Learn SAP Business Warehouse Powered by SAP HANA

SAP BW on HANA is the next wave of SAP’s in-memory technology vision that enables SAP NetWeaver BW to use SAP HANA as a fully functioning in-memory database.  Running SAP BW on HANA results in dramatically improved performance, simplified administration and streamlined IT landscape resulting in lower total cost of ownership.

In the present scenario, companies replace the entire database under their SAP   BW system with SAP HANA. They simply swap out whatever disk-based database their system is currently running on with SAP HANA — in just a few weeks.

SAP Business Warehouse (BW) continues to serve as a powerful data warehouse to consolidate data, harmonize master data and provide flexible reporting scenarios. Introducing SAP HANA as database underneath SAP BW was a major breakthrough in various core areas for data warehousing. With the combination of a rich data warehousing application and a fast in-memory database, we’ve seen architectural simplification, performance improvements and new modelling experiences.

Recall from our earlier discussion of early SAP IN-MEMORY PROJECTS that SAP BW was the first SAP application that was renovated and updated to natively run on SAP HANA as its primary run-time database. Most of these renovations were necessary to more closely tie the SAP BW application to the SAP HANA database. In a disk-based architecture, SAP BW is separated from the database by an abstraction layer, essentially making it impossible for the application to “see” anything in the database other than bare tables. Once the abstraction  layer  is  removed,  the  SAP  BW  application  cannot  only “see” everything in the database, but the entire database is designed around the needs of that specific application. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for SAP customers.

With SAP HANA, SAP BW now generates turbo-charged query responses natively, without the need for any side-car accelerators or crazy multi-layered third-party architectures. Because the entire database under the SAP BW system physically sits in memory, every activity — not just queries — is executed orders of magnitude faster.

SAP released the 7.3 version of SAP BW in general availability in early 2011 and then released the SAP HANA-enabled version into general availability in April 2012. SAP NW BW on SAP HANA is now Generally Available to all customers globally. All of the SAP HANA-specific enhancements were bundled into the SPS05 update, and customers who had already upgraded to 7.3 could install the service pack and migrate to SAP HANA in a matter of days.

Red Bull was the first live customer of SAP BW on SAP HANA. They told the world about their amazing 10-DAY project to get up and running at the Sapphire Now 2011 conference in Madrid, Spain. The whole effort was incredibly non-disruptive. SAP is seeing similar results with the other customers in the ramp-up project. All of the changes on the SAP BW side are delivered “under the hood” in the service pack, and the database migration can be performed without any changes to the SAP BW application. All of the customer’s content and configuration are completely unchanged. Have a look at the end-to-end migration guide for a great overview of the SAP BW database migration process. You should also read a great blog post by John Appleby, a consultant who performed one of the first SAP BW on SAP HANA migrations.

The speed and flexibility acquired by replacing the old database with SAP HANA reflect two fundamental benefits of keeping the entire database in memory:

(1) This architecture eliminates the need to send huge amounts of data between application and DB servers, and
(2) it allows users to execute performance-critical operations directly on the data in the database itself.

Basically, running SAP BW on SAP HANA completely eliminates nearly every one of the nasty things that historically slowed down the system, from both a user perspective and an administration perspective.

SAP offers a specific “run-time only” license option to utilize SAP HANA as the  primary persistence  layer for  SAP BW.  If you are  already an SAP BW customer, the company offers several options for license credits based on previous SAP BW and BWA licensing. Consult your SAP account executive for the details. SAP has also set up a special migration fund to provide professional services credits to migrate to SAP BW on SAP HANA. If you want to implement some scenarios based on SAP BW powered by HANA, the available rapid-deployment solutions will help to migrate your data, make your SAP BW system lean, and to profit from new reports and use cases. Here is a choice of the available solutions including SAP BW powered by SAP HANA:

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Rapid database migration of SAP BW to SAP HANA — supports the migration of an existing SAP Business Warehouse installation to the SAP HANA database system without disruption of the existing Business Warehouse content in. Go live in only 8–10 weeks.

Rapid data migration to SAP BW — supports the migration of data from virtually any existing data warehouse system to SAP BW, optionally running in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud.

SAP BW Near-Line Storage rapid-deployment solution — helps reducing the data stored in the database for SAP BW by leveraging a nearline storage based on SAP Sybase IQ. By doing this, SAP BW gets easier to maintain and the underlying database gets leaner, whilst the archived data is still right at your fingertips.

SAP Business Intelligence Adoption rapid-deployment solution  —  provides a complete offering for a successful BI adoption for  SAP  BW, SAP HANA (optional), and the SAP ERP application and helps customers make the right design choices on how to consume existing and new content. Go live in as little as 3–10 weeks.

