What Are the Differences Between SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud?

When talking about SAP S/4HANA, there is a cloud version, an on-premise version—even industry-specific implementations. There’s a new offering called GROW with SAP that includes SAP S/4HANA.


This post will give you a high-level look at where things are at in 2023 in regard to SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud. It is based on a conversation the authors of SAP S/4HANA Cloud: An Introduction had during the SAP PRESS Book Club in early 2023. Without further ado, let’s see what SAP’s Marcus Homann and Almer Podbicanin had to say.



SAP itself is in the cloud world; it is a cloud company and is gaining most of its customers in the cloud. For SAP S/4HANA Cloud, there are two different products: One is the public edition, and the other is the private edition. The products are distinct and target two different customer segments.


The private edition is something that can be configured and adjusted to a bigger extent. That is important for those that need a lot of flexibility and are focused on customers or companies which have implemented specific (or rather complex) processes. This doesn’t mean that it’s the only case—there are gray zones—but the straightforward cases are basically existing customers. Customers using the private edition often have processes that cannot be found in other industries or companies, and they have specific topics, compliance considerations, scalability needs, and other requirements for adjusting things for large volumes of data. A recent announcement by a company choosing private cloud, and one of the main ones that everybody knows about, is BMW. They have many of these special requirements. Customers like that can choose whether SAP runs the data center and cloud services, or whether a service provider like Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform will.


The public edition is a pure software-as-a-service (SaaS) ERP solution, based on best practices. It can be implemented very fast, in timeframes as short as four weeks (more on SAP S/4HANA implementation timelines here). It is a full system that delivers everything that you need. In addition to a quicker implementation, there are lower initial costs, and the total costs are lower. You can still configure and extend the public edition solution, although not to the extent as the private edition. What is important to know about the public edition is that SAP runs it. You get prepaid updates in the form of monthly deliveries, and you can switch on functionality and innovations immediately. You don’t have to worry about picking and performing specific upgrades.


On-Premise SAP S/4HANA

The one important thing to know about SAP S/4HANA is that it comes in versions. There’s version one, version two, etc., with on-premise updates occurring on a yearly basis. They are typically named in a year/month format. For example, the 1709 release of SAP S/4HANA came out in September 2017.


SAP S/4HANA’s on-premise version is the traditional way of delivering software, where a customer has its own version of the software through a license, and hosts it on its company-owned hardware and network devices. Installing, updating, maintaining, and troubleshooting the SAP S/4HANA solution falls to a company’s own IT staff. It’s what seasoned business executives and IT practitioners are used to. SAP still supports this option for customers, but it is important to know that the market is trending towards the cloud and SAP wishes customers to use the SAP S/4HANA Cloud option.



Each customer has its own unique business situation, and SAP provides options for them to utilize both a cloud and on-premise version of SAP S/4HANA. To learn more about what SAP S/4HANA can do for your business, check out this free overview.



SAP S/4HANA Cloud: An Introduction
SAP S/4HANA Cloud: An Introduction

SAP S/4HANA Cloud has a lot to offer—so see what’s possible! Explore core functionality like finance, logistics, and reporting with embedded analytics. Learn how SAP S/4HANA Cloud impacts your users and how it can be extended, integrated, and adopted by your organization. Get information on the latest intelligent technologies and see how SAP S/4HANA Cloud can help unify and streamline your business. A bold new world awaits in the cloud!

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Almer Podbicanin and Marcus Homann
by Almer Podbicanin and Marcus Homann

Almer Podbicanin is the head of SAP S/4HANA portfolio management. Marcus Homann works for the SAP S/4HANA strategy team at SAP.