What does 4 in ABAP 4 stand for ?

This Post is part of the Free Step by Step SAP learning Course.
You can access the Course here

This lesson is split into three parts. This is the second part of the lesson. 

In this part I give you a quick walk through of SAP evolution and then make our way to learn SAP core Architecture.

Though I love to write about SAP in detail, however quick lessons are also very helpful. Based on feedback I received in my earlier blogs, I have TRIED – ( Tried Very Hard ) to make this lesson a very quick, and solid pack of information into SAP History and Architecture.

So Lets Jump Right in.

Question 1 : What does the 3 in SAP R/3 Stand for ?

3 = Third Generation Rock Star .. NooooooooOOOOOOOO!!!

It stands for 3 Tier architecture. SAP R/3 was introduced in 1992 as a successor to SAP’s prior version R/2 introduced in 1989  ( You can read all about SAP History here  ).

3 Tier Architecture of SAP

3 Tier architecture, just for a quick review, simply means three layers of processing. First layer to store data, Second to process data and to perform business logic calculations etc and Final layer to present the data to the user. All these layers can reside in one single computer or can be distributed across many computers. That does not matter as long as there is a clear distinctions between the three layer.

Question for YOU: Why have 3 layers? What was the problem with 2 layers ?

Historical progression of SAP Graphical User Interface

The SAP GUI has evolved considerably through the times. Check out the following screen shots to see how it has changed. Looking at these screen shots you will recognize that SAP is still a market leader in the ERP domain because it has remained flexible by implementing new business requirements and adopting newer technologies. ( For example with cloud and mobile computing gaining significance technologies like  SAPUI5, FIORI, FLUID, NetWeaver, WebDynpro, FPM, BOPF Frameworks  are gaining significance. We still have to talk about them. Oh so much to learn. Are you excited ?- I bet you are )

Initial R2 Screen - Simulating a Mainframe interface

Initial R/2 Screen – Simulating a Mainframe User Interface


Initial R/3 GUI Screen

Initial R/3 3.0 GUI Screen


SAP R/3 4.6 GUI Screen

SAP R/3 4.6 GUI Screen


SAP Workplace

SAP Workplace introduced in mySAP


Question 2 : What does the 4 in ABAP 4 stand for ?

4 = 4th Generation Programming language.

Yes !! Even though SAP ABAP language has evolved so much it is still considered a 4th generation language. ( You can read about Generations in Programming Languages here ). That’s because languages prior to ABAP were vey machine like or machine specific e.g COBOL and therefore they were considered 3rd generation languages — kind of like 3G and 4G networks in cell phone technology.

Question 3 : What is mySAP ?

Why did it come into existence ? Was it different than SAP R/3 ?
Notice I am referring to mySAP in the past tense. Because like SAP R/3, mySAP also had its time and now does not exist as a popular option any more. It was introduced in 1999.

Quiz for you – Do you know what is offered now ? – I am sure you know the answer. If you know the answer then type it in the comment box below .

So what is mySAP  – To explain in short is difficult, but I will give you quick points.

Look at this picture. It depicts the original R/3 Model of SAP core ERP.


SAP R/3 Model

1. This model is built primarily as an Online Transaction Process System, OLTP in short. But there are many business scenarios which are not primarily OLTP. Some of them need Online Analytical Processing ( OLAP) capabilities as well like huge reporting requirements for years worth of data.

( You can read about OLTP and OLAP difference here )

2. Also some processes take a long time to execute in real time basis like an MRP run ( don’t worry if you don’t understand this concept yet, I will teach you all of it in later articles ). Initially SAP was offered only as an ERP, but with supplier and customer systems coming into the landscape, SRM, SCM and CRM systems were also built. This made the originally offered R/3 system too complex and hence other systems like a separate SRM instance, CRM instance, APO and BW instances were added to the original R/3 offering.


mySAP Model


Once all these new dimension product requirements were developed, SAP packaged them into a new product offering called mySAP. ( There are a lot more features to mySAP than these two I listed above).

Question for YOU: Do you know what is the next offering of SAP after mySAP ?

 Question 4 : What other aspects of SAP should a SAP fresher know ?

Here are a couple of SAP concepts you need to be aware of. Try to investigate on them on your own. Basic knowledge about them will help you gain a lot of confidence to crack SAP interviews.

1. Business Intelligence – What is it and why is it different than Business Warehouse ? Also what is Business Objects (BOBJ).

2. Industry Solutions (IS) – SAP is not only about MM, SD, HCM, FI/CO etc. That is the ERP backbone. However a lot of companies deal in speciality industries and their business processes may be completely different than the rest of the other industries. For example Footwear Apparel manufacturers like Nike have different business processes than Utilities provider like British Petroleum or Shell Oil. So to cater to these specific industry requirements SAP has come up with speciality solutions caller Industry Solutions. So you will see a big list of speciality industry solutions like IS-Utilites, IS-Appearal, IS-Retail etc.

Question for YOU: Can you name some industry solutions of SAP that you have heard of ?

3. What is SAP Workplace, SAP Enterprise Portal, SAP Middleware ?

4. What are Enhancement Packs and Business Packages. ?


SAP is growing day by day and adding a lot of new functionality into its product list. These are couple of things I would like you to explore. Knowing about them will surely give you a lot of confidence in job interviews. Remember job interviews are not only about technical aspects. You also need to know the nature of the industry you are trying to get into. I will definitely touch all these aspects in my future blogs, but you also go through these points of SAP.

Also an update on SAP R/3: SAP in the coming months may stop the use of the term R/3.. Yes its true .. SAP has unveiled its latest offering SAP S/4HANA and may slowly reposition itself away from SAP R/3. I will cover all aspects of the new offering in the coming blogs. But a bit of advice .. learn R/3 and get into the market early. What is new in SAP S/4HANA. Well for one, it incorporates the HANA framework and supports both on-premise as well as cloud installations. More on this later.


I wanted to keep this lesson short and wanted to only concentrate on the hard core SAP Architecture – Kernel stuff, but getting some of these concept like 3Tier and ABAP4 etc is important part to know before we move forward. In my next lesson I promise, I promise, I promise, I will talk only about SAP Architecture and nothing else. We will go through the SAP Kernel, Instance, Work processes, System Landscape/Topology. Change and Transport.

Hope you gained some knowledge with this lesson.

Please provide me with your feedback, questions and do share this post with your friends.


  1. meenakshi

    I expected more from this lesson of yours. It basically had lots of questions than giving any answers. Your previous post was really very very nice. I loved it. Hope to see some good stuff coming soon.
    You keep the lessons simple, which is the best part to learn SAP from your posts.
    Thanks 🙂

    • Thanks for the frank comments Meenakshi.
      Yes you are right I did leave some questions out there. The main idea is to invoke curiosity and participation. See, In the SAP world, as an SAP consultant 70 to 80% of my time goes mostly in research and trying to understand the user requirements. Usually there is no straight and direct answer to solve a client requirement. Hence it is important to cultivate a habit of curiosity and try to research some answers by oneself. I can gladly provide answers for the questions, but think it is better for readers to come up with their ideas on the same.

      On other thought – let me know what questions you have on this or any of my other blogs so far and I will clarify them for you.

      And once again, thank you for subscribing to my blog and for your participation and feedback. Always a pleasure.

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