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What is S/4 HANA? Explanation for dummies

Lots of questions raised about S/4 HANA since SAP released it on February 2015. People still trying to figure out what it is and how it works: Is it a database? Is it an SAP system? Is it a platform? One of my coworkers (the great Fabio Cerioni) wrote an email answering all these questions a few days ago so I think it is a good idea to share it with you.

In the beginning, there was only HANA

Usually people thinks that S/4 HANA is the system which implements the different ABAP modules with Fiori working over a HANA database. Actually that is not entirely correct, first we should check the following link:

Quick Guide to Communicating SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Line of Business Solutions

We find the following concepts:

  • S/4 HANA Enterprise Management: It is the core solution that covers the critical critical business processes of a company. Just for your understanding, it is what SAP ECC was before S/4 HANA appeared.
  • SAP Simple <Solution>  was renamed to SAP S/4 HANA <Solution>. For example SAP Simple Finance has been renamed to SAP S/4 HANA Finance, SAP Simple Logistics to SAP S/4 HANA Logistics.

But HANA evolved into S/4 HANA…

If we look to the following image we will see something really interesting:

S/4 HANA Suite
S/4 HANA Suite

The S/4 HANA Suite is made up of the SAP Cloud Products and SAP S/4 HANA Enterprise Management. For example:

  • SAP S/4 HANA Human Resources is made up of the core functionality plus SAP Success Factor.
  • SAP S/4 HANA Sales includes the core functionality plus Hybris.

Also, there are different partner products included inside of the S/4 HANA Suite. If we talk about SAP S/4 HANA Finance we can see it is made up of SAP S/4 HANA Enterprise Management + SAP Simple Finance + Ariba + Partner Products. I think you get the concept, right?

I hope you understand that S/4 HANA is not only a new SAP System, it is a really interesting mix of different technologies, products and solutions. Funny to check that even SAP on What is SAP S/4HANA? 13 Questions Answered didn’t include the description of S/4 HANA…

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