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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

Brownfield, Greenfield, or Selective Data Migration?

When preparing for your transition from SAP GTS 11.0 (or earlier versions) to SAP Global Trade Services, edition for SAP HANA, the question of implementation approach often pops up. This blog describes the options and aims to help you determine which is right based on your situation and goals.


With a brownfield approach, you will use an upgrade-like procedure to convert the existing system, including all data, customizing, and custom developments to the new version.

The conversion process is thoroughly described in the conversion guide:

We recommend that you do the activities in the sequence shown in the figure and explained in the Conversion Guide.

Due to changes in the application handling between SAP GTS 11.0 and SAP Global Trade Services, edition for SAP HANA,  adaptation of customer code and configuration is essential during the conversion. Most application data stays unchanged during the conversion to SAP GTS, edition for SAP HANA. However, there are also cases where application data is affected, and your involvement is needed.


  • Brownfield is often the fastest and cheapest option, given that you are reasonably happy with the existing solution.

  • A Brownfield approach protects existing investments.

  • It minimizes the change management required, as the things that can stay the same, stay the same.


  • It may represent a higher risk, as the brownfield approach, for the most, requires a "big bang" go-live in the new system.

  • You may lose out on some of the benefits of new innovations and new working methods made possible in SAP GTS, edition for SAP HANA.



The Greenfield method represents a clean slate, a fresh start with SAP GTS, edition for SAP HANA. You install a new system and configure and customize all processes from scratch. If still required, new custom code also needs to be built. Optionally, you can selectively load data from the existing SAP GTS into the new SAP GTS system using a data migration tool.


  • A greenfield approach may be the easiest way to get "back to standard" if the previous implementation is complex with a lot of custom code, some of which is badly documented.

  • The organization may have changed  since the original implementation and with the previous experiences in mind, Greenfield is the chance to establish new and improved processes.

  • This approach can maximize the use of new product innovations, without being bound by the past.

  • Although it may have some license implications, the greenfield approach may allow for a gradual go-live, by functional area.


  • Greenfield represents a more expensive approach, both from time and cost perspectives, as more work is required.

  • You may lose valuable historical data if not performing optional and selective data loads from the existing SAP GTS system.

Selective Data Migration (a.k.a. Bluefield) 

The Bluefield approach may be the best fit for companies that want to balance risk, effort, and innovations.

This approach requires you to:

  • Make a copy of the existing SAP GTS system

  • Delete all master data and transactional data.

  • Keep all customizing and custom code.

  • Convert the empty new system into a new instance of SAP GTS, edition for SAP HANA.

  • Selectively load data from the old version of SAP GTS into the new SAP GTS system using a data migration tool.


  • Bluefield balances the risk, costs, and duration between pure greenfield and pure brownfield, allowing for some innovations or process improvements while preserving historical data.


  • Due to more duplication of systems, infrastructure costs may become higher.

  • Required downtime during conversion may also be longer.



Which approach you eventually choose will depend on many factors. Below we have tried to indicate how these factors may lead you in one direction or the other. In the end, the choice is entirely yours. The model below represents a simplification and is neither complete nor conclusive. Furthermore, circumstances specific to your project may make the indications below irrelevant.

Brownfield Greenfield Bluefield
Duration Lowest Highest Medium
Effort Lowest Highest Medium
Go-live risk Highest Lowest Medium
Historical data loss Lowest Highest Medium
Change management Lowest Highest Medium
Innovations Lowest Highest Medium


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