ERP Data from SAP S/4HANA

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Ways to Access Historical ERP Data from SAP S/4HANA

In principle, there are only two ways to transition from any ERP system to SAP S/4HANA. One could either install SAP S/4HANA from scratch, which is often called Greenfield, or convert their current ERP system to SAP S/4HANA often called Brownfield.

Why is legacy ERP data not the same from present ERP data when it comes to SAP S/4HANA?

Greenfield

1. As with any other SAP ABAP based system, data should always be loaded through the business logic into SAP S/4HANA. For legacy data, this is however not always possible because for example of the legacy posting periods are already closed or some master data is missing.
2. With sophisticated tools that for example SAP SLO use, it is possible to circumvent the business logic and directly load into SAP S/4HANA tables. While this is a valid approach in circumstances like for example the Euro conversion at the time, I would not recommend this to access historic ERP data from SAP S/4HANA for three reasons:

i. Since there is no check from the business logic, data that is not completely business ready might be loaded. As one of the advantages of SAP S/4HANA is to directly report from operational data, former ETL steps to cleanse data into BW systems to overcome this issue should in my opinion be omitted.
ii. More importantly though, loading directly into SAP S/4HANA tables is in most cases unnecessary, because modern solutions like SAP S/4HANA do not need all data local to them any longer, since they provide and consume their data via APIs, namely the SAP Fiori Technology.
iii. And not to forget, data in memory storage is still more expensive than in other storage technologies.

Brownfield

1. Technically, if possible, an ERP conversion to SAP S/4HANA is an upgrade leveraging the SAP Software Update Manager. However, since SAP S/4HANA is a new product, this is different from a license perspective and needs to be taken care of. Also, since in SAP S/4HANA many data structures have been simplified, the upgrade procedure has a lot more to do and, in some cases, simply fails because of inconsistent legacy data for example M&A activities.
2. Again, with sophisticated tools that for example SAP SLO use, it is possible to circumvent the upgrade logic and directly load into SAP S/4HANA tables. It is usually not recommended to access historical ERP data from SAP S/4HANA for three reasons mostly identical to the above:

i. Since there is no check from the upgrade logic, data that is not completely business ready might be loaded. As one of the advantages of SAP S/4HANA is to directly report from operational data, former ETL steps to cleanse data into BW systems to overcome this issue should in my opinion be omitted.
ii. More importantly though, loading directly into SAP S/4HANA tables is in most cases unnecessary, because modern solutions like SAP S/4HANA do not need all data local to them any longer, since they provide and consume their data via APIs, namely the SAP Fiori Technology.
iii. And not to forget, data in memory storage is still more expensive than in other storage technologies.

What are potential alternatives?

Greenfield
1. Install fresh SAP S/4HANA system.
2. Configure fresh SAP S/4HANA system.
3. Migrate master data either with the SAP Migration Cockpit or SAP Advanced Data Migration depending on the complexity of your data and your business requirements.
4. Migrate current data either with the SAP Migration Cockpit or SAP Advanced Data Migration depending on the complexity of your data and your business requirements.
5. Migrate historical data into appropriate storage with either any ETL tool or again SAP Advanced Data Migration depending on the complexity of your data and your business requirements.
6. Build SAP HANA Core Data Services (CDS) views to combine actual with historical data.
7. Extend SAP Fiori apps to use the CDS views instead of the original tables.

Brownfield

In case the ERP system is convertible:
1. Archive cold data.
2. Convert ERP system.

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