Session Recap: Options for Extending and Integrating SAP S/4HANA with SAP Cloud Platform

by Annie Kennedy, Associate Conference Producer, SAPinsider

On the third day of the SAPinsider Virtual Conference Experience, Reddy Venumbaka, Senior Director of Product Marketing at SAP, led an informative session on the options available for extending SAP S/4HANA and integrating with SAP and non-SAP applications using SAP Cloud Platform.

Venumbaka set the stage by explaining the wide range of benefits that come with using SAP S/4HANA with SAP Cloud Platform, including:

  • Reducing maintenance and upgrade costs by decoupling your custom code and moving it the cloud
  • Accelerating integration using 1,400+ prebuilt integration flows and 175+ open connectors
  • Leveraging your existing ABAP developers to extend and build new cloud innovations securely
  • Simplifying development and delivering applications fast with low-code rapid development tools
  • Building new business models with SAP HANA Cloud, creating unique user experiences with SAP Fiori, and supporting mobile services such as iOS and Android
  • Enabling focus on higher-value tasks by augmenting knowledge workers and automating repetitive tasks
  • Expanding globally and complying with regulatory and data privacy requirements with the choice of cloud providers

He also walked through SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite and how it integrates with other SAP solutions and third-party applications such as DocuSign and tax calculation programs, further emphasizing the benefits the platform can provide to customers navigating a modern business landscape. To illustrate, Venumbaka used SAP customer — a Brazilian cosmetics and personal care giant that operates stores including The Body Shop in the US, Latin America, and France — as an example. Natura used SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite to integrate various systems for a 360-degree view of its data, increasing efficiency across operations and providing faster order fulfillment for 3.5 million ecommerce customers while allowing Natura to process 200 purchasing requests in a single minute. Venumbaka shared some screenshots from a June 2020 webinar by Hamilton Bokaleff of Natura, showing Natura’s simplified architecture thanks to SAP Cloud Platform.

For extending SAP S/4HANA, Venumbaka noted that SAP Cloud Platform enables companies to leverage their existing ABAP processes and expertise. The ABAP environment within SAP Cloud Platform is designed to extend SAP applications with whitelisted APIs, he said, and it includes SAP HANA for persistence. SAP Cloud Platform integrates source code management with Git and is fully managed by SAP, allowing for a clean core by decoupling custom code from the digital core and reducing administrative and maintenance effort and cost, he added. SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment also includes the latest ABAP, SAP HANA, and cloud innovations, and enables you to easily migrate your custom code with a modern cloud-based ABAP environment.

When it comes to automating SAP S/4HANA processes, Venumbaka outlined the advantages of using the robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities available with SAP Cloud Platform through the service, which provides best-in-class integration with SAP applications, predefined bots, reusable components, comprehensive bot development tools, fully attended and unattended RPA capabilities, flexible pricing, and embedded artificial intelligence and machine learning. As an example, Venumbaka spoke of REHAU, a polymer company in China, that used SAP Intelligent RPA to automate financial processes that required significant manual intervention and redundant work. REHAU saved time and cut down on human error, and its employees have been able to spend more time on innovative work thanks to SAP Intelligent RPA reducing financial accounting document handling time from four days to 10 minutes, and reducing closing time from a full day to two minutes.

SAP HANA Cloud is a fully managed SAP HANA data platform-as-a-service that you can leverage to build custom applications with SAP Cloud Platform that support an SAP Fiori-based user experience, mobile capabilities for iOS and Android, and automation capabilities, Venumbaka said. A cloud-based approach is especially useful if you want to expand globally and comply with various countries’ requirements, he added, since SAP Cloud Platform runs all over the world on platforms from a variety of providers, including Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and SAP. And with partners building applications using SAP Cloud Platform and making them available in SAP App Center, you don’t always need to build your own. Venumbaka recommended that attendees start with a free trial of SAP Cloud Platform to see how it works.

During the Q&A following the presentation, Venumbaka answered a variety of questions from attendees. One area of particular interest was what’s involved in getting SAP Cloud Platform to talk to SAP ECC, which some customers are still running with SAP Business Suite. Venumbaka emphasized that customers can get started using SAP Cloud Platform with SAP ECC without any restrictions. Integrations can be used to connect SAP Cloud Platform with SAP Business Suite, and SAP highly recommends using SAP Cloud Platform if you have SAP Business Suite today and plan to go to SAP S/4HANA in future.

Attendees were also interested in understanding why it is better to develop on SAP Cloud Platform than SAP S/4HANA itself. Venumbaka explained that using SAP Cloud Platform for integration and custom development reduces maintenance costs and simplifies upgrades. It keeps SAP S/4HANA stable while taking advantage of the guaranteed access provided by SAP Cloud Platform through published APIs, as well as the latest innovations and automatic updates.

A recording of the full session and the Q&A that followed will soon be available on demand from the SAPinsider 2020 Virtual Conference Experience.