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What Is SAP S/4HANA Cloud?

When looking at ERP systems offered by market leader, SAP, you’ve probably run across names such as S/4HANA, Business One and Business ByDesign. But what’s the difference?

We’ve written a lot about SAP Business One and SAP Business ByDesign, the two main offerings for small to medium-sized businesses (here’s a comparison of these two small business options). But if you’re curious about S/4HANA, here’s a primer.


SAP S/4HANA Cloud: ERP for Business Transformation 


SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Public Edition is a leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform that empowers consistent intelligence. Because it’s cloud-based, it requires lower upfront investment—there’s no need to spend a lot on hardware. This ERP solution helps organizations gain total transparency into their corporate data.

Organizations must have the highest standards of customer service, delivering on initial promises to customers. This can be achieved by jumping into the digital subscription economy, with automated contract management, billing for subscriptions, and usage-based revenue. With this foundation, organizations can forge customer relationships that are tighter and more profitable. 

SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a complete, modular cloud ERP software platform designed for any business powered by AI, analytics, and process automation, and enables better performance and a simplified user experience. It helps businesses run mission-critical operations in real time from anywhere, introduce new business models, and expand globally with a trusted partner.

It improves business agility and optimizes business processes using a standard set of leading practices for non-strategic business capabilities. It empowers a single platform to make decisions with greater transparency across transactions and analytics, providing instant insights using predictive analytics and narrative building as well as advanced reporting features that can improve decision-making capabilities. 

With a robust database structure that can handle huge data lakes with high processing speed and quick response time, SAP S/4HANA reduces business operational cost and total cost of ownership. It improves the user experience with SAP Fiori, which helps end users build role-based apps for executing their day-to-day transactions while reducing overall complexity with simplified onboarding and guided configuration.

For IT teams, SAP S/4HANA Cloud provides rapid implementation through custom configuration and testing tools provided by SAP and native integrations for access to a broad array of cloud-based APIs available for prompt integration. Furthermore, the ERP platform is designed to use best practices to guide you through a simplified SAP landscape.

By providing dynamic extensibility by use of extensions and APIs, SAP S/4HANA Cloud allows new channels of innovation, development, and value—and lowers the total cost of ownership, as SAP handles maintenance and ongoing support. SAP S/4HANA Cloud includes technologies that can help bring intelligence into ERP applications, including machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, and voice-enabled technology.


Customize SAP for Your Cloud Configuration


Businesses can choose to deploy SAP S/4HANA Cloud in either Private or Public Edition. Private Edition runs in single-tenant environments: the provider runs SAP’s services in a dedicated cloud platform. In this private cloud, services are maintained on a private network protected by a firewall. This is suitable for existing SAP ERP customers who want to move to the cloud but don’t want a complete process redesign, and who want to retain the investment they’ve made in their existing SAP ERP system. New customers who want full, extensive ERP functionality, including partner add-ons with the ability to extend and enhance as required, can also opt for Private Edition

Customers have ability to customize the platform, including making structural changes and modifying the SAP source code with access to the backend of the system through the SAP GUI. Customers can also access to the on-premise extensibility framework, supporting in-app and side-by-side extensions in addition to code enhancement and modifications. Expert configuration is possible with full IMG access, and the operating expense model is subscription-based.

Private Edition covers same 25 industries supported by on-premise SAP S/4HANA. In this type of implementation, businesses can use brownfield, selective data transition, and greenfield. The TCO is relatively high. 

Private Edition follows the annual base release of on-premise SAP S/4HANA. However, there is a requirement to install at least one upgrade every five years to stay within mainstream maintenance. After a yearly base release, Feature Pack Stacks (FPS) are released quarterly with new non-disruptive features.


Public Edition offers the lowest TCO


With the public cloud, services are delivered to customers over a network that is open for public use. Public clouds offer efficiency and affordability and are often multi-tenant, meaning the provider runs services in a shared environment.

The Public Edition of SAP S/4HANA Cloud is tailored for existing or new customers who have the desire to move to the cloud, and who want to start fresh with a clean system, giving up on any existing investment made on an ERP solution. It’s great if you’re open to a process redesign.

This edition is suitable for companies that are ready to embrace the future of ERP with a new implementation and predefined process. Customizations are made through SAP Fiori apps designed to facilitate changes like custom fields and logic, or custom business objects. Users have no access to backend GUI and cannot modify SAP source code. For complex customizations that cannot be performed through existing Fiori apps, the SAP Business Technology Platform extension suites are readily available and easily integrated to SAP S/4HANA Cloud.

For implementation, Public Edition supports greenfield only. This edition could be a component of a selective data transition. Line business coverage supports highly standardized business processes covering selected LoB and industry scenarios, along with a comprehensive ERP scope. Public Edition offers the lowest TCO and highest ROI.

Public Edition customers can expect two major releases per year, with continuous feature delivery (CFD) updates delivered monthly. These updates provide pre-deliveries of new features that SAP makes available in the SAP S/4HANA Cloud system, but does not install them.

Want to learn more? Find out how Navigator Business Services can help you implement SAP.

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