Compare and understand differences between

SAP ECC, HANA, R/3, and S/4HANA

Know the key differences and similarities between SAP ECC, SAP R/3, SAP HANA to help understand and facilitate the transformation over to SAP S/4HANA.

► Find out how to get started with your SAP S4/HANA transformation!

Introduction

With many organizations planning to make the migration to SAP S/4HANA, understanding the differences and comparisons between SAP products helps IT managers and SAP architects know what to expect from the software, and what the benefits of migration to S/4HANA are.

This article will cover the basic differences and similarities between SAP ECC, SAP R/3, SAP HANA, and how they compare to SAP S/4HANA.

What is SAP R/3?

SAP R/3 launched in July 1992, and offered a number of significant changes from its predecessors. It was the first major release from SAP since SAP R/2 which was popular with organizations throughout the 80s. The main difference with SAP 3 was that it is classed as a client/server system, whereas previous SAP versions were classed as mainframe systems.

This enabled SAP R/3 to open up a whole new customer base for SAP and was a big part of the company's expansion. This is because the new architecture was more affordable and scalable, allowing one R/3 system to cover an organization's business across an entire region or the world–and was compatible with various platforms and operating systems, like Microsoft Windows.

There were various releases of this software throughout the 90s, before SAP’s ERP (ECC) was launched in 2004.

New Call-to-action

What is SAP ECC (ERP)?

SAP ECC (also referred to as SAP ERP)’s main purpose is to incorporate the key business functions of an organization all in one place. It is the successor to SAP R/3 and was built on its software.

So what is the difference between SAP ECC and SAP ERP? The reason they are referred to as such (and sometimes interchangeably) is that ERP is simply a general term that stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. ECC is the name given to SAP's ERP software bundle and stands for SAP ERP Central Component.

What is SAP ECC used for? SAP ECC is the core business product inside SAP Business Suite, and provides an integrated and updated overview of an organization’s core business processes–from financials to human resources and is used by various departments including IT and finance. SAP ECC laid the foundation for on-prem S/4HANA and cloud S/4HANA.

Free White Paper

How LeanIX Helps with SAP S/4HANA Transformation

LeanIX Enterprise Architecture Suite enables you to make better, faster, data-driven decisions and helps you develop your SAP S/4HANA transformation roadmap for a smooth transition.

Download now!
EN-WP-SAP-S4Hana-Migration-Landing_Page_Preview_Image

Differences between SAP ECC and SAP R/3

SAP R/3 SAP ECC (ERP)
Client-server module NetWeaver
3-tier application architecture ERP Central Component
Optimized for data storage  Optimized to integrate key business functions
The predecessor to SAP Business Suite  The core ERP for SAP ECC and the SAP Business Suite

When looking at SAP R3 vs ECC, R/3 was used to store, retrieve, analyze and process corporate data, and ran on a client-server module as opposed to ERP which runs on NetWeaver. SAP ERP offered different but integrated modules such as finance and human resources, plus several ‘add-on’ applications for data analysis and real-time reporting.

The upgrade to ERP also included the acquisition and integration of niche competitors into the SAP landscape. Another difference between SAP ECC and R3 is that R/3 is not part of the SAP Business Suite, but set the stage for ECC in 2004. Many companies still use SAP R3 vs ERP, however, others have migrated over to ERP and HANA.

What is SAP HANA?

Simply put, SAP HANA is the database type that runs the most up-to-date versions of SAP’s software–specifically SAP S/4 HANA. Prior to HANA, all SAP software was run on third-party databases such as Oracle and others, while HANA is SAP’s own in-memory platform. This enables much faster access to and analysis of data. In software development, SAP HANA is also a platform for customer-defined applications.

SAP HANA’s primary function is to store and retrieve data as requested by applications. The software can also perform advanced analytics quickly and includes ETL (extract, transform, load) capabilities.

Differences between SAP ECC and SAP HANA

The main difference between SAP ECC and SAP HANA is that ECC is the core ERP product within the SAP Business Suite, whereas HANA is a cloud-friendly, in-memory database designed to handle transactions and analytics on one system. But then, what is the difference between SAP HANA and ERP? Over time HANA has developed into the all-in-one data database which serves as a platform for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

 

Getting it right: A holistic approach to SAP S/4HANA Transformations

White Paper

Getting it right: A holistic approach to SAP S/4HANA Transformations

Combine Business Process Transformation with Enterprise Architecture Management and create a sustainable and intelligent enterprise.
6 Ways to Ensure a Smooth SAP S/4HANA Transformation

Poster

6 Ways to Ensure a Smooth SAP S/4HANA Transformation

Leverage Enterprise Architecture Management and Business Process Transformation to ensure a smooth SAP S/4HANA transformation.
How to Ace SAP Activate with LeanIX EAM and SAP Signavio

Poster

How to Ace SAP Activate with LeanIX EAM and SAP Signavio

Accelerate every phase of SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA with LeanIX and SAP Signavio.
Involvement of Enterprise Architects in SAP S/4HANA Transformation

White Paper

Involvement of Enterprise Architects in SAP S/4HANA Transformation

A cross-industry survey on the role and specific challenges of EA teams in SAP S/4HANA transformations.

SAP S/4HANA Transformation Challenges and Solutions

Poster

SAP S/4HANA Transformation Challenges and Solutions

A free poster on using enterprise architecture to navigate the challenges of SAP S/4HANA migrations.

