Understanding SAP Cloud: Extended, Essentials, Enterprise, CMIS … what do they all mean?

Published February 3, 2022

Sabrina Schüttert Sales Development Representative d.velop AG

The term “SAP Cloud” incorporates many terms and product names. SAP Business Technology Platform, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP S/4HANA Cloud Extended Edition, SAP S/4HANA Cloud Essentials Edition, SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Cloud, CMIS, to name just a few. It’s hard to keep track of them all. Especially for companies considering migrating to the cloud that are looking for the best strategy to suit their needs. Learn more about different cloud variants and the new independent CMIS (Content Managed Interoperability Services) standard

SAP Business Technology Platform

The SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), formerly also called SAP Cloud Platform, is a cloud platform that provides various services and functions for companies. These services include SAP’s own services, other providers’ services, and developments from users of the SAP BTP. SAP Business Technology Platform comprises four core functions:

1. Database and Data Management

The Database and Data Management function ensures optimal data storage and processing through the use of data governance, data visualization, and data orchestration.

2. Analytics

Analytics, as the name implies, provides an analysis function that allows data to be processed and evaluated as quickly as possible, enabling more informed decisions to be made.

3. Application Development and Integration

The Application Development and Integration function enables companies to develop, extend and integrate applications. SAP Extension Suite, SAP Integration Suite, and SAP Process Orchestration are used for this purpose.

4. Intelligent Technologies

The ability to use intelligent technologies such as AI, Internet of Things, and machine learning is provided by the Intelligent Technologies function.

In short, the SAP Business Technology Platform provides a base in which all the relevant data and applications can be gathered and accessed from one central location. A connection to the SAP Business Technology Platform is possible on-premises, in the cloud, and hybrid. The SAP BTP itself is always in the cloud.


With the S/4HANA Cloud, SAP offers for the first time the possibility to operate an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system in the cloud. The SAP S/4HANA Cloud is based on the code of the on-premises variant and runs on the SAP HANA (High-Speed Analytical Appliance) in-memory database. The cloud variant has a similar range of functions as the SAP S/4HANA on-premises but offers many advantages.

  • Shortened implementation times
    • Implementing the cloud ERP system only takes a few weeks, SAP focuses on the “plug-and-play” model for the cloud software. This means SAP S/4HANA Cloud is delivered as a pre-built platform requiring no custom programming. This eliminates long implementation times and high costs. In addition, users benefit from the intuitive, browser-based Fiori interface, requiring no prior knowledge and very little training.
  • Low barrier to entry
    • The cost of SAP S/4HANA Cloud is based on a subscription per user and per month. No large initial investment is needed during implementation, unlike the on-premises variant.
  • Full IT service package
    • SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a software-as-a-service offering. This means the ERP system resides on the provider’s server, which handles full operation, maintenance, and support. As a result, the operation of the cloud ERP system does not rely on in-house resources such as internal hardware, databases, and IT expertise.
  • Rapid innovation cycle
    • The SAP S/4HANA Cloud always stays up to date. Industry updates and technical updates occur automatically every quarter.
  • Flexible deployment options

Because of its SaaS offering and subscription pricing, SAP S/4HANA Cloud is suitable for almost any company, regardless of size or industry. Hybrid operation is possible, as is a phased migration to the cloud. In a hybrid operation, for example, a company using SAP S/4HANA on-premises could implement the cloud variant at its subsidiary without fearing the risk of data loss. With a step-by-step migration to the cloud, a company can gradually move its processes to the cloud and operate the on-premises and cloud variants simultaneously for the transition period. This prevents business-critical downtime.

Comparing the different versions of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud:

SAP S/4HANA Extended Edition

SAP S/4HANA Extended Edition is the private cloud variant. It offers both the full, comprehensive ERP functionality including partner add-ons, as well as the ability to make extensive customizations and enhancements to the standard scope. There is full access to customizing and if necessary, even the source code can be modified. The Extended Edition is the only SAP S/4HANA Cloud variant that supports both a greenfield approach (new implementation) and a brownfield approach (system conversion/transformation of the existing ERP system). Companies can decide for themselves when and how often they want to implement upgrades. However, at least one upgrade must be performed within 5 years in order to remain in mainstream maintenance. With SAP S/4HANA Extended Edition, SAP handles all functions except implementation and application management. These items must be contracted to an SAP partner.

