13 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 convince above all with their flexibility and lower costs.

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

What RISE 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. 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 Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure.

In contrast to classic on-premise solutions, the SAP S/4HANA Cloud gives companies the opportunity to reduce IT costs, become more flexible and agile, implement innovations more quickly and benefit immediately 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". Depending on the variant of the selected cloud solution, it therefore includes the full scope of the on-premise solution.

The operating models for SAP S/4HANA basically distinguish between solutions where the software is leased ("as a service") and those where the licences for the software are purchased ("as a product"). There are also differences with regard to the degree of standardisation and expandability (degree of flexibility).

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

There are enormous advantages 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 Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure or AWS.

Such an approach reduces 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 of implementation for innovations. 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 best practices in the cloud, many processes can also be automated, accelerated and simplified. The preconfigured standards are already available 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 on the one hand the generic term for all SAP cloud solutions. On the other hand, SAP currently also uses it to refer to a specific cloud solution in the portfolio: the public cloud solution.

Currently, five different operating models are available to companies, three of which are pure cloud solutions ("as a service") and two of which are any-premise solutions ("as a product").

Cloud solutions (software as a service or software subscriptions)

  • SAP S/4HANA Cloud (formerly: SAP S/4HANA Cloud, essentials edition, multi-tenant edition or "public cloud" only) with or without RISE with SAP
  • RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition (new since 2021)
  • SAP S/4HANA Cloud, extended edition (formerly: single-tenant edition or "private cloud" only)

Any-Premise solutions (on any infrastructure)

  • SAP S/4HANA On-Premise managed by SAP (SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, also called SAP HEC)
  • SAP S/4HANA On-Premise (On-Premise or managed by cloud provider Hyperscalers)

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

This "public cloud" variant is particularly suitable for new SAP customers and existing customers who want to benefit comprehensively from the pre-configured best practices and want to completely rebuild their own system.

The SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a software-as-a-service solution (SaaS). This means that SAP hosts the software and takes care of operation and maintenance. The customer subscribes to the software and the 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 use of RISE with SAP is possible.

Extensions are permitted via the SAP Business Technology Platform Extension Suite (side-by-side extensibility) with listed APIs.

In contrast to all other variants, the user interface in this case is a pure Fiori launchpad. Configuration in this solution is done via Self-Service Configuration User Interfaces (SSCUIs) and not via the Implementation Guide (IMG).

Previous designations such as SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Essential Edition (Cloud ES), SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud or Multi Tenant Edition are no longer used.

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5. Are the functions of the public cloud sufficient?

Individual customizations of the SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud are only possible within certain limits. In essence, the public cloud is a ready-to-use standard solution for small and medium-sized companies that 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. Custom codes or third-party software, for example, can no longer be used by companies when moving to the public cloud.

Companies that need more leeway can go the private cloud route, for example. Unlike the public cloud, the private cloud is based on services that are only used by one company and are tailored to that company. Although companies have to operate their own data center for this cloud variant (or work with a third-party provider), the program code, for example, can be customized in return.

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 and the SAP S/4HANA Cloud Software Developer Kit (SDK) - for example, through side-by-side extensions. The apps can then be integrated into SAP S/4HANA.

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

This "private cloud" variant has been available since the beginning of 2021. SAP has brought it onto the market - in combination with RISE with SAP - to enable a larger number of companies to move into the cloud.

For the first time, therefore, there is the possibility here to switch to the cloud with a system conversion. For this operating model, all paths are even possible: new implementation (greenfield), system conversion (brownfield) and selective migration.

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

With this variant, the full functional scope is available to companies, identical to on-premise (25 industries, 39 languages and 64 countries).

Extensions are possible to a greater extent than with SAP S/4HANA Cloud: 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). Modifications to the code can also be implemented (but are not recommended).

Earlier designations such as "SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud" or "Single Tenant Edition" no longer apply following the rebranding by SAP.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Extended Edition (Cloud EX), on the other hand, is still available and corresponds to RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition. However, the RISE offering is not included here.

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7. What is SAP S/4HANA Cloud, extended edition?

The SAP S/4HANA Cloud, extended edition (formerly: Single Tenant Edition) is largely identical to the RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition. This is also a private cloud solution.

The most important differences: RISE with SAP is not included in this operating model. In addition, as in the past, only the greenfield approach is available as an implementation path.

In order to use the SAP S/4HANA Cloud, extended edition, there must be a minimum number of users. This version is therefore only suitable for medium-sized and large companies.

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

The scope of the RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition corresponds completely to the on-premise offer - all functions are available. Those who choose this offer do not have to make any compromises.

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

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

The SAP S/4HANA Cloud is particularly well suited for agile and fast-growing companies that have not yet used an SAP solution. The standardised processes help them to create scalable structures.

9. 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 SAP S/4HANA cloud meets the strictest industry standards when it comes to security - in many cases, the level is likely to be even higher than for company-owned data centers. Four aspects play a central role in terms of security, according to SAP: data protection and data security, data center best practices, external audits, and 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 RISE with 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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10. 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 is inseparably linked to SAP S/4HANA Cloud.

With RISE with SAP, SAP bundles a wide range of services and tools in one package with one contract ("ONE offer, ONE Contract, Unmatched TCO"). The core elements also include SAP Business Technology Platform (Platform Services), SAP Business Process Intelligence (Discovery Reports) and SAP Business Network (Starter Pack).

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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11. What is SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC)?

The SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (SAP S/4HANA On-Premise managed by SAP) is an on-premise solution with individual and private hardware and infrastructure.

The infrastructure is provided and managed by SAP as "Infrastructure as a Service". It is hosted as a cloud in the SAP data centre, at a hyperscaler or in the company's own data centre. The offer includes a service level agreement for the application stack and the security and control functions.

The SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud is licensed according to the Bring Your Own License principle or billed according to an infrastructure subscription.

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12. How much does the SAP S/4HANA Cloud cost?

This question cannot be answered in a blanket manner, 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 or in the form of a consumption-based model. The price for 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 new pricing and licensing model, which it introduced 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.

However, according to SAP, customers will no longer have to worry about unintentionally violating license terms.

13. How does the implementation of S/4 Cloud work?

The cloud path leads via SAP Activate, a new 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 implementing SAP S/4HANA Cloud to introducing innovations after a system goes live. The SAP Activate framework is broken down into the Discover, Prepare, Explore, Realize, Deploy and Run phases.

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