What is SAP ECC? [The Ultimate Guide]

History of SAP ERP Products
The Evolution of R/3 to ECC

What is SAP ECC?

Before the release of ECC in 2004, SAP had gradually developed and released three enterprise resource planning products known as R/1 (1973), R/2 (1979), and R/3 (1992). Throughout this nearly 20 year period, SAP expanded its offering of financial and material management software to include all the typical functions that take place within an organization. When R/3 was released, it expanded the ERPs offering with modules for Finance and Controlling (FICO), Human Resources (HR), Materials Management (MM), Sales and Distribution (S&D), and Production Planning (PP).

While R/3 greatly expanded the scope of SAP’s enterprise resource planning offering, all of a company’s data was originally stored and accessed using a client-server model. When using a client-server model, SAP users aren’t required to keep all of their data downloaded on their computers. Instead, they request the server to store, retrieve, process, or analyze specific data sets, and the server fulfills these requests. With the release of ECC, SAP customers were given access to the SAP system without downloading any of the system’s software. Thanks to the release of ECC, the entire system became accessible from a client’s web browser.


SAP’s legacy enterprise resource planning products were originally designed to operate on third-party databases such as Oracle. However, that changed in 2010 when SAP released their own database: SAP HANA. SAP HANA is an in-memory database that allows users to efficiently improve their performance and strategic decision-making by receiving up-to-date data and analytics at any moment. Companies choosing to deploy SAP HANA aren’t short options either. SAP’s proprietary database can be deployed on-premise, in the cloud, or as a hybrid model.

The SAP Business Suite, including ECC, can operate using the HANA database. Running ECC on HANA allows you to take advantage of all the perks HANA has to offer without changing the applications or functionality your business is used to.

Just five years after releasing HANA, SAP decided to rebuild their Business Suite from the ground up. The latest version of SAP’s business suite, S/4HANA, was built specifically to maximize the potential of SAP’s enterprise applications using the HANA database. Unlike previous iterations of the business suite, which could operate using third-party databases, S/4HANA is only compatible with the HANA database. While this does mean that companies will have to completely overhaul their current existing frameworks and processes, adopting S/4HANA is an innovative and cost-effective way for companies to enhance the capabilities of their ERP systems.

Migrating to SAP S/4HANA from ECC or R/4 is a significant decision, but it’s a great step forward for adopters. SAP recognized this and preemptively released S/4HANA Finance in 2014. This program serves as a stepping stone for companies on the fence about migrating the entirety of their business processes to S/4HANA by allowing them to move their accounting and finance to the newer systems while keeping their ECC or other SAP products.

Preparing for the Future: Sunsetting SAP ECC and Moving to S/4HANA

The End of SAP ECC

If your company is still utilizing SAP ECC or other SAP Business Suite 7 products, it’s time to prepare for those products to reach the end of their life cycles. SAP announced that its offboarding process for Business Suite 7 applications will last until 2027. Afterwhich, extended maintenance will be offered until 2030. ECC will become increasingly obsolete with just a few short years left in its lifespan as S/4HANA improves. Given the benefits and opportunities for innovation that SAP S/4HANA provides, it’s not too early to begin planning your migration from your current SAP application suite.

Migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Thousands of companies are already migrating to SAP S/4HANA, and they’re already beginning to reap the benefits that the new applications can provide. Before deciding to migrate, you must perform your due diligence in determining whether or not your company is ready.

Syntax has the expertise and tools necessary to help your company determine the best course of action. Our S/4HANA Migration Readiness Assessment is designed to provide you with a clear understanding of the value opportunities and potential challenges your company may face when migrating.

If you’ve resolved to adopt the new systems, you must consider your options for migration. Our SAP S/4HANA Adoption Starter program will help you with the critical decisions you face when migrating. We’ll help you roadmap your entire migration process and teach you how to prepare your teams for the migration.

