In this series of blogs I try to have a look on SAP S/4HANA from an different angle. The point of view of somebody who needs either to adjust existing code for S/4 or enhance functionality of S/4 to meet business needs.
In my first part I try to explain what is the main difference between R/3, SAP ERP and S/4.
As you can see from the picture above R/3 was upgraded, extended and renamed to eventually SAP ERP. With upgrades from R/3 to the next version SAP mostly added/enhanced functionality and mostly kept all other functionalities as before. This allowed custom ABAP programs to continue to run with no or may be small adjustments.
SAP S/4HANA is SAP’s next generation Business Suite, but it is not another new version of R/3. It is a new code line. Let’s have a look what this means.
The last time SAP made a product announcement like S/4 was 1992, when R/3 was introduced as next generation after R/2. It was a new code line on a different hard- and software architecture. R/2 was for Mainframe computers and R/3 for Micro Computers on Unix and later Windows NT.
SAP kept of course many things from R/2, like some tables, fields etc. Some R/2 ABAP code was converted to R/3. But with new technologies it was time for a fresh new start. In R/3 functionality was extended, re-designed or retired. In short SAP kept the best and made house cleaning where necessary. The new technologies allowed SAP to make R/3 a better product, not only an upgrade with more functionality.
Here we are again, we have a new better product with SAP S/4HANA. It is like the step from R/2 to R/3. So after 23 years SAP does house cleaning and redesign. Because SAP has now new technologies that it can make a better ERP product on technologies like SAP HANA on multi core CPU and large RAM memory.
Brief overview of the house cleaning in SAP S/4HANA
As redundant data tables or field (including aggregates) are mostly eliminated, the ABAP code that maintains the aggregates and redundancies are removed, too. Furthermore unused or redundant functionality is retired. The goal is to unifying functionality by the principle of one, i.e. having only one functionality for the same task. Some data types are are extended like the material number. Some ABAP processing is replaced by SQL on HANA, because it works directly on the data with automated parallel execution by HANA.
SAP S/4HANA is compatible to SAP ERP where possible and where it makes sense. Most of the BAPI’s, tables, table field names and some of its ABAP code is still there.
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