SAP S/4 HANA Upgrade and Migration to Cloud in a Single Outage Window

2 min read

With S/4 HANA being more than five versions old, many customers are on S/4 HANA 1610 or S/4 HANA 1709, and they need to upgrade to the latest version: S/4 HANA 2021.

Many S/4 HANA customers are also still in on-premises data centres and have yet to adopt cloud infrastructure.

At IBM, we see a huge demand for customer projects to do S/4 HANA upgrades from older releases (like S/4 HANA 1610) while also migrating to a cloud hyperscaler. SAP customers are looking for a risk-free approach, faster migration and upgrade adoption with minimum business downtime.

Generally, these two (upgrade and migration) are complex projects to execute, requiring detailed testing, planning, reconfiguration, redesign of business processes and cutover activities. Both the projects’ success would also need a lot of time spent by the Customer IT team, including customer architects, business users for detailed planning of ongoing project priorities, aligning the projects schedule with the upgrade and migration project, business downtime, data validations and other support during production cutover.

With a lot of business continuity dependency on S/4 HANA systems and heavy integrations with legacy and third-party applications, customers are looking for the best approaches to handle complexity during cloud migration and S/4 upgrades. Customers are looking for a scalable, agile and flexible platform to handle this adoption, including minimum and single business downtime.

IBM HANA Migration Centre

The IBM HANA Migration Centre (HMC) specializes in the following:

  • S/4 HANA conversions
  • Selective data migration with S/4 HANA conversion in a single step (carve-out)
  • Combining multiple SAP production instances with S/4 conversion into a single S/4 HANA instance (mergers) of SAP systems, including SAP upgrade and cloud/data centre migration
  • Other complex SAP projects

Starting in 2008 as the Upgrade Factory, we have a dedicated team and extensive experience in successfully delivering complex SAP migration programs.

Classical approach for S/4 HANA upgrade and migration to cloud

Option 1: Migrate to cloud infrastructure first and then continue with S/4 HANA upgrade (or vice versa):

Migrate to cloud infrastructure first and then continue with S/4 HANA upgrade (or vice versa):


  • Multiple business outages
  • Testing needed after each outage
  • Longer project duration

Option 2: Upgrade and migrate S/4 HANA system in single outage:

Option 2: Upgrade and migrate S/4 HANA system in single outage


  • Combining two major activities (upgrade and cloud migration) into a single outage needs a larger outage window
  • Increases complexity of the project

IBM approach for S/4 HANA upgrade and migration to cloud

The IBM HANA Migration Centre (HMC) team has defined and thoroughly tested a novel approach to combine the S/4 HANA upgrade (including the OS and DB upgrade) with cloud migration in single business downtime window:

Even with lower network bandwidth and high latency, this approach will work:

Customer benefits

  • Achieve the SAP S/4HANA upgrade and cloud adoption in a single step
  • Prevent multiple downtimes
  • Reduce overall downtime by more than 70%
  • Reduce operational costs by up to 60% in a single-step approach
  • Enjoy easy and faster fallback during project cutover
  • Enable clients’ SAP S/4HANA adoptions of new features
  • Optimally utilize business users’ and client architects’ time for more business-productive causes

Collaborate with us

If your SAP landscape needs a similar upgrade and a cloud migration, let us evaluate if this can be a valid approach for you.

Please contact the IBM HMC team at to find out how IBM can support your upgrade and migration to the cloud journey.

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