SAP BW/4HANA: 10 Questions for SAP

SAP BW/4HANA is the latest of the company’s products to get the SAP HANA treatment. The next-generation data warehouse application processes data from an array of sources in real time.

Lothar Henkes, vice president of product management for SAP BW/4HANA, tells us more.

1. SAP BW/4HANA is the next-generation business warehouse application. What makes it more advanced than SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) 7.5?

The new BW solution simplifies data structures, data flow, and data life-cycle management. Because it connects with SAP HANA and enterprise information management (EIM), it can access any non-SAP data in the company. And it has the latest user interfaces (UI) for end users, BW modellers, and administrators, plus the powerful in-memory platform SAP HANA, which gives it excellent performance.

2. Why should companies deploy SAP BW/4HANA? What are the benefits?

For business agility. Because the warehouse structure has been hugely simplified, and it has a new data flow modeller, SAP users can respond quickly and easily to the business needs of new models and to changes in existing ones. Users can generate views automatically from objects, edit them using any SQL took, and visualize the data with SAP BusinessObjects Cloud or SAP Lumira. This makes agile database development possible, giving businesses better insights in real time and at a lower cost.

And there are flexible deployment options for the solution in the cloud and on-premise. Deployment in the cloud enables customers to set up their infrastructure quickly and flexibly, and offers great value for money. The cloud version of SAP can currently be deployed through SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure.

3. How does SAP BW/4HANA fit into SAP’s data warehousing strategy?

SAP continues to offer data warehousing customers an SAP SQL-based and business warehouse approach. SAP BW/4HANA is a model or application-driven approach with highly-integrated services for data modelling, data management, monitoring and scheduling, and ETL. In the future, it will be more interoperable with SQL-based data warehouses.

4. Will customers continue to receive support for older versions of SAP BW? 

SAP BW on SAP HANA and SAP BW on conventional databases (xDB) will still be supported, though SAP BW/4HANA will be SAP’s primary innovative data warehouse solution. For customers that are already planning to switch from SAP BW on xDB, we recommend they migrate their database to SAP HANA and to upgrade to SAP BW 7.5. For customers planning to switch from SAP BW 7.3 or 7.4 to SAP BW/4HANA, we recommend an upgrade to SAP BW 7.5. Customers should then implement SAP BW 7.5 edition add-on for SAP HANA as an intermediate step. The edition add-on can be used to deploy tools to convert from classic SAP BW objects to objects and data flows optimized for SAP HANA. Custom adjustments can reduce the level of automation that the tools could otherwise achieve. Once the customer has transferred all objects and data flows and run a preliminary system check without error, they can migrate to SAP BW/4HANA.

Customers can, of course, install it from scratch or take a greenfield approach.

5. Can customers carry on using SQL-based SAP HANA data warehousing?

Yes, we’ll continue to support the SQL approach. This gives customers an option in addition to the new solution. Which solution is best depends on the customer’s priorities, level of expertise, and the model determining their requirements. There is no right or wrong answer. Many customers find that a hybrid approach best meets their needs.

6. Will SAP BW/4HANA have the same capabilities as both the SAP BW 7.5 on SAP HANA releases?

SAP BW/4HANA has similar functions as SAP BW powered by SAP HANA. But SAP BW/4HANA processes only SAP HANA-optimized objects, which cuts modelling effort and the overall complexity.

Following the SAP S/4HANA roadmap, within six months SAP BW/4HANA would differ significantly from SAP BW 7.5 powered by SAP HANA. SAP BW/4HANA is not valid for other database platforms.

7. Why should customers switch to SAP BW/4HANA if they have just upgraded to SAP BW 7.5?

The main benefits of SAP BW/4HANA for SAP BW on SAP HANA customers are its simplicity, openness, advanced UIs, and performance. As the roadmap shows, we plan to enhance the solution considerably in the three releases in the quarters ahead (Q3 and Q4 of 2016, and Q2 in 2017 — see more).

8. How do SAP BW/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA relate?

SAP BW/4HANA is completely independent of SAP S/4HANA. Customers do not have to implement one to use the other. SAP S/4HANA Analytics can be used for operational reporting on data taken straight from S/4HANA systems. The new solutions, on the other hand, is an advanced data warehouse that can be used to create reports on current, historical, and external data from a multitude of SAP and non-SAP sources.

9. Is SAP BW/4HANA only for customers already on SAP?

No, it can be used for any data warehousing needs, for data from SAP and non-SAP sources alike.

10. Which analytics tools can be used with SAP BW/4HANA?

SAP BW/4HANA supports SAP BusinessObjects Cloud and SAP BusinessObjects BI. It also has interfaces open to third-party providers.

Also take a look at the migration steps to BW/4HANA

Neil How
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Neil How

Neil ran his first SAP transformation programme in his early twenties. He spent the next 21 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.

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