Editorial: Revolution at SAP: S/4HANA

Revolution at SAP: S/4HANA

Behind the term with the strange spelling lies the latest generation of SAP business software. Just as the switch from SAP R/2 to SAP R/3 was a paradigm shift at the time, the switch from SAP Business Suite to SAP S/4Hana is at least as big a change. Key changes include the switch to the HANA in-memory database, the use of the new SAP Hana Studio development environment and the design of new interfaces with SAP Fiori.

SAP marketing never tires of emphasizing the advantages of the new software: fast calculations and evaluations, as the data is available directly in the working memory, reduction of complexity in program development or new user-friendly interfaces that adapt to the device used. This means that the interfaces will be available on all common platforms such as PCs, tablets and smartphones in future. Other highlights include the integration of social networks or coupling with the Internet of Things (IoT).

Experts agree: it is not a question of whether SAP customers will switch to the new S/4Hana system, but when. Companies can choose between different operating models: operating the software in the cloud or in-house as an on-premise solution.

So why not immediately switch to the business software that seems to be an egg-laying wool-milk sow? It’s not quite that simple after all. On the one hand, not all functional areas are yet available in the new software. The first functional areas to be implemented and available are Finance and Logistics. Further functional areas will follow.

Another stumbling block: the data structures of the software have changed fundamentally in order to take full advantage of the new database technology. Tables such as MSEG, MKPF, MARC, MARD or MBEW no longer exist. Of course, SAP offers programs that transfer data from the old to the new world. To ensure that old programs or in-house developments continue to function, SAP offers so-called compatibility views that enable access to old table structures. Unfortunately, it is not possible to write back data via these views. In these cases, the effort required to adapt or redevelop the old programs is considerable.

This fact also sheds new light on the integrated add-on solutions that were developed in the old SAP environment. Immense and cost-intensive efforts are required to ensure that these tools continue to function in the future. Anyone looking for a suitable add-on tool for their SAP Business Suite or SAP ERP should check what efforts are being made by the provider to ensure compatibility. A wrong decision would be very painful. Or you can opt for an external system that was developed independently of SAP’s internal structures and is only affected by the changes to a minor extent. I wish you the best of luck with your decisions and remain


Dr. Bernd Reineke

Picture of Dr. Bernd Reineke

Dr. Bernd Reineke

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