12 questions about SAP S/4HANA Cloud

What cloud solutions does SAP offer? What does RISE with SAP have to do with the SAP S/4HANA Cloud? And what are the advantages of the SAP Cloud? Here are the answers!

There is hardly a company left that does not use a cloud solution. These solutions are particularly convincing with their flexibility and lower costs.

SAP also offers various cloud solutions and license variants for SAP S/4HANA - as a subscription, as a public or private cloud, or also in combination with RISE with SAP or GROW with SAP.

What RISE with SAP or GROW with SAP is all about, which solutions are available from SAP and how secure the cloud is - answers to these and many other questions can be found here.

1. What is SAP S/4HANA Cloud?

SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a comprehensive ERP system from SAP SE that is available in two variants: a Private Edition and a Public Edition.

In contrast to classic on-premise solutions, the software is located in the cloud - for example, on an SAP server or a hyperscaler such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. In the APJ (Asia Pacific Japan) economic region, hosting via Alibaba Cloud is also possible.

In contrast to classic on-premise solutions, the SAP S/4HANA Cloud gives companies the opportunity,

  • Reduce IT costs,
  • become more flexible and agile,
  • implement innovations faster and
  • benefit from SAP best practices.

In principle, the various operating models do not differ. SAP speaks here of the "One Code Line" and of "One data Model, One Semantic, One User Experience". SAP S/4HANA, Private Edition includes the full scope of the on-premise solution.

A distinction is made between the operating models for SAP S/4HANA in principle solutions,

  • where the software is leased ("as a service"), and those
  • where the licenses for the software are purchased ("as a product").

There are also differences with regard to the degree of standardization and expandability (degree of flexibility).

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2. What are the benefits of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud?

There are tremendous benefits associated with cloud solutions. Instead of having to operate their own data centers, companies outsource the operation and service of ERP software to a partner such as SAP or work with a hyperscaler such as AWS, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure.

Such an approach

  • lowers costs (for example, according to SAP, around 20 percent lower total cost of ownership for the cloud compared to the on-premise solution),
  • increases flexibility and
  • increases the speed at which innovations can be implemented.

Companies become more resilient, faster and can focus on new developments.

In addition, the company can benefit from the latest technologies and is thus always "up to date". SAP customers regularly and automatically receive the latest innovations - in areas such as machine learning and predictive analytics - thanks to SAP updates.

By using SAP Best Practices in the cloud, many processes can also be automated, accelerated and simplified. The preconfigured standards are available as so-called "scope items" (the units of best practices that can be activated) for a wide range of sectors and industries.

Depending on the requirements, however, this advantage can also be a disadvantage: Individual adaptations are less possible - for example, with the public cloud variant - than with a classic on-premise solution, because the provider's predefined standard must be implemented.

According to SAP, the cloud has five key advantages. These advantages are:

  • A faster return on investment (for example, through increasing automation and the use of standard best practices),
  • greater business agility (for example, through faster access to technology innovations and seamless integration with existing investments from SAP and other vendors),
  • lower total cost of ownership (for example, by eliminating the cost of acquiring an in-house IT infrastructure),
  • improved governance and compliance (for example, through out-of-the-box audit reporting); and
  • access to "smart" solutions (for example, with a view to integrated analysis and forecasting functions).

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3. What cloud solutions are available for SAP S/4HANA?

SAP S/4HANA Cloud is the generic term for SAP cloud solutions. In the past, SAP also used it to refer to the public cloud solution.

Currently, three different operating models are available to companies: two pure cloud solutions ("as a service") and on-premise in the sense of a purchase license ("as a product"):

  • SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Private Edition (formerly: Single Tenant Edition or Extended Edition).
  • SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Public Edition (formerly: Multi Tenant Edition or Essential Edition or just "SAP S/4HANA Cloud")
  • SAP S/4HANA On-Premise (classic on-premise in your own data center or hosted by hyperscalers such as AWS, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure or other data center service providers).

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4. What is the SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Public Edition?

The "public cloud" variant is particularly suitable for new SAP customers and existing customers who want to benefit extensively from the preconfigured best practices and completely rebuild their own system.

The SAP S/4HANA Cloud is an immediately available software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. This means that SAP hosts the software and takes care of operations and maintenance. The customer subscribes to the software and service and accesses the system via the Internet.

