Six Questions to Help You Better Understand SAP S/4HANA in the Cloud

The following Q&A is from SAPinsider’s webinar, SAP S/4HANA in the Cloud, presented by Robert Holland, SAPinsider’s Analyst in the Cloud, Security, and SAP S/4HANA space, on Thursday, January 30, 2020. Click here to listen to the on-demand version.

Q: When SAP says cloud, does it mean HANA Enterprise Cloud or could it be in any cloud? What are the pros and cons of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud vs. another cloud provider?

A: There’s a lot of confusion around “what is cloud?” Not only does SAP have SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, it is available on SAP hardware as well as on public cloud/hyperscaler hardware. So you can deploy SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud on Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud running on Microsoft Azure was one of the platforms that SAP indicated a customer had deployed in their most recent earnings call.

So when SAP says cloud it really depends on who’s talking, because it can mean a lot of different things and that’s part of the confusion. But in SAPinsider’s recent research there were only about 3 respondents who indicated that they were using an SAP-hosted environment which in those cases likely meant SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud or SAP S/4HANA running on an SAP backend. Most of the time when our respondents are talking about a cloud environment they mean a privately hosted environment or a public cloud environment.

From a pros vs. cons perspective, I think it really depends on what you’re trying to achieve. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud is basically an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform that SAP is offering so it’s more SAP controlled and it comes with a SAP HANA backend. If you’re moving to another IaaS provider this might not necessarily be the case but it could well be on both SAP hardware or running on a hyperscaler platform, which is what SAP is pushing now. There’s a large ecosystem of people at SAP who are experienced in SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud who can help with migration, but you might also consider cost as a main driver of your decision. If that’s the case you should do a comparison of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and the other cloud providers.


Q: What tools can you recommend for migrating to SAP S/4HANA?

A: Two of the best free tools that you can use are SAP S/4HANA Readiness Check and SAP Transformation Navigator, which is a self-planning tool to help understand the road map to SAP S/4HANA for each industry and application. Another useful resource to leverage is the SAP S/4HANA Movement program, which consists of a portfolio of tools, programs, content, and services that help prepare customers to move to SAP S/4HANA. For example, SAP Transformation Navigator is part of SAP S/4HANA Move. Lastly, there is the newly released Customer Vendor Integration Cockpit which is intended to help provide an integration of reports, transactions, and components that are required to execute the Business Partner Synchronization process.


Q: Does SAP S/4HANA on cloud provide an opportunity to develop machine learning models?

A: It depends on whether you’re referring to SAP S/4HANA running on the cloud, or SAP S/4HANA Cloud. There are definitely machine learning models in SAP S/4HANA Cloud as that’s something that Sven Denecken has been emphasizing as new functionality that is available in SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1911.


Q: Any idea how much it would cost for a two-billion dollar company to move to SAP S/4HANA?

A: The cost for any company to move to SAP S/4HANA is dependent on many variables, including how many ERP instances the company has, the deployment environment, whether a greenfield or brownfield deployment is planned, and whether there are plans for any partners or consultants to be involved in the migration. And those are probably only the start of the process. What I would recommend is using SAP Readiness Check to see whether your existing ERP systems are ready to convert to SAP S/4HANA. Then there are tools that are part of the SAP S/4HANA Movement program like SAP Transformation Navigator, and SAP Adoption Starter, which is a virtual classroom to understand why, what, and how to move to SAP S/4HANA.


Q: Any suggestions for how to utilize an independent consultant to oversee the work performed by the system integrator and or other vendors? Or best practices?

A: Unfortunately I cannot provide any specific insight on how to address the question of using independent consultants, but if you come to our SAPinsider event in Las Vegas that would be a great opportunity to talk to other customers about how they are handling similar problems and situations.


Q: What is the difference between SAP HANA, SAP Leonardo, and SAP Ariba?

A: There is actually a very significant difference between these products. SAP HANA is an in-memory database. SAP Ariba is for procurement and supply chain solutions. And SAP Leonardo is a combination of intelligent technologies, services, and industry expertise, but it includes technologies like Internet of Things, machine learning, blockchain, analytics, and Big Data.