Top 6 Questions Answered About SAP BW/4HANA

1. What is SAP BW/4HANA?

SAP BW/4HANA is SAP’s latest and greatest in-memory, HANA-native, data warehousing solution that runs exclusively on SAP HANA. As I’m sure you noticed, the naming convention used is consistent with their S/4HANA solution that came out 18 months ago. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as HANA is an essential piece of SAP’s long-term innovation roadmap.

2. What is SAP Touting About SAP BW/4HANA?

  • Simplicity
    • Over many years, SAP’s BW product has released many options and features, which has resulted in new customers wondering which options should be taken into consideration when embarking on a BW implementation journey. SAP has chosen to eliminate the unnecessary options and provide customers with more relevant, and easier to understand, choices to consider for their BW/4HANA implementations. BW/4HANA only offers building blocks that customers “should” be leveraging for the foreseeable future.
    • One of the most compelling features of SAP BW/4HANA is its ability to recognize the types of data that reside in each table. With this, it can automatically determine which data needs to be in memory (hot) and which data can be stored on disk (warm). This type of automated intelligent data storage allows for a more efficient use of an SAP customer’s hardware investment.
  • Openness
    • Pre-built, standardized templates called, “Building Blocks” are leveraged for building a data warehouse. BW/4HANA models and data can be exposed as native HANA views and accessed through standard SQL, which is a huge upside for customers. These views can then be consumed by various visualization tools (i.e. BusinessObjects, Lumira, etc..).
  • Modern UIs
    • Let’s all say good riddance to SAP GUI. SAP has worked diligently to improve its UX across its various product lines and SAP customers are beginning to enjoy the fruits of SAP’s labor. This trend continues in SAP BW/4HANA. BusinessObjects Cloud provides a modern UX for visualization, storytelling, and data exploration. BW/4HANA can also be accessed by the digital boardroom. Finally, administrators should be excited because front ends are now accessed through HANA Studio and modern browsers.
  • High Performance
    • Top-notch performance has been the SAP mantra for HANA since day one. So, expect no exceptions with BW/4HANA. This is the only data warehousing solution that was built from the ground up with optimal performance in mind. Expect significantly improved performance for data loading, querying, analysis, and staging.

3. Is SAP BW/4HANA Available On Premise, Because All I Hear About is Their Cloud version?

Not yet, but it will be. SAP is even discussing an on-premise Rapid Deployment Solution (RDS). SAP chose a “cloud first” approach for this launch through SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) and Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is their day-one announcement partner, but it’s expected that SAP will announce more partners shortly thereafter. AWS can support a 14TB scale-out cluster, running on seven of its X1 instances as certified by SAP. This allows BW/4HANA customers to try out, run, and optimize large workloads on AWS.

4. Which Companies does SAP Suggest Leverage This New Technology?

SAP currently has nearly 17,000 BW customers that haven’t yet made the move to HANA. There are also 3,700 customers who have already made the move to HANA from whatever database they were using in the past. SAP has committed to providing a straightforward way to switch to new HANA-native data warehouse. Fairfax media was one of the first BW/4HANA implementations to occur. ASUG News Interviewed Diego Lombardini (head of the media company’s finance systems) to discuss why they selected BW/4HANA and what the implementation was like on AWS.

5. What is the Upgrade Path for SAP BW Customers?

The most efficient approach is to move to SAP BW 7.5 SP4 on HANA. This facilitates the conversion to the new object types and the activation of “HANA-only mode”, which prevents legacy objects from being created. This will be a single-step process for most customers.

6. When Will NLS with HDFS or Sybase IQ (SAP IQ) Be Available and Can Both Be Used at the Same Time?

Both of the SAP-provided NLS solutions (IQ and HDFS) are currently available. So far, it is only possible to use one or the other (not both simultaneously). Partner NLS solutions are not supported due to changes in the NLS interface. SAP plans on delivering a conversion tool for 3rd party NLS solutions in the future.