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April 28, 2016

Migrating to SAP S/4HANA: Greenfields and BrownfieldsBased on experience, I believe there is no single path to a migration, and that rings true for SAP S/4HANA. More pieces of the SAP S/4HANA puzzle are being released every day. What was Simple Finance just last year is now SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management, the next step in a full suite on SAP HANA.

SAP S/4HANA has changed the perception of SAP HANA; according to an ASUG survey, 32 percent of respondents plan to invest more in the technology in the near term. At SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, May 17-19, I will co-present with TCS innovative client Lexmark, to share our early successes as they migrate to SAP S/4HANA.

In my previous blog, SAP S/4HANA: How will you get there?, I talked about building a smart roadmap to migration as the first step to ensure the transition to SAP S/4HANA is smooth.Depending on your starting point and systems, two main paths exist to migrating to SAP S/4HANA: greenfields and brownfields. Both routes come with their own advantages and challenges. Some may say that the path of a greenfield installation is much easier; the company is starting from scratch. The brownfield deployments may face a more difficult path as they move from systems that have not been updated in a decade due to customizations and the fear of breaking a critical business system.

Breaking ground: Greenfield SAP S/4HANA installations

First, well look at companies starting from the ground up, completely new to SAP and ready for SAP S/4HANA, or ditching the old system entirely and only migrating data. This can be the easier path for organizations with highly complex customizations and very old systems, although in any greenfield migration, there are still important decisions and preparations to be made.

The key components to a successful SAP S/4HANA installation arent anything new; building a schedule, cleaning up data, assigning ownership, and creating teams. As youre off to a fresh start, youll be able to create a roadmap that will lead you through go-live, including extensive testing.

The brownfield migration: Challenges and best practices

Organizations planning to move from an existing SAP ECC installation are going to find the road to SAP S/4HANA much steeper although not impassable. In addition to the steps youd perform in a greenfield migration, youll also be handling ABAP code corrections and other technical migration issues. Sandboxes will be of particular importance during these migrations; youll want to test everything extensively before the go-live, and youll want to keep testing even after you deploy SAP S/4HANA on the off chance youve missed something.

Be aware that a brownfield migration is not a quick path to SAP S/4HANA. A phased approach is probably the best approach as you assess your current SAP landscape and determine the most pressing issues to handle first. It can take months to ensure that the data is clean and the system is ready.

Whatever path your organization follows, know that all migrations are different. Depending on where your organization currently is with SAP and what your future needs are, your journey to SAP S/4HANA will be unique.What are your plans for SAP S/4HANA migration? Please share your thoughts here, and let me know if youd like to meet during SAPPHIRE NOW to further discuss your roadmap.


Ramesh Iyanswamy is the SAP HANA Global Lead, for Tata Consultancy Services' SAP Practice. Ramesh leads a team of consultants to enable the world's leading companies to capitalize on SAP HANA to accelerate time-sensitive business activities that depend on processing enormous amounts of digital data. Under Ramesh's leadership, the SAP practice determines which parts of the business can get the greatest returns from SAP HANA, and designs, tests, implements and provides ongoing support around these innovative projects.


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