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Is the SAP ECC support deadline extension important?

With an extension to the SAP ERP Central Component end-of-support deadline, customers are wondering what it means for them. Here's a look.

The SAP ECC support deadline extension has sparked heated speculation among analysts and customers.

In early 2019, SAP announced it was planning to end maintenance for ERP Central Component and other legacy ERP products by 2025. After pushback from customers, SAP has extended that deadline and will continue maintenance through 2027, with an optional extension through 2030.

If you're an SAP customer, it's important to understand what the SAP ECC support deadline extension means and what the implications are for you and your business over the long term.

People often use the terms support and maintenance interchangeably. In this case, we're talking about both, but the key point is that maintenance will end. That means SAP will no longer be adding features to the product. Perhaps more importantly, it also means it'll no longer be issuing bug fixes, except perhaps in the most serious cases.

Secondly, it's important to understand which products are affected. SAP sells an array of products, including Concur, Business One, Ariba and Hybris. The maintenance announcement is primarily aimed at SAP's ERP-associated systems, including R/3, Business Suite and ECC.

Why did SAP set the 2025 deadline in the first place? For starters, SAP wants to move its customers to the latest version of its ERP product, S/4HANA.

If you're an SAP customer, it's important to understand what the SAP ECC support deadline extension means and what the implications are for you and your business over the long term.

S/4HANA incorporates new components and innovations that are designed to take full advantage of cloud, IoT, AI and other leading-edge technologies. From a cost perspective, it simply doesn't make sense for SAP to continue updating the old product in parallel with the new one.

But there is another motivation: SAP wants to move its customers away from its competitors and onto the HANA database.

Almost a decade ago, SAP released the first version of its HANA in-memory database. Not only has HANA been a major differentiator for SAP, but it was also a direct challenge to the company's primary competitor, Oracle. For years, customers have been running their SAP systems on Oracle's database. HANA aims to undercut Oracle's dominance in the database market.

Not surprisingly, S/4 HANA runs exclusively on the HANA database.

SAP will end support and maintenance for its legacy ERP product by 2027, according to the vendors' communications. That gives SAP customers a few more years to migrate to the new product.

For customers who choose to stay with ECC, there are a few options. First, SAP will be offering a "pay to stay" support and maintenance program through 2030. Other customers may opt for third-party support. That's already an option today, but as the 2027 deadline gets closer, it will likely become more popular.

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