The Road to SAP BW/4HANA – Part 2

(Source - Marc Bernard - SAP Website)

In the first part, we looked at the different paths to get to SAP BW/4HANA. Now let’s see which path makes the most sense for a given starting point of a customer’s landscape.

One or More Legacy Systems

Unless you are a brand new enterprise, your landscape will most certainly contain some databases or systems that are collecting various kinds of data. Now you realize that you need a way to define common semantics, harmonize data values, establish a ‘single version of truth’, and provide a single, comprehensive source of current and historical information across all these sources. You need a data warehouse… SAP BW/4HANA. The obvious path is to install a new SAP BW/4HANA system, connect all your data sources, and either load the data (traditional ETL) or consume the data remotely (logical data warehousing). Of course you want to put some thought into modeling and structuring your SAP BW/4HANA data warehouse so we recommend defining a layered scalable architecture that suites your requirements best based on the LSA reference framework provided by SAP.

Instead of rebuilding your legacy system or data warehouse completely in SAP BW/4HANA, you could move some or all of it directly into the SAP HANA database that SAP BW/4HANA is running on (separate schema or tenant). You can then leverage the content using mixed models between SAP BW/4HANA and SAP HANA views.

If you have a complex landscape, want to replace legacy data warehouse(s), or simply need help on your way to SAP BW/4HANA, please consider the path of using services offered by the SAP’s Data Management & Landscape Transformation group. We will setup a project that will lead you to a successful implementation of SAP BW/4HANA.

SAP BW, edition for SAP HANA

If you are running this release of SAP BW, are exclusively using objects compatible with SAP BW/4HANA (Advanced DataStore Objects, Open ODS Views, CompositeProviders, etc.) as well as using SAP BusinessObjects (or a supported third party frontend), then your system is mighty close to be ready for transitioning to SAP BW/4HANA. Perform a final system check using program RS_B4HANA_CHECK_ENABLE. If you get all green lights, your system can be converted to SAP BW/4HANA!

As mentioned in Part 1, the conversion tool – SAP Software Update Manager – is not quite ready for this job. You will have to wait for a bit until the required enhancements are completed. There’s no firm timeline available yet.

Although new installation or landscape transformation are technically possible paths, it’s quite unlikely that you would go this way because the system is just one step away from SAP BW/4HANA. 

SAP BW powered by SAP HANA

About 3,600 customers are running this release. Go, BW on HANA! If you started your SAP BW implementation recently or have kept you system up-to-date with release upgrades to 7.5, then you are in a similar situation as customers who already have SAP BW, edition for SAP HANA. Upgrade slightly older systems to release 7.5 and install the “SAP BW/4HANA Starter Add-on”. If necessary, transfer classical to HANA-optimized data models and data flows. This might be the case, especially if you did a straight migration from another database in the past and continue to use InfoCubes and classic DSOs i.e. you haven’t fully transitioned to Advanced DSOs, CompositeProvider and Open ODS Views. We have a Transfer Tool (SAP Note 2238220) available, which will do this job for you.

If your system is still on release 7.3 and you are upgrading to 7.5, then you might have to adjust some of your custom code due to the change that came with 7.4. Please review SAP Note 1823174.

Generally, we recommend the system conversion path but in some cases you might want to consider a new installation approach. SAP BW powered by SAP HANA systems can be over four years old (yes, SAP HANA has been around that long). If you don’t want to go through the steps described above, you could go for a new SAP BW/4HANA instance, maybe transport objects and configuration (as far as possible and supported, see SAP Note 2361350), and reload data from your original system. This will give you a clean start into the SAP BW/4HANA world.

SAP BW on Any Database (other than SAP HANA)

The most challenging scenario can be a SAP BW system still running on other databases than SAP HANA. Here all three paths to SAP BW/4HANA are currently at par. To convert the complete system to SAP BW/4HANA will require a database migration, release upgrade, transfer to HANA-optimized objects, and custom code adjustments. A Unicode conversion will be required as well for non-Unicode systems.

We have done migrations to SAP HANA many times now, so overall the process is well understood and can be executed smoothly. Still, we are working to make this transition as seamless as possible.

The alternative is to go for a new installation of SAP BW/4HANA and build a new, simplified data warehouse environment. Added benefit is that your original system will not be impacted.

If your SAP BW system and data warehouse landscape is more complex, please contact SAP and check the many services that are available to help you. And of course many SAP Partners have similar offerings in their portfolio.

Multiple SAP BW Systems

We certainly see a trend to simplify landscapes and consolidate several SAP BW systems into a global instance running on SAP HANA. If you have multiple SAP BW systems – typically split by region or line of business -, then we recommend to check out the Landscape Transformation path. It’s best suited for customers who want to consolidate their landscape or carve out selected data models and data flows into an existing SAP BW/4HANA system. SAP’s Data Management & Landscape Transformation group is planning to offer a service package in order to setup a customer-specific migration project. This will include re-using standard tools for example to compare the configuration and security of your SAP BW systems.

Alternative is to treat the situation the same way as described in the “One or More Legacy Systems” chapter.


We understand our customers are starting their journey to a modern data warehouse from different places. That’s why we have created three distinct paths, complete with distinct services and tools, to help you achieve your goals in the most direct fashion, with the least disruption.

Neil How
Posted by:
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.

More about Neil
Close Menu