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Greenfield, Brownfield, or Selective: Choose the SAP HANA Migration Path That Fits Your Needs

by Goetz Lessmann | SAPinsider, Volume 17, Issue 3

August 3, 2016

Implementing SAP HANA is a critical project for any business, and it has to be done right. But with the multitude of migration paths available to choose from, it can be difficult to determine the best strategy. From “greenfield” implementations that start from scratch, to “brownfield” implementations that take advantage of old systems, to a selective migration that limits business disruption, the array of options is wide. Read on article for insights into how to go about making the right choice.  

Implementing SAP HANA is a critical project for any business. Whether you are implementing SAP HANA on its own, SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) powered by SAP HANA, or SAP S/4HANA, you have a variety of migration paths you can choose — and finding the one that best meets your needs is essential. Should you start fresh with a “greenfield” implementation or get the most out of your old systems with a “brownfield” implementation? What about a selective migration to limit business disruption?

But before diving into the decision, it is imperative that you know sizing requirements and have an effective data management strategy in place to avoid time-consuming and costly rework.

Sizing and Data Management

Before you even start implementing SAP HANA, make sure you have your sizing requirements right. Migrations to SAP HANA can become problematic if you didn’t plan for a large enough database and you need to leave some data behind. For SAP BW, SAP provides an ABAP program called /SDF/HANA_BW_SIZING that generates a rough sizing report. It is good practice to include an increased buffer from the reported size, as data growth tends to be underestimated.

Having an effective data management strategy in place before you begin will also help the project run smoothly. Data growth can get out of hand and could create outages if system memory becomes overwhelmed. Housekeeping, archiving in ERP, and nearline storage in SAP BW, therefore, are important aspects of any migration project. The DataVard OutBoard Suite provides modules for all of these activities and helps accelerate and safeguard migrations to and the operation of SAP HANA.

Migration Options: Which Is Right for Your Business?

The choice of how to migrate is one of the most important cornerstones of any SAP HANA implementation. The reflex to simply discard everything and start over on a clean, blank slate may be strong, but first consider the value of your existing ERP and BW systems. If these are running on SAP technology, a greenfield approach will need to rebuild all that was created, implemented, and learned before. It also could interrupt business during the transition to an all-new system. And keep in mind that, depending on local legislation, the old system might still need to be maintained for over 10 years. A suitable compromise in this case would be a brownfield approach where the existing landscape is moved to SAP HANA, keeping all data but cleaning and remodeling where required.

Before diving into your SAP HANA migration, have an effective data management strategy in place.

Combining SAP Landscape Transformation with some of DataVard’s products, such as the DataVard ERP/BW FitnessTest, DataVard HeatMap Operational Intelligence, and the DataVard OutBoard Suite, helps ease the transition by reworking instead of rebuilding. This approach can help to achieve faster migrations to SAP HANA with little to no business process interruption.

Another option is a selective migration, where historical data, master data, and customizations can be migrated without disrupting ongoing processes and open items. With the help of SAP Landscape Transformation coupled with the DataVard OutBoard Suite, such migrations are possible without actually interrupting business processes.

The Choice Is Yours

Whatever path you choose, be sure to go into the process with a clear understanding of what lies ahead. Make sure you accurately estimate the size of the database needed and have a strategy to keep data under control — before it controls you. And be sure to research the available resources from SAP and partners such as DataVard to help ease the transition. For more information, visit

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Goetz Lessmann
Goetz Lessmann

Managing Partner
Head of Solutions Services

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