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SAP S/4HANA cloud data migrationAs the end of support for SAP ECC looms, the option of migrating to SAP S/4HANA looks even more appealing to many companies that run SAP. Hosting S/4HANA in the cloud simplifies and streamlines many aspects of migrating from ECC to S/4HANA. Your cloud provider manages the infrastructure and takes care of maintaining the application itself. These two factors alone are potentially huge time and money savers for you. However, to get there, you will have to deal with SAP S/4HANA cloud data migration. This need not be a huge headache, but neither is it a trivial task.

(Note – for the sake of simplicity, we’re referring to any legacy instance of SAP ERP as “ECC,” e.g. SAP R/3 or an ERP system or ECC v 6.0, etc.)

How S/4HANA Cloud Differs from the On-Premises Version

At the outset, doing an SAP S/4HANA cloud data migration requires understanding a few differences between S/4HANA Cloud and S/4HANA on-premises. The cloud version has fewer customization capabilities. This may or may not affect data migration, but it’s worth noting. Integrations are trickier in the cloud, and may raise security issues. The cloud version is also running on a ready-made platform. It’s already been implemented, provisioned and tested by the cloud provider. That is to say: the database is deployed. You “just” have to migrate your data.

SAP ECC to S/4HANA Options

Moving from ECC to S/4HANA does not have to be a single leap. S/4HANA runs on the SAP HANA in-memory database. If you’re still running ECC atop another database, such as Microsoft SQL Server or IBM DB2, it may be a more difficult project to change business suites and databases at the same time. An intermediate step is to replace SQL Server, or whatever you’re running, with SAP HANA and continue to run ECC using SAP HANA as the database. This is called “Suite on HANA” (SoH).

Taking the SoH route is useful because it lets you focus on one major migration at a time. It also lets you get familiar with SAP HANA, which has a different data architecture from a traditional RDBMS. It’s a columnar database design.

With the SoH approach, you can continue to run ECC until you’re ready to make the move to S/4HANA, either on-premises or in the cloud. The data migration work, however, is generally comparable, whatever approach you take.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud Data Migration Strategy

Having worked with many clients on an SAP S/4HANA cloud data migration, we recommend three basic data migration strategies. Each is based on a different migration scenario. Each has its own data migration requirements:

  • New implementation or re-implementation—In this strategy, you will standardize and simplify your existing landscape by implementing it anew in S/4HANA. Once finished, you retire your legacy SAP system.
  • System conversion—Here, you convert the entire SAP ERP system for a business to S/4HANA.
  • Landscape transformation—If you have SAP ERP running in separate instances in multiple geographic regions or business units, you consolidate them into a single S/4HANA cloud instance. This approach is considered valuable because it gives you a chance to eliminate aggregates and batch processing while moving to a more efficient and high-performing database platform.

SAP Data Migration Tools

SAP provides a number of tools to expedite the SAP S/4HANA cloud data migration process. Foremost among them is the SAP S/4HANA Migration Cockpit tool. This tool extracts, processes and loads data from third party databases and other legacy ERP systems that may contain data required for S/4HANA migration. It incorporates the SAP S/4HANA Migration Object Modeler (MOM), which enables you to select data for migration and model the transformation.

The Migration Cockpit

This provides preconfigured migration objects and mapping, data validation and integration of custom objects. Migration Cockpit was developed into the SAP S/4HANA system. As a result, it requires no further placements or arrangements. It can support taking data from the ABAP-based SAP source framework.

The SAP Data Services tool

Another mechanism to effect data extraction, transformation and load (ETL) is the SAP Data Services tool. It also facilitates data quality management and text data processing. Available for free, it enables a sample migration that can be helpful in preparing for the actual migration. SAP Data Services work by means of a data staging and test environment, which provides for cleansing and transformation—two of the most important elements of SAP S/4HANA cloud data migration.

SAP’s Legacy System Migration Workbench

One tool that’s especially useful for data migration from legacy systems to the SAP framework as well as between SAP systems is SAP’s Legacy System Migration Workbench (LSMW) . It supports SAP Business Application Programming Interface (BAPIs). These precisely defined interfaces give access to processes and data legacy systems like R/3 and so forth. Support is also available in LSMW for Intermediate Documents or IDOCs. These data containers are used for the exchange of data between two processes that can understand each other’s respective data syntax and semantics.

SAP Batch Data Conversion

Finally, SAP Batch Data Conversion (BDC) offers a batch transfer input program. You can execute BDC using a call transaction method or a session method. It’s good for transferring a large volume of data entries. BDC automates the manual data transfer process. This way only the data relating to a single transaction is initially transferred through the correct data format. BDC then automatically moves all outstanding data entries that run in the various lines that use the same data format.

S/4HANA Migration Steps

Whatever tools you use, the basic SAP S/4HANA cloud data migration steps always apply:

  1. Define your standards for data quality, data mapping and data conversion
  2. Recognize key data stakeholders in your organization and engage with them throughout the data migration project. You want their input and knowledge to ensure a transition that delivers business value.
  3. Focuses on four essential factors for data uniqueness: comprehensiveness, compliance, consistency and conformity.
  4. Establish and enforce clear data standards and guidelines
  5. Set up monitoring and reporting for the migration and take action for data remediation as issues arise

When it comes to SAP migrations, implementations and upgrades, experience counts. We can help you with your SAP S/4HANA cloud data migration. If you want to learn about our S/4HANA migration services, let’s talk.

Curtis Gaska - Solution Architect

Curtis Gaska is a solution architect on Symmetry's expert SA team, delivering complete SAP® technical solutions from upgrades to complex landscape implementations. Curtis pairs his sound SAP technical expertise with sales skills to knowledgably advise clients, and prospective clients of Symmetry’s services and product offerings throughout each stage of the sales cycle.

Curtis has a unique ability to deliver technical knowledge to create customs solutions per the client requirements, by not only taking the technical specifications into consideration but also the business drivers particular to that organization in turn creating an optimal SAP environment. This skilled approached includes scoping, planning, and execution of various projects including Migrations/Upgrades/Installs, Hosting and ongoing Managed Services. He also stays abreast of the latest technologies such as road mapping solutions for client’s to leverage SAP HANA® in their current environment to then be hosted in Symmetry’s state-of- the -art Datacenter.