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    SAP S/4HANA Deployment Options

    There are multiple avenues through which SAP S/4HANA can be deployed. Here’s a brief overview of each.


    An SAP S/4HANA on-premise deployment encompasses traditional in-house IT infrastructure models. This deployment model describes an instance of SAP S/4HANA that is physically hosted on customer property. Customers can choose from a system conversion (brownfield) implementation, which takes an existing SAP environment and transforms it into SAP S/4HANA; a new (greenfield) implementation, which migrates existing business data into a brand-new SAP S/4HANA system; or selective data transition, which uses shell conversion to reuse existing ERP processes in the new system.


    There are multiple cloud options for SAP S/4HANA deployment, all of which involve the use of external cloud integration.

    An SAP S/4HANA Cloud deployment provides SAP S/4HANA functionality by placing a customer’s instance of the solution on a partitioned cloud server alongside other customers. The functional scope is limited due to its standardized setup.

    A private cloud deployment provides SAP S/4HANA functionality without the need for the customer to maintain the technical backend. It is great for companies running SAP ERP who already have some cloud experience and infrastructure; with this, they’re able to host the solution on their own cloud without having to share space with other tenants, as the standard SAP S/4HANA Cloud deployment provides.

    The RISE with SAP license provides access to either an SAP S/4HANA Cloud or SAP S/4HANA hosted on a private cloud.


    A hybrid SAP S/4HANA instance provides a combination of both on-premise and cloud deployments. This may be done for a number of reasons, including testing the feasibility of both instances or hosting an on-premise deployment at headquarters while utilizing a cloud deployment in a satellite office.

    Enterprise architecture solutions such as Ducat integrate easily with SAP Solution Manager and bring the necessary transparency to a complex ERP landscape. This is ultimately seen by the respondents as the greatest migration challenge. Specific migration approaches available to a company are explained below and in our detailed Greenfield vs. Brownfield approach comparison.

    Greenfield approach

    If a company decides to adopt the greenfield strategy, it abandons its existing ERP system. This has the advantage that a new, uniform system can be implemented that only contains the processes and data that are actually necessary. If a company completely redefines its enterprise architecture, innovations can also be integrated more easily and a high level of functionality can be achieved.

    In the study mentioned above, only 14 percent of all respondents chose this approach because it involves more effort. However, when switching to the SAP S/4HANA cloud version, the greenfield approach is unavoidable as the systems are completely replaced.

    Brownfield approach

    With the brownfield strategy, a system conversion takes place. This means that existing business processes are taken over and optimized if necessary. Since most companies do not want to completely abandon their custom ERP system, the brownfield approach is the most popular migration path. According to the study, 44 percent of respondents choose this strategy, while 42 percent opt for a combined greenfield and brownfield variant.

    To ensure a smooth transition, EA tools are used to divide the conversion into clear phases. The tools also ensure that old processes are rethought so that redundancies and complexity are not adopted. The advantage over the greenfield approach is that the project time for system conversion is reduced.

    Landscape Transformation

    Strictly speaking, landscape transformation is not an independent migration strategy. It is simply a method that large companies with complex system landscapes can use to prepare for migration. In practice, this means that databases are cleaned up and consolidated to reduce the footprint before the change.

    Companies can also use this approach to combine several ERP systems from different vendors. Such a simplification is also possible during the actual transformation. Whether this makes sense depends on the system landscape and the target system. In many cases, an enterprise architect works with all three approaches to achieve the best possible approach.


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