SAP S/4HANA Essentials Edition

SAP S/4HANA Essentials Edition is a public cloud. It is based on a public cloud infrastructure in which several customers share the same hardware and network infrastructure. The range of functions is somewhat smaller compared to the private cloud, but all core functions are available, and the most important industries are covered. Users are limited in the area of extensions and customizations, as major extensions cannot be made in the core system. In addition, only the greenfield approach is supported in the Essentials Edition. A system conversion, i.e. a brownfield approach, is excluded. Upgrades are mandatory on a quarterly basis, so the company cannot choose the timing with the public cloud.

SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud

SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) is a managed private cloud introduced by SAP in 2013 as an Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution to accelerate the implementation of SAP HANA. It is a hosted service that provides both SAP Business Suite and SAP HANA-based applications, in addition to supporting the hosting of non-HANA applications, third-party applications, and custom developments. SAP S/4HANA can be used within the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. Here, SAP provides a complete system landscape, all relevant applications, and takes care of the complete infrastructure, managed services, and application management. Strictly speaking, this “Managed Private Cloud” is not a cloud solution, but a specific cloud deployment model for on-premises SAP systems. In line with the “bring your own license” model, companies that have an on-premises license can use it in the SAP HEC. Alternatively, the license can be “rented” as part of a subscription model, with costs based on the number of users.

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Which SAP cloud is best for your business?

In principle, each of the aforementioned cloud variants is suitable for small, medium, and large companies. The solution best suited for each company depends on the respective requirements, IT resources, and the complexity of the business processes. Companies with specific requirements often go for SAP S/4HANA Extended Edition or SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, as there are great customization options here. For companies without their own IT infrastructure and IT expertise, the SAP S/4HANA Essentials Edition is more appealing because SAP offers an all-round carefree package here.

What is CMIS and what does it do?

CMIS stands for “Content Managed Interoperability Services”; it is an open, vendor-independent standard for connecting content management systems, such as a document management system. The goal of CMIS is to enable vendor-independent content management systems to work together as seamlessly as possible. To this end, an intermediate or access layer is formed between the DMS (Data Management System) client and the content repository (e.g. a DMS solution). CMIS provides a basic data layer with the four basic types of objects (document objects, folder objects, relationship objects,, and policy objects) and organizes access to documents and folders as well as their relationship to each other. Extensive enterprise content management worlds with different repositories from different vendors can be mapped using this standard since the CMIS client should be able to access all repositories with a single query.

Now, of course, you ask yourself, doesn’t every company normally have only one DMS? In fact, the reality is different. Especially in larger companies, there are often several, individual applications that are used for specific tasks, e.g. for customer information in the sales department or contracts in the legal department. This can create problems with incomplete, unavailable, or outdated information.

What is SAP CMIS?

In the SAP S/4HANA Cloud, the SAP ArchiveLink interface is no longer supported and is being replaced by the CMIS standard. CMIS as an open interface enables SAP applications, partner solutions, and customers to connect to the SAP S/4HANA Cloud and the SAP Business Technology Platform. When it comes to using cloud services such as S/4HANA ES, C/4HANA, or SuccessFactors, CMIS-based archiving will be a must in the future.

What’s coming next from d.velop Labs?

The SAP experts at d.velop are currently working on a connection of our d.velop CMIS connector to the SAP Business Technology Platform via an integration of the Document Management Services. In addition, we will also offer a connection of SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Marketing Cloud, and d.velop invoice for SAP solutions to the SAP public Cloud SAP S/4HANA Essentials Edition in the future.

Looking for more info about SAP Cloud, CMIS, and our products? Book your personal consultation appointment here!