End of an Era

Hearing that a technology you are comfortable with is being replaced by something new and different is always a little nerve-wracking, but the additional business benefits are inevitably worth it.

When Zager and Evans hit a cultural nerve in the late 60s with their song: ‘In the year 2525’, a tune about potential ‘doomsday’ scenarios, little did they know their predictions were off by about 500 years. After all, with 2025 the date announced by SAP as the point at which support for non-HANA ERP solutions will stop, some enterprises may consider this akin to their own ‘end of the world’ experience.

This is unsurprising, explains Shawn Jubber, senior solution architect for SAP and Integrated Systems at Fujitsu, since the implementation of S/4 HANA – a solution designed to run on the SAP HANA in-memory database – could be quite costly, both from a project cost perspective and from the point of view that much of the underlying technology also needs to be replaced in order to be compatible with in-memory technology.

“Thanks to the extra costs associated with this, many SAP customers are struggling to build a business case for the move and are hesitant to change, claiming it is not necessary to fix what isn’t broken. The problem is that once support is cut off in 2025, if your business has not switched to S/4 HANA, you will find that anything that does break will be even more costly to fix,” he says.

“There can be little doubt that the costs associated with this particular upgrade will not be good news for those still heavily invested in earlier SAP technologies, but the nature of the technology game is such that all vendors eventually stop providing support to their older solutions. To this end, companies need to look to the future, and focus on the benefits of upgrading, as these are numerous.”

Jubber suggests there is a clear business case to be made for the switch, despite the costs associated with it. For one thing, the platform is designed to enable better decision-making, while also delivering increased performance, offering higher productivity levels and ultimately providing a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

“The first step for any business seeking to make the change is to assess its current environment and develop a clear plan around the best way forward. To this end, SAP’s implementation partners will be best positioned to assist in bridging any gaps identified, while ensuring these organisations are able to leverage the flexibility, speed and insight afforded by the new platform,” he says.

“These partners will not only ensure a smooth transition before the 2025 deadline, but will also evaluate your infrastructure and identify what parts can be re-used to ensure you get the most out of your existing investments. Furthermore, they will offer advice on technologies that can bring out the real value of S/4, such as hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). This can help to consolidate and simplify your infrastructure landscape further, adding even greater benefit and value.”

Jubber cautions that although 2025 appears a long way in the future, a complete transition to the new platform could take a larger business anywhere between 18 and 24 months to finalise, meaning the sooner organisations begin planning the switch, the better.

“Ultimately, engaging with the company’s technology and implementation partners will enable businesses to more clearly understand the size and scope of the project, develop a strategy for moving forward and craft a roadmap that fits within the 2025 deadline.

“Perhaps the most crucial fact is that in this digitising world, S/4 lies at the core of SAP’s own digital transformation roadmap. Therefore, those businesses that make a head-start on transitioning to the new technology will find themselves firmly on the digitisation road and well positioned to drive such transformation even further in the future,” he concludes.

This article first appeared in ITWeb.