As the biggest redesign of SAP’s ERP solution since the introduction of R/3, the SAP S/4HANA announcement is exciting, but has created some questions around what the actual redesign really means. Recently, we teamed up with Owen Pettiford, SAP Mentor, and Martin Tenk, Head of SAP HANA Pre-Sales, on a webinar to explore the top 10 myths surrounding S/4HANA.
1) So the first myth I hear a lot of is that Business Suite on HANA and S/4HANA are the same thing. So, however the naming are quite similar, we’ve got the full name for S/4HANA which is Business Suite for HANA as opposed to Business Suite on HANA. So what happened in the bowels of Walldorf sometime in early 2014, the code lines for Business Suite were copied and the code lines were separated, and since that date the S/4HANA team have been reworking the user interface and simplifying the processes - taking that core Business Suite functionality and simplifying both the data model as well within that solution.
What you see pictured here [Figure 1.1] is that we may see that some of the features that are developed within S/4HANA do get down ported into Business Suite, and Business Suite is able to run on any DB and HANA, and using my Henry Ford analogy, Business Suite on HANA is essentially the faster horse. It’s the same features we’re used to, but some of them running incredibly fast, whereas S/4 represents a new motor car. That new motor car can be deployed in two ways. It can get deployed as a public cloud edition, so it can consume completely as a cloud edition or you can deploy it as an on premise edition. So it’s the same code based, but two different deployment options that SAP is offering and the only way they are able to offer that is from the simplification that has happened within the solution. And for sure the arrow at the bottom is important for anyone out there who is paying SAP maintenance fees because the focus of SAP’s development is for sure across the right hand side of that picture.
2) So myth number two is that S/4HANA is only available in the cloud, and that cloud pitch comes very loud from SAP that they developed a cloud version of S/4 and sometimes I hear that get misconstrued that there is only a cloud version of S/4. So what is happening is that features are being developed and will be deployed to the cloud first, but those same features, it’s the same code based, will come to the on premise world, and so the on premise will come down to the speed that they consume those innovations, so we get that working at two speeds. Push innovation to the cloud, pull innovation for the on premise customers.
3) So we’ve gone to myth number three, modifications will not work, so again a big push from SAP to say when did you do those modifications? Are those modifications still required? Hey guys we did a lot of stuff to the software maybe since the fifteen years since you did your modification. So I would highly recommend that you use S/4 as an opportunity to look at all of your modifications. There is a tool from SAP called the Simplification Database that will allow you to scan your modifications to see where simplification changes may have stopped those modifications from working, but in a lot of cases they may just work or may need some slight modifications because what SAP has done in S/4HANA is where they removed tables they inserted compatibility views into the system. These views are calculated by HANA on the fly, but from the programs reading those database tables they see no difference. They call what they think is the database table is actually the database view. So unless you’ve done something a bit crazy like writing to an aggregate table, then a lot of those modifications will continue to work in S/4HANA for the on premise edition. In the cloud edition, the news is that those modifications will not be allowed in the cloud edition. There is a new modification concept within the cloud edition, part of which works on the basis of modifying on top of the solution using the HANA Cloud Platform.
4) Myth number four, S/4HANA isn’t compatible with my industry solution. So the industry solutions are being rolled into S/4 as we move forward so as of 1511, no not all of the industry solutions with all of their extensions work in an optimized way, but many of those solutions will work in compatibility mode so they have not yet been optimized. Within an industry solution some features are supported and some features aren’t supported. It is important to know that S/4HANA is a new product, so as a new product, not all of the features are going to be supported exactly the same way as they were before.
5) In some cases there are duplication of features within the solution so in some cases yes the features have been removed or features have been combined together, again there is a simplification list that is published on the SAP Service Marketplace, where as feature has changed SAP will highlight what those changes are and what the recommended pathways are to bring yourself back in line with S/4. For instance, S/4 uses the business partner concept and it uses the material ledger so if you are not currently using the business partner concept or you are not using material ledger, then these are features that will need to be activated in your solution during your transition to S/4. So again, not all features are going to be there, some features are going to change. The user interface has changed with Fiori, so the myth certainly isn’t true, it supports the core business processes, but they may just be supported in slightly different ways.
