The countdown for SAP ERP users to transition to S/4HANA is underway. The 2027 deadline for migrating from SAP ECC to S/4HANA is fast approaching. As this critical date draws near, many organization are just beginning to consider the ramifications. Many of these organizations are also midway through profound cloud-driven transformations, and are seeking to synthesize their cloud and ERP journeys. 

This transformation journey will be marked by numerous challenges and rewards, depending on the enterprise’s current aptitude related to SAP. However, one thing remains certain: A comprehensive understanding of the path ahead is critical to making an informed and strategic decision on how to navigate this seismic paradigm shift. One approach to that path ahead is RISE with SAP, and it deserves serious consideration.

The Evolution of RISE with SAP

RISE is a comprehensive suite of cloud solutions, infrastructure, and services specifically designed to facilitate the transition of legacy SAP ECC and SAP S/4HANA on-premise users to the cloud. This initiative began in 2020 when SAP embarked on a mission to migrate its ERP clients to the cloud. Instead of leaving their clients to navigate this transition independently, SAP developed RISE, a bundled subscription offering that replaces traditional, perpetual licenses.

Launched in 2021, RISE with SAP for SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud is designed for large enterprises. (Small-to-mid-size enterprises can transition to SAP S/4HANA Cloud public edition via GROW with SAP.) RISE with SAP standardizes infrastructure processes, services, and service level agreements (SLAs) through negotiated contracts that may include a variety of cloud-centric innovations and technologies delivered “as a service.”

The Starting Point for Cloud ERP

The challenges that SAP customers face when transitioning to the cloud vary depending on their unique transformation starting points. For customers using SAP ECC or R/3, the list of challenges can be extensive. These customers often struggle to innovate business processes due to the complex chain reactions triggered by upgrades, customizations, and application add-ons. They encounter some of these same complications when transitioning to SAP S/4HANA on the cloud. In such an environment, system integrations can be challenging, potentially leading to a loss of real-time business visibility and escalating maintenance costs, especially when trying to expand technology ecosystem capabilities at competitive speed. The challenges faced under normal operating conditions are likely to be mirrored in the transformation experience.

For customers already using SAP S/4HANA on-premise or through their own hyperscaler contract, the total cost of ownership can be a significant incentive to transition to the cloud via RISE. For on-premise users, the decision of whether to engage in a RISE contractual negotiation or to undertake the transition independently can become complicated. RISE with SAP offers a series of benefits and trade-offs. A do-it-yourself approach, on the other hand, also carries risks related to changing system configurations, the complexity of managing multiple service providers, and the challenge of marshalling the necessary in-house resources to manage the transition effectively.

What to Expect

The release of SAP S/4HANA 2023 in October last year meets the operational requirements of SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud. This release effectively initiated a two-year innovation phase at SAP, set to deliver three feature package stacks through 2025, when the next version of SAP S/4HANA is slated for release.

In addition, SAP announced a seven-year standard maintenance phase in tandem with the release, an improvement over the five-year standard maintenance phase offered in previous versions. By all measures, SAP S/4HANA 2023 prepares customers for a seamless transition via RISE with SAP, regardless of their starting point in the transformation journey.

Understanding the RISE with SAP contract

The RISE with SAP contract for SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud combines SAP’s SLA, operations, and issue management into a single contract. Multiple solution components covered by the SLA, including software, infrastructure, and technical managed services (TMS), effectively allow customer IT team members to focus on strategic and innovative initiatives crucial for maintaining a competitive edge.

Advisory, implementation, and application managed services require separate contracts, to be executed by a system integrator (SI) unless performed directly by the customer.

Moreover, certain TMS areas of SAP’s RISE contract may be separately executed by an SI. Here’s how the RISE contract delineates TMS responsibilities:

  • Standard services, such as planning and executing file system extensions, can only be performed by SAP.
  • Optional services, like installing advanced, extended application service components on an already installed HANA server, can only be performed by SAP.
  • Additional services, including one-off tasks, such as IP address migration or changing an IP address on an existing network segment, can only be performed by SAP.
  • Cloud application services (CAS), such as identifying, analyzing, or optimizing expensive SQL statements to improve application performance, can be performed by SAP, the customer, or a qualified SI.

CAS provides a broad area where SIs can add value to a transformation, without needing to perform activities at the physical layer (i.e., servers). The contract also excludes some specific tasks, such as availability monitoring or customer-built applications, which can only be performed by the customer. Additionally, some tasks are not covered by SAP, such as local printing and support.

