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After the announcement of SAP S/4HANA, short for SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA, we are seeing a lot of positive reactions. Sure, questions still remain, and always will. So we thought starting a FAQ series might be very helpful.

But let us first recap some essentials:

  • already in 2014 we spearheaded simplification of the Business Suite with SAP Simple Finance and SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA (in short market lingo: "Suite on HANA")
  • we have educated the market in Q4 2014 that we are about to launch significant further simplifications based on our good experience with above, then known under the (internal) codename s-innovations
  • With the confidence and the success of the above, e.g. more than 1850 customers on "Suite on HANA", many live, significant project sizes and distribution ...  we decided that it is time to move. And we should make one topic clear again - we started this already early 2014 - it was time for a new product, and the name of this new breed is SAP S/4HANA.

Much has been published on the launch on February 3rd, so lets skip that one. Great interactions with customers, partners and influencers have helped to prioritize, because we are at the start of a significant transformation, I mean the industry as such. Whoever underestimates the impact of Digital Transformation might be caught by surprise. We are convinced a big positive contribution to tackle the tasks at hand is to change the core of companies business backbone - the SAP Business Suite. And this is what we are doing.

Time for a series with further details. And keep the feedback coming, we appreciate it, we need it. Here are my current favorites:

What is SAP S/4HANA?

SAP S/4HANA is a new product fully built on the most advanced in-memory platform - SAP HANA - and modern design principles with SAP Fiori User Experience (UX). SAP S/4HANA delivers massive simplifications (customer adoption, data model, user experience, decision making, business processes and models) and innovations (Internet of Things, Big Data, business networks, and mobile-first) to help businesses run simple in a digital and networked economy.

And if there are doubts that it is new - we did split the codeline of the SAP Business Suite early 2014 (rough and tough 400 million lines of code), and since then we are massively simplifying the solution - keeping what is helpful, leaving away what not longer is needed AND building new parts. The priorities are driven by market input - not by technical desire alone. But it is amazing what the new technology, the platform we are architecting towards can help. And also clear - we are keeping the semantic data model in tact, so migration for existing customers is simple (pun intended).

Is SAP S/4HANA available today?

The on-premise edition of SAP S/4HANA is already available today for customers in all industries and regions. The first public cloud edition is intended to be made available early in 2015, followed by the managed cloud edition later in 2015.

What is the business scope of the different editions?

  • SAP S/4HANA, on-premise edition, already offers a business scope that is similar in terms of coverage, functionality, industries, and languages as the current SAP Business Suite. Within this scope, SAP S/4HANA also includes the transformational simplifications delivered with SAP Simple Finance (SAP Accounting powered by SAP HANA) as well as a planned integration with SuccessFactors Employee Central and Ariba.

The on-premise edition is intended to offer a yearly innovation cycle through simplification and innovation packages. The next simplification and innovation package is planned for the end of 2015.

  • SAP S/4HANA, public cloud edition, should address specific business scenarios of lines of business and industries. The first delivery in early 2015 is expected to cover key scenarios in customer engagement and commerce and professional services (10 core scenarios, plus planned integration with SuccessFactors Employee Central and Ariba Network, SAP hybris Marketing)
  • SAP S/4HANA, managed cloud edition, should address a similar business scope as the on-premise edition. The first delivery in early 2015 is planned to already cover essential core ERP scenarios (accounting, controlling, materials management, production planning and control, sales and distribution, logistics execution, plant maintenance, project system, and PLM, plus integration with SuccessFactors Employee Central and Ariba Network, SAP hybris Marketing)
  • The cloud editions are intended to offer a quarterly innovation cycle.

Which industry solutions will be available in SAP S/4HANA and by when?

  • SAP S/4HANA, on-premise edition supports current lines of business and industries.
  • SAP S4/HANA, public cloud edition will be released by business scenario for specific languages, lines of business and industries. The first industry available will be the professional services industry. The scope will always be determined in close cooperation with the SAP user groups based on customer requirements.
  • SAP S/4HANA, managed cloud edition, is planned to ultimately have a similar scope as the on-premise edition. For the first delivery in early 2015, the following core industries are planned: Professional Services, Chemicals, Consumer Products, Industrial Machinery and Components, Life Sciences, as well as Transportation and Logistics.

