“RISE with SAP” is the latest initiative announced to bring together some existing trends already in play, as well as unveiling some major commercial changes.

I thought it would be helpful to take a look at some of these in further detail to try and understand where the real value lies and the potential impact for users.

According to SAP’s press release:

“RISE with SAP is an offer that brings together everything you need to transform your business in the way that works best for you”

The biggest shift announced is the repositioning of SAP to the role of prime contractor to the customer. Fronting the various work effort and planning elements that will plot the customer journey and manage the onboarding to a new SAP landscape.

rise with sapSAP have been moving further up the value chain for several years. Transitioning away from their original role as just a ‘software vendor,’ their recent positioning was to offer software services. Their cloud first policy has restricted many of their recent products to being only available as a Software as a Service (SaaS) option.  On these ‘cloud only’ products, customers are not able to purchase licenses and host these new products themselves. By including the hosting and managed elements of the app and middleware service, SAP provided a higher value of service. Their managed platform (now called “Business Technology Platform”) is also promoted to offer customers and partners value and replaces the previous “SAP Cloud Platform.”

This latest initiative – ‘RISE with SAP’ – moves them even further up the value chain to the position of leading the overall project and overseeing the planning and migration phases and effectively assuming the systems integrator role. Their role as prime contractor with the customer will allow them to appoint, manage and control the sub-contractors [SAP partners] required to deliver the desired outcomes.

Assisting migrations to S4/HANA

Moving to S/4HANA is a big change for organisations, one that can be very time consuming and potentially very expensive. Many organisations are undergoing their digital transformations to secure the flexibility needed to evolve efficiently and adapt quickly to any changes to their environment.  The benefits that businesses can gain from having an agile core with a simple homogenous HANA database is potentially of huge value. However, estimating the value of these benefits and building a robust business case to move to S/4HANA has proven to be tricky to quantify.

To help address this, ‘Rise with SAP’ adds a new “Business Process Transformation” stage to their solution, which is “consultancy based.” This new first phase will help ground the new Application landscape with a larger Digital Transformation programme. It will identify new business processes needed and crucially help to better define the business case and potential ROI of moving from ECC to S/4HANA.

Deployment choice

Customers have so far been slow to move their SAP environments to cloud. Microsoft commissioned Forrester last year to find out how many organisations had moved core systems like SAP to cloud and the reasons holding them back. The research found that 70% of Azure customers had yet to move their core systems to cloud.

Organisations have already learnt a lot of lessons from moving their general applications/workloads to cloud. They understand the many potential benefits cloud brings, however they also know the potential pitfalls and implications of running a non-optimised environment [See article Mistakes moving to cloud: the stakes get higher].  Most companies will eventually move all their core/system applications to cloud, however it will not be all at once and is likely be spread over many years -leveraging a ‘best of both worlds’ hybrid cloud environment in their journey.

SAP have realised this and are now embracing this with their extended maintenance of the pre-HANA suite to 2027/2030 last year. They have also expanded the role that Hyperscale vendors play to increase the choices available for SAP cloud services.

A significant development on this deployment choice, is the on-prem deployment option recently announced for their HEC CE “Customer Edition”. SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) launched in 2013 was SAP’s original cloud infrastructure cloud service. However, by now extending HEC to include infrastructure outside their Data Centre and be located on customer actual premises is a big change.

SAP BPC Roadmap Webinar

Thursday 22nd April – 2pm

The webinar will review the current SAP Roadmap BPC roadmap and how it is a part of the SAP plans for planning and consolidation solutions which includes SAP’s Cloud and on-premise offerings:

Key focus areas:

  • What is the current status of the SAP BPC solution?
  • What are the implications if you are using an older version?
  • What options do you have?
Register for the Webinar
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The role of Partners

Many SAP landscapes have evolved to become quite complex systems which add to the challenges of migrating or updating them. Organisations often consider starting completely afresh with a new ERP, and roll out a greenfield deployment in order to avoid the headache of untangling old processes.

SAP do not want to repeat this complexity cycle and by adopting a policy of only developing a generic, unmodified core they provide simplicity that utilises extra add-ons and extensions to be implemented by partners to deliver the variety required. This approach sits under the Industry Cloud umbrella that caters for 25 industry sectors with SAP partners permitted more access to develop solutions for the client. SAP Business Transformation Platform and even some SaaS service will allow partners more capabilities to tweak the solution as required.

This latest HEC CE offering is only currently available from their two longstanding partners Lenovo and HPE.  Integrating geo dispersed elements to operate as a homogeneous environment presents various technical challenges. SAP chose two of their most experienced SAP vendors to work with them to develop and establish how the system elements would interoperate efficiently.  Working closely with this small syndicate of experienced partners allowed the solution to be refined together and ensure users get the seamless experience required from their hybrid cloud solution.

SAP Partners are being encouraged develop their IPR with APIs and customisations to facilitate this plan as well as enable them to differentiate themselves in the market.

Commercial Flexibility

One of the new announcements in ‘RISE with SAP’ is more commercial flexibility in their cloud services with consumption based ‘pay as you go’ type models. Moving away from fixed subscriptions, this promises to allow customers to stop/start subscription payments and easily change more/less users.

Cloud credits have also been announced on their Enterprise Agreement [CPEA] to assist the costs towards service like S/4HANA. This agreement will also provide a vehicle for any incentives or promotions they offer on newer products.



I believe the concept of a single organisation leading a project and the simplicity of “one contract” with “one SLA” is a compelling message in a fast changing and technically diverse and complex world. Whether this lead position can effectively be delivered from SAP themselves rather than a proven Systems Integrator will remain to be seen. Clients may have impartiality concerns of SAP leading and influencing the business case for their own use, but the need to fully understand the complexities of a future solution is paramount and the increased assurance offered with SAP in the driving seat, may out rank any lack of independence.

Certainly, technical aspects of the partnerships like integrating different HEC elements will require in-depth detailed knowledge that can only come from a collaboration between SAP and their top partners. Leading the projects from the top will give SAP control to appoint appropriate partners, govern what they deliver and control how they work together. Achieving and delivering the simplicity promised from a unified HANA system may require this commanding approach on order to coordinate the different skills required within a market full of different choices.



Agility the real benefit of HANA

Mistakes Moving To Cloud

What Are All These Different SAP Clouds


About the Author

David penny opal wave

David Penny

David is Director of Cloud Services at Opal Wave and is focused on providing clients with the right cloud solution to meet their SAP business needs.

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