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SAP Architecture History and Evolution

Tuesday, 31 July 2012 13:59

Written by Muralikrishnan Radhakrishnan

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SAP Product Naming and History

We have been asked by many fellow consultants/customers about the different naming conventions used by SAP. I referred many blogs, forums to understand the same but did not find anything concrete for my understanding..

There was even a report by GARTNER which criticizes the naming convention used by SAP.

“SAP has a well-earned reputation for complexity and inconsistency in product naming,” the report states. And it’s not just customers and consultants who are left dazed and confused, it says. SAP’s own employees and executives can’t always keep the names straight either.

When we are part of consulting world of Upgrade we always get some strange questions from the people who are sponsoring for the activity:

  • We are moving from 4.6c to ECC6.0, so do we get ERP 2005 or ECC 6.0 ?
  • We are upgrading to EHP 5, so what happens to ECC 6.0?
  • What are the functionalities I am going to get new?
  • Are we latest product which SAP has released?

These are some of the questions I have faced in my experience. So, I thought I may summarize it as a blog to explain the history, naming convention confusion and some part of component version.


SAP (Systems, Application and product) was founded in 1972 by a group of IBM dropouts.

It was first called as R/1 which means real time data processing and was initially used for financial accounting. It had no database, application or presentation layers.

In the late 1970s, R/2 was released which had two layers - distributed as database + application and presentation layer.

After 20 years SAP now named its product as R/3 which changed its design into three layers namely database, application and presentation. The new design included multiple operating systems, database , and different platforms.

From the release of R/3, SAP started naming its releases with versions like R/3 3.1l, R/3 4.0B…..R/3 4.6D till 2001 and the underlying component was called BASIS.  R/3 4.7 was the first release which came with a technology platform Web AS which included BSP Applications, another interesting fact is that J2EE Engine was introduced in R/3 4.7 itself, it was never used in those years though.

From then on SAP started adding technology platform naming to the product line and that was when all the confusion started.

SAP built a platform, the first being Web AS to be included in product naming or referenced when talking/writing about the product. They also gave the WebAS a version. So you have your R/3 (real-time 3 layer SAP system) 4.x (version of your R/3) on WebAS (base platform) 6.10 (version of your platform).

Now SAP had specific components which represent the platform and other components showed the functionality of the system.

Then Enterprise editions were introduced along with the WebAs 6.20 as R/3 enterprise 4.70.

SAP  R/3(real-time 3 layer SAP system) Enterprise (components split and possibility to use extensions) 4.x (version of your R/3) on WebAS (base platform) 6.20 (version of your platform).

Along with this SAP started to introduce years with the product names like My Sap ERP 2004.

Then there was new technology was introduced which was Netweaver ( Java Application server :main advantages) in 2004.WebAs was still part of this which was referred as BASIS 6.40.

Naming was changed by the most important component of ERP. The term ECC 5.0 was used instead of mySAP ERP2004 which caused a lot of confusion in the customer base. The ECC (Enterprise Central Component) component is the most important SAP component of an ERP SAP system.

At that moment you could have a mySAP ERP2004 (successor of R/3 Enterprise) which is in fact an ECC 5.0 which is built on the SAP Netweaver 2004 (Web AS 6.40) platform.

If that wasn’t yet enough it also mySAP ERP2004, ECC 5.0 was also referenced as being ERP 5.0

Things got even worse in 2005 when mySAP ERP2005 came out, which was referenced as ECC 6.0, resided on SAP Netweaver 2004s (Web AS 7.00) platform and was also called ERP 6.0.

List Till Now:

  • 1972 – SAP R/1 (R for real-time, 1 for one layer)
  • Late 1970s – SAP R/2 (R for real-time, 2 for two layers)
  • 1992 – SAP R/3 (R for real-time, 3 for three layers)
  • 1992 – 2001 SAP R/3 . (for example 4.6C)
  • 2001 introduction WebAS (technology platform)
  • 2002 – SAP R/3 Enterprise 4.70 (on WebAs 6.20)
  • 2003 – MySAP ERP (2003) (on WebAs 6.30)
  • 2004 – MySAP ERP 2004 ECC 5.0 ERP 5.0 (on WebAs 6.40 - Netweaver 2004)
  • 2005 – MySAP ERP 2005 ECC 6.0 ERP 6.0 (on WebAs 7.00 - Netweaver 2004s  / 7)
  • 2006 – Netweaver 7.1
  • 2011 – Netweaver 7.3

A quick view on how SAP architecture evolved over the last few decades?

Enhancement packages

Enhancement packages serve the purpose not to touch the core components but to provide the customer with additional functionality. Those additional functionalities become active after activation. The latest enhancement package version has all the enhancements (additional functionality) of the previous ones.

An overview of enhancement packages released for ERP 6.0 and the minimum platform of the system in which it can reside:

  • EHP1 for SAP ERP 6.0 in 2006 – Platform 7.00
  • EHP2 for SAP ERP 6.0 in 2007 – Platform 7.00
  • EHP3 for SAP ERP 6.0 in 2007 – Platform 7.00
  • EHP4 for SAP ERP 6.0 in 2008 – Platform 7.00
  • EHP5 for SAP ERP 6.0 in 2010 – Platform 7.02
  • EHP6 for SAP ERP 6.0 in 2011 – Platform 7.02 – Ramp up
  • EHP 1 for SAP Netweaver 7.3 – Platform 7.31 – Ramp up

The platform on which your product resides and the product itself influences the versioning of your SAP system components

We can see that components SAP_ABA and SAP_BASIS are part of the Netweaver 7.0 platform (701 first two digits 7.0). The last digit represents the enhancement package level (701 so Netweaver EHP1)

There you see SAP_HRCCH and SAP_HRCCL are part of ECC 6.0 (604 first two digits 6.0). The last digit represent the enhancement package level (604 so ERP 6.0 EHP4).

So this SAP system is an ERP 6.0 EHP4 on a SAP Netweaver 7.0 EHP1 platform.

Example of Applications powered by Netweaver


Kernel Version:

The SAP kernel versioning is based on the platform your product resides on. For the above example, ERP 6.0 EHP4 on a SAP Netweaver 7.0 EHP1 platform the kernel level is 701 (platform version + enhancement package version of the platform).

For finding different functionality which are going to come to the system can be found in the below link:


We can find the Application area along with the key function area which points to the Business function.

Hope I have shared all the confusion which I have in my head .Hopefully this answers some questions.


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SAP Architecture History and Evolution