SAP S/4 HANA, as any ERP solution, is not just an integrated business process; It is deeply integrated whether it is within the SAP products or connectivity to other third-party solutions. S/4HANA provides insights and turns them into actions right away in real-time by combining or converging the analytical world with the transactional world giving the end user the decision support that they need at the moment. It uses intelligence to provide planning and analytical capabilities for a broad area of industries, countries, and languages. In some areas or some instances, it even allows the system to take the decision itself and execute on it, put it into action.
Significantly, there will be new areas of applicability compared to the past. SAP S/4HANA provides capabilities for procurement, manufacturing, sales, supply chain, finance, risk, asset management, and service. It offers solutions for over 25 industries such as consumer, energy and natural resources, discrete manufacturing, financial services, service industries, and public services.
SAP S/4HANA not only provides the built-in capabilities to support any business, but it also provides the extension capabilities, which allows customers to tailor their solutions to their specific needs. That is done by the 2,000 whitelisted CDS views, more than 400 code exits, and 300 APIs, which are publicly available via the API hub, covering more than 3,000 operations. SAP provides these out-of-the-box integration capabilities, extension capabilities, and the SAP Cloud Platform to extend the solution via any form of a custom application.
S/4HANA On-Premises and Cloud – Comparison
S/4HANA on-premise, on the one hand, is the classic way where customer manages their HANA database, applications, data centers, OS, middleware, servers, virtualization, and networking. But nowadays, most companies do not run their own data centers anymore. So, they take the on-premise version and deploy it on a hyper scaler like Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, or even Alibaba. They also leverage HANA Enterprise Cloud managed service to do so. Custom code can also be built into the solution with some additional work with the developers.
On the other hand, SAP S/4HANA Cloud is deployed in the Cloud, where we see a lot of technology growth nowadays. On the cloud side, there is a very high degree of standardization with an updated system to work but a very low degree of flexibility, as customization possibilities are very minimal. In on-prem, it is the other way around. In on-prem, obviously, customer’s flexibility needs are met but they are always behind on the latest version. On the Cloud, SAP has the responsibility and the accountability to always keep on the latest version. S/4 HANA cloud upgrades customers regularly, bringing them the latest and greatest innovation and making sure they can use it. Versus in on-premise, staying up to date is the customer’s responsibility.
Nevertheless, there are similarities between S/4 HANA on Cloud and on-premise:
- Both on-premise and Cloud are based on the same code line.
- SAP publishes the latest functionality and innovation, always first on the Cloud, and then they bring it down into the annual on-premise release.
- Both have the same data models and the same semantic between the two deployment options to stay compatible. 4. They both provide a unified user experience. Every change done with Fiori is available in both on-premise and Cloud to be used.
The latest Version of S/4 Hana
SAP releases a new version of S/4HANA on-premise every year. The 1909 version was released in September 2019, and then the 2020 version was released on October 7, 2020. For the on-premise version of SAP S/4HANA, 2020 is the sixth release. SAP has changed the terminology from the new release: from 1709, 1809, and 1909 which was (YYMM); now it is 2020 (YYYY), so the next release will probably be named as 2021. For the SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP provides four releases each year. The releases in SAP S/4HANA Cloud are 2008, which was released in July 2020. Then the latest cloud release, 2011, was released on October 28, 2020.
The new SAP S/4 HANA 2020 release provides companies with thousands of major and minor innovations in different areas. For example, in the user interface, SAP Fiori or the business processes automation through machine learning and predictive analytics. SAP has integrated the SAP Analytics Cloud into the on-premise version of SAP S/4HANA with release 2020. It has provided an improved user experience, e.g., through new and extended SAP FIORI user interfaces. Much improved integration is available in the end-to-end process, such as the stronger integration of Production Planning and Quality Management. There is also development related to EWM – Extended Warehouse Management, e.g., the provision of migration paths. Lots of innovations have been done in individual functions, e.g., the integration of attachments such as images in the business process. In the area of Radio Frequency screens, e.g., the standardization of serial number profiles or wave management there is a lot of simplification of use, compared to the previous version. The new release also provides the Industry and sector-specific functions, such as missing parts management.
SAP S/4HANA is the most comprehensive, integrated, and intelligent ERP system in the market and the advantage is, you can deploy it anywhere, in the Cloud, on a hyperscaler, or on your premises. S/4HANA, as the intelligent ERP, is actually the central component of SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise strategy. An intelligent ERP makes it possible for companies to adapt and scale with the agility and flexibility that is required in today’s markets. For sure, a total foundation of that is the following:
- An open, thriving ecosystem, which means open APIs to really be able to extend SAP solutions.
- Artificial intelligence is integrated and embedded in every business process across the entire SAP S/4HANA suite.
- SAP HANA, as the underlying platform, is actually enabling business processes at scale, which has never been possible before.