Releases, Updates and Hotfix: a short guide for SAP S/4HANA Cloud delivery channels

SAP S/4HANA Cloud offers different channels to provide customers with new functionalities. With continuous delivery another and more frequent way to receive latest innovations has been established recently. But: what impact does this have on the established SAP S/4HANA Cloud Upgrade and Maintenance Schedule?  

In short, we deliver new functionality via bi-annual releases and frequent, non-disruptive updates in between those releases. 

SAP S/4HANA Cloud releases replace the current system with a higher version including latest innovations from the application and technology stack. That’s why we also talk about upgrades when we refer to releases, since they include more-profound functionality that might require to take change management activities, as for example the organization of user enablement or even strategy related decision taking.  For 2022 we plan with two releases in February and August. The designation for a release always refers to the corresponding year and month of delivery. This year’s releases therefore will be 2202 and 2208.  

Updates are non-disruptive system updates to the current release delivered via hotfix collection. Coming from a quarterly release cycle, SAP S/4HANA Cloud has recently reduced the number of releases and system upgrades per year and additionally offers regular updates between those releases. They aim for adding functionality to the current release status without disruption. This is what we refer to when we talk about continuous delivery. Overall goal: to significantly reduce the effort associated with deliveries while innovations can be adopted faster and more flexibly. For a detailed description of updates and additional background please view our blogpost “Welcome continuous delivery”.  

Updates are named after the release preceding them: 2202.1 for example will be the first update to release 2202 we provided in February.  

Hotfixes
Deployments via Hotfix aim to ensure business continuity: corrections and/or additional functionality is shipped without side effects to already released software. The overall Hotfix maintenance phase is structured into bi-weekly blocks called Hotfix Collection (HFC)  making use of downtime windows aligned with SAP S/4HANA Cloud customers without spillover. 

Releases and Hotfix Collections in the SAP S/4HANA Cloud Maintenance Calendar
When it comes to releases in our 2-System Landscape (2SL), Q (quality) systems are upgraded first, followed by P (production). The below “SAP S/4HANA Cloud Maintenance Calendar” gives an overview of the timelines for deliveries into Q and P. The different delivery types are color coded – releases are depicted in red.

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S/4HANA Cloud – Maintenance Calendar

In parallel to the upgrade of P our the first corrections to the release are deployed via hotfix collection (HFC – green color code) into Q systems.  

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SAP S/4HANA Cloud Deliveries: Releases and Hotfix Collections

This corrections deployment to the release is followed – as known – by two regular correction intervals via hotfix collections per month. 

Frequent Updates via Hotfix Collection
However, HFC is not just a channel for delivering corrections. Since the introduction of updates, HFC also serves for the delivery of frequent updates between releases. 

Hotfix collection deployments between the bi-annual releases are therefore divided as follows: 

  • first hotfix collection deployment of the month: corrections only (color code green box) 
  • second hotfix collection deployment of the month: correction and non-disruptive update without day-1 impact (color code for brown box) 

Customers do not need to plan extra downtime since HFC are deployed according to the already aligned downtime windows.   

Both deployments – regardless of whether they include corrections only or an update to the current release – do not require any activity comparable to those of a release. For the activation of functionalities delivered via update please view our blogpost “How to adopt a new functionality delivered via SAP S/4HANA Cloud Updates”.  

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SAP S/4HANA Cloud Deliveries: Updates and Hotfix Collections

Further details on continuous delivery for S/4HANA Cloud

This blog is the 3rd in our continuous delivery blog series:

All future blogs will be linked on our landing page on continuous delivery for SAP S/4HANA Cloud under the topic page of SAP S/4HANA Cloud

I am looking forward to your questions and ideas. Please add the user tag “continuous delivery for SAP S/4HANA Cloud” in your question.