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What Is Clean Core?

When it comes to your SAP system upgrades and evolution, it is becoming more and more important to understand clean core. In a recent deep-dive discussion on The Never-Ending Climb featuring SAP experts Steffen Pietsch and Rudi Hois, the nuances and advantages of clean core were explored, shedding light on its significance in the ever-evolving SAP landscape. 

The Clean Core Model

At the core of the conversation lies the concept of clean core, positioned as a solution to mitigate the risks associated with custom code over time. Clean Core represents both a notion and a strategy for attaining a contemporary, adaptable, and cloud-compliant SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Achieving a Clean Core involves integrating and extending SAP S/4HANA Cloud to ensure cloud compliance, optimal master data quality, and refined business process governance.


The core of SAP S/4HANA Cloud comprises essential dimensions:

  • Processes: Sequential steps for end-to-end outcomes.
  • Data: Information (configuration, master, transactional) used in processes.
  • Integration: Linkage to external solutions for data exchange.
  • Operations: Maintenance activities in SAP S/4HANA Cloud.
  • Extensibility: Added functionality for unique organizational needs.


Clean denotes a proactive, current, and cloud-compliant approach for each aspect.

Principles of Clean Core:

Clean Core is a framework and method for modern, adaptable, and cloud-compliant SAP S/4HANA Cloud. It involves integrating and extending to ensure cloud compliance, optimal master data quality, and refined governance, enhancing maintainability and reducing TCO.

Advantages of Clean Core:


For customers:

  • Seamless Upgrades: Simplified upgrade process.
  • Rapid Innovation Adoption: Consistent integration of innovative technologies.
  • End-to-End System Security, Continuity, and Stability.
  • TCO Efficiency: Optimized infrastructure and license utilization.
  • Permanent Traceability Across Core Areas.

For partners:

  • Future-Proof and Cloud-Ready Solutions.
  • Fit-to-Standard Compliance Promotion through Clean Core Modular Innovation.
  • Complexity Reduction: Streamlined consumption of SAP solutions.


Steffen Pietsch, Head of BTP Product Management, defines clean core as a standardized guideline ensuring seamless system upgrades. The essence of clean lies in staying up-to-date, transparent, unmodified, consistent, and cloud-compliant. Pietsch emphasizes that clean core doesn't discourage custom code but advocates specific rules to keep the system upgradeable.


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Or we can make our own version?

Choosing Clean Core Scenarios

To further elaborate on indicators for choosing on-stack or side-by-side development scenarios, on-stack development is recommended for integrated processes, while side-by-side development on BTP is suitable for scenarios demanding decoupling from the core or addressing specific developer audiences. Rudi Hois, Head of Engineering at SAP S/4HANA Cloud brings attention to the importance of considering lifetime costs when making decisions about custom code, emphasizing the need for a shift in perspective from short-term project costs to long-term considerations.

Expanding on side-by-side development scenarios, Pietsch explains situations where BTP is a valid choice, such as enterprise automation involving multiple systems and scalable, elastic load scenarios. It’s also worth addressing the larger audience of JavaScript and Java developers, highlighting the capabilities of BTP for building applications in such scenarios.

Historical Context of Clean Core

Clean core has been a best practice for a long time. It has evolved from earlier efforts, such as programs in the 2000s focused on returning to standard configurations. With the ongoing move to S/4HANA, organizations have the opportunity to incorporate clean core practices as part of their re-platforming strategy.

Customization Decisions

A critical aspect discussed is the decision-making process when choosing between older systems that work well and adopting new capabilities. Steffen Pietsch advises against wholesale replacement, urging organizations not to "throw the baby out with the bathwater." Instead, he emphasizes a thoughtful approach to innovation, recommending the adoption of next-generation APIs for future integrations.

Tools for Monitoring and Assessing Customization

Rudi Hois also sheds light on the new clean core dashboard introduced by SAP, providing transparency on system customizations. The dashboard collates data from various tools, offering insights into the nature and quality of customizations. SAP has invested in assessment and dashboard capabilities, providing leaders with tools to understand the nature and impact of their system customizations.

What Can You Do When SAP Clean Core Code Does Not Support Your Business Processes?

Rounding off the discussion, Steffen and Rudi leave the audience with actionable insights. Stefan emphasizes the need for continuous evolution, urging organizations to stay current to benefit from innovations, improvements, and legal changes, emphasizing that it's never too late to start developing toward clean core.

However, in discussions with the community we often hear the question what about when clean core does not support your business processes. Fortunately, BTP-based add-ons and other industry cloud solutions are designed to fill that gap. If you can’t find one or one close (surprising if this is the case), we encourage teams to use BTP to extend SAP for a strategic extension (AppHaus Network is a best place to start).

To learn more about clean core and hear insights from SAP experts Steffen Pietsch and Rudi Hois, we encourage you to check out the recent podcast episode on Youtube