As the latest ERP generation from SAP, SAP S/4HANA brings with it numerous innovations and improvements. These include, for example, simplified processes and data structures, modern user interfaces and easier integration with other systems and the cloud. What also changes with SAP S/4HANA is the way the system can be extended and tailored to individual user requirements.


Advantages of side-by-side extensions

Basically, three different extension types are available for SAP S/4HANA:

  • Classical extensions

    Classical extensions built on SAP ECC that remain available in SAP S/4HANA on-premise; because they contain modified SAP code, they must be adapted during an SAP S/4HANA upgrade

  • In-app extensions

    Simple customizations (for example, adding, hiding, and moving default fields for specific user groups or changing the layout of user interfaces) that require little effort and cost, but offer only limited opportunities for innovation

  • Side-by-side extensions

    Extensions that run outside the core system and communicate with it via standardized APIs such as OData, via a replicated database, or via events.


Compared to the other two extension types, side-by-side extensions have several advantages. They are decoupled from the core system, so if the core system is upgraded, there is no need to update the custom code. Changes in the backend that are rolled out by SAP do not affect the functionality of the extensions. In addition, SAP Business Technology Platform services can be used to generate additional value.


Extensions run on SAP Business Technology Platform

SAP Business Technology Platform is the technology layer for the Intelligent Enterprise on which side-by-side extensions can be implemented. It comprises the four pillars Database & Data Management, Analytics, Application Development, and Integration & Intelligent Technologies and offers numerous software-as-a-service offerings.


With regard to extensions for SAP core systems, SAP Extension Suite, SAP Integration Suite, SAP HANA (Cloud), the runtimes (e.g. Cloud Foundry, ABAP environment) and the foundational services (e.g. connectivity, event mesh) are particularly relevant. These offerings help companies develop scalable and innovative extensions to their core SAP systems.


Using S/4HANA-ready applications already with SAP ECC

Companies do not necessarily need SAP S/4HANA to build and use applications as side-by-side extensions. INCEMENDO.data_access enables the development of side-by-side extensions even for SAP ECC users and protects the investments made when upgrading the system to SAP S/4HANA. In this way, the extensions meet the requirements of SAP’s new extension concept and can be taken along with SAP S/4HANA migration without any additional effort or risk. Companies therefore already have the option of developing side-by-side extensions and seamlessly reusing them later under SAP S/4HANA.


Conclusion: Extensions are future-proof

Even without an SAP S/4HANA system, side-by-side extensions can generate valuable added value on SAP Business Technology Platform. Thanks to INCEMENDO.data_access, companies are already able to develop future-proof side-by-side extensions on SAP ECC and simply take them with them when they migrate to SAP S/4HANA – without risk, without effort and without additional costs.


This works by making web applications developed under SAP ECC 100% compatible with SAP S/4HANA data models. This results in simplified development, significant time savings and lower costs. Another advantage is flexibility: companies are free to choose the platform on which they want to implement their extensions – from SAP Business Technology Platform to Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to Google Cloud.


Want to know how you can start using S/4HANA-ready extensions now?

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Further articles of interest: