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Converting to SAP HANA or SAP S/4HANA?

Ease the Transition with a Data Management Strategy That Meets Your Needs

by Dr. Werner Hopf | SAPinsider, Volume 18, Issue 3

August 24, 2017

Any company moving to SAP HANA or SAP S/4HANA must have a strategy in place for managing data — especially organizations who will be converting their existing SAP systems. While data management best practices for SAP systems recommend reducing the size of existing systems to reduce the cost and complexity of a conversion, different strategies can be used depending on a variety of factors. Learn how to choose the right data management strategy to ensure a successful conversion to SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA. 

The mass transition of SAP ERP customers to SAP HANA or SAP S/4HANA by 2025 requires careful planning, particularly when it comes to managing the data and documents that reside in existing systems. According to SAP, approximately 50% of the data in SAP systems is two years old or older. Understanding how to manage this information efficiently is essential to managing the cost and complexity of transitioning to this new in-memory platform.

While choosing a data management strategy is essential for any company moving to SAP HANA or SAP S/4HANA, the need is more urgent for companies that will be converting existing systems. Following the data management best practices for SAP systems is the best way to reduce the size of existing SAP systems and reduce the cost and complexity of the conversion. However, different data strategies can be used depending on the size of the SAP system and the time and resources that are available.

Big Data Requires a Big Data Management Strategy

If the data volumes in existing SAP systems are very large (10 TB or more), conversions to SAP HANA are typically more complex and tend to require more time and resources than for companies with smaller systems. The time it takes to reduce very large data volumes in SAP systems can be significant and affect the overall cost of the conversion process. Therefore, to keep costs low and meet the intended go-live date, companies need to start planning early and employ the correct approach and strategy for the conversion.

This was the case for a large food and beverage company that had a 24 TB SAP ERP system and wanted to move to SAP HANA quickly. The company soon realized that it would need to shrink the size of the system if it wanted to achieve its goal of completing the project in less than a year and converting to SAP HANA within the 72-hour window that was available. To do this, the IT team knew that it would have to remove several terabytes of data from its system and that archiving business complete data would lead to a significantly leaner SAP HANA system (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 — Archiving business complete data can reduce the complexity of a conversion to SAP HANA and create a more cost-efficient system overall

With the help of a team of data management experts, the company devised a big-bang strategy to archive more than 8 TB of data in less than 6 months. Due to the very large volumes of data that needed to be archived, the team determined that it needed a solution beyond the standard SAP data archiving practices. The company chose to use a software solution that automated the archiving process completely. This solution enabled the organization to run multiple archiving jobs in parallel, 24 hours a day, and ensured that the jobs were run in the correct sequence to protect the integrity of the archived data. This solution not only reduced the time it would take to archive the data, it also allowed the IT and business teams to focus on other tasks related to the conversion.

Using the automated archiving software solution, the company was able to complete a rapid, focused, and cost-effective reduction of data in the existing SAP ERP system in only four months. In total, it archived 8.7 TB of data and reduced the time required for testing and conversion by 65%. The remaining 16 TB system was easily converted onto the SAP HANA platform within the 72-hour window.

Given the project time frame, the company would not have been able to achieve its goal of converting to the SAP HANA platform without taking a big-bang approach to data management. The company also realized several other benefits from reducing the size of its SAP system. It was able to lower hardware costs for the new in-memory system and it was able to archive and purge data that was business complete and no longer needed in the production systems, which reduced risk to the company.

Following the data management best practices for SAP systems is the best way to reduce the size of existing SAP systems and reduce the cost and complexity of the conversion.

More Time, Less Data? Take a Phased Approach

Companies with smaller SAP systems (less than 10 TB) can also benefit from data volume management, but are able to take a more gradual approach. A phased approach will enable companies to reduce data volume, lower IT costs, and improve system performance gradually, giving the company more time to prepare for an eventual conversion to SAP HANA or SAP S/4HANA.

This was the case for a chemical products company that had more than two years to plan for its move to SAP HANA. The company wanted to reduce the size of its 8 TB SAP ERP system as much as possible before the conversion so the new system would be smaller and more cost efficient. However, the IT team knew that a phased data volume management approach would be the best way to gain the support of its business users and maximize the amount of data that could be archived.

The company started by archiving its technical objects, such as IDocs and workflow data. Phase one successfully removed almost 3 TB of data from the system without affecting the business. It also established an archiving framework that could be used for the next phases of the project. In phase two, the company focused on archiving data that belonged to a recently divested division of the business. Business users were engaged throughout the process, defining the data carve-out requirements and testing the results. This phase introduced users to the concept of archiving and demonstrated how easy it was for them to access archived data. Most important, this phase enabled the company to gain the support of the business users for the third and final phase of the project when the company archived functional data (for example, financial and material data) from its production system.

By using a phased approach, the company was able to remove more than 5 TB of data from its SAP ERP system over a two-year period. As a result, when the company was ready to convert its SAP ERP system to SAP S/4HANA, it only needed a 1 TB system, which resulted in significant cost savings.

Start Early for Best Results

The deadline for moving to SAP HANA or SAP S/4HANA is quickly approaching, and companies should start planning now if they want to achieve the best results. Part of this plan should include a solid data volume management strategy, but companies must consider which strategy to adopt based on the size of the existing SAP system and the time and resources available. Even companies that choose to do a greenfield implementation of SAP HANA should put a data management strategy in place to manage the information that will be left behind in legacy systems. Reducing the size of SAP systems now not only reduces the cost and complexity of the conversion process, but also delivers other benefits such as improved system performance, reduced risk, and a lower total cost of operations.

For more information on data management strategies for moving to SAP HANA or SAP S/4HANA, visit

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Werner Hopf
Dr. Werner Hopf

Chief Executive Officer
Dolphin Enterprise Solutions Corporation

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Kevin G.

9/1/2017 12:01:54 PM

Great, post, thank you. I came across a blog that discussed best practice monitoring of the HANA migration which I think complement this article pretty well.