SAP kicked off the new year with a groundbreaking announcement to extend maintenance for SAP S/4HANA until 2040.
SAP will also provide mainstream maintenance for core applications of SAP Business Suite 7 until end of 2027 and an optional extended maintenance for additional fee until end of 2030.
In this exclusive interview, Michael Kleinemeier, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, SAP Digital Business Services, and Thomas Saueressig, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, SAP Product Engineering, share how this strategy delivers what customers need most: a clear path to become intelligent enterprises, support for new business models, investment protection, and planning stability.
Q: How can SAP make such long-term maintenance commitments when business is changing so rapidly?
Kleinemeier: We are on the SAP S/4HANA journey in close partnership with our customers. More than 13,800 customers are on this journey with us already, and several user group surveys show that the movement toward SAP S/4HANA is running at full steam. Our German-speaking user group DSAG reports increases in SAP S/4HANA investments and Americas SAP Users’ Group , in its latest survey, did not find a single customer not planning to move to SAP S/4HANA. We know that on this important path; our customers should not have to sacrifice stability for innovation, particularly during times of accelerated change. That’s why we’ve made the commitment to deliver innovations to our flagship product, SAP S/4HANA, through updates for at least the next 20 years. Customers will have this secure backbone in place delivering continuous innovation they can count on for business value.
Saueressig: SAP is taking this proactive step because we are absolutely convinced of the business value of SAP S/4HANA and SAP HANA as the long-term platform and architecture for innovation and new business models. Our extended maintenance commitment to both SAP S/4HANA and for SAP Business Suite 7 is the logical evolution in our strategy to help customers become intelligent enterprises driving innovation in shorter cycles for modern digital transformation. We’ve learned from many discussions with our customers this is the best way to provide them with a clear strategy for making a smooth transition forward. In fact, we anticipate these commitments will actually further boost adoption of SAP S/4HANA because they provide long-term planning stability based on our future-looking model.
Why did SAP decide to extend maintenance time frames for all these solutions now?
Kleinemeier: This next digital era isn’t about doing the same activities in different ways. Moving to SAP S/4HANA is not just a technical replacement; it’s about reinventing how a business operates, delivering net-new customer and employee experiences and establishing new business models. We understand that our customers aren’t making these decisions lightly. The changes are substantial across organizations when they move to SAP S/4HANA. To make sure customers receive the full benefits of their SAP investments, we are deliberately providing a longer time frame that will bring increased flexibility to help them become intelligent enterprises.
Saueressig: These are likely among the longest commitments any vendor has provided to a software solution. Even so, we made it because regardless of a customer’s future business demands, we know that SAP S/4HANA will address all these changes. At the same time, customers are moving at their own pace to SAP S/4HANA, which is why we’ve committed maintenance for SAP Business Suite 7 for two additional years plus the additional option until end of 2030. For example, if a customer is moving to SAP S/4HANA, they should standardize business processes first. Also, many companies have to rationalize complex landscapes with multiple ERP systems. Our objective is to respect our customers’ current investments, allowing them the time they need to re-engineer business processes and systems so they can tap into the full business opportunities of SAP S/4HANA.
Can you detail how these programs will benefit SAP customers?
Kleinemeier: Customers can make long-term yet flexible plans to meet their fast-changing business demands backed by the security of the most innovative business platform. Even if a customer is unable to move to SAP S/4HANA in the next two years, we’ll work with them to get there in the next decade. Overall, our approach is to provide guidance through informed recommendations — not just a long list of options. The customer decides when and how to move based on their business demands.
Saueressig: Customers see the value of moving to SAP S/4HANA and want to know the best way to move forward. Maybe they need to figure out whether to move to cloud or on premise. We do provide this choice, we see strong growth and differentiation to competition in both models. Or, they need to decide which country, subsidiaries, or business processes to start with. They might want to begin with a central finance scenario to harmonize financial systems and procurement processes, and then move to operational, manufacturing, and logistics. We’re providing the breathing space and assistance to help customers identify the ideal path forward.
What advice do you have for customers about how they can get the most business value from their SAP investments?
Saueressig: We can share concrete, quantitative business results from all those customers that have adopted SAP S/4HANA already. Customers can use these experiences to build a solid business case for their company’s transition to SAP S/4HANA, including benchmarks and KPIs relevant to their industry and specific growth objectives. We have numerous tools and services to help customers identify where SAP S/4HANA will provide the most business value and how to orchestrate and manage this transformation in the best way.
Kleinemeier: Customers can jump-start their transition using best practices in SAP Model Company services, which provides preconfigured industry-specific solutions based on the real-world experiences of organizations worldwide using SAP solutions. To set benchmarks and KPIs for continuous process improvement and performance optimization, companies can use SAP Solution Manager 7.2. For technical migration, whether moving to the cloud or on premise, customers can use a number of tools, including extension evaluation and optimization services for standardization of their core systems. That way they can quickly consume the innovations we’re delivering with SAP S/4HANA every quarter.