SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud isn’t for everyone . . . yet.  Ten years ago, I may have been the biggest naysayer of the public cloud. But the truth is that the product and the environment have matured so much that customers would be ill-advised to ignore the benefits or believe they know exactly how it works.

Here’s how I see it.

There are benefits to SAP S/4HANA public cloud

Cloud security and system response time are better than most on-premise models. Why? Because the infrastructure, security protocols, and processes are the bread and butter of a public cloud company. I worked for a major corporation where at least half of my time was spent ensuring our data was secure and compliant — and I was on the functional side of IT.  A whole other set of people managed server availability, virus prevention, and more. As resources have dwindled in major organizations thanks to an aging workforce, COVID-downsizing, and “quiet quitting,” it’s harder to find people to be dedicated to infrastructure and security when that’s not how your firm sells ads or legal services (to relate to one industry).

There’s an imperative to be agile and responsive in today’s rapidly-changing business climate. Moving to the cloud is just the beginning. Cloud technology delivers all kinds of advantages to businesses, including reduced downtime for releases, reduced manpower to manage servers and infrastructure, and continual development of industry best practices delivered to you automatically – you just need to stay informed and know what’s coming to take advantage of innovation opportunities.

Moving to the cloud forces standardization and simplification across business processes – which has far-reaching benefits to your organization.  And – yes – that can be a  painful process. But you can follow the journeys that others have taken (see ours below) and learn how to optimize change.  The changes we have seen in business operations over the last several years, including mergers and acquisitions, have left many firms coping with processes and systems that are likely outdated or could be done better. (We never want to admit that our processes aren’t the best – but in reality, there’s always room for improvement.)

You get fast, real-time data with greater efficiency and affordability. That’s something not everyone can say. SAP S/4HANA ERP is optimized for SAP’s in-memory database. What that means for your business is a shift from simply capturing transactions to giving your end-users decision-making support in real time. Of course, this real-time data magic is available with SAP S/4HANA on-premise or private cloud editions. The public cloud edition, managed on SAP Servers, gains its efficiency through highly standardized business processes covering select lines of business scenarios.

The user experience is far better.  Simple customizations for your end users can be made through SAP Fiori apps. SAP Business Technology Platform extension suites are available and easily integrated into SAP S/4HANA Cloud.

The bottom cloud line

Older software was designed for business models that didn’t live through rapidly changing demands driven by things like a pandemic and bitcoin. Many of us are tied to those old business models and will find a leap to SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud too far to go. In fact, SAP currently has a limited number of industry models available on the Public Cloud edition. If you’re mid-market or a new customer and ready to start your ERP journey with a clean system, the SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud edition may be ready for you.

If not Public Cloud, then SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud may be the right solution.

What’s the difference?

SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud is a complete ERP system with a public cloud infrastructure managed by SAP. This is a multi-tenant environment where multiple applications share one environment. Customization of SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud is very limited. Return on investment is higher, and the total cost of ownership is the lowest with the Public Cloud.

SAP S/4HANA – the Private Edition – offers a dedicated cloud infrastructure built within SAP’s data center or using one of the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) providers – AWS, Azure, GCP, Alibaba Cloud. You will reap the advantages of the SAP S/4HANA database, enhanced user experience, real-time data, and more. You will have a cost advantage over on-premise because of the outsourced infrastructure. You will have more ability to customize in the Private Cloud than in the Public Cloud edition.

Read more about the differences on our SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud page.

Should you take the leap to public cloud?

In my past experience, connecting with SAP customers, adopting SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud was a risky business – but no riskier than any other system change. It worked really well for mid-sized businesses and professional services firms, helping them achieve a sound financial platform to support growth. The hard part was being willing to change, standardize, and simplify.  These are business discussions that need to be had. Weigh the pros and cons for you. It’s your own journey. Make it a good one.

Our Journey

Learn about Rizing’s own experience with SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud in these podcasts:

Inside SAP S/4HANA Episode 34: Implementing ERP at Rizing

Inside SAP S/4HANA Episode 72: Learn from Rizing How to Acclimate Your Company to the Cloud