Get updated by Wieland Schreiner, Executive Vice President, SAP S/4HANA, on what the product stands for, why it has been launched at this point of time, what is new in SAP S/4HANA compared to SAP Business Suite and in which deployments the new product is available for customers.

Q: Wieland, what does the name SAP S/4HANA stand for?

A: SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (SAP S/4HANA) is SAP’s next-generation business suite. The “S” stands for Simple and also for Suite. “4” stands for the fourth generation or. We went from R/2 to R/3 to ERP and now to S/4.

The full name of the new product is SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA and that’s the official wording. But the market just calls it SAP S/4HANA.

Q: What do you mean by that?

A: We have promised our customers that our SAP Business Suite will have an innovation roadmap and support until at least 2025. So, SAP S/4HANA is not a successor – it is a brand new alternate product, delivered on-premise as well as a service in the cloud.

So, basically we’ve done something as revolutionary as we did in 1989. Today, we have developed SAP S/4 HANA with its own codeline following the cloud principles and we’re now also delivering a cloud product on-premise.

Q: Why did you decide to launch SAP S/4HANA now?

A: We know strong innovation can drive business. We provide our customers with full transparency in our roadmap and show them how we enable them to benefit from the full innovation potential of SAP HANA.

Also, when you see the market’s reaction in the press, with analysts and user groups, it is clear that we were right in time and that the market expected this major move from SAP.

Q: What is really new in SAP S/4HANA compared to SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA?

A: SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA was the major proof point for the scalability and robustness of our in-memory technology, of SAP HANA. It also proved that SAP HANA represents a new category of platform and database for all our customers – with a simple migration to get there.

We merged OLAP & OLTP into one system. HANA Live on the OLTP system fundamentally reduced the data footprint for the customer by using the operational reporting from any additional Warehouse back home to the OLTP system. All of this results in a tremendous reduction of the TCO for the customers – not only through reduced data footprint, but also by getting rid of the cumbersome and error prone ETL process. There is no export, transform and load activity anymore.

From a business value perspective, SAP S/4HANA creates unique opportunities to reinvent business models and drive new revenues:

  • Enterprises can now easily connect to people, devices, and business networks to deliver new value to their customers – the Internet of Things and Big Data become accessible to any business
  • Enterprises can dramatically simplify their processes and change them as needed to gain new efficiencies – no more batch processing is required
  • Business users can now get any insight on any data from anywhere in real-time: planning, execution, prediction, and simulation – all decisions can be made on the fly with the highest level of granularity for faster business impact

From an IT value perspective, SAP S/4HANA creates unique opportunities to dramatically simplify the landscape and reduce TCO with SAP HANA. Enterprises can now significantly reduce their data footprint and work with larger data sets in one system.

The user experience of SAP S/4HANA is natively designed with SAP Fiori UX, offering an integrated and modern usability on any device.

The architecture of SAP S/4HANA is non-disruptive. That means, SAP Business Suite on-premise customers can easily upgrade or fully migrate to the cloud or enable hybrid deployments

Q: How exactly does SAP S/4 HANA make our customers’ lives easier?

A: SAP S/4 HANA is natively built on SAP HANA and therefore guarantees massive simplifications like a simplified data model with no aggregates, no indices, and no redundancies. Let me give you an example: A typical booking in FIN touched 15 tables – now it’s 4, so we’re now working on document level only. In Simple Logistics we took out even more: out of 28 tables, only 2remained – master data and the inventory document. This is as simple as it can be!

But this is only the foundation: With this minimalistic approach, we can now leverage all SAP HANA innovations, for example, predicting, recommending, simulating and also text mining for large amounts of structured and unstructured data – all this embedded in the OLTP transaction.

Q: In which deployments is SAP S/4HANA going to be available?

A: For SAP the customer comes first. It is very important to us to leave our customers with the full choice – and this is why SAP S/4HANA will be available in the public cloud and in the managed cloud, as well as in an on-premise deployment.

Clearly, the business scope of these deployment options will be different: The public cloud edition addresses specific business scenarios and lines of business according to the market demand. The managed cloud edition addresses similar business scopes as the on-premise edition.

By the way: the first public cloud edition has been made available in the first quarter of 2015 and will be directly followed by the managed cloud edition in the second quarter of 2015.

Q: What is the typical journey for an existing SAP Business Suite customer?

A: SAP Business Suite customers can take advantage of SAP S/4HANA in a non-disruptive way, as we keep a semantically consistent data model between the current SAP Business Suite and the new SAP S/4HANA solution family. With this, we enable a value-driven, step-wise migration for customer landscape and subsidiaries to the new solution. For existing SAP customers favoring the on-premise edition of SAP S/4HANA, we provide an “upgrade-like” procedure where new code is deployed in the on-premise system.

When Business Suite customers migrate to the cloud offerings, which is typically done by scenarios, they have a huge advantage due to the non-disruptive development paradigm because we do not touch the business semantics and definition of our business objects. Simplification means less complexity in the data model and not disruption.

And as we already did with Suite on HANA two years ago, we will work together closely with our partners and educate them. They play a key role as they do not only provide their services but they can also resell SAP S/4HANA’s on-premise edition. Today, most of the Suite on HANA implementations are done by our partners – a big thank you to them. We will see the same with SAP S/4HANA.

Q: How does SAP S/4HANA relate to SAP Simple Finance?

A: SAP Simple Finance marked the first step in our SAP S/4HANA road map. The solution has proven the great value of simplification for our customers by getting the unlimited flexibility on their data, a tremendous footprint reduction and factors in throughput. It also proved robustness and easiness in migration and adoption and with that we already have today all the answers to those very important questions of our customers.

Watch the replay of the global announcement of SAP S/4HANA and enroll on the openSAP course: SAP S/4HANA in a Nutshell.