Leverage Enterprise Architecture for SAP S/4HANA Transformation

Poster

Leverage Enterprise Architecture for SAP S/4HANA Transformation

Transforming your ERP system is a huge undertaking, but actively leveraging enterprise architecture helps create the roadmap for success.

Setting the Stage for SAP S/4HANA with Enterprise Architecture

White Paper

Setting the Stage for SAP S/4HANA with Enterprise Architecture

A white paper on how enterprise architecture can help with SAP S/4HANA transformations and how to align transformation phases to business needs.

How LeanIX Helps with SAP S/4HANA Transformation

White Paper

How LeanIX Helps with SAP S/4HANA Transformation

Download this free white paper to learn how enterprise architecture management with LeanIX can help you successfully transition to SAP S/4HANA.

What is SAP S/4HANA?

This brings us to SAP S/4HANA, which is the ERP designed to run solely on SAP HANA. It cannot run on other databases. It was launched as the fourth product generation in 2015, and users can choose between multiple deployment options, either as a cloud solution, the on-premise solution, or a combination of both.

SAP S/4HANA has completely redefined ERP systems and is arguably the most noteworthy update since SAP R/3 in 1992. The differences between SAP R/3 and SAP R4 HANA are significant given the development of the technology over the years–S/4HANA has taken what began in R3 but is designed to solve more complex problems and manage much larger amounts of data.

There have been several editions of S/4 HANA, with the latest on-premise version (S/4HANA 2021) released in October 2021. Many companies are planning the migration over to S/4HANA in the next couple of years in part due to SAP ending support for ECC and previous versions of the in 2027.

Leverage Enterprise Architecture for SAP S/4Hana Migration

Differences between SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA

It’s easy to be confused about SAP HANA vs S4 HANA–the two sound very similar. To put it simply, SAP HANA is the in-memory database technology that runs the SAP landscape. S4 HANA is the business suite launched as the next-generation ERP designed to run exclusively on the HANA database. The differences between HANA vs S4 HANA are that one is a database, and the other is an ERP suite that runs on said database.

Differences between SAP ECC vs S/4HANA

  ECC (ERP) S/4HANA
Database Third-party databases (Oracle, IBM, etc) SAP HANA
A merger of controlling (CO) and finance (FI) FI GL accounts are mapped to CO primary cost elements Universal journal stores both GL account and cost element
New general ledger (GL) Choice of "classic" GL structure or the "new" GL structure Uses only the new GL
Customer vs. Vendor to business partner Separate customer and vendor files Business Partner record
Rebates SD rebate processing Settlement management through condition contracts

With many companies now having to plan the transformation to S/4HANA, what are the main differences between S4/HANA vs ECC?

  1. Database: ECC supports databases from other providers such as Db2, Oracle, or Informix, however, S/4HANA only runs on SAP HANA. As a result, S/4HANA has much faster reaction times thanks to its in-memory database.

  2. A merger of controlling (CO) and finance (FI): When it comes to the merger of controlling (CO) and finance (FI), SAP S4 HANA’s structure of the universal journal stores both the GL account and the cost element, vs ECC where the FI GL accounts are mapped to CO primary cost elements.

  3. New general ledger: S/4HANA also only uses the new general ledger (GI), while ECC ran both "new" and "classic" versions.

  4. Customer vs. Vendor to business partner: In ECC, customer and vendor files were separate, while S/4HANA combines the common data structure elements of both into a Business Partner record.

  5. Rebates: S/4 HANA has replaced the SD rebate processing in ECC with settlement management through condition contracts.

 

Conclusion

Understanding the key differences between SAP releases makes it easy to see why transformation to S/4 HANA is beneficial, and how with the right SAP migration scenario, the transition can be a smooth process.

SAP S/4HANA transformation is now less of a choice and more of a necessity. This is because SAP is planning to end all support for older versions of their product by 2027. The benefits of S/4HANA transformation are numerous; these include a better user experience, improved performance, and reduced total cost of ownership–among many others.

Free White Paper

Setting the Stage for SAP S/4HANA with Enterprise Architecture

It’s time to draw up your digital transformation roadmap to migrate your company from its legacy SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA.

Preview the first 5 Pages

Page: /

Fill out the form to get the full version

Answers to frequently asked questions on SAP ECC and S/4HANA

What are the differences between SAP ECC and SAP R/3?

When looking at SAP R3 vs ECC, R/3 was used to store, retrieve, analyze and process corporate data, and ran on a client-server module as opposed to ERP which runs on NetWeaver. SAP ERP offered different but integrated modules such as finance and human resources, plus several ‘add-on’ applications for data analysis and real-time reporting.

The upgrade to ERP also included the acquisition and integration of niche competitors into the SAP landscape. Another difference between SAP ECC vs. R/3 is that R/3 is not part of the SAP Business Suite, but set the stage for ECC in 2004.

What are the differences between SAP HANA and SAP ECC?

The main difference between SAP ECC and SAP HANA is that ECC is the core ERP product within the SAP Business Suite, whereas HANA is a cloud-friendly, in-memory database designed to handle transactions and analytics on one system.

What are the differences between SAP ECC and SAP S/4HANA?

The main differences between S4 HANA vs ECC are their Database, Merger of controlling (CO) and finance (FI), New general ledger, Customer vs. Vendor to business partner, and Rebates.

Get started with SAP S/4HANA migration guide

Free White Paper

Setting the Stage for SAP S/4HANA with Enterprise Architecture

Set the stage