By Robert Holland, VP Research and Publishing, SAPinsider
SAP announced yesterday that it will now provide mainstream maintenance for SAP ERP 6.0 and other core applications of SAP Business Suite 7 until the end of 2027. This will be followed by an optional extended maintenance that will be available until the end of 2030. In the same press release, SAP also announced a maintenance commitment for SAP S/4HANA until the end of 2040. According to SAP co-CEO Christian Klein, the announcement was made to offer options for customers who may not be fully ready for SAP S/4HANA.
“In response to … our customers’ demand for choice, SAP will provide additional flexibility to fully embrace the groundbreaking opportunities of SAP S/4HANA that reflects the individual pace and complexity of our customers’ projects,” said Klein
In an additional interview conducted with Michael Kleinemeier, member of the Executive Board responsible for SAP Digital Business Services, and Thomas Saueressig, member of the Executive Board for SAP Product Engineering, Saueressig provided some additional insight into why SAP is announcing this change now.
“Customers are moving at their own pace to SAP S/4HANA, which is why we’ve committed maintenance for SAP Business Suite 7 for two additional years plus the additional option until end of 2030,” said Saueresig. He added, “Our objective is to respect our customers’ current investments, allowing them the time they need to re-engineer business processes and systems so they can tap into the full business opportunities of SAP S/4HANA.”
This is a significant change for customers who have been working towards the 2025 end of mainstream maintenance deadline that SAP announced in 2018 and provides more flexibility to those customers running SAP ERP 6.0 in planning for their SAP S/4HANA migration.
Who does this change impact?
As announced, the extension in mainstream maintenance until the end of 2027 covers the core applications of SAP Business Suite 7: SAP ERP 6.0, SAP Customer Relationship Management 7.0, SAP Supply Chain Management 7.0, SAP Supplier Relationship Management 7.0 applications, and SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. There will be no contractual change required, and no additional fees will apply to the impacted customers. After the end of 2027, customers will be given the choice of either moving to extended maintenance, available until the end of 2030 at a cost premium over mainstream maintenance, or choosing to be transferred to customer-specific maintenance.
Even though it was not explicitly stated in the SAP release, conversations that SAPinsider has had with SAP executives indicate that the SAP Business Suite 7 core applications do cover the ECC install base. So, even if a customer only owns one product – for example SAP ERP 6.0 – they are included in the scope of the change. According to results from a recent SAPinsider’s customer survey, this represents over 90% of the existing SAP ERP customers that have not yet implemented SAP S/4HANA.
Why announce the change now?
According to Kleinemeier, SAP understands that a move to SAP S/4HANA is not just replacing technology – it requires a change in how organizations operate their business. SAP is deliberately providing a longer time frame that will bring increased flexibility, and the extended maintenance is an acknowledgement of the fact that each customer will adopt new technology at a different pace based on individual needs.
Essentially, SAP customers have indicated that there are significant business transformations underway that are required to use the capabilities of SAP S/4HANA. While they may want to move to SAP S/4HANA, they need more time to make the transition, and SAP wants them to be able to decide when and how they will do so.
SAPinsider’s recent research and surveys support the need for a change in the maintenance timeline. Survey results indicate that while the number of customers who have no plans to migrate to SAP S/4HANA have declined – from 29% in Q2, to 21% in Q3, to between 10 and 13% now – a significant number of SAP customers are still not even evaluating the business case for a migration. When you include the 35-41% of customers identified in the surveys who are only evaluating a migration and have not yet moved to the pilot stage, the number of customers not currently ready to implement represents more than half of SAP’s current ERP customers.
Finally, this change will give SAP more time to provide tools and functionality to provide a smoother transition, educate and train consultants and system integrators, and ramp up its own professional services organization to ensure that the resources to support migrations to SAP S/4HANA are available. It also provides SAP more time to eventually move all existing ERP customers to SAP S/4HANA.
What does this mean for SAPinsiders?
Customers who have yet to migrate to SAP S/4HANA should begin educating themselves and learning from the experiences of other customers who have migrated successfully. To help prepare, customers should:
- Continue planning for SAP S/4HANA, or start making plans. While most SAP ERP customers now have a little more breathing room before the requirement to be running SAP S/4HANA, those who are already on the path to migration should continue their efforts. This will ensure that you leverage your existing investments while allowing more flexibility in your migration timeline.
- Use this opportunity productively. For those who have yet to formulate a business case for SAP S/4HANA or currently have no plans, this maintenance extension provides some additional time to determine how you will proceed. Use that time wisely by educating your ERP teams, leveraging opportunities for free or low-cost trials, and ensuring that your business systems are prepared for your eventual change – whether to SAP S/4HANA or something else.
- Get expert advice and talk to peers who have already implemented SAP S/4HANA. SAPinsider is hosting its SAPinsider 2020 conference in Las Vegas March 17-19, 2020 and the event will include over 2500 attendees who are facing many of the same challenges as you. This is an excellent opportunity to get firsthand advice from those who have migrated and to meet industry experts who are leading the charge.
- Tell us what you think. SAPinsider is currently preparing a research report on SAP S/4HANA migration. Does SAP’s recent announcement changed your plans? Let us know by taking our quick 10-minute survey. We would also like to know how the cloud and SAP S/4HANA are impacting your enterprise security strategy. Take this short and anonymous 5-minute survey to share your experience with us.