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The SAP BW/4HANA roadmap to modern data warehousing

5 minutes

Setting up a modern data warehouse requires careful planning and consideration. There are multiple ways to achieve a smart and integrated data warehouse with SAP BW/4HANA, but it’s not always crystal clear which implementation method is the right fit for your organisation. In this blog, you will find an overview of the possible paths to take, as well as some aspects to take into consideration when mapping out your SAP BW/4HANA migration roadmap.

Why should you consider the step to SAP BW/4HANA

SAP BW/4HANA provides a number of advantages over previous BW versions in functional capabilities, IT strategy, agility and productivity. What’s more, all versions prior to SAP BW 7.5 are going out of maintenance at the end of 2020 and will no longer be supported. SAP BW 7.5 customers will still be serviced until the end of 2024, but here’s why they, too, should consider switching to SAP BW/4HANA early in order to get ahead.

Discover the business benefits of modern data warehousing with SAP BW/4HANA.

Scenario 1: the greenfield approach

With a greenfield approach, you choose not to migrate your existing data warehouse solution, opting instead to set up a brand-new SAP BW/4HANA system from scratch. This is a good option if you want to completely revise your current reporting processes. A greenfield approach also makes sense if you are currently implementing an SAP S/4HANA greenfield which you want to leverage in SAP BW/4HANA as well.


  • Simpler, easy-to-use data models
  • Lower risk of data loss, if you choose a phased approach where you migrate one domain at a time
  • Ability to leverage business content from SAP S/4HANA, SuccessFactors and more


  • Takes longer to implement
  • Requires more maintenance if you opt to keep the new system running for a time in parallel with the old system
  • As you are rethinking the reporting processes, this can be more expensive, especially if you choose to run 2 systems in parallel

Scenario 2: system conversion

Another possibility is a partial or full system conversion, in which you migrate your existing system to SAP BW/4HANA. With this option, there are three routes to consider, all of which require some technical preparation up front:

  • In-place conversion
    The in-place conversion process transfers your existing data models and flows step by step to its SAP BW/4HANA counterparts. However, this can only be done if you already run SAP BW 7.5. If you run an older version, you will first need to upgrade before being able to complete the in-place conversion.
  • Remote conversion
    This is also known as a ‘brownfield approach’, whereby you transfer your existing data models – data included – from your old system to the new SAP BW/4HANA system. The main advantage here is the possibility of only transitioning the data models you deem necessary, eliminating the rest. You can also test everything out at leisure, as long as you keep the old system running parallel to the new one.
  • Shell conversion
    A shell conversion is similar to a remote conversion, but only transfers the data models, not the existing data sets. Instead, you can choose to load data from original sources or the SAP BW system at your convenience, or simply ignore the historical data altogether and start again from scratch.

Keep track of your migration journey with the SAP BW/4HANA Transfer Cockpit

With the SAP BW/4HANA Transfer Cockpit, you can take full control of your system conversion. Installed on any SAP BW system between 7.0 and 7.5, the Transfer Cockpit serves as the single point of entry for the tools required to transition to SAP BW/4HANA. It collects and displays essential transfer process statistics and groups tools according to the required preparation and the realisation phases of your project.

SAP bw4hana cockpit

Setting up a BW/4HANA roadmap: what you need to do

  1. Build your business case, carefully documenting the benefits for your organisation in order to convince the decision-makers that this is the right course of action. Don’t forget to include an estimate of the cost as well.
  2. Assess your current landscape: what are you keeping, what are you transforming and what are you getting rid of altogether? Are there any needs that aren’t being met currently which require additional solutions?
  3. Gather architectural advice: when setting up a SAP BW/4HANA environment, it’s important to map out its potential impact on your preexisting architecture up front: SAP or non-SAP, cloud or on-premise.
  4. Choose the right transition path: depending on your needs and existing IT landscape, a combination of multiple scenarios can be taken. Selecting the right path isn’t easy. Luckily, Flexso has plenty of experience in transition projects and can guide you through the process.
  5. Draw up an implementation plan. Do you want to work in multiple waves, or tackle the project in one fell swoop? Will you keep your old environment running parallel to your new SAP BW/4HANA systems? And if so, for how long? Once you have an answer to these questions, you are ready to start your journey – and we’re happy to join you and help carry the load!

Want to follow in the footsteps of Terumo, Proximus and KBC and start your own data warehousing journey?

Set up your personal roadmap with our SAP BW/4HANA experts.

Written by

Koen VDW

Koen Vanderwegen