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SAP S/4HANA: The Foundation to Run Simple

Q&A with SAP’s Dr. Wieland Schreiner and Dr. Markus Schwarz

by Dr. Wieland Schreiner and Dr. Markus Schwarz | SAPinsider, Volume 16, Issue 2

April 2, 2015

Backed by the in-memory computing power of SAP HANA, SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (SAP S/4HANA) is set to deliver a foundation of simplification, intelligence, and innovation to help businesses become the enterprises of the future. Learn what this means for SAP customers in this interview with Dr. Wieland Schreiner, Executive Vice President for SAP S/4HANA, and Dr. Markus Schwarz, Senior Vice President and General Manager for SAP S/4HANA.




SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (SAP S/4HANA), introduced in February 2015 as SAP’s biggest product launch in 23 years, is set to bring enterprises into the digital and networked economy. SAPinsider recently interviewed SAP’s Dr. Wieland Schreiner and Dr. Markus Schwarz to find out more about what SAP S/4HANA means for SAP customers.


Q: What is SAP S/4HANA?

Wieland Schreiner: SAP Business Suite for SAP HANA (SAP S/4HANA) is SAP’s next-generation business suite. The “S” represents both “simple” and “suite,” and the “4” stands for “4th generation,” in that it is similar to SAP’s jump from SAP R/2 to SAP R/3, introducing a new product with a new code line. It includes a set of simplified solutions for lines of business and industries natively built on the in-memory, column-based SAP HANA platform to take full advantage of its architecture. Of course, we do not start from scratch, but reuse what makes sense for the digital transformation our clients face. Its design follows SAP Fiori principles for a modern, responsive, and role-based user experience, leveraging the power of SAP S/4HANA with flexible processes, prediction, and other services from the SAP HANA platform.

With SAP S/4HANA, simplification and innovation are built in, providing the foundation for a business future that is defined by the massive amounts of information produced, for example, by the Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0, business networks, and big data concepts. This simplification also enables a much smaller data footprint than a best-in-class business suite running on a traditional database, up to seven times better throughput, and unprecedented flexibility.

Q: What is its real value for customers?

Markus Schwarz: SAP S/4HANA is not just another application with some new features. It provides a foundation our customers can use to ready themselves for the digital and networked economy, both on the IT side and the business side.

From the IT perspective, SAP S/4HANA enables a much less complex architecture that allows IT to focus on innovation rather than on operations. Customers can dramatically reduce the number of servers in their landscape, which means less application management around those servers. Guided configurations streamline setup tasks, requiring fewer IT resources. And
the intuitive nature of the SAP Fiori-based user experience not only frees IT from having to address usability issues, it increases user productivity.

SAP S/4HANA also creates significant additional value for the business. It enables completely new business models — for instance, it allows manufacturers to leverage new trends such as Industry 4.0 and IoT to connect with sensors and external sources to enable a real-time, accurate view of inventory data. SAP S/4HANA also simplifies and accelerates business processes, delivers more accurate results, and helps facilitate better decision making, better service, and better quality products. The system presents data to business users in context, enables users to simulate various outcomes, and can proactively alert users to issues such as component shortages as well as propose solutions.

Regardless of the customer or deployment model, we designed SAP S/4HANA to be non-disruptive, as we keep a semantically consistent data model between the current SAP Business Suite and the new SAP S/4HANA solution family.

— Wieland Schreiner, Executive Vice President for SAP S/4HANA

Q: What are the deployment options?

Wieland Schreiner: SAP S/4HANA has two editions — an on-premise edition and a cloud edition — fueled by one new code line and optimized for the leading in-memory columnar database, breaking the barriers between transactions and analytics.

Our customers can benefit from all the simplification and innovation included in SAP S/4HANA using the on-premise edition, if that is their preference. Companies looking to move their standardized business processes to the cloud — industry and line-of-business (LoB)-specific scenarios as well as most essential scenarios to run an entire enterprise in the cloud — have the cloud edition available to them. This flexibility allows customers to onboard to SAP S/4HANA at their own pace. They can move their system to the cloud step by step with the assurance that their system, regardless of whether it is in the cloud or still on premise, will continue to operate together nicely. With this, we support hybrid deployments, which are a need and the reality in the market.

