Judging by his Sapphire 2019 keynote, Hasso Plattner vividly remembers the time when Dietmar Hopp was leading SAP. On the topic of the S/4 Hana release change, he also talked about the release change from R/2 to R/3.
Times were hard for SAP back then. It wasn’t just a simple release change; it was a fundamental change from mainframe to client/server computing.
At Sapphire 2019, Hasso Plattner said that sometimes, it was necessary to leave legacies behind and embrace new opportunities. Which is oddly reminiscent of the R/3 release change.
Back then, R/2 customers almost revolted against Hasso Plattner. The problem was not the release change per se. The problem was how SAP handled it. It wanted to force customers to change in a very short amount of time from R/2 to R/3 – seem familiar? Switching to S/4 Hana until 2025 is putting a strain on a lot of customers.
Back then, there was resistance. Some major chemical and pharmaceutical companies threatened to just take R/2 maintenance into their own hands, even further develop the system. Nobody really wanted to switch to the younger R/3. In his Sapphire 2019 keynote, Hasso Plattner recalled this situation, which was challenging for everyone involved.
Back then, a revolution in the SAP community was avoided. Customers and executives agreed on extended deadlines so that R/2 customers would not lose their investment. Simultaneously, R/3 was evaluated and developed further. After a few years, it really was the better ERP system. Customers stayed with SAP and continued to pay annual maintenance fees.
If Hasso Plattner and his team can achieve another miracle like that remains to be seen. Because this time around, there are not only experienced third-party support providers at the ready. The switch to S/4 Hana is also tied to high costs.
Some customers are therefore considering leaving the SAP realm altogether. There’s furthermore the issue of the forced database change. Hana is not bad – it’s just not up to par with Oracle, DB2, and MS SQL.