The Evolution of SAP

HOUSTON - JUNE 16, 2015


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Posted by Vivian Reynecke, SR Consultant

My experience with SAP started in the early ’90 and the first time I saw the system I was hooked – it was a demonstration of R/2.  The thought of a “real-time” system was mind boggling – at that point in time I was a main frame COBOL developer on an in-house payroll system.

SAP has come a long way since then. I would like to take you back to the beginning – to where it all started and see how far SAP has come over the decades.

The 70’s brings to mind Disco, Hippies, Star Wars, Paul McCartney leaving the Beatles and the end of the VietnamWar.

Five former IBM employees started an endeavor that would  change the IT world forever. The concept of “real-time” systems came to life. Customers would no longer have to do overnight batches, the data will be available to everyone the  moment it is entered into the system.

SAP R/1 was born. This was a 1-tier architecture where Presentation, Application and Database are installed in one system/server. The first module that was developed was a financial accounting system.

Toward the end of the 70’s SAP re-evaluated their 1-tier structure and R/1 made way for SAP R/2 – a 2-tier structure where Presentation was on one server and Application and Database on the second.


In the 80’s we saw the launch of the first Space Shuttle, the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the IBM Personal Computer, the Chernobyl disaster and the end of the Iran–Iraq War.

SAP moved to their first facility in Walldorf, Germany. They added additional modules to their portfolio and by the end of 1981 R/2 had stabilized. In 1986 SAP opens its first international subsidiary in Austria. After three years in development, SAP also released their Human Resources Management module to their customers.

By the end of 1987 SAP, has a presence in several countries in Europe. They started working on R/3 (the 3-tier version of SAP where Presentation, Application and Database each has its own system/server) and by the end of the decade SAP has a presence in 15 countries including the United States of America, Australia, Canada and Singapore.


The 90’s brings to mind the Hubble Space Telescope, the Gulf  War, the World Wide Web, the dissolution of the Soviet Union,  Dolly the sheep – the first mammal to be cloned, the tragic death  of Princess Diana and the Rwandan Genocide.

In the early 90’s, SAP introduced R/3 with its client-server  concept, uniform graphical interface, dedicated use of relational  databases to a number of pilot companies and after successful  implementation SAP rolls it out to the general public. SAP also introduces its new partner strategy.

A new facility is opened in Foster City, California, and that gives SAP a presence near Silicon Valley. SAP forms a relationship with Microsoft and SAP R/3 system for Windows NT is released. Towards the end of the 90’s, SAP introduces EnjoySAP, emphasizing the SAP users – the idea is to make the software easier to learn, faster to work with, and simpler to customize to customers’ needs.

In 1999, SAP announces a new strategy – This will combine e-commerce solutions with SAP’s existing ERP applications on the basis of cutting-edge Web technology. EnjoySAP becomes the foundation for’s success.


The 2000’s changed the US history forever with the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001, the start of the War on Terror; social media through the Internet spreads across the world; and a tsunami from the Indian Ocean following an earthquake kills over 250,000 the day after Christmas in 2004.

Using the platform, employees, customers, suppliers, and other business partners can work together across company borders – anytime, anywhere. SAP outsources their electronic marketplaces and corporate portals to SAP Portals subsidiary. SAP now has the architecture to integrate a wide variety of IT systems. SAP introduces version one of SAP NetWeaver in 2004.

In 2006 SAP introduces SAP ERP and shortly thereafter they purchase Business Objects, which makes SAP the market leader in business software, enterprise performance management, and business intelligence.

In 2009, SAP unveils its SAP Business Suite 7 software, it is designed to help businesses optimize their performance and reduce IT costs. A condensed ramp-up phase enables the first customers to go live with the software in March. In early May, the next generation of the suite is released to the rest of the world.


For 2010 to 2015, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti, with a death  toll over 316,000 is considered the 7th deadliest on record, Prince  William marries Catherine Middleton, Iran suspends oil exports to  Britain and France, a meteor explodes over Chelyabinsk, Russia,  injuring 1,491 people – the most powerful meteor to strike earth in over  a century, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared less than an hour  after takeoff and an Airbus A320-211 operated by Germanwings crashes in the French Alps.

SAP purchases California based company Sybase – the largest business software and service provider specializing exclusively in information management and mobile data use. The synthesis of the two leading companies is to produce solutions for “wireless” companies. The first in-memory product, SAP HANA, enables customers to analyze data in seconds rather than days or even weeks they would otherwise have needed.

The 2011 acquisition of SuccessFactors marks another step for SAP towards delivering on premise, in-the-cloud or mobile solutions. The combination of SAP and SuccessFactors will create a comprehensive HCM solution, marrying strength in enterprise applications with people-focused cloud applications.

SAP introduces Fiori – SAP Mobile Platform Server is an open, standards-based application server that provides a suite of services for mobile applications. By integrating SAP Mobile Platform Server into your SAP Fiori system landscape, you can create a secure, efficient, and easy-to-manage mobile environment for SAP Fiori.

In addition to SAP Fiori, SAP also introduces HR renewal – an add-on for SAP ERP enhancement packages that contains new capabilities for some HR areas. The HR renewal shipments contain functional as well as user experience improvements and are aimed to increase the productivity of HR Professionals and the overall HR efficiency.


SAP is celebrating their 43rd year in business and given what they have done so far, I cannot wait to see what they are going to do in the next 43 years.


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