What is the actual difference between S/4HANA Cloud and S/4HANA OP

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S/4HANA Cloud is managed by SAP the back-end system is operated by SAP, and users or consulting companies can only access various business processes through operations based on the Fiori interface. Users only need to obtain the right to use S/4HANA Cloud through a license-based subscription.

The difference is that S/4HANA On-premise can be managed by the user company or consulting company, and SAP GUI or SAP Fiori can be selected to perform business operations.

S/4HANA Cloud has two deployment methods:

  • Public cloud: In this way, SAP restricts system modifications and recommends running in accordance with best business practices.
  • Private cloud: This method has the flexibility of S/4HANA On-premise, but the system is still managed by SAP in the cloud.

In contrast, S/4HANA On-premise can also be hosted on the cloud instead of being managed on the customer’s own server. The cloud used for hosting can be a public cloud or a private cloud.

SAP has already said that the back-end code of OP and Cloud is actually a set.

For the Cloud version, SAP follows the principle of launching a new version every quarter, with one version each in February, May, August and November. So the latest version is 1802, and there will be 1805, 1808, 1811 and so on.

S/4HANA On-premise is a major update once a year. The most recent one is version 1709, which was launched in September 2017, and the next one will be version 1809. Between major versions, SAP will launch 2 FPS packages, the so-called Functional Pack Stacks, which actually pushes some new features of the Cloud version to the OP version.

Regarding S/4HANA Cloud, one thing is very important, that is, when SAP launches quarterly updates, users must adopt them, and users cannot choose to skip a quarterly update. The life cycle of each version is 3 months. If you don’t believe it, you can look at the picture below.

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In contrast, the S/4HANA On-premise version does not have any mandatory upgrade requirements. Users can skip the upgrade. For example, if the 1511 version was originally implemented, it can be directly upgraded to the 1709 version. There is no need to upgrade to the 1610 version first. But it should be noted that the life cycle of the OP version is 5 years.

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Because SAP’s strategy is that new features will be released on the Cloud version first, so you will see many new Fiori programs on the S/4HANA Cloud version that are not available on the OP version. For Fiori application, you can refer to the link below:


The same goes for best business practices. All innovations will first appear on the Cloud. For best business practices, check https://rapid.sap.com/bp/ .

Finally came the part that the consultants care about most.

In the past, consultants used SPRO for various configurations. This fine tradition has been preserved in the S/4HANA OP version.

But goose, goose… This has undergone tremendous changes in the S/4HANA Cloud version. SAP divides the configuration range into two major categories:

  • Self-configuration (Self-Service Configuration UIs, referred SSCUIs): SAP Fiori to put a lot of the configuration, allowing users to use SSCUIs or consultant can be configured directly in the Cloud. The configurable points are not completely consistent in each version, and SAP is gradually expanding the scope of self-service configuration.
  • Expert configuration : All configurations that are not covered by SSCUI are called expert configurations, and they can only be completed by SAP. SAP provides a template, users or consultants need to fill in the template, and then SAP Service Center will complete the expert configuration.

In the S/4HANA OP version, SAP does not provide any test automation tools. Therefore, customers usually need to develop their own or purchase third-party automated testing tools.

The Cloud version has advantages in this regard. SAP provides automated testing tools based on the Cloud environment, which users can use for free. It provides a standard test process/scenario/plan, which can also be modified according to user needs. It can manage the entire test execution process and meet audit requirements.

For S/4HANA Cloud, automatic testing tools are very important, because the version is updated every three months and customers are forced to adopt it, so the time window for users to test is actually very short.

Data import

S/4HANA Cloud only supports Migration Cockpit. It provides various templates. Users can fill in the templates and complete the import.

S/4HANA OP supports multiple import methods, including Migration Cockpit, BAPI, IDocs, LSMW, custom programs, etc.


S/4HANA Cloud only supports integration through whitelisted APIs. Enterprises and consulting companies can use APIs to create side-by-side extensions outside the system, rather than extensions within the system.

S/4HANA OP allows various other methods, including BAPI, RFC, IDocs, user exit, etc., just like the ECC environment.


SAP Activate methodology supports two versions of OP and Cloud, both of which include Discover, Prepare, Explore, Realize, Deploy and Run.

However, there is no methodology to switch the user’s OP system to the Cloud system, and vice versa. It can only be done as a brand new project.

System Architecture

S/4HANA OP can have a multi-layered system architecture, such as development environment, test environment, production environment, sandbox, etc.

However, there are restrictions for S/4HANA Cloud:

  • In the Discovery phase of the project, there is a Discovery system.
  • There is a Starter system in the preparation phase, but it is closed in the implementation phase.
  • The Quality and Production environments are open during the implementation phase and continue to exist. Any new changes after going online are first completed in Quality, and then moved to the Production system.

Written by

Digital Nomad

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