Welcome to our blog series covering the ten most important things you should know before implementing S/4HANA Cloud Essentials Edition. In this series, you will learn about critical practical considerations that should be evaluated before purchasing or implementing S/4HANA Cloud. These items have been compiled through first-hand accounts and interviews with customers, consultants, and end-users of S/4HANA Cloud. If you are interested in learning about the reality of implementing and running this solution rather than the sales pitch, you have come to the right place.
What is S/4HANA Cloud Essential Edition?
S/4HANA Cloud Essential Edition is not just your regular S/4HANA hosted in the cloud. If that were the case, the implementation and maintenance would be quite similar to an on-premise S/4HANA implementation. Probably the most useful terminology to describe this product is Multi-Tenant. In a Multi-Tenant environment, you are sharing the database and code base with other SAP Customers. In traditional Single-Tenant implementations, you have a separate physical or virtual instance of S/4HANA cloud, which is not shared with other customers. In the multi-tenant environment, while your data is secure and segregated from the other customers, this setup places many restrictions on your ability to customize the system as well as other, more unexpected restrictions. Read on to find out about some of the more impactful unexpected restrictions.
SAP Terminology Explained
As of the writing of this document’, the current, correct name for the SAP S/4 HANA Multi-Tenant cloud product is SAP S/4HANA Cloud Essentials Edition. It’s important to say, “as of the writing of this document,” because SAP has changed the branding of its cloud offering several times in the last few years.
You may have heard the terms SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP S/4HANA Cloud Multi-Tenant Edition. All of these refer to the same product, or at least they did at one point in time. For this document, we will be using the current name SAP S/4HANA Cloud Essentials Edition, and we will also use the abbreviation S4HC ES. SAP also offers SAP S/4HANA Cloud Extended Edition (EX). This is a single-tenant cloud offering and is not the subject of this document. Now, let’s get started. Listed below is the first item you should know before moving to S/4HANA Cloud Essential Edition.
Item #1 – Say Goodbye To Your Traditional 3 Tier Landscape
For some long time SAP users, possibly the most significant change of moving to S4HC is transitioning to a 2 Tier Landscape. The traditional 3 Tier Landscape with a Development, QA/Staging, and Production environment is not an option with S4HC. If you read the Activate Methodology documentation, you will see mention of a Starter System, a Q System, and a P System. But don’t be fooled; the Starter system is not a Development Environment. There is no Development Environment or Sandbox.
The Starter System is used during the Fit to Standard Phase to demonstrate SAP Best Practices to the business stakeholders to determine gaps. After the Fit to Standard Phase, the Starter System is deleted and will no longer be available to you. The configuration is done directly in the Q system and transported to the P System on a set schedule, typically within one week. Although there may be more options here, the standard setup is a single client. So you will be doing config in the same client where you test. A single change project collects all configuration changes during the time period, and all of the changes move to the P system together. Changes in other systems such as CPI(Cloud Platform Integration) are maintained and transported separately.
Because of this landscape and the relatively strict requirement to keep the Q system and P system in synch, you will need to be careful with the Q system’s configuration entries. Deleting customization changes is more complicated and, in some cases, requires a ticket to be created with SAP. Additionally, with more frequent transports to the P system, consider the complications once data has been entered using any incorrect configuration. At that point, it may not be possible to remove it.
There are options to maintain additional sandbox environments for an additional cost. But, these would not be able to be used as a true Development environment. A sandbox cannot be added into the transport landscape. 2 Tier landscapes are not unique to S4HC in the SAP world, but rather than being used only in rare cases, this is now the required landscape for S4HC customers.