Heralding the arrival of the real-time enterprise, SAP today formally unveiled a rechristened SAP Business Suite 4 (S/4HANA), a full implementation of its core ERP software platform running on the SAP HANA in-memory computing platform that customers can invoke as a cloud service.
SAP CEO Bill McDermott says that SAP S/4HANA represents the biggest product launch in the history of the company since the initial launch of its first ERP suite.
In addition to being delivered via the cloud, SAP S/4HANA sports a modern user interface based on the Fiori framework.
The version of S/4HANA that SAP is rolling out in the cloud will be a standard edition that all customers that invoke the cloud service will access. At a later time, SAP is also planning on supporting managed instances of more customizable SAP S/4HANA implementations that will be deployed as a private cloud.
At present, SAP claims to have more than 6,000 customers using the SAP HANA platform, with 1,850 of them using SAP Suite on HANA. SAP S/4HANA provides a suite of applications that make use of a columnar database running in memory to simultaneously process transactions and analytics. The end result is a set of applications that use real-time analytics from recent transactions, as opposed to processing analytics as a separate batch job running in a data warehouse.
At the same time, support for Fiori makes SAP S/4HANA accessible to a broad range of devices, including smart watches that can now interface with SAP applications.
SAP has rewritten more than 400 million lines of code to bring SAP S/4HANA to market in a way that is much simpler to implement and configure. The end result is that the amount of money spent on developing blueprints and configuring applications has been greatly reduced. McDermott says those efforts are in keeping with an SAP commitment to massively reduce the complexity of enterprise software.
It’s unclear just how often SAP S/4HANA will wind up running in a public versus private cloud. In all likelihood, many organizations may have instances of both because of a need to balance IT agility against security and compliance concerns.
In the meantime, given the number of SAP customers that are two or more releases behind in terms of staying current with SAP application software, expect SAP to have a full-court press on to get as many customers as possible onto the new platform as soon as possible.