Welcome to the first edition of Your SAP Investment Unleashed, a new column from Kristen Scheffler, Vice President of Customer Evolution for North America, SAP, and VerNeil Mesecher, Sr. Director of Customer Engagement Events Liaison for North America, SAP. Together, they’re part of SAP Customer Evolution, an organization focused on supporting, guiding, educating, listening to, and enabling customers to get the most out of their SAP investments.

Through numerous years of engaging with the greater SAP community, it’s become clear to us that many SAP customers and partners remain unaware of all the entitlements they receive from their existing SAP investments at no additional cost. Below are only a few of the questions that we frequently address with SAP customers:

What do customers get out of the maintenance or subscription fees they pay? Outside of resolving tickets, how does SAP Support actively support users? What resources are already available from SAP to help organizations upgrade systems, applications, and processes? How can SAP support existing landscapes as customers prepare for the next steps in digital transformation? And how will SAP support customers at all stages of their technology journeys—on-premises and in the cloud—as deadlines for end of mainstream maintenance loom? For that matter, what does “end of mainstream maintenance” even mean?

In our inaugural installment of “Your SAP Investment Unleashed,” a new column designed in collaboration with ASUG to explore hot topics in the SAP ecosystem, we’re discussing end of mainstream maintenance, as well as end of life/support, and differences between the two. We’re passionate about our customers and partners and look forward to opening this dialogue with each of you.

What Does ‘Mainstream Maintenance’ Mean?

With mainstream maintenance for the latest three enhancement packages of SAP ERP 6.0—including SAP ERP Central Component (ECC), a platform first introduced around 30 years ago—ending Dec. 31, 2027, followed by an optional extended maintenance phase until Dec. 31, 2030, many SAP customers are inquiring about options available to them for staying in maintenance and next steps for upgrading or migrating their systems. (For customers on SAP ERP 6.0 with enhancement packages 1 to 5, or without enhancement packages, mainstream maintenance ends earlier, on Dec. 31, 2025. For more information about maintenance timelines for SAP ERP 6.0, including how you can find your release and enhancement package level, click here.)

In discussing this topic, it’s important to first distinguish between “end of mainstream maintenance” and “end of life/end of support.” SAP customers may hear the term “end of life/end of support” used frequently, but the fact is most SAP solutions do not go into end of life; instead, they reach end of mainstream maintenance. Let’s get into the existing maintenance phases, break them down, and clear up any confusion.

There are four distinct maintenance phases defined under SAP’s maintenance strategy: mainstream maintenance, customer-specific maintenance, extended maintenance, and priority one support.

Mainstream maintenance is initially offered for all SAP software releases. Mainstream maintenance begins as software is first made generally available to customers. During the mainstream maintenance period, you receive support as according to your support agreement with SAP. Toward the end of mainstream maintenance, you have three options: upgrade, enter customer-specific maintenance, or request extended maintenance.

  • Upgrade: Typically, SAP recommends upgrading your software before it reaches the end of its mainstream maintenance. The delivery of new releases of licensed software, as well as access to SAP’s upgrade tools, are all covered by your SAP support contract. (To identify and review available upgrade paths, as well as to select upgrade approaches, visit the Upgrade Information portal at SAP Support.)
  • Customer-specific maintenance is generally offered for all SAP releases, except SAP Business One and SAP BusinessObjects solutions not based on SAP NetWeaver and SAP Predictive Analytics. During customer-specific maintenance, customers continue to receive many features of SAP support for relevant releases, but SAP no longer adapts the releases to new or changed external requirements. (Such requirements are, for example, legal changes or support for new technologies.) Software deployed at the customer’s site can enter customer-specific maintenance in three scenarios:
    • Customer’s mainstream maintenance contract term ends.
    • Mainstream maintenance ends, and extended maintenance is not offered.
    • Mainstream maintenance ends, and extended maintenance is offered, but the customer does not choose to take advantage of it.
  • In customer-specific maintenance—which most SAP releases enter automatically after end of mainstream maintenance, without customers needing to apply for additional contracts—some restrictions apply to the scope of support. In customer-specific maintenance, the customer continues to pay the annual support fee for the support option they have (such as SAP Enterprise Support). Customer-specific maintenance currently does not have an expiry date.
  • Extended maintenance provides a similar scope of support to that provided during mainstream maintenance, at an additional cost. It is currently available for SAP Business Suite 7, SAP S/4HANA 1709, SAP S/4HANA 1809, and SAP S/4HANA 1909. Let’s break down the details of each below.
    • For SAP Business Suite 7, extended maintenance is offered for core applications and related add-on products from Jan. 1, 2028, to Dec. 31, 2030. This three-year extended maintenance is optional and requires a separate contract in addition to your support agreement; it comes at an added cost, on top of the respective maintenance fee. Customers can request a quotation for extended maintenance through SAP for Me, their SAP account executive, or their partner contact. For more information, see SAP Note 2881788 (login required).
    • For on-premises versions of SAP S/4HANA 1709, SAP S/4HANA 1809, and SAP S/4HANA 1909, extended maintenance is available for core applications and related add-on products from Jan. 1, 2023, until Dec. 31, 2025 (1709); Jan. 1, 2024, until Dec. 31, 2025 (1809); and Jan. 1, 2025, until Dec. 31, 2025 (1909). As long as support fees are paid, these versions will automatically transition to customer-specific maintenance once extended maintenance concludes. Extended maintenance for on-premises versions of SAP S/4HANA 1709, 1809, and 1909 is available at an additional cost and with a specific maintenance addendum, based on a valid maintenance contract. Customers can request a quotation for extended maintenance through their SAP account executive, SAP contact person or partner contact.
    • Extended maintenance is covered by the regular annual subscription fee and does not require a specific maintenance addendum for customers with a subscription to any of the below offerings or their predecessors:
      • SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition
      • SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition, tailored option
      • SAP S/4HANA Cloud, extended edition
      • HEC Subscription for SAP S/4HANA
  • For more details on SAP S/4HANA extended maintenance for on-premises and private cloud editions, see SAP Note 3246630 (login required).
  • Priority one support is offered by SAP after end of mainstream maintenance for selected releases of the former SAP BusinessObjects portfolio and SAP Predictive Analytics. This optional offering gives customers more flexibility in deciding when to upgrade, without additional payment or a specific maintenance addendum. Depending on the customer’s support contract, priority-one support could be engaged during the renewal period, or the customer could receive priority-one support by default if they are continuing to run a release during its priority-one support period. During priority-one support, customers can continue to create cases as per the standard process; product support will accept and analyze problem cases of all priority categorizations. Reported cases will be analyzed in the following ways:
    • If the software error is already known, an SAP Note will have been made available for customers, documenting the problem that exists within the relevant release and outlining the solution available to the customer.
    • If the error is not yet known. further processing is performed. For more information, see SAP Note 2078591 (login required).