The scope of the solution includes the core ERP system, specific industries and 42 countries. The implementation can only be carried out via the greenfield approach.

The solution is available as part of RISE with SAP or for new customers in the midmarket via GROW with SAP.

Extensions are available via the

  • SAP Business Technology Platform Extension Suite (side-by-side extensibility) with listed APIs as well as via
  • In-app extensions (key users),
  • as on-stack development or
  • with embedded steampunk.

In contrast to all other variants, the user interface is a pure Fiori launchpad. Configuration in this solution is done via Self-Service Configuration User Interfaces (SSCUIs) rather than the Implementation Guide (IMG).

Earlier designations such as "Essential Edition", "Cloud ES" or "Multi Tenant Edition" are no longer used.

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5. Are the functions of the public cloud sufficient?

Individual customizations of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Public Edition are only possible within certain limits. In essence, the Public Cloud is a ready-to-use standard solution for small and medium-sized enterprises. It is comparatively inexpensive and requires hardly any customization.

The disadvantage: The customization options are fewer than with other solutions due to the standardization; customizing is only possible within the standards. User-defined codes or third-party software, for example, can only be used to a limited extent by companies switching to the public cloud in accordance with SAP's special specifications.

Companies that need more leeway can, for example, go the private cloud route. Unlike the public cloud, the private cloud is based on services that are only used by one company and are tailored to that company.

The private cloud therefore combines some of the advantages of the public cloud - such as standardization or the rapid provision of technical innovations and updates - with the functions of an on-premise solution.

However, only the on-premise variant is completely open to change. In general, companies can adapt SAP S/4HANA to their requirements with the help of the SAP Business Technology Platform - for example, through side-by-side extensions. The apps can then be integrated into SAP S/4HANA.

6. What is SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Private Edition (PCE)?

The "private cloud" variant of SAP S/4HANA has been available in combination with RISE with SAP since the beginning of 2021 (RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Private Edition).

Since then, it has also been possible for the first time to switch to the cloud with a system conversion. Accordingly, all paths are now possible for this operating model: new implementation (greenfield), system conversion (brownfield) and selective migration.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Private Edition is operated by SAP and hosted on a hyperscaler such as Alibaba Cloud, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure or AWS. Companies can obtain the licenses via a software subscription (available as RISE with SAP).

With this variant, companies have the full functional scope available, identical to on-premise (25 industries, 25 languages and 43 countries).

Extensions are possible more comprehensively with PCE than with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Public Edition: in-app extensibility including key user and classic ABAP extensibility as well as extensions via the SAP Business Technology Platform Extension Suite (side-by-side extensibility). Code modifications can also be implemented (but are not recommended).

Former designations such as "Extended Edition", "Cloud EX" or "Single Tenant Edition" are no longer valid after the rebranding by SAP.

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7. What if the scope of functions of SAP S/4HANA Cloud is not sufficient?

The scope of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Private Edition is completely the same as the on-premise offering - so all functions are available. Those who choose this offering do not have to make any compromises.

For many companies, however, the somewhat reduced range of functions of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Public Edition is also completely sufficient. Here, the classic core functions and selected line-of-business processes are available.

Those who rely on a high degree of standardization and want to achieve more flexibility may therefore be better served with this variant.

The "public cloud" is particularly well suited to agile and fast-growing companies that have not yet used an SAP solution. The standardized processes help them to create scalable structures.

8. How secure is the SAP S/4HANA Cloud?

IT security is not a cloud-specific problem. In many cases, the security of data and systems in the cloud is likely to be even higher than in an on-site data center.

Companies today are exposed to a wide range of threats. For example, even local data centers of companies are repeatedly targets for attacks by hackers and for data espionage and must be protected by sufficient security systems. The problem is that setting up such systems is not enough, because they need to be intensively supported and regularly maintained and updated.

According to SAP, the cloud solutions meet the strictest industry standards in terms of security - in many cases, the level is likely to be even higher than for company-owned data centers. According to SAP, four aspects play a central role in terms of security:

  • Data privacy and data security,
  • best practices for data centers,
  • external audits, and user
  • user management and authentication.

For example, data backups are performed regularly in the data centers; a special storage system always backs up the data twice. In addition, each customer's data is isolated from the data of other customers, i.e., stored separately from one another. In addition, SAP has all its security and data protection policies and measures regularly audited and evaluated by an independent party.

