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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
As technical architect, I am often asked about the latest news in the technical area of SAP S/4HANA. In these 4 blog posts I would like to review the main changes and innovations that SAP have introduced in the last years to explain the evolution SAP Netweaver platform  towards the new ABAP platform from a technical perspective.

I have divided the content in 4 blog posts:


PART 1 - Evolution from SAP Netweaver platform

The SAP kernel is the core component of any SAP system. It consists of the executable files that run on the server to handle connections to the system and execute the SAP programs.

The development of the SAP kernel started in 1988, although SAP R/3 was officially launched in 1992. The SAP kernel has been the foundation for almost all SAP products in the last 30 years.

Over the years, the kernel and the basis layer evolved. Adding support for more databases and operating systems but also adding more functionality.

One of the first important changes were done in 2002 with SAP R/3 4.7 and the inclusion of the SAP Web Application Server. It was the .COM era and SAP Kernel was extended with the Internet Communication Manager (ICM) and Internet Transaction Server (ITS) to be able to manage HTTP connections and provide support for XML, BSP and JAVA.

SAP NetWeaver was released in 2004 as a technology stack that allowed organizations to integrate data, business processes, elements and more from a variety of sources into unified SAP environments using a common technology platform. For the last 16 years, SAP NetWeaver has been the technical foundation for the SAP applications.

Evolution of the SAP Basis and SAP Netweaver


In 2008, SAP released the SAP Business ByDesign, the first SaaS product developed by SAP. After 20 years, a major renovation was needed as the SAP R/3 Kernel code was huge and complex, so a new kernel was developed, new ideas and improvements were implemented. Internally at SAP this new kernel was called Kernel 8.x and the project was called NGAP Next Generation Platform.

Obviously, SAP HANA deserves a special mention in the evolution and modernization of the SAP products. Although SAP HANA was officially launched in 2011, the first SAP ERP 6.0 version compatible with SAP HANA was launched in 2014 based on SAP Netweaver 7.40 SP02. Many new ideas and improvements implemented in the SAP Kernel 8.x were down ported to the SAP kernel 7.x line together with all the HANA and FIORI specific innovations.

SAP offers “innovation without disruption”, so the idea has been always to introduce new functionality but maintain as much as possible the backward compatibility to let customers adopt the technical (and business) innovations at their own pace.

If you have a look at the architecture of the SAP Business Suite and the underlying SAP Netweaver platform, you can see a perfect example of this “innovation without disruption” approach that makes SAP technology a solid platform to run complex business software. For more than 15 years, the evolution of the SAP Netweaver platform offered a solid foundation to adopt new technical innovations to our SAP Business Suite customers.


SAP Netweaver and ABAP Platform kernel versions


As you know, support for SAP Business Suite will end in 2030. SAP offers SAP S/4HANA as the evolution of the SAP Business Suite products and customers need a new technology platform to run their business.

It’s important to remark that SAP NetWeaver is a product family consisting of more than just ABAP and Java Application Servers, it contains other components like the BI Content Extension, the Advanced Adapter Engine Extended, etc… and also contains the SAP Netweaver hubs such as Business Warehouse, Enterprise Portal or SAP Process Orchestration.

The last SAP Netweaver version as  a full product is SAP Netweaver 7.50. Customers running old SAP PO or Portal versions cannot upgrade beyond SAP Netweaver 7.50.