Three Main Paths to SAP S/4HANA

There are three main paths your company can take when migrating to SAP S/4HANA: brownfield conversions, greenfield conversions, and landscape transformation.

1. Brownfield Conversion
A brownfield conversion, also known as a system conversion, migrates your current systems and business processes into the S/4HANA structure. These types of migrations allow businesses to adapt to the new system at their own speed.

2. Greenfield Conversion
A greenfield conversion is ideal for companies who want to completely retire their current ERP landscape—whether they currently use an SAP product or not. This option is best for new SAP customers or current SAP customers who are prioritizing process innovation. If you’re ready to leave your legacy SAP landscape behind, a greenfield conversion is the right move for you.

3. Landscape Transformation
A landscape transformation involves taking your various SAP Business Suite landscapes and consolidating them into a single SAP S/4HANA system. Alternatively, you can select specific systems to centralize by consolidating data from regional ERP systems while also keeping their regional systems.

Implementing Your SAP Solution

When your company is ready to upgrade its SAP legacy systems to S/4HANA or migrate from another ERP environment, you must consider that the success of your new system will be directly related to its implementation. That’s why you need certified, experienced help to ensure that your new business processes run as efficiently as possible with as few redundancies or data loss issues as possible.

Syntax has been working with SAP systems for more than 40 years. As an SAP Gold Partner, our professional SAP consultants are certified to assist in deploying and operating your SAP systems. Syntax will help you through the entire implementation process—from identifying your company’s essential requirements and creating an implementation blueprint all the way through taking your system live. It’s critical to learn about SAP implementation services, why they are important, and tips for choosing a partner to help you.

Managing Your SAP Systems

Whether your company uses SAP S/4HANA, SAP ECC, or an earlier version of SAP’s ERP, those systems are critical to your business’s success and ensuring your systems maintain peak performance is essential. Keeping these systems managed around the clock is a struggle for many companies due to a lack of IT staff experienced with SAP, changing business priorities, or simply a lack of available IT. Regardless of the challenge holding back your business, partnering with an SAP Managed Service provider can help you mitigate them.

What are SAP Managed Services?

An SAP Managed Service partner essentially provides you with an extension to your internal IT team. These expert SAP technicians work with your internal team to handle the day-to-day maintenance and support activities required to keep your systems running at optimal performance. When you partner with an SAP managed service provider, the goals, roles, and responsibilities of the service provider are precisely outlined. Hence, there’s never a question about who should be consulted or who is accountable for specific tasks.

Because each business’s needs are unique, the Managed Services plan between any two companies can look radically different. There are a variety of managed services for you to choose between, including:

  • SAP Hosting
  • SAP Service Delivery Management
  • SAP Maintenance
  • SAP Application Management Services (AMS)
  • SAP Security
  • SAP Business Continuity

This list is by no means exhaustive, and you can contact us to learn more about the different types of Managed Services we offer.

Why You Should Consider SAP Managed Services

If your IT team is not filled with SAP experts, you should strongly consider partnering with an SAP Managed Services provider. While a technician without extensive SAP skills may be able to fix more routine problems with little struggle, when more challenging issues arise, it could cost your business countless hours of work to get those systems running again. Every minute your systems are down, your company is bleeding revenue, and the employees reliant on those systems for work are left in limbo, waiting for them to be resolved.

Partnering with expert SAP technicians will help you mitigate these risks. By letting an SAP managed services provider handle these critical tasks, your IT teams will be free to focus on their core activities and further your company’s SAP innovations.

Next Steps

Syntax specializes in providing managed services for SAP solutions. Whether you need us to host your solution in the cloud, remotely manage your on-premises system, or provide functional support, our teams have the SAP experience to keep your systems running smoothly. Contact us today if you’re ready to take your SAP software to the next level by partnering with Syntax for your managed services—or by upgrading to SAP S/4HANA. Our expert SAP technicians are ready to help you maximize your investment in SAP software.