There has been no official announcement yet, but SAP customers are more and more hearing that cloud computing is only possible with the most recent SAP version. Long-term SAP community members might be miffed, but not surprised.
For R/3 and ERP/ECC 6.0, SAP support must have been a nightmare. I don’t know if SAP ever published an official figure of certified (and therefore supported) ERP system combinations, but it must have been in the hundreds. The combination of hardware, operating systems, databases, and ERP releases is a complex miracle. It’s understandable why SAP wants to consolidate the chaos with one operating system (Linux) and one database (Hana).
Cloud providers usually don’t just offer infrastructure, but also services. To protect themselves from the burden SAP support has to shoulder with R/3 and ECC 6.0 variations, hyperscalers and other cloud and hosting providers demand the most current version. If their demands can ever be feasibly met remains to be seen. However, it already goes to show that the journey into the cloud is not as easy and painless as Google, Microsoft, and AWS like to promise. If you have to upgrade to the most current version – completely renew your SAP system – it’s understandable why some customers might prefer to stay on premises.
If customers do decide to tackle the challenge and succeed in moving to the cloud, there’s another question looming: Do they have to keep upgrading their systems to the most current version every time an upgrade is released? A technical release change is one thing, but to adapt business processes and workflows to a completely new release is a different challenge entirely.
SAP customers should demand clarity from their providers early on to avoid nasty surprises in the cloud.
To clarify – with RISE with SAP Private Cloud edition, customer can choose to upgrade at their own pace (once they have moved the SAP workload to the hyperscaler of their choice). SAP only mandates that the software stack remains in the normal maintenance window – so technically the customer only needs to upgrade once every 3-5 years.