Greenfield, Brownfield, and Bluefield: A brief introduction

SAP and ERP implementation can be a large undertaking. To make matters even more confusing are
the huge number of terms used within the SAP ecosystem. We did a virtual sit down with Raj Krish, VP of Global SAP Practice at D4M International, to get clarification for a successful S/4HANA implementation.


Jean: So just for the layman who knows nothing about these three terms. What is Brownfield, Bluefield and Greenfield, and how exactly does it pertain to SAP roll outs?

Raj: That’s a good question. The Greenfield, Brownfield, and Bluefield, (also known as selective data transition) these are the terms used when somebody wants to implement S/4HANA, and particularly when they’re transforming from SAP ECC footprint.

Raj: Greenfield basically means that it’s a brand-new implementation of S/4HANA and usually it is done when customers want to start afresh with standard best practices, industry best solutions, and also adapt to the new innovations that SAP has brought in with the specific version of S/4HANA. One other reason that they want to do this is to simplify their business processes and usually they do it with help from SAP’s best practice.

Raj: The term Brownfield refers to converting an existing SAP ECC system to a new S/4HANA system. During this process they do two things: the first one is the database is upgraded to HANA database if they are not already on HANA database and the second one is conversion of application layer from SAP ECC to S/4HANA.

Raj: And the third one, which is called Bluefield, is a proprietary term used by one of the SAP partners. So, the generic term for that is called selective data transition. And this particular approach is a hybrid approach. Basically, customers who want to consolidate their landscape, or if they want to
selectively move their data from ECC to S4, then they go with this approach – thus “selective data transition.”

Jean: As an SAP professional whose expertise is SAP rollouts, in your opinion, from the company’s perspective which could an enterprise select that would be the easiest or the best for transition, and why?

Raj: Okay. Whether it is easy or the best is all a relative term, right?

Raj: Every company that’s moving from either SAP ECC to S4, or they’re moving from a non-SAP system to S/4HANA the approach, what they are taking has got lot of factors to consider with respect to Greenfield, which is a brand-new instance of S/4HANA.

Raj: Worrying about the existing ECC system conversion, the new Greenfield implementation would make a lot of sense if their current SAP ECC system is either a very old version or it has been customized so much that they are far away from standardization. Also, if they are finding problems with simplification of business processes and everything is very complex, then Greenfield would be the right approach.

Raj: On the other hand, if their existing ECC system is of a higher version, and also if their customization has been done to a very minimum level putting them close to standards and they don’t have any good reason to go for a new instance (completely scrapping what they have) then they would consider
Brownfield – which means they can take their current ECC footprint and do a conversion to S/4HANA.

Raj: The third option, which is a selective data transition, as I mentioned before, is an excellent hybrid model where you get the best of both worlds. When you are in a situation where you want to have a new S/4HANA instance, bring in all the new innovations from SAP, look at their best practices, adopt
their industry solutions, etc. 
If you want to selectively import configuration from your current ECC instance then you can go for selective data transition. Now the biggest advantage in this approach is not only you are moving the configuration selectively, you can also move your historical data selectively. So, for example, if you want to move only a specific module. Or, if you want to move historical data for a specific period of time, which means the last seven years, or if you want to bring in only certain company codes into the new instance, then you can do all of that using the selective data transition approach.

Jean: Which of the three have you seen most often in your field of work?

Raj: I have seen mostly Greenfield and Brownfield. Selective data transition has been relatively new. When I say new, maybe in the last four, five years, it has picked up a lot. A lot of companies have started looking at selective data transition also. So, it’s only a question of time before selective data transition becomes widely used.  

Raj: As far as tools used for Selective Data Transition, SAP has their own tool called SAP DMLT, which is data management and landscape transformation. Along with that, there are a few other partners who are having their proprietary tools. One of the best in the marketplace is CBS ET (Enterprise Transformer) tool, which is widely used for Selective Data Transition. Overall, these tools have matured over the last four to five years.

Jean: With these three terms, are they applicable to both ECC 6.0 and S4, or are the terms themselves referring to the migration from ECC 6.0 to S4?

Raj: These terms are usually referred during new S/4 implementation or for migrating from SAP ECC to S4.  Brownfield and Selective data transition are very clearly SAP ECC to S4. But when you go for a Greenfield,the S/4HANA instance can be a brand-new instance without worrying anything about the legacy. The legacy could be non-SAP, or it could be SAP. 


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