How does SAP S/4HANA relate to SAP’s existing portfolio of cloud solutions?

SAP S/4HANA shall also be made available with public cloud and managed cloud editions. However, SAP S/4HANA will not replace our existing portfolio of line-of-business cloud solutions; it will integrate with and expand it. Our comprehensive offering is planned to allow SAP S/4HANA customers to build hybrid scenarios between SAP S/4HANA and cloud solutions from SAP, including those from SuccessFactors and Ariba as well as integration with SAP hybris Marketing. This way customers can leverage the cloud at their own pace, based on their needs, while keeping all the integration and business benefits of their existing SAP solutions. In addition, SAP S/4HANA is designed to easily connect with global business networks such as, for example, the Ariba Network and Concur.

How does the SAP HANA Cloud Platform relate to SAP S/4HANA?

In the context of SAP S/4HANA, SAP HANA Cloud Platform serves as an extension platform and agility layer. It is possible to build specific capabilities extending the scope of SAP S/4HANA by either integrating non-SAP functions or building your own capabilities. The cloud platform not only serves as the development platform but also as the runtime foundation for the developed solutions. The extensions built on the cloud platform can run against both cloud and on-premise deployments of SAP S/4HANA.

Will SAP continue to deliver innovations to SAP Business customers on any DB?

Yes. SAP remains committed to protect our customers’ investments. We recently announced that we are extending our maintenance commitment until at least 2025. This is an unprecedented commitment to customers in the IT industry. We will also continue to deliver innovations without disruption (through enhancement packages for example) to SAP Business Suite customers on anyDB and on SAP HANA.

However, transformational business and IT simplifications require a transformational platform and this is why as of today SAP S/4HANA runs only on SAP HANA. It is the logical next step for our installed base customers and the biggest step forward for 10+ years with full compatibility with SAP ERP 6.0

What is really new in SAP S/4HANA compared to SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA?

With SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA, SAP was the only software vendor in the market to allow SAP Business Suite customers bring together transactions and analysis into a single in-memory platform. This innovation has been extremely successful in the market as 1,850+ customers (existing and new) acquired SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA - in less than two years - to run their business in real time, making it one of the fastest-growing product in SAP’s history.

With SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA, our product approach has been focused primarily on porting the applications on the SAP HANA platform and optimizing the code to allow customers gain significant performance in their mission-critical business processes and reporting activities. In other words, the applications remained unchanged and primarily optimized to run on SAP HANA in a non-disruptive way for customers – SAP HANA representing a new database alternative for existing customers, with a simple database migration required to drive the entire business in real-time.

SAP S/4HANA is a new product. With SAP S/4HANA, we are building on the success of the SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA with a completely new and reimagined suite:

  • SAP S/4HANA is natively built on SAP HANA for massive simplifications (simplified data model: no indices, no aggregates, no redundancies) and innovations (for example, open in-memory platform for advanced applications predicting, recommending, and simulating)
  • SAP S/4HANA is natively designed with the SAP Fiori UX, offering an integrated user experience with modern usability and instant insight on any device (role-based, three steps max to get the job done, mobile-first, consistent experience across lines of business)
  • SAP S/4HANA is natively connected to the Internet of Things and business networks for real-time collaboration (planned: machine-to-machine, Ariba Network, Concur) in the networked economy
  • SAP S/4HANA is natively engineered for providing choice of deployment (on-premise, cloud - public and managed - and hybrid)
  • SAP S/4HANA is natively born for easy adoption (guided, configuration, easy onboarding, from the discovery of the solution via cloud trials to the deployment with preconfigured best practices)

In addition, SAP HANA Cloud Platform serves as open extension, agility layer for SAP S/4HANA. The extensions built on the cloud platform can run against either deployment of SAP S/4HANA: in the cloud and on-premise.

Now working on part 2. As said above, keep the feedback and your questions coming, we will prioritize accordingly and update our FAQ for you. Also check frequently sap.com/s4hana.

Part2: SAP S/4HANA Frequently Asked Questions - Part 2 - the value

Part3:SAP S/4HANA Frequently Asked Questions - Part 3 - the path to get there

Lets stay connected @SDenecken