Launched in 2015, SAP S/4HANA represents a major step forward in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. However, with this change, SAP is ending support for SAP ERP in 2025, requiring existing customers to upgrade to S/4HANA.
Given the complexities of modern IT landscapes, migrating to S/4HANA represents the largest migration and integration exercise most organizations will undertake. Unfortunately, legacy approaches are no longer fit for purpose, resulting in the following challenges:
1. Risky go-live due to lack of cutover flexibility.
2. Cost overruns as development, testing, and training requirements exceed projections.
3. Increased implementation time as design, data migration and external systems integration are delayed.
MuleSoft’s API-led approach enables your organization to adopt two powerful strategies for migration:
1. Flexible migration by ERP module, geography, line of business, time period, or any other combination, by using APIs to expose business functions from their underlying systems.
2. Build a future-proof architecture by evolving your IT landscape from a monolith into a modern business platform by decoupling ERP functionality into microservices, creating agility for future needs.
By following MuleSoft’s API-led approach to S/4HANA migration, your organization will enjoy the following benefits:
1. De-risk your program
- Eliminate the need for a risky “big bang” approach.
- Test and validate integrations earlier to avoid challenges at go-live.
2. Accelerate delivery
- Parallelize S/4HANA development while building your integrations and APIs.
- Reduce S/4HANA customization and instead use standardized, out-of-the-box configuration.
3. Reduce spend
- Simultaneous development reduces environmental needs, and thus, licensing costs for SAP and other systems.
- Rationalize legacy systems and applications while modernizing business processes.
4. Maximize business outcomes
- Phased migrations aligned with your organization’s needs.
- Build a modern, microservices-based infrastructure for future agility.
MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform is uniquely positioned to deliver on this API-led approach as a unified platform for designing, building, deploying, managing, and monitoring both APIs and integrations, whether on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment. From SAP ERP and S/4HANA to legacy systems to best-of-breed SaaS apps, Anypoint Platform eliminates the need to navigate multiple, disparate tools across your organization. As a result, MuleSoft’s unified platform de-risks and accelerates your S/4HANA migration program, and just as important, creates a flexible, scalable, and modern microservices architecture for future growth.
An opportunity to reimagine your business
Today’s enterprise landscape is complex: A typical enterprise has of over 1,000 applications, with the average business transaction touching 35 different systems1 . And the world has changed dramatically since the 1990s, with an explosion in best-of-breed solutions across every industry, creating opportunities to drive innovation and differentiated customer experiences. Legacy ERPs were not designed to sustain this amount of scale and complexity, so when considering S/4HANA migration, building a flexible infrastructure that will adapt to future business needs is critical. While these emerging business needs add complexity for migration, they provide the opportunity, and perhaps the catalyst, to rethink your IT landscape.
Migration challenges and considerations
Make no mistake — upgrading from SAP ERP to S/4HANA is a complex undertaking, likely the most challenging upgrade your organization will ever undertake. Presumably, your ERP is already integrated with a number of internal and external systems through a combination of custom code and legacy ESBs. This, alone, poses significant challenges, because each of these systems requires rebuilding the respective integrations to S/4HANA.
While SAP has designed S/4HANA to obviate the need for legacy reporting approaches, you likely have an existing enterprise reporting structure whereby you push critical ERP data to data warehouses through information management tools. This data is critical to understanding trends, and the data acts as a system of record for compliance, thus creating the need for a long term data repository. Therefore, maintaining the ability to access legacy data with S/4HANA is required.
Further complicating the IT landscape, you may operate separate lines of business, possibly in separate geographies, each with its own ERPs. Once again, these ERPs may be connected to your headquarters’ ERP through legacy approaches. Worse yet, the integration approaches are likely not well documented, and those who did the work may have left your organization.
Finally, you need to conduct business with partners, suppliers, and customers, all of which require integration. These business scenarios need to be considered and either preserved or modernized during S/4HANA migration. Conversely, if you’re conducting these processes manually today, S/4HANA migration presents the opportunity to reimagine these business relationships and operating models.
Despite the aforementioned complexity, companies that embrace the shift to S/4HANA as a strategic opportunity, enabled by modern integration approaches and tools, will come out ahead of their peers with a modern, microservices infrastructure.
Legacy approaches increase risks, costs, and time
The challenge with typical ERP migration approaches is that they increase the risk of realizing successful outcomes, driving up costs and exceeding expectations for completion. Broadly speaking, S/4HANA migration can be broken down into three categories (pictured below), which run in parallel with each other:
1. Prepare your organization.
2. Prepare your legacy system for migration.
3. Configure S/4HANA and applications.
Migration programs begin by gaining organizational alignment around a desired endstate, data and design requirements, and the overall process. Next, the process begins of preparing the legacy ERP system and data, along with configuring S/4HANA environments. Eventually, integrations will be built between S/4HANA and the rest of the landscape, enabling systems integration testing. Prior to moving to production, data will be migrated to S/4HANA, and training begins for User Acceptance Testing, followed by training the rest of the organization prior to go-live. If everything goes according to plan, the migration will go live on-time and on-budget. But, of course, this almost never happens, because any breakdown in this process puts the entire migration program at risk.
Legacy migration approaches rely on brittle dependencies
Let’s take a look at why legacy migration approaches are not fit for purpose in today’s complex and fast-moving world.
Data unavailable for design
Because integrating S/4HANA’s development and testing environments with third party apps typically happens late in a migration program, critical data is generally unavailable to guide the program. This lack of data causes teams to make mistakes during the design phase. As a shortcut, dirty data is often forced into S/4HANA to guide developers and testers, leading teams to design according to incorrect standards and definitions.
Third party apps not validated
Another downside of delaying integration until later in the migration program is that third party apps and services aren’t validated until right before cutover to S/4HANA, greatly increasing risk to a successful go-live. Mobile apps, SaaS apps, and other systems of record require rigorous testing, and traditional migration approaches delay these tests.
Lack of cutover flexibility
Finally, organizations require the flexibility to migrate according to business needs, whether by geography, ERP module, line of business, time period, or any other method. A big bang approach is generally not advisable, and as a result, there will be a requirement to operate both SAP ERP and S/4HANA in parallel. Unfortunately, a legacy migration approach does not 10 provide this flexibility, instead requiring significant custom development, workarounds, and additional training and organizational alignment.