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SAP without Cloud? That's over!

SAP is going cloud-only and is inciting discussion in the SAP community. The move to the cloud has been on the horizon for many years, and now every company must ask itself what this means for its own future.
Thomas Pasquale, Gambit Consulting
23 October 2023
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

From cloud-first to cloud-only: In August of this year, SAP unsettled many companies with its verbal announcement that it would only make major innovations available to cloud customers in the future. On-premises customers in particular feel they have been deceived. They have sometimes only just invested in a new S/4 system - and are now no longer to receive any major innovations? The user association DSAG speaks of a "showstopper" and a "major disappointment.

According to DSAG, the announcement does not mean "that on-prem solutions will generally not be further developed functionally. But on-prem customers will not be able to benefit from major innovations such as artificial intelligence and green ledgers, for example. And this applies "just as much to larger function modules and enhancements based on the Business Technology Platform". The displeasure is understandable. However, as of mid-August, many questions have not yet been answered conclusively, such as the possible technical implementation. The only thing that is certain is that the message does not come as a complete surprise.

Cloud trend is irreversible 

As early as the fall of 2020, SAP announced its intention to transform the Group into a pure cloud company and, according to its own statements, has reached the "tipping point" for the cloud in 2023. A look at SAP's strategy also shows the inexorable shift to the cloud - from the monolithic ERP system of the early days to the clean-core ERP with cloud components of the present to the composable suite of the future, i.e., a modular and thus enormously flexible cloud network architecture. In this sense, S/4 Hana has always been more than a purely technical upgrade of an existing ECC system. It has always been about the strategic realignment of business models and the active shaping of digitization through new technologies - technologies like the cloud.

In addition, the cloud has never been a specific SAP topic, because all the relevant players in the market have long been following a similar path, some even ahead of the others - whether Salesforce, Oracle, Infor or Microsoft. Against this background, the fact that SAP is the only company to permanently commit to on-prem is therefore missing the point. The question of SAP's approach is debatable, but it does not change the reality. 

The trend toward the cloud is irreversible. It is both an expression and a means of digital transformation - a transformation that, with its speed, its imponderables and its sometimes disruptive effects, poses major challenges for many companies. In the face of all this, companies need to become even more agile, innovative and resilient. The cloud offers the best opportunities for this.

Seen in this light, the current discussion is above all a further wake-up call for companies to deal intensively with the topic of cloud ERP now at the latest and to make the best possible use of the opportunities that present themselves. It has to be said so clearly: Anyone who does not rely on the cloud today is ignoring the future! There may still be reasons for other operating models at times. But SAP and a contemporary system architecture without cloud? That is hard to imagine.

Both the extensible and extensively equipped private cloud and the lean and highly standardized public cloud therefore belong on every agenda for S/4 Hana today. This applies above all to companies that are still planning to switch to S/4 and to those that already switched technically to an S/4 on-prem system a few years ago. One thing is clear: there is no other operating model than the cloud, which already offers a solution for almost every challenge of digitization - be it process optimization for greater efficiency, resilience to change, the higher pace of innovation or dealing with demographic developments.

Flexibility and agility

The advantages of a cloud ERP system are obvious: companies are significantly more flexible and agile. Acquisition and total cost of ownership are lower. Implementation is also much faster - especially with the immediately available Public Cloud Edition. Last but not least, companies can use and implement innovations and new technologies more quickly. 

Every company should therefore take advantage of the opportunities offered by cloud solutions now and work towards achieving a flexible, fast and consistent system architecture with S/4, with which it can also reliably achieve its own strategic and operational goals. Understood in this way, S/4 in the cloud becomes a kind of "future field", i.e. the best environment for future success: based on an individually suitable cloud operating model, immediately available SAP best-practice processes, modern and modular extensions, real-time communication of applications and applications, and the clean digital core in the SAP standard.

Thomas Pasquale, Gambit Consulting

Thomas Pasquale is Managing Director and Managing Partner of Gambit Consulting.

1 comment

  • Auch wenn ich generell zustimme, werden hier ein paar Aussagen gemacht, für die ich gerne Begründungen sehen würde.

    1. “Unternehmen sind deutlich flexibler und agiler”
    2. “[Cloud] ist Ausdruck und Mittel der digitalen Transformation”
    3. “Die Anschaffungs- und Gesamtbetriebskosten sinken”
    4. “die Implementierung ist viel zügiger möglich”

    Aber all das geht meiner Meinung nach am Punkt vorbei. Wenn ich meine komplette Betriebsorganisation jemand Externen gebe, entsteht eine immense Abhängigkeit. Um diese einzugehen, benötigt man Vertrauen. Vertrauen, dass sich alles in eine zu mir passende Richtung entwickelt, dass ich nicht morgen erpresst werde höhere Preise zu bezahlen, dass ich alle Möglichkeiten haben werde meine Anforderungen zu erfüllen.

    So würde ich z.B. Offenheit als extrem wichtig ansehen. Ich kann all meine SAP Daten problemlos in andere Systeme schnell, einfach, performant übernehmen. Die Realität ist das genaue Gegenteil: Über indirect-use muss jeder in der Firma eine SAP Lizenz haben, der auch nur FI oder SD Daten schief anschaut. Alle Tools, ob von SAP oder SAP Partnern, mit denen man in der Vergangenheit SAP Daten extrahieren konnte, werden immer mehr eingeschränkt.

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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,
A-5020 Salzburg

Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
69115 Heidelberg

Event date

28 and 29 February 2024


Regular ticket
EUR 590 excl. VAT
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.