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What Is SAP S/4 HANA Cloud? A Deeper Look

In early February 2017, SAP announced a public cloud version of its flagship product - S/4 HANA ERP Suite - as a key element of its digital transformation initiative. 

The product, called SAP S/4 HANA Cloud, will place customers in a self-service model and use AI and machine learning to make the software “smarter” than its on-premises predecessors. At the analyst briefing in February, SAP emphasized the product as pivotal to its cloud shift.

With all this excitement, I thought it would be a good time for us to take a deeper look at what S/4 HANA Cloud Suite is all about.

What is SAP S/4 HANA Cloud?

SAP S/4 HANA Cloud is a SaaS based solution designed to deliver key business process automation as a service.

Defining Characteristics of SAP S/4 HANA Cloud:

SAP S/4 HANA Cloud is designed and architected on the basis of pre-defined blocks of concurrent user tiers - along with virtual memory capacity – allowing enterprises to subscribe to a starting tier and then scale up based on usage.

The two parameters that constrain a usage tier are:

  1. The maximum number of concurrent users within the tier
  2. The gross HANA blade size

3 System Landscape

SAP S/4 HANA Cloud is deployed to each customer with a 3 system landscape.

  1. Starter
  2. QA
  3. Production

However at any given time only 2 of these environments are active. Customers will typically begin with a Starter and QA environment. As they progress through their deployment lifecycle, they will eventually decommission the Starter environment and utilize QA and Production in their lifecycle management once live in production.

Related Reading: SAP Softens Looming S/4HANA Deadline and Extends ERP Support to 2027

Allows Customer to Select Data Center

SAP S/4 HANA Cloud allows the customer to select the data center out of a list of published options.

Once selected, the customer’s instances are deployed and managed as a farm of virtual instances with redundancy and resiliency built into the core design of the data center.

Per User Per Month Framework

SAP S/4 HANA Cloud is available for consumption on a per user per month framework.

SAP follows a quarterly innovation release process to add functionality and to encourage its user community to stay current. Upgrades are mandatory under this model and the software is upgraded in the customers QA instance. Most customers are given about two weeks to complete their testing and validation before those upgrades are now moved over their Production instance. SAP has adopted a Fit to Standard model for extensibility which allows for customer modified functionality to remain intact during these mandatory upgrades.

Adopt Out-of-the-Box Functionality

SAP S/4 HANA Cloud does not have any major limitations on the level and timing of SAP application level customizations that can be made.

The application has a number of Best Practices optimized, making it easy for customers to adopt out-of-the-box functionality to improve application and business efficiency. With the Fit to Standard extensibility design, customers can customize the applications and still have it work within the delivery framework.

Operated Out of a Single Data Center Location

SAP S/4 HANA Cloud is not enabled for Disaster Recovery-based Service Level Agreements. 

Since it is designed to run and operate out of a single Data Center location, a standard DR program with SLAs will be made available after a multi data center solution has been released. 

Related Reading: 5 Benefits of Managed Disaster Recovery Services

What does SAP S/4 HANA Cloud Mean For The Future of SAP?

Since it was mentioned by SAP that these were not new products but rather a doubling down of current cloud investments – it was not clear whether or not this was really a re-packaging of its SaaS acquisitions (i.e Ariba, Concur and Success Factors).

We know that the core ERP functionality is available in S/4 HANA on premise versions. Whether that level of functionality is also available on the S/4 HANA Cloud version is not yet evident.

How does Velocity's Cloud Application Management Platform (VCAMP) for SAP on AWS differ from SAP S/4 HANA Cloud?

  1. A more flexible landscape for SAP application optimization. Leveraging VCAMP, Velocity can quickly spin up more than 2 SAP instances to meet various business needs like training, testing and report development. These additional instances are available via VCAMP for as long as your organization needs them - from a few weeks to a few years.

  2. Velocity’s core competency is running and optimizing SAP. SAP’s primary focus is software manufacturing. Velocity’s core focus is running and managing that software. In the event of an issue with the software, a provider like Velocity provides third party attestation to verify the crux of the issue and hold the manufacturer accountable.

  3. Purpose-built enterprise infrastructure for enterprise apps. Our enterprise cloud services is designed to ensure your enterprise SAP solution is secure, resilient and redundant. VCAMP services come with managed disaster recovery, backups and system refreshes - all which demonstrate our commitment to a secure solution.

  4. Our Velocity Zoom™ Analytics Platform comes standard with our cloud services. Analyze, measure and improve employee performance, work/life balance and engagement. Get audit-ready reporting at your fingertips, capturing comprehensive system usage. Monitor application processes occurring in real-time and ensure they are happening within expected guidelines.

How Velocity Reduced Costs by 20% for EIS by Automating SAP Environments

Download the case study and discover how Velocity automated an SAP environment resulting in a 20% cost reduction for EIS.

Download Case Study

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