No company can secure its own infrastructure in a similar way - or operate the security infrastructure so cost-effectively that the on-premise solution would still be cheaper than the cloud. After all, it's not enough just to build and set up the infrastructure. Companies also have to factor in the costs of maintaining and modernizing the systems.

The security package of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Private Edition, for example, contains a variety of measures and actions from the areas mentioned:

  • Security measures are regularly tested and confirmed through various certifications and attestations (e.g., ISO certifications, SOC1 Type II and SOC2 Type II, C5)
  • Advanced IT security architecture (e.g., through isolated, separate landscape per customer)
  • Threat and vulnerability management (e.g., through security patch management)
  • Customer data flow control (e.g., through regional data storage)
  • Network security (e.g., through network filtering, intrusion prevention systems)
  • Secure product development lifecycle
  • Secure operations (e.g., asset management, change management, anti-virus and malware management)
  • Physical security (e.g., video and sensor monitoring, access logging)

An overview of security in the SAP S/4HANA Cloud is provided by the SAP Trust Center, which compiles all information on availability, data protection, security, and compliance in the cloud in one place on the Internet.

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9. How does RISE with SAP relate to the SAP S/4HANA Cloud?

SAP launched RISE with SAP to make it easier for companies to move to the cloud. In this respect, RISE with SAP is inextricably linked to SAP S/4HANA Cloud.

The private cloud is only available as part of RISE with SAP. The path to the public cloud, on the other hand, leads via RISE with SAP or GROW with SAP.

With RISE with SAP, SAP bundles a wide variety of services and tools in one package with one contract ("ONE offer, ONE Contract, Unmatched TCO"). In addition to a cloud solution, the core elements include offerings such as SAP Business Technology Platform (Platform Services), SAP Business Process Intelligence (Discovery Reports), SAP Business Network, and SAP Build.

All components are primarily concerned with redesigned business processes, the technical migration to SAP S/4HANA and the development of the intelligent enterprise. SAP sees RISE as "business transformation as a service" - regardless of the progress already made and the time needed for the change.

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10. What is GROW with SAP?

With GROW with SAP, SAP launched a second transformation package in addition to RISE with SAP at the beginning of 2023.

It contains the SAP S/4HANA, Public Edition as well as services, training offers and knowledge resources for cloud implementation. GROW with SAP is aimed primarily at midmarket SAP new customers.

With GROW with SAP, SAP helps companies move quickly and easily to a cloud solution to accelerate business growth, reduce costs and replace traditional systems.

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11. What does the SAP S/4HANA Cloud cost?

This question cannot be answered in a general way, as the price depends on many factors and is determined individually for customers.

In principle, SAP offers the SAP S/4HANA Cloud on a subscription basis (Software as a Service or Software Subscription). The price for the SAP S/4HANA Cloud in the subscription is based on a full-time user (Full User Equivalent or "FUE").The basis for measuring prices is generally SAP's pricing and licensing model, which it presented in 2018.

This model (Indirect Digital Access Pricing Model) distinguishes between direct access by humans (Human Access) and indirect or digital user access (Digital Access). By indirect access, SAP means, for example, access to SAP systems by third parties, bots, or the Internet of Things.

In mid-2019, SAP additionally presented the "Digital Access Adoption Program," with which SAP addressed the concerns of user groups. These had - after the presentation of the Indirect Digital Access Pricing Model - expressed their concerns with regard to the transparency and predictability of license costs.

According to SAP, however, customers will no longer have to worry about unintentionally violating license terms in the future.

12. How does the implementation of SAP S/4HANA Cloud work?

The path to the cloud leads via SAP Activate, a framework from SAP.

This "structured framework" provides SAP customers with a whole range of defined processes and configuration tools to help them implement new SAP projects.

SAP Activate is available for all phases of an SAP lifecycle - from the implementation of SAP S/4HANA Cloud (private or public) to the introduction of innovations after the go-live of a system.

The SAP Activate framework is divided into the phases Discover, Prepare, Explore, Realize, Deploy and Run.

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Matthias Mueller01 1444x1444px

Matthias Müller, Senior Sales Executive

Do you have questions about SAP's cloud solutions? Then get in touch!

+49 2241 8845 622


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