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Greenfield and brownfield are terms usually used in factory planning and facilities engineering to describe two different approaches to developing or expanding manufacturing facilities.

But they are also used in IT to define different deployment scenarios.

Greenfield: new implementation

The Greenfield deployment approach means starting from a new and clean enviroment.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. But a final migration is needed to move your workload/application/data from the old enviroment to the new.

The Greenfield approach, which can be done on-premises or in the cloud (not necessary in the same site or datacenter), enables users to predefine migration objects. And Greenfield implementations result in lower total-cost-of-ownership and faster time-to-value. The main advantage of a Greenfield migration is that the transformation begins with a new system, providing the flexibility to drive such topics as standardization and simplification along with the migration itself.

The beauty of greenfield is that you don’t touch the existing environment at all… so you can work in parallel without interruption, unless you start the migration.

And you can use the old enviroment as a plan-B if something goes wrong… if you can migrate back.

Brownfield: system conversion

Basically is conversion of existing systems in a more complex deployment or can be also an upgrade to a new configuration/version.

The main advantage of Brownfield is that there is usually a shorter project runtime, and therefore there’s less disruption to your business. Only if the conversion/upgrade work in the proper way.

The big problem is that, in some cases, there isn’t a clear path to failback to the original state.

Bluefield: hybrid approach

The Bluefield approach combines elements of both the Greenfield and Brownfield approaches, offering a hybrid strategy.