SAP made two big announcements on the morning of Feb. 4, 2020: It will extend mainstream maintenance on core applications of SAP Business Suite 7 from 2025 to 2027, as well as commit to maintenance for SAP S/4HANA until at least the end of 2040. The goal, according to SAP, is to make it easier for customers to drive business transformations and innovation based on SAP S/4HANA while giving customers clarity, choice, and flexibility for the transition from SAP Business Suite 7.

ASUG sat down with Jens Bernotat, VP of strategy and portfolio for customer success services at SAP Digital Business Services, to discuss what these announcements mean for ASUG members.

“We wanted to provide clarity on our maintenance strategy going forward,” Bernotat said. “The message we gave in the past was that SAP was committing maintenance for SAP Business Suite 7 up until the end of 2025. We said we’ll inform the market in due time what will happen afterward. The time has now come.”

ASUG CEO Geoff Scott welcomed the news from SAP, as it offers customers more flexibility to plan and execute their SAP S/4HANA migrations. But he added a word of caution. “I don’t want SAP customers to see this as a reprieve and delay making any important decisions on their futures,” Scott said. “These are complex, resource-intensive projects that require commitment to business, technological, and cultural change. If you’re already started on your S/4HANA move—keep going. If you’re thinking about moving—get started. Because the future is already here.”

SAP Business Suite 7: A Clear Road Map for the Future

SAP will now provide mainstream maintenance for core applications of SAP Business Suite 7 software, which include SAP ERP 6.0, SAP CRM 7.0, SAP Supply Chain Management 7.0, SAP Supplier Relationship Management 7.0, and SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA until the end of 2027 for no additional charge.

After that time, customers will have two options. The first option is for those who are in the process of moving to SAP S/4HANA but need more time. They can opt for a three-year extension at a premium of two percentage points on their existing maintenance base. This option expires at the end of 2030, after which customers who have not moved to SAP S/4HANA will automatically fall into the second option.

For the second option, customers who don’t want to extend maintenance support will automatically be transferred to the customer-specific maintenance model, which has been in place for years on old releases of SAP products. Although there is no additional fee for this option, it includes restrictions—for example, it includes support only for known issues and does not include legal patches.

“The maintenance extension will give customers more flexibility to drive their business transformation,” Bernotat said. “As we have said before, we will not leave customers behind, and we now have a clear road map in place to help them move forward.”

SAP has also announced that SAP NetWeaver 7.5 will be supported in mainstream maintenance until the end of 2027, while  extended maintenance will be offered until the end of 2030. In addition, SAP has decided to fully align the product and innovation strategy for SAP BW/4HANA with SAP S/4HANA

SAP Commits to SAP S/4HANA for the Long Haul

Moving to SAP S/4HANA is a huge undertaking—requiring cost, time, and resources—for any organization. SAP says it recognizes that fact. The company knows that if it is asking its customers to commit time, money, and energy, then SAP needs to commit as well.

Providing maintenance for SAP S/4HANA at least until 2040 represents a commitment to its customers—as well as partners—that SAP is in it for the long haul. “Now we are making our long-term commitment to SAP S/4HANA precise,” Bernotat said. “We are committing long-term to the platform so that customers have absolute planning security going forward.”

Bernotat made clear that the new window does not mean that after 2040, maintenance will automatically stop. Rather the company is committing at least up to 2040 and will then re-evaluate when the time is right. Additionally, he stressed that the commitment will be fulfilled through the sequence of releases laid out in the SAP S/4HANA Release and Maintenance Strategy. SAP BW/4HANA will also be maintained until the end of 2040 through a sequence of releases.

To date, nearly 14,000 customers have purchased licenses for SAP S/4HANA, and according to Christian Klein, more than 7,000 are live. As more companies plan for adoption and begin the move, they’ll know that SAP is putting its money where its mouth is with the new ERP platform. “What we see from our customers is a clear momentum toward SAP S/4HANA,” Bernotat said. “They appreciate that this is the future path for their company to revolutionize and drive forward their business models and business processes. We show that we are right there with them.”

The Road Ahead for SAP S/4HANA

Both the Americas’ and German user groups have indicated that customers are more inclined, or perhaps ready, to make the move to SAP S/4HANA.

ASUG’s Scott noted when announcing the ASUG Pulse of the Customer 2020 study results, “respondents recognize the value and efficiencies in migrating to SAP S/4HANA before the 2025 retirement date.” Now with an extension, SAP hopes those customers will have more time and flexibility to fully embrace the opportunities of SAP S/4HANA at the individual pace and complexity of their projects.

“These projects take time,” Bernotat said. “We want our customers to master their business transformations from SAP Business Suite 7 to SAP S/4HANA, which is the future. We want them to know that we support that transformation and are confident that this gives them the clarity and security they need to move forward.”

ASUG members, register to listen on demand to the webcast with ASUG CEO Geoff Scott who goes deeper into the results from the ASUG Pulse of the SAP Customer 2020 study. Make sure to also mark your calendars for ASUG Best Practices: SAP S/4HANA Virtual Experience. Across four weeks in March, these sessions will help attendees be successful in every part of their SAP S/4HANA journey, with each week focusing on a different phase of the process.