|Initial release||3 February 2015|
The offering is an Enterprise Resource Planning software package meant to cover all day-to-day processes of an enterprise (for example, order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, plan-to-product, and request-to-service) and core capabilities. It integrates functions from lines of businesses as well as industry solutions, and also re-integrates portions of SAP Business Suite products such as SAP SRM, SAP CRM and SAP SCM. However SAP Business Suite 4 only runs on the SAP HANA database, and thus it is packaged as one product: SAP S/4HANA. SAP's classical R3, ERP and ECC based business suite and related products were designed to run on several database platforms, including those from Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.
The launch of the new suite, called SAP S/4HANA, took place on 3 February 2015 at the New York Stock Exchange. The event introduced cloud and on premise editions, and launched the on-premise edition. Availability of the cloud edition followed at SAPPHIRE NOW (SAP’s annual customer conference) on 6 May 2015 in Orlando, Florida.
SAP S/4HANA is being called SAP's biggest update to its ERP strategy and platform in over two decades. Post-launch, Gartner analysts noted that SAP S/4HANA represented a “transformational shift,” but raised questions about the functionality, availability, pricing and migration surrounding S/4HANA.
By 21 April 2015, 370 customers had purchased S/4HANA. After the first half of 2015, positive growth was confirmed for SAP. In October 2015 SAP confirmed that S/4HANA had exceeded over 1,300 customers. Growth continued through the third quarter of 2015. Following its third quarter earnings announcement, SAP said the number of SAP S/4HANA customers had risen to 1,300. After fourth quarter close of 2016, SAP announced that 5,400 customers had implemented SAP S/4HANA. By 30 June 2018, the customer base for product reached 8,900 customers.
The S/4HANA product offering consists of two editions: SAP S/4HANA On-Premise and SAP S/4HANA Cloud.
SAP S/4HANA On-Premise is similar in terms of coverage, functionality, industry-specific support, and localization to the current SAP Business Suite (in 39 languages, 64 country versions).
Both editions consist of functionality for finance, accounting, controlling, procurement, sales, manufacturing, plant maintenance, project system, and product lifecycle management, plus integration with SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Ariba, SAP Hybris, SAP Fieldglass and SAP Concur.
Overview of releases
SAP S/4HANA (on-premise) releases are once per year, SAP S/4HANA Cloud releases are quarterly. Version coding for both editions: YYMM example 1709 - September 2017.
SAP S/4HANA On-Premise releases:
- SAP S/4HANA Finance 1503: March 2015
- SAP S/4HANA 1511: November 2015
- SAP S/4HANA Finance 1605: May 2016
- SAP S/4HANA 1610: October 2016
- SAP S/4HANA 1709: September 2017
- SAP S/4HANA 1809: September 2018
- SAP S/4HANA 1909: September 2019
SAP S/4HANA Cloud releases:
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1603: March 2016
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1605: May 2016
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1608: August 2016
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1611: November 2016
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1702: February 2017
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1705: May 2017
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1708: August 2017
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1711: November 2017
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1802: February 2018
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1805: May 2018
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1808: August 2018
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1811: November 2018
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1902: February 2019
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1908: August 2019
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1911: November 2019
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2002: January 2020 
SAP S/4HANA can be deployed on premises, in the cloud, or through a hybrid model.
There are various ways to get to S/4HANA. This depends on a customer’s starting point. For example, new implementation, system conversion, and landscape transformation.
- New implementation - This is a new implementation of SAP S/4HANA (green field): customers who are migrating from a non-SAP legacy system or from an SAP ERP system and implementing a fresh system that requires an initial data load. In this scenario, the SAP S/4HANA system is implemented, and master and transactional data are migrated from the legacy system, thus standard data migration tools and content has to be used.
- System conversion - This is a complete conversion of an existing SAP Business Suite system to SAP S/4HANA (brownfield): customers who want to change their current SAP ERP system to SAP S/4HANA. This scenario is technically based on Software Update Manager (SUM) with Database Migration Option (DMO) in case the customer is not yet on SAP HANA as the underlying database.
- Landscape transformation - This is a consolidation of current regional SAP systems into one global SAP S/4HANA system or a split out of different parts of a system: customers who want to consolidate their landscape or carve out selected entities (such as a company code) or processes into a single SAP S/4HANA system.
Both SAP S/4HANA on-premise and the SAP S/4HANA cloud editions have release strategies. The cloud editions are released quarterly. The on-premise edition has one new release per year, and receives additional functionality and corrections in the form of Feature Pack Stacks (FPS) or Service Pack Stacks (SPS) each quarter.
On-premise: Each year, SAP is shipping a new product version of its on-premise SAP S/4HANA product (e.g. SAP S/4HANA 1610) this will always be followed by three successive FPS on a quarterly basis, after this SAP releases the next product version and the previous product version is receiving SPS on a quarterly basis until the end of mainstream maintenance. Technically, a FPS is like a SPS, but it may include non-disruptive, non-mandatory features. The numbering of FPS/SPS will be consecutive, i.e. the first SPS after a FPS3 would be consequently SPS4.
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