SAP customers have always faced the challenge of having to extend the standard scope of the software with individual solutions − with solutions that differentiate them from the competition or with adaptations that enable individual processes to be better mapped. The enhancements range from field extensions to simple ABAP reports that extract data from the business module's database tables, to the development of huge add-ons to implement completely new processes and services. For many years, the SAP NetWeaver Application Server (AS) was used for this purpose, and it will be obsolete with SAP S/4HANA at the latest.
Often, customer and partner enhancements based on SAP NetWeaver AS benefited from existing code and data structures by calling the classes and functional modules of the business modules or selecting them from the database tables of the business modules. The cost of developing these solutions was kept at a reasonable level, as were the operating costs, since no additional servers were needed. The main disadvantage of this close integration of customer code and SAP modules was that SAP could not easily refactor and improve its code. Every change in the core carries the risk of having a negative impact on customer-specific enhancements. System upgrades and updates became an adventure. This made it increasingly difficult for customers to update their systems or benefit from software improvements.
Cloud Extensions on SAP Cloud Platform are technically decoupled from SAP S/4HANA as side-by-side extensions so that extensions can be developed independently of the ERP core. They do not need to be oriented to the ERP system, neither in programming language nor in the lifecycle. Technical services and business services on SAP Cloud Platform support the user in creating them. With Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or workflow services, sub-processes can be automated in this step and user interfaces (UI) with Fiori components can be made available on the move.
For an upcoming upgrade of the core system, this means that no update of the customer code is necessary. Fewer check steps and reduced effort during a release upgrade are the result.
Companies that are about to embark on a journey to SAP S/4HANA have the opportunity to streamline an S/4HANA project by outsourcing custom applications. By moving custom code to side-by-side extensions, the migration and adaptation effort of an S/4HANA migration is massively minimized. The side-by-side extensions can be reused in SAP S/4HANA. Reports are transformed into CDS views and consumed in SAP Analytics Cloud.
Companies that are already on SAP S/4HANA on-premise have the opportunity to follow the SAP strategy by implementing extensions in the form of in-app extensions and side-by-side extensions. The more custom applications are outsourced on SAP Cloud Platform, the closer companies come to the pleasure of implementing releases without great effort. Reports are transformed into CDS views and consumed in SAP Analytics Cloud.
Companies that use SAP S/4HANA Cloud must rely on in-app extensibility and on SAP Cloud Platform. Here, the standard does not provide for core enhancements.
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