The core of SAP Business Suite 7 is ERP/ECC 6.0, and this core needs NetWeaver and runs on AnyDB (IBM DB2, Oracle and Microsoft SQL server). SAP executive board member Michael Kleinemeier said in a press release, “We are determined to make our customers successful. The extended commitment to SAP Business Suite 7 and the long-lasting support for S/4 Hana is at the core of this, providing our customers choice and flexibility in planning for the right path to the future.”
Understandably, most news outlets rejoiced. SAP is finally listening to customers! And I think it is indeed commendable that SAP chose to listen instead of stubbornly insisting on a deadline that was never really feasible. However, there are some issues that SAP has yet to resolve.
For many years now, customers were able to choose Business Suite on Hana, SoH, which has become a favored alternative. Now, it is up to SAP to officially announce extended maintenance for NetWeaver 7.2 and the Java and Abap stack.
The AnyDB question
Even if customers work around the NetWeaver issue, there is still the AnyDB question that SAP has yet to answer.
By asking SAP directly, I was able to shed some light onto the AnyDB chaos, even though there are still some irregularities. One SAP spokesperson told me, “Concerning the database contracts, I can assure you that SAP has not canceled them. As is common in this industry, the contracts have different terms depending on the provider. Like in previous years, SAP will contact and talk to providers before the contracts terminate. Alternatively, customers are free to choose to migrate to database Hana today or decide on directly licensing their databases with providers.”
SAP itself claims to be in contact with providers, and apparently to have contracts valid through 2025. An IBM insider told me that the DB2 contracts for ERP/ECC 6.0 have been terminated. I also tried contacting the German-speaking SAP user group DSAG on the topic but as of yet am still waiting for a response.
AnyDB will be necessary to be able to offer SAP customers extended maintenance for their existing ERP systems. If Oracle, IBM and Microsoft have been involved in SAP’s decision to extend maintenance is unclear.
The money question
Who’s going to pay for the resources necessary for extended maintenance, anyway? SAP has to pay for database licenses from Oracle, Microsoft and IBM for at least five more years. At the same time, SAP has to continue operating support and maintenance structures for hundreds of system configurations. Considering all that still has to happen, I don’t think we can expect the S/4 simplification with one operating system (Linux) and one database (Hana) in 2030, either.
Update February 5, 2020: In the new SAP service note 2881788, SAP writes, “Runtime licenses for third-party databases are not affected by this new maintenance strategy of Business Suite 7. Treatment of third-party runtime databases after 2025 will be announced once coverage from these vendors is confirmed.” This could mean that SAP is still negotiating database contracts with Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.
Update February 6, 2020: SAP has published an update to the service note 1648480 on February 4, 2020 (V21). In the note, SAP announces mainstream maintenance for NetWeaver and the Abap and Java stack until 2027 and extended maintenance until 2030. This maintenance extension for NetWeaver 7.5 pertains both to the Java and the Abap stack of the Application Server (AS) – even though there are still some legal and licensing issues to be solved concerning the use of Java stack after 2023. The Abap stack will continue to be available on NetWeaver AS 7.0 EhP 3, 7.3 EhP 1, 7.4 and 7.5 until 2030. Extended maintenance until 2030 for the Java stack is unfortunately only available on NetWeaver version 7.5.
In the same service note, SAP goes on to say, “SAP NetWeaver 7.03 (SAP NetWeaver 7.0 EHP3) contains the 7.31 Abap stack, i.e. the same Abap stack as SAP NetWeaver 7.3 EHP1, and the 7.02 Java stack, i.e. the same Java stack as SAP NetWeaver 7.0 EHP2.
The Java stack in SAP NetWeaver 7.00, 7.01, 7.02, 7.03 is based on Java version 1.4.2. This Java version has reached its end of life and was 15 years old by 2017. SAP has invested significantly to ensure SAP customers could get support for this version until 2017. However, these versions are now out of mainstream maintenance.
The Java stack in SAP NetWeaver 7.10, 7.11 is based on Java version 5 (released in 2004); the Java stack in SAP NetWeaver 7.20, 7.30, 7.31, 7.40 uses Java version 6 (released in 2006). As these Java versions will be very old by 2020, the corresponding Java stacks will not be supported beyond 2020. Customers should upgrade to SAP NetWeaver 7.5 based on Java version 8.
The Java stack in NetWeaver 7.50 is based on Java version 8. NetWeaver 7.5 Java will be supported in mainstream maintenance until end of 2027. Extended maintenance will be offered until end of 2030. Java-based applications are dependent on third-party components. To fulfill SAP’s long-term support commitments, these third-party components have to be supported as well; however the support cycles offered by the third-party vendors differ from the support timeframes offered by SAP. SAP has to take these different support cycles into account and therefore is not free to extend support for Java-based applications by the same timelines as for ABAP-based applications.
Customers with Java-based SAP NetWeaver 7.0x dual stack systems should plan to split the dual stack before upgrading.
With SAP NetWeaver 7.5 dual stack deployments are not supported any longer. Since dual stack deployments are based on both the Abap stack and the Java stack the end of maintenace of dual stack deployments is identical to the Java stack. Customers on older releases should plan for a dual stack split.”
Update February 17, 2020: Microsoft has provided an official statement regarding the AnyDB deal with SAP: “Our existing product support lifecycles for SQL server and other products are not affected by SAP’s announcements around S/4 Hana platform and maintenance timelines for their NetWeaver-based products. Microsoft will continue to work with SAP and its customers to ensure that customers running SAP NetWeaver-based applications can continue running on top of SQL Server, while benefitting from the latest releases of SQL Server.”
Update February 17, 2020: At a press conference during the DSAG Technology Days 2020 in Mannheim, Germany, I had a chance to ask SAP CTO Juergen Mueller directly about the company’s strategy regarding the announcement.
While the video is in German (with English subtitles), here is a quick translation of the gist of his response:
“We decided on a communication strategy that would allow us to first give customers clarity on S/4 Hana and Business Suite 7. We know that there are other products, but we also know that those are more complex topics that not everyone might be as familiar with. We will make other announcements in that direction soon. There’s no internal dispute or inconsistencies, it’s just the communication strategy that we decided on.”