Anthony Cecchini is the President and CTO of Information Technology Partners (ITP), an ERP technology consulting company headquartered now in Virginia, with offices in Vienna. ITP offers comprehensive planning, resource allocation, implementation, upgrade, and training assistance to companies. Anthony has over 20 years of experience in SAP business process analysis and SAP systems integration. ITP is an Appian and Pegasystems iBPM Low-code and RPA Value Added Service Partner. You can reach him at [email protected].
SAP Business Warehouse (BW) powered by HANA also known as BW on HANA (BWoH) is SAP’s data modeling, warehousing, and reporting tool built on the HANA database. SAP BW on HANA (BWoH) runs on the HANA database and therefore it is simpler and faster. Please note this is SAP BW running on a HANA Database, this is not BW/4HANA, which is part of the evolution of BW that is completely optimized and tailored to SAP HANA. The BW/4HANA code can only run on SAP HANA as it is interwoven with SAP HANA engines and libraries.
Before we dive in, it would be a good idea to understand what HANA is. When correctly implemented, SAP HANA conveys outstanding results and performance, analytic intelligence, integration capabilities, data processing, and improved ROIs of the SAP landscape with swift time-to-value. We have a great blog on this called The ABAP Developer Road Map to SAP HANA, it is definitely worth a read – especially if your a developer.
OK, let’s go back a bit and look at how SAP HANA BW evolved…
When you run SAP Business Warehouse (BW) on HANA, data is consumed in a data warehouse (DW). SAP BW combines DW capabilities like data integration and modeling with HANA’s in-memory processing to increase speed and data modeling capabilities. Complexity is reduced because transformations and DSOs are now in the HANA environment. This allows for faster processing, improved data load performance, optimized query processing, and additional reporting features. This next-generation tool integrates with other SAP and third-party solutions and also allows you to process unstructured, geospatial, and Hadoop-based data. Plus the new UI is more intuitive and user-friendly
Let’s take a look at how SAP BW powered by HANA is different from the previous generation. Before HANA, running SAP BW on Oracle or another database was extremely complex. This required administering the SAP ERP system, an OLTP database, and a separate database for the INFO-Cubes needed for staging, aggregations, and reporting. You had to stage data and use INFO-Cubes for aggregations and reporting. Other challenges of running SAP BW with third-party databases included:
- Lack of real-time reporting capability. Data was moved to the warehouse in batches, preventing real-time reporting.
- Time-consuming structural changes. Enhancements and upgrades were time-consuming and often ran into compatibility problems. Even the simplest structural change could take 2-12 months.
- Applications ran independently. Each application had to be monitored and optimized individually, so performance tuning was also time-consuming.
- Limited granularity levels. Due to the aggregation limitations of SAP BW, you could not pull data at different granularity levels.
Now the aggregations are done at the HANA layer which makes administration much simpler. Instead of two separate databases, the HANA database handles both transaction Processing (OLTP) and Analytics Processing (OLAP). And, as mentioned earlier, HANA is faster because data is processed in memory, so there are no batching-delays.
Activities like the activation step for DataStore Objects, or DSOs, and certain types of transformations are functionally the same on HANA as on other databases, but the actual processing has been moved into HANA rather than happening on the BW application server as it does with other databases. This cuts down on data movement, making it possible to execute these activities much faster with BW on HANA.
When SAP BW is powered by HANA, all the tasks are performed using HANA database optimized techniques. SAP HANA is responsible to perform key tasks related to Data Warehousing delivering excellent performance while performing analytical reporting. In the picture below, you can see BW on HANA architecture where all the key activities of BW are HANA optimized:
- HANA-Optimized Data Modeling: InfoCubes
- HANA-Optimized Data Modeling: Advanced DataStore Objects
- HANA-Optimized Data Modeling: Composite Providers
- HANA-Optimized Data Staging
- HANA-Optimized Analytic Manager
- HANA-Optimized Analysis Processes
The picture below shows that all Planning, OLAP and Data Management is pushed down to HANA (Database level).