There are, however, 3 new updates for one of the SAP Netweaver components, the SAP Netweaver Application Server ABAP component. These 3 new updates of the SAP Netweaver Application Server ABAP served as foundation for first S/4HANA versions:

  • SAP NetWeaver Application Server ABAP 7.50 (for SAP S/4HANA 1511)

  • SAP NetWeaver Application Server ABAP 7.51 Innovation Package (for SAP S/4HANA 1610)

  • SAP NetWeaver Application Server ABAP 7.52 (for SAP S/4HANA 1709)

These 3 Application Server ABAP versions were still compatible (at kernel level) with the “old” SAP Netweaver versions used for SAP Business Suite products but delivered innovations for the ABAP stack in the following areas:

  • Are the technical foundation of the first S/4HANA Releases (1511, 1610, 1709)

  • Include a new ABAP programming model for FIORI apps which is already based on Core Data Services and will be the foundation of the future ABAP Restful Programming model (see more on this in my next blog ABAP Platform – Part 2 – New programming models)

  • Include a new version of the SAP_ABA software component, the new versions are alphanumeric (7.5A, 7.5B, 7.5C...) instead of the classic SAP_ABA 7.50 used for SAP Netweaver 7.50 and SAP BS 6.0 EHP8

The new SAP_ABA software component is an important change, as the new SAP_ABA 7.5A,B,C contains changes in the field lengths, etc... needed for the S/4HANA simplification. As an example:

  • SAP_ABA 7.50: traditional MATNR e.g. for   SAP NetWeaver 7.50 and Suite EhP8

  • SAP_ABA 7.5A: new, long MATNR for S/4HANA

We cannot say that S/4HANA is based on SAP Netweaver (full product) as it is only based on one of the components (SAP Netweaver Application Server ABAP) and didn’t contain a JAVA stack nor the SAP Netweaver hubs (BW, Portal, PO)

This discussion about the differences between SAP Netweaver (full product) vs SAP Netweaver Application Server ABAP (one of the SAP Netweaver components) is already complicated enough for majority of our customers, but to make it even more confusing , there are 2 standalone shipments: SAP NetWeaver AS for ABAP 7.51 Innovation package and SAP NetWeaver AS for ABAP 7.52.


These 2 shipments contains AS ABAP only and the main purpose is to  use it as a development platform to develop and run innovative FIORI applications using the new ABAP programming model for FIORI apps (see more on this in my next blog ABAP Platform – Part 2 – New programming models)

If you are looking for a more detailed discussion about the main changes introduced in the Application Server ABAP 7.51 and 7.52, please check the following notes:


The Application Server ABAP 7.50 for S/4HANA 1511, The Application Server ABAP 7.51 for S/4HANA 1610 and The Application Server ABAP 7.52 for S/4HANA 1709 can be considered as a transition platform towards the new ABAP Platform that is the foundation of the S/4HANA products starting with S/4HANA 1809.

From SAP Netweaver AS ABAP to ABAP Platform

SAP NetWeaver Application Server for ABAP 7.52 is the last version of SAP Netweaver AS for ABAP, currently SAP has no plans to deliver additional SAP Netweaver AS ABAP versions although the existing Netweaver platform will be maintained until the end of 2030 as part of the SAP Business Suite end of maintenance policy.

Don’t get me wrong, the kernel 7.53 and the Application Server ABAP versions used as the foundation for S/4HANA 1511, 1610 and 1709 had many technical innovations and there has been also modernization of key components like the new Enqueue Server (ENSA2), support for HTTP/2 protocol and many internal changes to keep SAP as a modern platform to run your business. But the idea was to keep the compatibly as much as possible and allow a gradual transition for our customers:

Evolution of SAP Netweaver towards ABAP Platform - Full stack view

With SAP S/4HANA 1809 there is a big change, S/4HANA 1809 runs on top of the new ABAP Platform and it’s based in a new Kernel line (Kernel 7.7x) breaking the compatibility with the old kernel 7.53 used in the old SAP Netweaver systems.

ABAP Platform is the foundation for SAP S/4HANA and shipped as part of SAP S/4HANA, there will not be standalone versions.

Want to know more about the stack changes in 2020? Have  a look to Roland Kramer's blog post: Upgrade to S/4HANA 2020 - Time to change

In my next 3 blog posts I will discuss in detail what are the main changes introduced by the ABAP platform in 2 different areas: programming and basis


Brought to you by the SAP S/4HANA RIG and Customer Care team.