No matter what database customers use with SAP Business Warehouse, they all have the option to switch to SAP BW/4HANA. In-place and remote conversions are set to make migrating even simpler going forward.
SAP BW/4HANA has been on the market for nearly six months now. Over time, more and more customers are asking themselves how they can take advantage of this business data solution. Some are currently running their business warehouses in connection with databases from IBM or Oracle. While quite a few customers have already switched to SAP HANA, most of them are only leveraging a fraction of the potential its new data model offers, and others are implementing it for the first time.
One thing is clear:
“Making the move to SAP BW/4HANA is the only way to take advantage of further performance gains and innovations,” states Lothar Henkes, vice president of Product Management for SAP BW.
At the same time, however, Henkes doesn’t think customers need to be in a hurry to switch. “Every organization can take things at its own pace,” he says. “Generally speaking, companies initially proceed from an arbitrary database (xDB) to SAP HANA, and from there to SAP BW/4HANA with support from our starter add-on.”
Depending on the criteria a given company fulfills, up to three steps are necessary to make the transition. All three are required for those that are not using SAP HANA already. Those running one of the first two SAP HANA releases of SAP BW (7.3 or 7.4 powered by SAP HANA) will need to complete two steps, and for those on SAP BW 7.5 powered by SAP HANA, moving to SAP BW/4HANA takes just one.
According to Henkes, many companies are taking their migration to this new solution as an opportunity to consolidate the various SAP BW systems they use and streamline their overall landscape. “Our experiences in the SAP Early Adopter Care program have also shown that a lot of customers are leaving behind their old modeling techniques and looking to take a fairly radical step forward,” he explains. “This is where it makes sense to start with a fresh installation of SAP BW/4HANA and only import the scenarios that are still relevant rather than fully migrating an old system.”
Based on their current situation, companies will need to take the steps described below to move to SAP BW/4HANA.
The SAP Database Migration Option tool (SAP DMO) is designed to aid companies that are currently using Oracle, IBM DB2, or Microsoft SQL Server databases with SAP BW in switching to SAP HANA as part of a conventional database migration. Here, SAP DMO handles the migration itself, the release upgrade, and (if necessary) the Unicode conversion.
As soon as your implementation of SAP HANA and the current release of SAP BW (7.5) is complete, you can proceed with rendering your data model in objects optimized for SAP BW/4HANA. This can be done with the help of the SAP BW/4HANA starter add-on, which requires SAP BW 7.5 powered by SAP HANA (SP4).
“To step into the future with this solution, you’ll need the corresponding starter add-on to convert your old objects into objects optimized for SAP BW/4HANA,” Henkes reveals. This takes place in the add-on’s compatibility mode, which uses tools to copy existing data flows (along with the objects they contain) and adapt them to the new SAP BW/4HANA environment.
“The effort required for this conversion depends on the number of objects your company uses and how much they’ve been modified,” Henkes continues. “There are varying levels of complexity, and automated implementation isn’t possible in every scenario.”
Once all of the objects at hand have been converted, the transition to B4H mode can proceed. The system will then be ready for conversion to SAP BW/4HANA.
From this point forward, moving to the new solution is no more complicated than upgrading from one service pack to the next.
An in-place conversion involves transforming an entire system. The goal is to upgrade an installation – one that’s already running the latest service pack for SAP BW 7.5 powered by SAP HANA (SP6) – to SAP BW/4HANA. As usual, the starter add-on provides support in converting existing objects. In this case, however, it includes not just the metadata, but the data the objects contain, as well. “Compared to the SAP BW/4HANA starter add-on, in-place conversion supports additional functions and is also a good deal more convenient,” affirms Henkes, who also believes that less and less manual input will be required in the future.
Remote conversions are based on new installations of SAP BW/4HANA. This approach is unique in that it eliminates the need to convert an entire legacy system. No matter whether you run SAP BW on SAP HANA or some other database, remote conversion enables you to pinpoint the scenarios you want to convert while still in a development environment. These scenarios will then be transferred into your fresh installation and converted accordingly. You can then proceed with transferring data between your old and new production systems. Remote conversion is available for SAP BW 7.0 and later releases. Among other advantages, this approach only includes objects that will remain relevant going forward and saves you the trouble of converting your database. It thus represents the chance to clean house in your current landscape while implementing SAP BW/4HANA.
Neil ran his first SAP transformation programme in his early twenties. He spent the next 18 years working both client side and for various consultancies running numerous SAP programmes. After successfully completing over 15 full lifecycles he took a senior leadership/board position and his work moved onto creating the same success for others.