6) So moving to myth number 6, you can’t upgrade to S/4HANA. Actually this is one of the myths that is technically true, you can’t upgrade to S/4HANA because S/4HANA is a new product so you can’t upgrade your Business Suite, but what you can do is convert your Business Suite to a S/4HANA system. So it’s a conversion, not an upgrade.
So you’ve got a couple of different options from a customer perspective as to whether you do that as an in place conversion or whether you choose in to migrate to a new instance of S/4HANA, we are seeing that as a popular option with people seeing S/4HANA as an opportunity to “move house”. The moving house analogy is that you look at what you have currently in your solution and decide if it’s something that is worth renovating or do you want to move house. If you move house you don’t want to move everything that you’ve got from the old house into the new house. Certainly seeing this as an opportunity to learn from what you implemented but also implement fresh and move forward is a good idea. But you have the option from a couple of perspectives but it really depends how good a base you’re coming from.
7) So myth number seven, when the word simple was being used,(BTW the simple has been dropped from any product names), we had Simple Finance so then people started talking about Simple Logistics, and then rumors started that Simple Logistics wasn’t going to be available until next year, and what really happened is that Simple Logistics is really just an internal name, and was a slang for what was happening in the other modules. And what actually happened is that across all the modules that simplification has happened and the SD data model and MM data model have been simplified, but the impact of those have been really cascaded across the solution, and I particularly like this picture here [Figure 1.3].
What we now have are these ten functional line of business areas, making it clear that there is functionality in S/4HANA and that functionality can be extended using the cloud products with that integration being pre-delivered by SAP as well, so it is a key point if you want to move to those areas.
Speaking truthfully, Simple Logistics never got delivered, but actually what Simple Logistics was has been delivered as part of the 1511 release, and that will continue to be added to each quarterly release cycle.
8) We don’t need to upgrade because this is all about being in-memory, but what I am showing in this diagram is that features are continuing to be added to classic Business Suite, they are continuing to be added to Suite on HANA, and what we are getting there is speed. That is kind of what you get running the system on any in-memory database, but S/4HANA is not just speed, it’s about giving you speed, it’s about giving you scale to be able to store things that are at a really granular level. No more worrying about, “I couldn’t put that into my SAP system it couldn’t scale”. We got simplicity in terms of simplifying the data model and user interface and the big thing that’s exciting me the most is the next generation features we are we started to take advantage of like the predictive engine, geo-spatial features, IoT capabilities, there is a whole load of stuff in the HANA box that the S/4HANA team can now start to use to build real, next generation applications. So speed is one thing you get, but if you really want to get those other things, that’s what we are getting with S/4.
9) For EhP8, we’ll get some new features added to it. So if you imagine the development team have now got the capability of the HANA platform to develop in. When it comes to down porting anything from S/4HANA into the code line, again this is a personal prediction, I predict that it’s going to be quite hard for SAP to do because a lot of those features will be using native HANA capabilities, so I think you will continue to see features in EhP8 and 9, but I don’t think you are going to necessarily going to see the innovations you’re going to see in other areas and we already see that to a certain degree with the Fiori UI.
10) You know S/4HANA is still a pretty young product. There are people out there live, there are a good number of live projects. [Martin Tenk] We are expected to have over 100 live customers by the end of this year  and well over 2,000 licensed customers.
If you’d like to learn more about how S/4HANA Digital Core supports Mobile, Digital Transformation and the Internet of Things or about the evolution of the SAP Platform, be sure to check out the Demystifying SAP S/4HANA webinar, or read an abbreviated version of this content in Owen Pettiford’s blog post on 10 Things You Need to Understand to Plan Your Road to Simple.
Next step, learn about moving from On Premise ERP to the S/4HANA On Premise Edition in Owen Pettiford’s Beginners Guide to Transitioning to S/4HANA 1511 On Premise Edition for Existing SAP ERP 6.0x Users.