New SAP S/4HANA Release and Maintenance Strategy to Deliver Greater Innovation and Flexibility

SAP today announces an upcoming change in its release and maintenance strategy for SAP S/4HANA, offering customers greater opportunities for continuous innovation and a flexible path to cloud readiness.

The commercial, competitive, and operational demands on companies are intense. They are facing an unprecedented speed of change — digitalization strategies have to adapt rapidly and profoundly. Customers must continually innovate, while at the same time adapting their business processes and reinventing their business models. Cloud technology has become pivotal to keep up with the change.

The release 2023 of SAP S/4HANA, available in October of 2023, represents a go-to release for next-generation technology and compatibility with legacy software. From this release, SAP S/4HANA will change to a two-year release cycle, a longer seven years of mainstream maintenance per release, and more easily adoptable feature packs.

In support of this major milestone, SAP will offer customers on releases 1709, 1809, and 1909 of SAP S/4HANA an extended maintenance option, which will enable customers to directly upgrade to the 2023 version.

SAP’s announcement that until 2040, there will always be at least one release of SAP S/4HANA in maintenance remains unchanged.

The 2023 version of SAP S/4HANA represents an evolutionary step in product maturity and supports our ability to offer a growing range of services, best practices, and business process optimization to help existing and new customers realize their full potential.

The flexibility to drive innovation at their own pace is important to customers. That is why SAP responds to their needs by offering the extended maintenance option as a path to the cloud from wherever they are in their cloud ERP journey — even if that path has yet to be charted. SAP S/4HANA is at the center of this transformation.

Innovation at the Core, with No Customer Left Behind

Since 2015, SAP S/4HANA has delivered innovative solutions to customers and encourages them to upgrade their installation frequently, including the upcoming SAP S/4HANA 2022 release. Next year’s 2023 release of SAP S/4HANA will mark a new chapter for customers,with next-generation technology and many alternative SAP S/4HANA capabilities for legacy compatibility scope items for SAP’s legacy software.

By adopting the 2023 version of SAP S/4HANA, customers may find it easier to bring their SAP environment up to date and keep it current. This upgraded environment offers greater opportunity for continuous innovation without disruption and helps organizations becoming cloud-ready if and when they need to be.

To make it easier to stay up to date, SAP is taking steps to reduce the number of upgrades for customers and deliver even greater value:

  • The product will move to a two-year release cycle starting with SAP S/4HANA 2023.
  • SAP will deliver more application innovation to meet customer needs via minimally disruptive. Easy-to-adopt feature packs are currently planned to be delivered every six months in the first two years of a release. The combination of two-year release cycles and more feature packs should offer more opportunities for co-innovation with customers without the need to upgrade the product, easing adoption and reducing total implementation costs.
  • Beginning with SAP S/4HANA 2023, each release will stay in mainstream maintenance for seven years per release, up from five years in previous releases.
  • Early adopters of SAP’s new releases will have a longer productive use time frame of the product, increasing their return on investment.
  • SAP S/4HANA 2023 retains the zero-downtime capabilities of its predecessors.

More Flexibility for When and How to Upgrade

To make it more convenient for customers on lower release tiers to upgrade to the 2023 version of SAP S/4HANA, SAP is offering an optional extended maintenance option for legacy versions of SAP S/4HANA that will be reaching the end of their five-year mainstream maintenance soon. The option will be available for the time of 2023 to 2025 and can be renewed quarterly within this specific time frame.

Customers on versions 1709, 1809, and 1909 of SAP S/4HANA, on-premise and subscription models, will be able to benefit from extended maintenance in one of two ways:

  • Customers having subscribed to RISE with SAP or legacy subscription models, for example, subscription for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, take advantage of the option where extended maintenance is included at no additional fee. It is also the recommended transition for SAP S/4HANA customers from on premise to RISE with SAP. This will then require only a change in infrastructure and allows customers the same flexibility they are used to with their on-premise version.
  • For customers running one of those SAP S/4HANA legacy versions in an on-premise environment and that wish to remain there, extended maintenance is an option and will require an additional fee of four percent of their respective core SAP S/4HANA maintenance base.

SAP respects and understands that there are important factors to consider when customers choose to become an intelligent and sustainable enterprise. SAP embraces and recognizes these factors by offering a solution that adapts to any organization’s unique needs.

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Eric van Rossum is chief marketing and solutions officer for SAP S/4HANA.