SAP has never strayed from its hierarchical three-tier client-server model, even though it acquired numerous new applications and the ERP hierarchy has long since become more of a network. SAP seems to have realized that as well. Its plan is to integrate all cloud and on-prem applications in a hierarchical system on the Hana database platform.
SAP CEO Christian Klein and his executive board members have been working hard to make that integration a reality, and they almost succeeded – almost. Digital transformation has brought to light many new different aspects that such an integration simply cannot handle.
Integration is a Sisyphean task: You might be able to integrate application A with application B, but what about cloud solution C? What about archiving solution D? You’ll never stop having to integrate new solutions this way.
A possible solution could be a microservices architecture and containers. They are designed to integrate any application that might be of interest. With many innovations coming its way, the SAP community needs that flexibility now more than ever.
This issue becomes especially pressing looking down the line: In 2030, when most customers will have migrated to S/4 Hana, database Hana will be 20, ERP system S/4 15 years old. Not very modern, and certainly not very future-proof. Of course, it’s a Herculean task to break up the monolith that is S/4, but it doesn’t have to happen all at once. SAP could scale back, cut up, and portion S/4 and Hana until 2030 and then unveil S/5 based on AnyDB (including Hana).
Shattering SAP to make it better might sound crazy. It might actually be crazy. But it’s not impossible. There isn’t much time left to decide: In 2030, Hana and S/4 will not be modern enough to keep up. Shattering SAP might be the only way to guarantee a future for SAP.