Since S/4HANA was announced earlier this year, SAP have published tons and tons of information on the new product* and I don’t intend to reproduce that in this blog. What I intend to do is answer the common questions / misconceptions and rumours that I hear on a near daily basis.
Start with the S/4HANA Roadmap
Business Suite on HANA and S/4HANA are the same thing
In January 2014 the above statement was true, as this was when SAP copied the Business Suite code line and creates a new code line for S/4HANA.
From that day the SAP development team started to work on new features for S/4HANA and the code lines started to diverge. I don’t know the split of developers between the 2 code lines but I would bet my house that many more are working on S/4HANA. The developers that are working on S/4HANA are now free to use all the features of the SAP HANA platform (predictive, geo, IoT etc), and don’t need to consider support for multiple DB platforms – this means they can innovate quicker on a much richer platform. Some of these features might make it back to Business Suite, but I think the really interesting/valuable ones will only be available by using the SAP HANA platform capabilities.
S/4HANA is only available in the cloud
S/4HANA comes in 2 editions Cloud and On Premise that have an identical code line. The On Premise Edition can be run On Premise (in your data center) or in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud or from a hosting partner, the Cloud Edition can only be run in the SAP data center managed by SAP (SaaS).
Whilst they have the same code line, the On Premise Edition allows full access to all the features (including features to extend the application). The Cloud Edition allows access to a more focused and therefore limited range of features that make it easier to implement and manage. You choose the Edition that makes sense for your use-case. You can upgrade to the On Premise edition, you need to migrate to the Cloud version.
My Modification will not work in S/4HANA
If your modifications have been done within the frameworks / standards that SAP provide, your modification should work in the On Premise Edition, but SAP are encouraging customers to use the switch to S/4HANA as the catalyst to review why these modifications exist and to see if they can adopt standard features. Classic modifications are not supported in the Public Cloud edition and “extension” have to be built “on-top” using the HANA Cloud Platform. The HANA Cloud Platform is also the recommended way to replace any modification you have in the On Premise Edition. I recommend reading this document for details on the upgrade / migration pathways and options. Below is a screen shot about what to check for in modifications during an upgrade.
SAP will release a Simplification DB as part of the SAP NetWeaver Check tool to support the compatibility check.
S/4HANA Isn’t Compatible with my Industry Solution
S/4HANA is officially released for ALL industry solutions, but not all of the features in all industry solutions are supported in the current release. To understand if you can use S/4HANA with your current implementation, you first need to understand the features that are not supported, then compare this to your usage of the solution. If you need a specific feature and this is holding you back, I recommend highlighting this to SAP so they can judge which features are most in demand or start a co-innovation with them to bring this features to market quicker. The other alternative is to review if you really need the features that are not supported. SAP will support via a code inspector tool.
S/4HANA Does not support all the features of Business Suite
S/4HANA is a new product from SAP and you should therefore not expect every feature from Business Suite to be supported like for like (if SAP did this they could not deliver fully on the Simple part of S/4HANA). In some cases these features will come to future releases and in some cases SAP is re-thinking how these can be delivered/questioning if they are required. As with the industry solutions. to understand if you can use S/4HANA with your current implementation, you first need to understand the features that are not supported (which you can find in this SAP Note), then compare this to your usage of the solution. If you need a specific feature and this is holding you back, I recommend highlighting this to SAP so they can judge which features are most in demand or start a co-innovation with them to bring this features to market quicker. The other alternative is to review if you really need the features that are not supported. SAP will release a Simplification DB as part of the SAP NetWeaver Check tool to support the compatibility check.
You can’t Upgrade to S/4HANA
You can upgrade from Business Suite to S/4HANA for the On Premise Edition. For the Cloud Edition you need to migrate to the new solution. Which pathway is best for you would need an evaluation of several factors, the key one being how “good” your donor SAP system is? If your data structures / quality is poor and/or your support for business processes is poor, you might use S/4HANA as an opportunity to re-platform and optimize. If your system is “fit for purpose” upgrade may well be the way to go. This is a good document to read to understand the options available at a technical level.
Simple Logistics will not be available until 2016
I am reliably informed that Simple Logistic (or whatever it ends up being called) will be shipped in Q4 as planned and will bring simplification to many parts of the classic ERP platform. I think the confusion here is that the story will not end with Simple Logistics, S/4HANA will continue to be developed and more and more features will be supported and new capabilities will be added. So like Business Suite before it, S/4HANA will never be “complete”, you just need to evaluate when enough features exist to create the business case to move. Simple Logistics will be a significant step in the journey to “Simple” but not the end.
Once we upgrade to Oracle 12c we will have SAP in-memory – so we don’t need S/4HANA
If you run SAP Business Suite on the in-memory version of Oracle you will get the old code line running on a in-memory database, however you will not get the new HANA only features that will come to S/4HANA (and Suite on HANA to a more limited degree). The most obvious examples here are Fiori Apps, most of which require HANA / S/4HANA and processes like MRP that “push down” business logic to the HANA database.
We will get all the new features in EhP8
Enhancement Package 8 (EhP8) will bring some new features to Business Suite as announced at the German user group meeting this week. It includes significant amount of innovations mainly based on customer feedback.
However it will only include those features from the new codeline that can be down ported to AnyDB (and resources have to be available to preform the down port). As the S/4HANA team are busy with 2 key tasks 1) Simplifying the Data Model and 2) Taking advantage of the SAP HANA platform, I wouldn’t hold your breath for a tide wave of new features in EhP8 from the S/4HANA innovations.
No one else is adopting S/4HANA
I have asked my contacts at SAP and interest / demand for S/4HANA is impressive – it really seems that the market is ready for something new, refreshed and simple. As for hard numbers I am told that 15+ customers are already live, with 250 projects underway and 1000+ customers who have the product licensed. For those that have implemented enterprise systems, these figures are impressive as projects can typically take 9-12 months to complete.