Regardless of the customer or deployment model, we designed SAP S/4HANA to be non-disruptive, as we keep a semantically consistent data model between the current SAP Business Suite and the new SAP S/4HANA solution family. With this, we enable a value-driven, step-wise migration for customer landscapes and subsidiaries to the new solution — system by system, LoB by LoB, and business process by business process. Via pick-and-choose, we enable hybrid scenarios where consumption of highly standardized processes usually happens via cloud solutions, and processes where more individualization is required can be kept on premise; data compatibility and integration are given.

For existing SAP customers favoring the on-premise edition of SAP S/4HANA, we provide an “upgrade-like” procedure where new code is deployed in the on-premise system. Customers that want to leverage quarterly innovation cycles can move all or part of their existing system to the cloud edition.

Markus Schwarz: And until September 2015, we have a promotion related to the on-premise edition. Existing customers that either already have a valid SAP HANA runtime license or opt to move their database to SAP HANA by purchasing the SAP HANA runtime license will receive the SAP S/4HANA foundation-promotion license at no additional charge.

Q: Will there be specialized implementation support, and will partners play a role?

Markus Schwarz: To make the transition as smooth as possible, we plan to package SAP S/4HANA with software and predefined integration content that focuses on specific industries or LoBs, such as human capital management, commerce, and procurement. We also plan to offer implementation services to help meet common customer needs. The intent is to make it easy, predictable, and affordable for customers to get on SAP S/4HANA.

Partners also play a key role in the implementation and adoption of SAP S/4HANA. In addition to providing their own services — including services for migrating to SAP HANA and implementing and deploying the simplified functionality — partners can resell the on-premise edition of SAP S/4HANA. And partners have the opportunity to play a more strategic role by leveraging SAP HANA Cloud Platform to create products that complement and enrich SAP S/4HANA, helping customers solve their most pressing business challenges.

Q: What does the road ahead look like?

Wieland Schreiner: The on-premise edition of SAP S/4HANA is available now for customers in all industries and regions. Most projects we are currently seeing revolve around SAP Simple Finance and the basic ERP scope. In addition, the cloud edition contains SAP Simple Logistics, and we plan to deliver innovations on a quarterly basis for this edition. Early in Q4 we will have the next innovation package for the on-premise edition, including a full, simplified ERP with additional simplifications such as SAP Simple Logistics, which includes the embedded core industries. Further down the road, we will focus on additional industries and features.

Generally speaking, innovations will appear in the cloud edition of SAP S/4HANA first — on a quarterly cycle — followed by innovations in the on-premise edition at a pace to which customers are accustomed.

Now is the time to evaluate when it makes sense to implement it in your environment and what will be required and to take the next step.

— Dr. Markus Schwartz, Senior Vice President and General Manager of SAP S/4HANA

Q: Do you have a top recommendation for moving forward with SAP S/4HANA?

Markus Schwarz: SAP HANA is the basis for everything we do, and is the prerequisite for this new world of SAP S/4HANA. Now is the time to evaluate when it makes sense to implement it in your environment and what will be required — whether you need to apply the latest enhancement package before implementing SAP HANA, for instance — and to take the next step.

Wieland Schreiner: Our recommendation is clear: Go to SAP HANA, because only SAP HANA can deliver the level of simplification, intelligence, and innovation you need — and that your competitors will have — in the enterprise of the future, and now take that next step to SAP S/4HANA to drive down your costs and drive up your business opportunities. These are your clear steps to create your perfect enterprise.

Learn more at

Note: This article was updated on April 30, 2015, to reflect updates regarding the cloud edition of SAP S/4HANA.

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Wieland Schreiner
Dr. Wieland Schreiner

Dr. Wieland Schreiner is Executive Vice President for SAP S/4HANA. He has more than 20 years of professional experience in consulting and development. Wieland has held various roles and management positions in application development and software engineering. With his deep understanding of supply chain execution and manufacturing processes, paired with a strong technology background, particularly in the area of in-memory computing, he plays a key role in supporting SAP customers on their digital journey.

Markus Schwarz
Dr. Markus Schwarz

Senior Vice President and General Manager of SAP S/4HANA

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