloud comes pre-configured.

Customers who need unique, leading edge functionality that offers real competitive advantage are being encouraged to do that on SAP’s Cloud Platform – an open platform-as-a-service offering, which provides unique in-memory databases and business application services.

So which way should a customer currently using SAP ECC move?

There is limited future in continuing to do customisations on the ECC platform as they won’t be future proofed.

Retaining the ECC back end and developing custom apps using the Cloud Platform is also risky because there will be significant migration requirements once the customer moves to S/4HANA on premise or S/4HANA Cloud due to different data models and APIs.

ECC to SAP S/4HANA

A good path to follow is upgrading ECC to SAP S/4HANA, in the first instance. This gives customers much more flexibility and broader scope of functionality than the public cloud version of the product. Any processes created in ECC can be recreated in S/4HANA, but will be done using the latest technologies and new data models.

In this way, any extensions undertaken on the cloud platform will integrate easily with the customer’s core, up-to-date system, now and into the future.

Jumping directly to S/4HANA Cloud from ECC is unlikely to be the best path for customers who have a mature, on-premise solution with sophisticated processes at this point. While the public cloud offering is expanding rapidly it is still relatively new and it is unlikely that those processes could be replicated or replaced by standard S/4HANA Cloud functionality.

But watch this space, the Cloud is expanding rapidly with new technology coming on stream every three months.

Making the upgrade to S/4HANA

Upgrading to S/4HANA in the first instance is not only a step towards standardisation, it also gives customers access to SAP’s digital core – functionality that offers more than the traditional ERP. This includes unified data in real time, fully connected and integrated processes across customers, suppliers and the workforce, and intelligent predictive tools for improved analytics and reporting.

If you would like to discuss SAP S/4HANA and the options available in more detail please do not hesitate to contact us below or email me at peter.gergely@uxcoxygen.com.

Want more?

Cloud vs on premise? Read our expert deployment guide

Ready to assess your existing on-premise SAP solution? Wondering how to convert to SAP S/4HANA?

Oxygen offers a SAP S/4HANA Readiness Assessment Service, designed to help customers determine the benefits of moving to SAP S/4HANA and to provide an overall roadmap to achieve these benefits including the effort required.

This package is relevant for customers on any SAP release, and the suggested roadmap will take each starting release into account and includes a fact based analysis of the customers existing SAP solution using a range of SAP and Oxygen based services. This allows the delivery of a fully tailored S/4HANA Recommendations Report.