noname cloud only s4 hana [shutterstock: 1420473887, yakiniku]
[shutterstock: 1420473887, yakiniku]
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How Modern Is SAP S/4 Hana?

For E-3 Magazine, 2022 began with a question: How modern is S/4? Heated debate ensued.

If you can start from scratch, without having to accommodate legacy infrastructure or data, you can migrate to a perfect S/4 Hana system in the cloud in the span of a few weeks – at least in theory. The reality of most customers looks different: Legacy systems and data, dispersed over heterogenous IT architectures. Of course, even with burdens of the past, you can still migrate to S/4; however, instead of a few weeks or months, it will likely take years. Which is why E-3 asked the question: Is S/4 still modern enough?

Because the question is not about S/4 right now; it’s about S/4 after a successful conversion. A lot of SAP customers will take years to complete their S/4 conversion, maybe even until end of support in 2030. It’s only reasonable to ask if S/4 will still be modern enough then.

In 2030, database platform Hana will be 20 years old, S/4 itself will be 15 years old – an eternity in the fast-paced world of IT. Furthermore, S/4 and Hana are proprietary products, which means that every innovation, every upgrade and every improvement have to come from SAP itself. Since Hana and S/4 don’t have a community participating (and investing) in their development, SAP has to take care of everything itself.

Pivot to the cloud

Of course, SAP has given its commitment to S/4 until 2040, regardless of deployment model. However, SAP insiders have reported hearing about a pivot to “Cloud Only” during SAP’s sales kick-off meeting (formerly FKOM, now Customer Success Summit). Not only will incentives and commissions be largely focused on customer success, but also on SAP’s cloud products. So, SAP salespeople will only get commissions if they sell cloud products. Which shouldn’t keep customers from buying on-prem licenses, though.

SAP itself still offers on-prem cloud options like S/4 Hana Cloud Private Edition for Customer Data Centers. It just doesn’t advertise them as much – a logical consequence of SAP’s “Cloud Only” incentives.

No matter what SAP says, the future will be hybrid. SAP salespeople with commissions that are 100 percent dependent on cloud computing do not fit into customers’ reality.

E-3 Magazine February 2022 (German)
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