When BW is implemented on SAP HANA, you can create a different LSA which is more dependent on virtual objects. This is known as LSA++ and it consists of three key layers:
Open Operation Data Store Layer
This layer is similar to the data acquisition layer in SAP BW. The open ODS layer is used to integrate data into the Data Warehouse and provides the same functionality as the classic data acquisition layer, but with more flexible data integration possibilities.
Core Data Warehouse Layer
This layer is responsible to perform functions like data transformation, data cleansing and consolidation.
Virtual Data Mart Layer
This layer is responsible to combine the data from other layers and to make it available for reporting purposes. This layer contains all the InfoProviders that combine data using join or union, without saving the result: MultiProvider, Composite Provider, etc. You can use this to access data directly in the SAP HANA database, to allow queries on Composite Provider, Open ODS View.
Composite provider allows you to merge the data from BW InfoProviders with HANA Modeling views. Union and Joins are performed in SAP HANA and queries can be run on composite providers, like BW InfoProviders.
SAP HANA studio is an Eclipse-based tool that runs on development environment and administration tool for working on HANA. SAP HANA studio is both the central development environment and the main administration tool for HANA system. It is a client tool which can be used to access local or remote HANA system. It provides an environment for HANA Administration, HANA Information Modeling and Data Provisioning in HANA database.
SAP HANA Studio can be used on the following platforms −
- Microsoft Windows 32 and 64 bit versions of: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server SLES11: x86 64 bit
The BW Modeling Tools provide an Eclipse-based integrated modeling environment for the management and maintenance of BW metadata objects using SAP HANA Studio and the Modeling Perspective. The main objective is to support BW metadata modelers in today’s increasingly complex BI environments by offering flexible, efficient and state-of-the-art modeling tools. These tools integrate with ABAP Development Tools as well as with SAP HANA modeling and the consumption of SAP HANA elements in BW metadata objects, like Open ODS views or CompositeProviders. The BW Modeling Tools have powerful UI (user interface) capabilities.
SAP Landscape Transformation (SLT) Replication is a trigger based data replication method in HANA system. It is a perfect solution for replicating real-time data or schedule-based replication from SAP and non-SAP sources. It has SAP LT Replication server, which takes care of all trigger requests. The replication server can be installed as a standalone server or can run on any SAP system with SAP NW 7.02 or above.
SLT Replication method allows data replication from multiple source systems to one SAP BW on HANA system and also from one source system to multiple SAP BW on HANA systems.
SAP LT uses trigger-based approach. It has no measurable performance impact on the source system.
It also provides data transformation and filtering capability before loading to SAP BW on HANA database.
It allows real-time data replication, replicating only relevant data into HANA from SAP and non-SAP source systems.
It is fully integrated with HANA System and SAP HANA studio.
Some of the key benefits of using SAP BW powered by HANA are as follows:
- Excellent performance in analytical reporting and data loading using HANA in memory database capabilities. All BW functions performed in SAP HANA benefits from in-memory database and calculation engines for faster data processing.
- With HANA optimized objects, you can perform complex queries, detailed analysis, high data volume, and aggregations efficiently.
- All existing BI tools such as BEx, Business Objects BI reporting tools, and Microsoft Excel are directly supported by SAP BW on HANA.
- SAP HANA provides high level of data compression. Column storage of tables requires less storage type and hence provides lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
- Business Warehouse Accelerator (BWA) is not required while using HANA underneath BW.
- You don’t need aggregated tables and HANA supports on-the-fly aggregations.
- It has simplified data modeling by using in-memory-optimized objects. There is no need to load BWA index.
For many years, enterprises have successfully deployed SAP BW for analyzing their business data. However, it has not been possible to always implement today’s requirements when it comes to flexibility, real-time capability, and efficient handling of mass data in SAP BW. With the introduction of SAP BW on SAP HANA a major change was heralded in this context. Thanks to the new in-memory technology and the many other software- and hardware-specific innovations, reporting scenarios can be implemented today that were inconceivable before.