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Dubbed the most important release by the company in the last 23 years, SAP S/4HANA dominated the news coming out of the ERP giant in 2015. A major revamp of SAP's ERP platform, S/4HANA -- officially named SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA -- was expected to be the showcase for the vendor's new "Run Simple" slogan, which it adopted as a battle cry against overly complex software and business processes. To many observers, it seemed to be just that: a slogan without any real substance behind it. And they looked to SAP to provide more guidance and resources if they were really expected to embark on the road to a major upgrade to SAP S/4HANA.
The game-changing release of S/4HANA was hardly the only major move from SAP in 2015, however. There were significant revamps, updates and pushes for a number of products in the SAP world, and customers faced numerous questions about deployment strategy and options. Even if you disregard S/4HANA, SAP users had to weigh their options with upgrades to the underlying HANA in-memory database platform or how to deploy HANA Cloud Platform. The software vendor also made investments in the SAP Business Network and the SAP Business One ERP suite for the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) market. The Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud business intelligence were addressed with the releases of SAP HANA SPS10 and SAP Cloud for Analytics, respectively.
Run Simple? Maybe eventually, but getting there will take some work. Here are some of the most notable stories that ran on SearchSAP in 2015.
SAP unveils next-generation Business Suite
The vendor rolled out SAP S/4HANA at an event for industry and financial analysts in New York in February. CEO Bill McDermott explained that the entire SAP ERP core code had been rewritten on HANA. Industry analysts saw SAP S/4HANA as a logical progression to move SAP ERP into the cloud and make the HANA platform more essential to customers, but had questions about when the full Business Suite would be available and what S/4 means to organizations that are already heavily invested in the older SAP technologies.
Sapphire attendees take long view, despite S/4HANA roadmap gaps
Coming in May, just a few months after S/4HANA's public unveiling, SAP's annual Sapphire user conference provided the vendor with a high-profile opportunity to flesh out the directions that customers could take to get to S/4HANA. It turned out that this kind of detail was, for the most part, pretty skimpy, as the keynote addresses focused mainly on broad themes. Users, however, tended to take the long view. Many attendees said getting S/4HANA was likely inevitable, but that it was not on the immediate horizon, and they would need to expend considerable time, effort and resources to get there.
SAP S/4HANA promises simplicity, requires preparation
Getting to SAP's "simple" vision of S/4HANA will be no easy task, according to consultant and SAP Mentor Ethan Jewett. Here, he explained some of the considerable preparation that organizations will need to undertake before embarking on an S/4HANA upgrade.
Planning for SAP HANA adoption can be challenging
Before they even think about moving to S/4HANA, most SAP users are trying to figure out how and when they can upgrade to HANA, the in-memory database. In this article, freelancer Chris Maxcer looked at some of the challenges that people might face in planning to adopt HANA. Establishing a good business case for adopting HANA is a fundamental first step, but can be more challenging than it appears for many companies.
SAP HANA Hadoop enhancements called major step toward IoT
IoT integration was one of the major trends of the year, as more companies are building IoT features into applications and services. SAP HANA Service Pack 10 (SPS10), released in June, includes Hadoop integration that SAP claims will help companies connect applications more easily to IoT. Some observers think that this could make a compelling case for both HANA and Hadoop in the enterprise as big data applications become more viable and cost effective.
SAP Business Network faces spirited challengers
Over the past few years, SAP spent nearly $15 billion to acquire the companies that it stitched together as the SAP Business Network -- Ariba, Concur, Fieldglass and SuccessFactors. Analysts believe that the Business Network has the potential to take what these vendors do best and tie them together in a way that makes the sum more valuable than the individual parts. But they wonder whether the price that was paid will be too high in the long run. Many smaller and, potentially, more nimble competitors are already poised to out-innovate the Business Network and grab chunks of market share.
SAP Fiori UX is the face of SAP's future, so be prepared
SAP Fiori is a radically reimagined user interface (UI) that SAP has touted as a game changer in the way that users interact with SAP applications and data. So radical, in fact, that SAP uses the term user experience (UX) rather than UI when discussing Fiori. In this interview, SAP consultant Shaun Syvertsen of Convergent IS discussed the origins of Fiori and described the reasons organizations need to see it as the future face of SAP technology. He explained what you need to do to prepare for the coming Fiori implementation.
SAP HANA Cloud Platform emerging as go-to PaaS
SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) has been pushed by SAP as the platform as a service (PaaS) of choice for developing cloud-based HANA applications. Chris Maxcer detailed what HCP is comprised of and explained why companies should choose it as an application development platform for HANA. SAP has assisted third-party developers in creating extensions, plug-ins and apps that use data from SAP systems, such as SuccessFactors, encouraging a host of companies -- from large developers to tiny startups -- to create and distribute a variety of cloud applications.
SAP making push for SME ERP market with Business One
Although it's known primarily as a vendor of large ERP systems for large companies, SAP has a number of products aimed at SMEs. In fact, SAP said that its SME-oriented ERP platform, SAP Business One (B1), boasts the largest number of customers of any on the company's roster. Many of these B1 owners are extolling the benefits that features such as HANA-based analytics provide them as they outgrow business-finance tools like QuickBooks. Analysts think that SAP is making a push for the SME market because it represents a real greenfield opportunity in a landscape where the large-enterprise ERP market may be saturated and fully staked out.
SAP Cloud for Analytics brings BI to the cloud ... again
SAP has brought several cloud-based business intelligence products to the market over the years, including Lumira Cloud and BI OnDemand. So, what's the big deal with SAP Cloud for Analytics, its latest attempt at cloud-based BI, asked Jamie Oswald. For one, SAP CforA has been built from the ground up as a cloud BI application with a single access point for all of its functions, eliminating the need for cumbersome data integration and moving between applications to do analysis.
Four SMEs discuss successful SAP Business One deployments.
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