Going Above and Beyond

Beyond the support for software, infrastructure, and technical management provided by RISE with SAP, the RISE Migration and Modernization Program offers a solution for  implementation governance and framework solution covering three areas:

  • The RISE with SAP adoption framework determines the best-fit transformation journey for both existing and new customers based on their starting point onto the cloud. This framework provides a template and activity map for the chosen journey, identifying operational activities with a clear segregation of duties to be performed by SAP, System Integrator (SI)/Annual Maintenance Services (AMS) partners, and the customer. This helps all parties involved understand the next steps for a successful transformation.
  • SAP Activate for RISE with SAP is a discover-to-run, best practices implementation methodology that includes SAP Clean Core quality checkpoints and checklists to fast-track deployment. This methodology provides:
    1. A clear understanding of business benefits
    2. Proper steps to keep the solution as standard as possible in an integrated business environment
    3. Thorough and accurate guidance for scoping, configuration, integration, extension, data migration, and deployment
    4. Continuous tracking of innovations switched on during implementation and after go-live
  • SAP Clean Core principles help ensure an optimized deployment of systems that are as close to standard as possible, while running cloud-compliant extensions and integrations. These principles are designed to support innovation and agility across five specific areas:
    1. Business processes, according to SAP best practices, including application architecture leveraging S/4HANA, as well as process design and management for optimal competitive advantage
    2. Extensibility, simplifying the creation of decoupled, cloud-compatible extensions
    3. Data, addressing data quality and volume requirements
    4. Integration, using SAP Integration Suite and standard APIs
    5. Operations, including release management and regular housekeeping

SAP Clean Core emphasis

According to SAP, “keeping the core clean” during transformation programs ensures a simple, straightforward way of managing SAP systems in transition. The idea is to prevent the underlying code from becoming a liability, keeping it free from extensive maintenance and its many associated costs.

By adopting a Clean Core approach, organizations can swiftly implement standard features without complications. If differentiation is required, the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) can be used to integrate necessary extensions into S/4HANA via white-listed APIs from SAP.

This side-by-side extension methodology lowers total cost of ownership, but also simplifies upgrades. Packages from RISE with SAP include BTP credits that can be used to build critical integrations and rapidly extend and automate business processes within a production environment.

For instance, BTP credits can be used to connect SAP and third-party applications via prebuilt and managed integrations, or to optimize and automate business processes using more than 150 prebuilt workflow patterns and bots.

By using the BTP Integration Suite, along with an SAP Build Process Automation Service subscription, it becomes possible to build content efficiently and quickly on the cloud with SAP. This empowers businesses to take control of their digital transformation journey.

Proceeding with Confidence

Transitioning an on-premise SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud is a strategic business decision. The advantage of adopting a RISE with SAP contract include simplicity and scalability. RISE with SAP offers friction-free governance and support under a single ownership, through the hyperscaler of choice. SAP’s innovation-ready platform elevates the ability to enhance and differentiate through IT-driven innovation, available as-a-service. Moreover, by operating on a managed cloud environment, a lower, predictable total cost of ownership can be achieved swiftly compared to an on-premise operation. 

Our RISE with SAP Experience

Wipro, as an organization, has successfully completed a RISE with SAP transformation, realizing numerous benefits in the process. For more information on how to negotiate a RISE with SAP contract, or for expert assistance in ensuring a smooth and comprehensive transformation, please visit our SAP website.

About the Authors

Shivanand Hiremath

Shivanand Hiremath is a SAP Digital Transformation Architect driving innovation & business transformation based on SAP suite of applications integrated with best of breed SAP services/Applications. He is the product owner for SAP S/4HANA based Industry Templates complemented with Industry cloud solutions on BTP platform. He has been working with customers in GTM & Consulting initiatives shaping up their Digital Transformation journeys & roadmaps with SAP S/4 HANA led solution implementations.

Jayabrata Maitra

Jayabrata Maitra is a Director of Strategy and Digital Innovation and an expert level SAP professional with deep Solutioning, Pre-Sales and Delivery expertise. His areas of work span across business development, business process consulting, leading complex and strategic pursuits and transformation programs and creation of value through IT. He is a specialist in engaging with the customers for their IT transformation journeys with a focus on Sustainability.