Topics in this article

Collaboration and CX

The clock is ticking for organizations still using the SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC). They need to make major decisions that will affect their sustainability.

At the end of 2027, SAP will no longer maintain its legendary – and legacy – SAP ERP ECC software.

This does not mean that the nearly 15-year-old technology is in danger of collapse. On the contrary, users will probably be able to continue as is by making use of customer-specific maintenance.

SAP will offer regular maintenance for the SAP Business Suite until 2027.

This will be followed by optional extended maintenance to 2030. However, we can assume there will be no upgrades and nothing new that will enable users to benefit from the latest technology developments such as cloud, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation – or something that has not yet entered the realm of everyday business computing.

After all, when SAP ERP was first introduced in the late 1970s to revolutionize business processes by integrating digital information from across the enterprise, the internet, cloud computing and AI existed only in the realm of science fiction.

SAP R/3 to be replaced by SAP S/4HANA

The latest iteration of SAP ECC, SAP R/3 – released in 1992 as SAP’s first client-server package –is being replaced by SAP S/4HANA.

Short for SAP Business Suite 4 HANA, it runs only on SAP HANA, a high-performance analytic application that uses in-memory database technology that can process huge amounts of real-time data stored in RAM – such as data from customer transactions and data analyses. This means the data can be processed extremely quickly.

Unlike its predecessors, SAP S/4HANA can run on-premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment.

SAP S/4HANA is the closest to real-time, intelligent enterprise resource planning yet.

This makes intelligent automation a real possibility for any organization. In addition, with its embedded analytics, digital assistants and easy-to-use interface, users will be able to make better, more informed business decisions faster.

So, migrating to SAP S/4HANA appears to be the obvious choice. But, as many organizations have learned over the years, any SAP migration is complex. In addition, the decisions that organizations need to make about their deployment options and migration approach are potentially even more complex and risky, often involving far more than a technical upgrade.


Dimension Data Phase Zero helps simplify complex migrations

We’ve developed a protocol we believe is critical to any successful SAP S/4HANA migration: Phase Zero.

Phase Zero is the pre-planning stage of the SAP S/4HANA transformation process, where the shape and future of the entire organization is determined. Call it an evaluation phase, an audit or due diligence – this is when executives have to think about and articulate their business strategies for the long-term future of the organization, where they hope to take it and what they believe it will look like in five to ten years or more.

Three migration paths to SAP S/4HANA:

Once these executives have decided where they want to go, they will have to make critical decisions about which of three SAP S/4HANA migration paths to follow to get there:

  • Greenfield: Scrap the entire existing ERP system (if one exists) and install a new SAP S/4HANA system with new processes. In other words, prepare to reshape the organization from the ground up.
  • Brownfield: An upgrade focused purely on the adoption of the new technology, with minimal involvement of the business. Although there’s no disruption of or change to existing systems, this is seen as an IT upgrade only with limited benefits to the organization. Everything will continue as before – only faster.
  • SNP’s BLUEFIELD software-enabled approach: A revolutionary alternative that takes the middle path by enabling the adoption of the new technology and combining this with selective existing data and processes. It allows for the scrapping of data and processes that no longer work, the retention or streamlining of those that do, and the introduction of new processes to support the organization’s strategy. In other words, a BLUEFIELD approach provides an unprecedented opportunity to improve the entire business operation quickly and effectively.

An approach that works

We have tested the Phase Zero approach within Dimension Data and multiple clients, and we can confidently say it works. It helps to mitigate the risk associated with major software migrations by looking at the underlying architecture, data, processes and myriad other things that can derail the process.

More importantly, it means organizations will get the most from their SAP S/4HANA investment while preparing for a very different tomorrow.

Connect with us