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Rise in the Cloud?

With its "RISE with SAP" and the so-called "Business Transformation as a Service", SAP is pushing a move to the cloud. The promise of "everything from a single source" sounds tempting, but what aspects should companies take notice of and consider?

Opportunities and pitfalls of “RISE with SAP”

The cloud is considered the heart and brain of digital transformation. That is SAP’s opinion. Or as the software company puts it: we customers need “business transformation as a service”. The Walldorf-based company’s answer to this challenge is “RISE with SAP”.

What is “RISE with SAP?

With Rise with SAP, the software company wants to make the move to the cloud palatable for its customers. To this end, SAP bundles various services together and sells them as a package. In addition to the in-house S/4 Hana cloud as the core of the offering, RISE includes migration and implementation services, access to the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), the Business Network (including Ariba), and Business Process Intelligence (SAP BPI). Rise can be hosted on the company’s own ERP cloud, but also on a hyperscaler such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud. The offering is based on a subscription model. Companies of all types, industries, and sizes should benefit from this.

Take off without further ado?

What are the advantages of bundling services in this way? Three types of benefits can be identified: contractual, operational, and business. The most obvious benefit is contractual simplicity. Companies have only one contractual partner: SAP. This means they do not have to sign individual contracts for hosting, support, technical operations, or additional service licenses. This streamlines the contractual structures and, ideally, saves on costs.

One contractual partner means one point of contact. SAP becomes the central point of contact for all questions—from hosting and operation to support. The software company promises continuous, individual support. This makes the operation of infrastructure and software solutions more secure. In the event of problems, users know—in theory—who to contact. This is important because digital transformation is not a one-off project, but rather an ongoing process. RISE with SAP aims to provide the foundation for this.

And here we come to the main advantage of RISE with SAP, according to the company’s own communication: with the complete package, companies accelerate their digital transformation.


Is or will everything run smoothly with RISE with SAP? And at lower cost? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Customers need to be aware that they are committing to a predefined operating model that may conflict with individual specifications. Prior to operation, companies should ask themselves the following questions: can other projects run on the operating model? Will applications like PDF work with an open source add-on? Is it enough if we only reach SAP via sFTP?

Although SAP touts its product as “business-transformation-as-a-service,” RISE customers inform us about the lack of “service” in the implementation of external applications as well as customer specifics. This is where SAP’s marketing communications can be quickly misleading, as large companies that are used to full-service providers expect more service than RISE actually offers currently. The supposed idea that customers are spared from SAP basis with “RISE with SAP” is only partially true. For example, SAP expects precise specifications for implementations, which requires considerable knowledge. Without in-house or external SAP Basis experts, this is a major challenge. For many companies, this is likely to be a tall hurdle in times of skilled labor shortage. This can result in costs that are difficult to calculate or application problems. What used to run smoothly might now falter.

Workload Automation in Rise with SAP?

What about automation tools? The limited access in SAP operations makes the job of commercially available tools all the more difficult. Especially when handling end-to-end processes. For example, Managed File Transfer usually needs to be set up again. The connection to the mainframe is also often only possible via proxies. And some legacy interfaces are no longer available at all. This means that automation tools can no longer be accessed from the outside via known paths. The legacy area in particular sometimes requires a good deal of creativity to find a solution. This should definitely be considered and planned for in projects. HONICO BatchMan customers can resolve this situation very comfortably: the Batchman add-on has been RISE-compatible since the beginning because it deploys directly from SAP systems.

Look before you leap          

SAP is currently luring customers with attractive, scalable prices for license migration to RISE. But—as we know—not everything advertised as a welcome offer turns out to be a bargain. With migration usually comes a contract conversion. Companies move from asset ownership to a subscription model—with all the drawbacks this includes. In the future, companies will be forced to go along with update cycles and be subject to possible price increases. In addition, customers are switching to a new, role-based model of user metering, and with it, billing in FUEs (Full Usage Equivalents). The customer receives no support from SAP in defining and establishing the new roles. For companies without the necessary experience, this is an almost impossible undertaking. HONICO, which has been active in the entire SAP landscape for years, is currently working with its customers to measure real consumption of authorizations. It will be interesting to see if SAP truly expects to reduce the role users play, as this contradicts the purpose of a role as a collector’s object, as something worth attaining. If no compromise is reached here, customers will most likely pay the price in the new licensing model.

In summary, RISE with SAP offers enormous opportunities—especially in terms of scalability and clean operation. However, companies must be aware that they are committing themselves for the long term. They are forced into a corner. This often minimizes competitive advantage and generates costs elsewhere. It is perhaps a bit like the fisherman’s wife in Goethe’s poem The Fisherman: “she half pulling, he half sinking.”

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