SAP BusinessObjects releases not based on SAP NetWeaver and SAP Predictive Analytics have access to mainstream maintenance and priority-one support, automatically moving from one to the other. All other SAP and Sybase releases have access to mainstream, extended, and customer-specific maintenance. Priority-one support is considered the final phase of maintenance and support; at its conclusion, a product will have reached its end-of-life.

Additional content on these concepts can be accessed through the links below, with SAP S-user logins:

Introducing SAP Customer Evolution

If you’ve made it through the above and are still with us, we’d like to take a few more moments to introduce you to our organization: SAP Customer Evolution. Our organization's mantra is as follows: We commit to leaving no installed base customer behind on their innovation journey. What does that mean for you?

SAP Customer Evolution is a non-quota-carrying organization whose primary focus is to support, guide, educate, listen to, and enable you to get the most out of your existing SAP investment while assisting with current innovations or transformation projects. SAP Customer Evolution works with customers to build relationships, serve as trusted advisors, and deeply understand customers’ business and IT needs, so as to identify and recommend relevant customer-specific entitlements to help customers make the right choices as it relates to their future states—whether that is on-premises, cloud, or hybrid.

SAP Customer Evolution is worldwide, with a team of individuals dedicated to the North American regions and available to meet virtually or in-person, at a local ASUG chapter or event. Much like ASUG, SAP Customer Evolution is here to help you get the most out of your SAP Investment.

Nurturing customer relationships beyond transactional engagements is imperative, and our organization is committed to helping you fully realize the value of SAP's services, support, and solutions.

Customers are consistently telling us: “We don’t want SAP to sell us its shiny, new solutions without first understanding our business, partnering with us, and helping us determine the best outcomes and value for our business. We don’t want SAP to focus solely on one part of our business but to look at our business holistically, provide informed feedback, and collaborate on an overall roadmap for transformation, instead of individual solutions (ERP, HR, or Supply Chain). We cannot define our business transformation if we are only looking at individual solutions.” If this resonates with you, SAP Customer Evolution is here to help.

Your SAP Investment Unleashed is a new column tailored to you, the SAP community; we invite any feedback, ideas, and topics that you would like to see addressed, so don’t hesitate to connect with us.

We want this to be a valuable read, and one that you look forward to each month. Ahead, we plan to cover such topics as what end of mainstream maintenance means for SAP ECC, how to use entitlements through SAP for Me, customer perspectives on the value of SAP Support tools, and more. Finally, as we move forward in this series, we want you to know that everything that we will be discussing is already YOURS. You’ve paid for it, so let’s get you using it!

Your SAP Investment Unleashed is intended to answer your burning questions and address hot topics for the SAP community. Please contact the authors with your questions, and future editions of this column will address them. Kristen Scheffler can be reached at kristen.scheffler@sap.com, and VerNeil Mesecher, Jr. can be reached at verneil.mesecher@sap.com.

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