Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last year, you know that the end-of-support deadline for SAP ECC arrives in 2025. That may seem like a long time from now, but in IT time it’s right around the corner. Some companies have already completed the move to SAP HANA and S/4HANA, the new SAP ERP suite. Others are planning their migrations, and some have yet to even begin. If you’re unsure about the best way to go, one approach that might be appealing is to run ECC on the SAP HANA platform. It’s a solid intermediate step that can take you part of the way toward replacing SAP ECC with SAP S/4HANA.
Remind me, what’s the current version of SAP ECC?
Before we begin, let’s talk about SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) which was first introduced in 2004. It’s was SAP’s Business Suite until the advent of S/4HANA. Its collection of applications includes ERP, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Supply Chain Management (SCM) and others. ECC offers modules for HR, finance, warehouse management and data warehouse. The latest version is SAP ECC 6.0, Enhancement Pack 8.
What is the difference between SAP ECC and S/4HANA?
In terms of business functionality, SAP ECC and S/4HANA share many comparable features. S/4HANA is arguably more advanced, but in general, both solutions offer similar financial management, ERP and so forth. Where they start to differ, however, is in architecture. ECC is designed to run atop a wide variety of databases, e.g. Microsoft SQL Server or IBM DB2. S/4HANA only runs the SAP HANA in-memory database. S/4HANA also features SAP Fiori User Experience (UX) software. Fiori makes it possible to design more modern, intuitive User Interfaces (UIs) than are available with the traditional SAP UI on ECC.
What is ECC on SAP HANA?
ECC, which can run different databases, can naturally also work with the SAP HANA in-memory database. This setup is known as Suite on HANA or sometimes Business Suite on HANA. There are several advantages to this arrangement. You get the performance increases inherent in SAP HANA’s in-memory design. Solid state memory for your SAP data drives faster response times and acceleration for even large-scale data analytics workloads. Another advantage of this approach is that there are no changes to the application layer.
Suite on HANA temporarily frees you from the possibly difficult work of migrating from ECC directly to S/4HANA. It takes the pressure off, but Suite on HANA does force you to adopt SAP HANA as your database for you SAP landscape. This is a good thing, though, as you’re going to have to do that anyway before 2025. This two-step approach saves you from having to set up SAP HANA and migrate to S/4HANA all at once. For many organizations, Suite on HANA is a good starting point on their migration path to S/4HANA.
Steps for an SAP ECC migration to HANA
We have worked with many clients who elected to complete their SAP ECC migration to HANA. From these experiences, we have developed a series of recommended steps to get to Suite on HANA with minimal aggravation and business disruption.
Scope the size of your HANA landscape
Think of this as “right-sizing” your SAP HANA landscape. The goal is to realize the maximum benefit from your capital investment while keeping your long-term Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as low as possible. You want to avoid under- or over-provisioning. To achieve the right-sized landscape for HANA, you will have to determine, and then implement memory sizing for dynamic and static data, disc sizing for retained data (i.e. persistence storage), along with CPU sizing as required for transactions, calculations and queries.
Select the correct platform
Migrating to Suite on HANA gives you an opening to rethink your platform. You do not have to run SAP HANA on-premises. While some organizations still choose to, you can also elect to deploy SAP HANA in the cloud. This gives you more scalability and flexibility. It speeds time-to-value and cuts your capital investment. Cloud options include a private SAP HANA cloud (like Symmetry’s), SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud or SAP HANA in the public cloud, e.g. AWS or Azure.
The migration process
The actual migration of your data to SAP HANA can take one of two forms:
- A system copy that uses tools like Migration Monitor, R3load or SWPM. This approach is desirable for many customers because it doesn’t require any version updates.
- A database migration by means of SAP’s Software Update Manager (SUM). This combines Unicode conversion (if you need it), with technical migration and system update in an optimized migration process. It goes from an ABAP-based SAP system to SAP HANA.
Cleanse your data
The move to SAP HANA is an ideal time to cleanse your data. The practice delivers three notable benefits. First, your resulting smaller data footprint cuts costs for hardware, infrastructure and SAP HANA licenses (which can add up fast with HANA). By only migrating data that’s necessary and of high quality, you enable SAP HANA to perform better. Finally, you’ll reduce data size which typically leads to less downtime during the migration.
Perform a Proof of Concept (PoC)
We highly recommend building and running a PoC for your HANA migration in a sandbox environment before you start moving your production data around. In fact, we won’t perform a migration for our customers before this occurs. This involves copying your production system to the sandbox. It’s not an easy or cost-free process, but it’s well worth it so you can uncover hidden issues, like customized code, that will trip up your actual migration. Remember that you’re probably dealing with the hearts and lungs of your organization when making changes to SAP, so it’s worth the effort to work out any “bugs” beforehand.
Working with an experienced SAP partner
An SAP ECC migration to HANA combines people, processes and technology. There are a countless number of interconnected pieces, and for it all to go right it may be best to involve an experienced technical partner. We can serve in this role. We have led many businesses on SAP HANA migrations by working hand-in-hand with their teams to successfully execute the migration—on time and on budget. Contact our team today if you’re ready to start your journey to HANA!