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Increasing cloud acceptance

The results of the ASUG-DSAG survey show that things are looking up for Hana and S/4. But there are reservations about cloud computing and the cloud licensing model. What is missing is a long-term perspective - SAP obviously lacks the courage to do this.
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine
15 October 2021
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Only 40 percent of ASUG-DSAG members are already productive with SAP S/4 or have started corresponding projects, meaning that half of the committed and active SAP existing customers have still not reached where SAP originally wanted to be in 2025. The market as a whole seems to be lagging behind these figures: analysts and market experts estimate S/4 conversion at just one-third. These are sobering figures for SAP.

No long-term strategy

The reasons for SAP's weak performance in this year's summer survey by the two user associations ASUG and DSAG can also be found in a recent study conducted in Switzerland among around 100 CIOs with SAP responsibilities: SAP strategy and the expectations of existing SAP customers diverge, writes study author Peter Hartmann. Although the proportion of S/4 users has increased slightly, much remains unclear for existing customers. The main points are: Products and roadmaps are missing, lack of integration and consistency of S/4 products are insufficient, poor price-performance ratio in maintenance models and especially deficiencies in service quality, SAP licensing is non-transparent and too complex, PKL is incomprehensible. Similarly, there is a lack of clarity regarding the integration between cloud and on-prem, notes Peter Hartmann in the management summary.

Only about a quarter of ASUG and DSAG members are productive with S/4 in parts of their ERP landscape. This is a frightening picture for SAP - but there is no S/4 alternative.
Only about a quarter of ASUG and DSAG members are productive with S/4 in parts of their ERP landscape. This is a frightening picture for SAP - but there is no S/4 alternative.

ASUG-DSAG also conducted a detailed survey of the relationship of existing SAP customers to cloud computing and, of course, their attitude to on-prem. The general attitude of DSAG members towards the cloud only tends to be positive, with positive experiences, however, especially in the non-SAP area.

Slow S/4 growth

According to an evaluation of a joint survey conducted by the Americas SAP Users' Group (ASUG) and the German-speaking SAP Users' Group (DSAG) in April and May of this year, the spread of S/4 and Hana continues to increase among members of both associations. In a direct comparison, the S/4 on-prem approach clearly dominates among DSAG members. There is unanimity on the subject of licensing models and costs, which all respondents see as the greatest challenge in the use of cloud services.

The general attitude toward cloud computing is somewhat to very positive among 74 percent of ASUG members. Among DSAG members, the figure was only 46 percent. "Approval for cloud solutions continues to grow in the DACH region, although not at the same rate as the U.S. SAP Users' Group"comments Jens Hungershausen, Chairman of the Board of DSAG. "This could be related to the reservations of many companies in the DACH region about placing sensitive company data in the cloud. Viable concepts and persuasion are still needed here."

This finding is also consistent with the results of Peter Hartmann: "Of course, we have a commitment from core customers in favor of SAP, but little enthusiasm for cloud-only. We see a clear preference for on-prem systems and continued dissatisfaction with pricing and licensing policies, as well as quality deficiencies in maintenance and services."

Even if SAP does not want to admit it: The majority of DSAG members are in favor of their own data center (on-prem) - cloud computing appears to be too insecure (compliance) and too expensive (FUE).
Even if SAP does not want to admit it: The majority of DSAG members are in favor of their own data center (on-prem) - cloud computing appears to be too insecure (compliance) and too expensive (FUE).

In terms of experience with SAP cloud solutions, 57 percent of ASUG members are rather to very satisfied, but only 30 percent of DSAG members. A rather or very negative attitude is held by 21 percent of DSAG members and five percent of ASUG members. The picture is different in the non-SAP area. Here, on the other hand, 65 percent (ASUG) and 60 percent (DSAG) are rather or very satisfied with the cloud solutions used. And only two percent (ASUG) and seven percent (DSAG) have a negative or rather negative attitude. "The fact that only around a third of DSAG members are satisfied with cloud solutions in the SAP area, but 60 percent are satisfied with cloud solutions in the non-SAP area, surprised us. It shows that SAP has obviously not yet satisfactorily solved important issues such as integration, licenses and security. The providers in the non-SAP area are probably much further ahead in this respect."explains Jens Hungershausen.

