SAP has given users a clear migration strategy to mySAP and is offering discounts of up to 75% for those prepared to make the jump in the immediate future.
Standard support will be available until the first quarter of 2009 and extended support will run until 2012. "Beyond 2012 users can come to SAP and negotiate a custom support contract," a company spokesman told Computer Weekly.
"We launched our first ERP system, R/2, in 1980 and this stopped shipping in 1992. Maintenance ended in 2002. But even now there are some users who are running R/2 supported by SAP," he said.
Despite such assurances, businesses that have battled to install their ERP package will be concerned they will have to move to the web services architecture of mySAP.
Deploying web services successfully requires users to re-engineer business applications to support web services standards.
When Oracle changed from client-server to web architecture with the introduction of 11i, some users faced application integration and networking challenges.
A migration to mySAP means businesses will assess whether they should rework their existing enterprise application integration strategies to support the Netweaver middleware bundled with mySAP ERP or use existing middleware, such as BEA Weblogic or IBM Websphere.
They will also have to consider whether they will need other SAP applications such as customer relationship, supplier relationship or product lifecycle management, which are included in the mySAP Business Suite.
Derek Prior, a research director at Gartner, recommended that users assess whether their current R/3 system would support the business over the next three to five years. "If you need to support other business processes, then upgrade to a mySAP licence," he said.
Despite SAP's promise of long-term support, Charles Hom, senior analyst at Forrester, also advised users to seriously consider migration to mySAP.
"Using web services on Netweaver in mySAP can give users considerable cost savings," he said. Hom estimated that the cost of maintaining IT integration within SAP could be cut by up to 50%. "Start planning for your migration as soon as you feel the integration costs are too high," he added.
Anyone looking to upgrade to mySAP would need to start migration plans now, said Hom.
"Migration from a heavily customised R/3 implementation, which includes integration with many applications to mySAP, could take up to 18 months."