SAP S/4HANA Brownfield Conversion – Step by Step to the Private Cloud

Alexander Koloska

June 22, 2022

Shot of a young businessman using a digital tablet while standing at a window in an office

Time is running out for SAP users who want to convert to the new SAP S/4HANA business software. With technical support for older SAP ERP systems to be phased out entirely in 2027, little leeway remains for companies to make the switch. No wonder, then, that the vast majority of companies have the conversion to the new business software on their agenda. According to the latest valantic SAP S/4HANA Study 2022, 95% of respondents are planning to switch to the new system or are already implementing it.  

In this context, existing SAP customers can under certain conditions take advantage of a brownfield system conversion to SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud using RISE with SAP. Both offerings, however, remain relatively unknown or understood in parts of the community. This is not only suggested by the current valantic study; the German-speaking SAP user group DSAG also comes to similar conclusions in its Investment Report 2022.

SAP S/4HANA Brownfield Conversion: Gradual Transition to the Cloud

With an SAP S/4HANA brownfield conversion, the ERP system can initially be converted in the course of a technical upgrade, allowing proven custom processes and structures to be retained in an innovative environment. This allows a gradual transition to SAP S/4HANA and also reduces the implementation time.

The system can be moved to the Private Cloud at the same time as the upgrade. In addition to this, individual optimization potential can be identified and implemented selectively at the company’s own pace. And, as already touched on above, the ability to roll out the digital transformation step by step lets companies reduce their project complexity, duration and resource requirements compared to a maiden greenfield implementation, and also allows them to go-live in a Big Bang at all company locations.

RISE with SAP: Value Add for Digital Transformation

RISE with SAP is a comprehensive Transformation-as-a-Service offering that bundles together a wide range of solutions, tools and services. At its heart is a SAP S/4HANA cloud ERP solution which is available as a Public Cloud or Private Cloud deployment variant – although a brownfield conversion is only possible in the Private Cloud. This is supplemented by further products, tools and services that create additional value add for companies, including the entry-level package for the SAP Business Network, the Signavio process mining tool and credit for the SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP).

Services from SAP partner organizations, such as valantic, are also part of the RISE with SAP transformation package. valantic assists customers in various ways, such as how best to make use of the credit for SAP BTP and in identifying relevant scenarios for this. We also offer customers an analysis service to compare the total cost of ownership of the SAP S/4HANA deployment variants on-premises, Private Cloud and Public Cloud, helping them choose the optimal solution for their specific situation.

Upgrade and Cloud Migration in a Single Step

The main beneficiaries of an SAP S/4HANA brownfield conversion to the Private Cloud are existing SAP customers:

  • whose IT strategy is clearly aligned with the cloud
  • who have little or no need for optimization and are planning a fast and low-resource transformation to SAP S/4HANA
  • for whom a SAP S/4HANA migration is a milestone in their digital transformation and who want to optimize their IT ecosystems and processes in doing so
  • who wish to profit from the scalable infrastructure, system operations, and value-added solutions and services available with the full RISE with SAP package

Brownfield projects always follow a defined implementation process, consisting of a preparatory phase, the technical system upgrade to SAP S/4HANA and the follow-up phase. When switching to the Private Cloud, the upgrade also incorporates the migration to the cloud.

In contrast to the highly standardized Public Cloud deployment variant, the SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud resembles an on-premises solution in terms of the functional scope, and offers extensive customizing and enhancement options. This benefits companies that need more flexibility to customize their business processes, or that wish to continue using their proven structures, workflows, and data in the new ERP system.

Minimum Downtime for Go-Live

Technical project phases of a brownfield SAP S/4HANA conversion to the Private Cloud
Fig. 1: Technical project phases of a brownfield SAP S/4HANA conversion to the Private Cloud

The main particularity of a brownfield transition project is the iterative approach in which the test migration and system upgrade are repeatedly tested and optimized in up to three loops (or iterations), with the number of repetitions needed usually depending on the system complexity. The goal of this process is to identify all the technical challenges and to minimize the downtime needed for go-live.

The system conversion to SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud is similar to that of a brownfield on-premises project, but differs in that the technical upgrade also incorporates the move to the cloud. Operation is handled by SAP or another hyperscaler such as AWS, Azure or Google.

Needs-Optimized Approaches for Brownfield Transformations

valantic offers and supports various brownfield methodologies depending on the requirements
Fig. 2: valantic offers and supports various brownfield methodologies depending on the requirements

valantic has extensive experience in brownfield conversions, both in on-premises and Private Cloud environments. In doing so, our proven extended brownfield methodology enables selective process optimization, allowing companies to retain proven processes, exploit new potential and thus derive tangible added value from their SAP S/4HANA transition. And last but not least, they enjoy planning certainty from day one of their project.

Brownfield Conversion to the Cloud

You want to learn more about brownfield conversion to SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud? We would be happy to advise you without obligation.

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