Skepticism about cloud

Both user groups (DSAG: 72 percent, ASUG: 41 percent) see the biggest challenge in using cloud services in the issue of licensing models and costs - followed by data protection and information security (DSAG: 53, ASUG: 25 percent) and the lack of integration (DSAG: 41, ASUG: 15 percent). "The result shows how important easy access to cloud services and their price and service descriptions are when it comes to licensing. This importance will continue to grow due to the many different metrics in the products and the interdependencies of cloud services."Thomas Henzler, DSAG Board Member for Licenses and Maintenance, summarizes.

For the vast majority of DSAG members, SAP cloud subscriptions are not only too expensive, but also too complex: FUE, Full Use Equivalent, is a complicated licensing model.
For the vast majority of DSAG members, SAP cloud subscriptions are not only too expensive, but also too complex: FUE, Full Use Equivalent, is a complicated licensing model.

The SAP licensing model FUE, Full Use Equivalent, hangs over existing SAP customers like a sword of Damocles. It's one thing for customers and suppliers to have different views on product pricing, says Peter Hartmann, summarizing the opinion of Swiss CIOs - but the fact that SAP deployment becomes more expensive with each new product for the same benefit is not satisfactory from the customer's point of view.

Cloud license solutions (FUE) make SAP operations unnecessarily expensive. Thus, existing customers demand more security in TCO and more flexibility for license and maintenance costs. Perennial issues such as indirect use and too little flexibility in the event of business changes remain the main concerns of SAP's existing customers. And Peter Hartmann was able to find out something else: Product maintenance for ECC 6.0 is constantly being phased out and products that were licensed in ECC 6.0 have to be re-licensed for S/4 or the same function is not yet available.

On-prem very popular

Both among the Swiss CIOs and in the ASUG and DSAG survey, the topic of cloud computing versus on-prem was a central theme: Of those who made an indication here, more than twice as many DSAG members (57 percent) as ASUG members (27 percent) use S/4 on-premises or plan to do so. When it comes to cloud environments, the private cloud approach is almost identical at 23 percent (DSAG) and 24 percent (ASUG). Twelve percent (DSAG) and 19 percent (ASUG) rely on a managed cloud. S/4 in the public cloud, on the other hand, still plays a rather minor role.

The majority of DSAG members will continue to rely on S/4 on-prem in the future. Only just under half of those surveyed have a positive attitude towards the cloud, and a further quarter are neutral. The greatest challenges currently arise in the licensing models and costs. There is still room for improvement in knowledge about Rise with SAP. Only 33 percent of DSAG members are already familiar with it and only ten percent currently consider it likely that Rise will be considered for them. A lot of educational work is still needed here, both on the part of SAP and DSAG. Survey basis: 271 participants were registered in the survey in North America, 172 in the DACH region.

All questions open

There is still a lot to be done. Peter Hartmann has compiled the comments, questions and wishes of Swiss CIOs: SAP products are too expensive; cloud solutions are more expensive than on-prem installations; cloud exit has not been solved; there is overlicensing that cannot be removed; a non-transparent licensing model and thus unpredictability of future costs; subscription fees can increase massively in the cloud; and license management with SAP on-board resources remains impossible. The confidence of SAP's existing customers that these questions will be answered and the suggestions implemented is still there.

Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine

Peter M. Färbinger, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief E3 Magazine DE, US and ES (, AG, Freilassing (DE), E-Mail: and Tel. +49(0)8654/77130-21

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Working on the SAP basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. 

This gives the Competence Center strategic importance for existing SAP customers. Regardless of the S/4 Hana operating model, topics such as Automation, Monitoring, Security, Application Lifecycle Management and Data Management the basis for S/4 operations.

For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
At the exhibition center 2,
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Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

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Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
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28 and 29 February 2024


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The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.