Sapphire 2019: From SAP R/2 To R/3
Blog Editor-in-Chief

Sapphire 2019: From SAP R/2 To R/3

At Sapphire 2019, SAP's Hasso Plattner advocated for a greenfield approach in the public cloud. Customers prefer brownfield, however. Wish and reality collide.

Who still remembers SAP R/2, R/3, R/3 Enterprise (version 4.7), and ERP/ECC 6.0? SAP customers would do well to get out their SAP history books if they want to understand all the little hints and remarks SAP’s Hasso Plattner dropped during his Sapphire keynote.

Plattner justified the recent layoffs at SAP by highlighting the necessity of getting rid of relics and legacy systems to stay ahead of the competition. He argued that this was the only way to get innovations out into the market faster.

This sentiment might be why SAP CEO Bill McDermott and Hasso Plattner have been calling it a restructuring program.

Public cloud as foundation for Hana

Hasso Plattner also said in his Sapphire keynote that SAP’s successful ERP concept (R/2, R/3 and ECC 6.0) could never be a sustainable foundation for Hana, S/4, BW/4, and C/4 in the public cloud. Plattner demanded a new SAP in the public cloud with short innovation cycles and continuous maintenance from Bill McDermott.

What Plattner described in his Sapphire keynote is known as greenfield in the SAP community. Greenfield means that the release change to S/4 and Hana happens without any relics or legacy systems weighing companies down.

Naturally, this approach makes it way easier to implement the complex S/4 and Hana. With a greenfield approach, SAP also wouldn’t need experienced employees anymore to help customers. Which is great, as Bill McDermott has just fired a lot of them.

Greenfield vs. brownfield

However, Sapphire attendees didn’t seem too excited about Hasso’s greenfield approach. They have been operating ERP systems for many years, accumulating a treasure trove of data. It’s only reasonable to transfer this valuable data to S/4 and not just get rid of it.

This approach is known as brownfield in the SAP community. It allows for all important data to be migrated to S/4. How? There are different ways of going about a brownfield approach, one of which is detailed in our E-3 report on Data Migration Services.

Like he said in his Sapphire keynote, Hasso Plattner prefers a greenfield approach in the public cloud. Customers seem more convinced by the softer brownfield approach. Wish and reality collide.

Embrace – now also at Sapphire 2019

Hasso Plattner seems to be hellbent on his public cloud approach. SAP CEO Bill McDermott, however, stays grounded in reality – surprisingly, he might be the more reasonable one this time.

On the last day of Sapphire 2019, he presented his new cloud program “Embrace” together with Amazon, Google and Microsoft. The name might ring a bell – the program was already announced earlier this year at SAP Fkom in Barcelona.

Undoubtedly, SAP customers like its software. But when it comes to public cloud, they prefer hyperscalers – and rightly so.

Even after Sapphire, SAP’s cloud platforms still only have a few special applications they can call their own. Many customers will keep their SAP ERP systems in their own datacenters or migrate them to hyperscalers’ public clouds.

During his Sapphire keynote, Hasso Plattner also made it clear that for him, the integration issue is over. With currently available SAP tools, customers can easily bridge the gap between Qualtrics and SAP. For Plattner, every additional integration effort becomes obsolete – which could also count as a greenfield approach.

This is the last part of a mini-series focusing on Sapphire 2019. If you would like to read the first one, click here.

E-3 Magazine May 2019 (German)

About the author

Peter M. Färbinger, Editor-in-Chief

Peter M. Färbinger is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at E-3 Magazine, AG, Munich, Germany. He can be reached at

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