SAP HANA CRM ANALYTICS RAPID-DEPLOYMENT SOLUTION — helps you quickly analyze large volumes of data — in real time, using role-based reports and dashboards — to better understand your customers. Go live in as little as 12 weeks.

SAP HANA Asset Analytics rapid-deployment solution, — offers visual simplicity in analysis. It uses a new BW data model optimized for HANA, and supports the BI platform, and options for mobility. It leverages operational and planning data from SAP EAM plant maintenance.

SAP  Enterprise  Risk  Reporting  for  Banking  rapid-deployment solution, provides a risk data model with preconfigured data flows, analysis, and reports for risk management reporting in banks. In addition the solution contains the most important key performance indicators according to the Basel III regulation.

SAP HANA as an Application Development Platform

Probably the  most wide-open innovation opportunity for SAP  HANA is as   an application platform. If the speed and simplification that were achieved by porting SAP BW are any indication, users can realize an unbelievable amount of value not only by renovating existing applications  (SAP and non-SAP) to  run natively on SAP HANA, but by also building entirely new applications that are designed from scratch to maximize SAP HANA’s powerful capabilities. The performance limitations of traditional databases and processing power have often led organizations to compromise on how to deploy business processes  on their enterprise platforms. Now, these organizations can choose to liberate themselves from these constraints and optimize business processes in ways that are more natural to the way their employees actually perform their work. This is where SAP sees a clear parallel to the Apple App Store  evolution. When Apple first released the App Store, most of the first apps available were “mobile-ized” versions of desktop or Web apps (email, browser, etc.). However, once developers considered the possibilities of combining the new capabilities of the device and writing native applications for the iPhone/iPod Touch (Angry Birds, Foursquare), innovation exploded.

There are three basic types of applications being built on SAP HANA today:

New apps built by SAP, New and renovated apps built by partners such as independent software vendors  (ISVs)  and systems  integrators (SIs), Custom apps built by companies for internal use.

SAP brands applications that leverage SAP HANA as a database as  “Powered by SAP HANA.” Partners whose applications have been certified by SAP can also add the “Powered by SAP HANA” brand to their solution name.

SAP-built Applications for SAP HANA

SAP is delivering a new class of solutions on top of the SAP HANA platform that provide real-time insights on big data and state-of-the-art analysis capabilities. These innovative solutions can empower organizations to transform the way they run their businesses by making smarter and faster decisions, responding more quickly to events, unlocking new opportunities, and even inventing new data-driven business models and processes that  were simply not possible with disk-based databases. Below are a few examples of native-SAP HANA applications.

SAP BusinessObjects Sales Analysis for Retail powered by SAP HANA

SAP AG has introduced the SAP BusinessObjects Sales Analysis for Retail analytic application powered by the SAP HANA platform. The application aims to offer prebuilt data models, key performance indicators (KPIs), role-specific dashboards and customized reports to provide retailers with a deeper understanding of all factors influencing the merchandising lifecycle. SAP BusinessObjects Sales Analysis for Retail is planned for global availability to customers in the second quarter of 2012.

Key features SAP BusinessObjects Sales Analysis for Retail aims to provide include:

  • Point-of-sale (POS) analysis to allow retailers to assess performance and generate quick responses through the use of prebuilt dashboards, interactive reports and more than 70 KPIs.
  • Inventory management to provide retailers with the ability to identify critical stock and margin issues through close inventory alignment.
  • Promotional analysis to enable retailers to understand the return on investment (ROI) and impact of promotions in real time, allowing users to set up thresholds, alerts and workflows for an early response system that drives performance.
  • Store operations to help users understand which stores are performing best and why, allowing retailers to achieve visibility across different locations and manage by exception.

This solution provides retailers with real-time access to critical information and allows nearly real-time interactive analysis, which is not possible with traditional database technology. It offers prebuilt data models, key performance indicators (KPIs), role-specific dashboards and customized reports to provide retailers with a deeper understanding of all factors influencing the merchandising life cycle. SAP BusinessObjects Sales Analysis for Retail aims at providing the integration needed for improved scalability and performance for retailers operating in separate sales, inventory and promotions systems. The new service provides Point-of-Sale (POS) analysis which allow retailers to assess performance and generate        quick   responses through  the         use      of  prebuilt dashboards, interactive reports and more than 70 KPIs and inventory management to provide retailers with the ability to identify critical stock and margin issues through close inventory alignment.

SAP Smart Meter Analytics

SAP Smart Meter Analytics is a “native-HANA” application that was designed for utility companies facing an exponential increase in data volume driven by their deployment of smart meters.

With SAP Smart Meter Analytics, powered by SAP HANA , you can make crucial decisions faster thanks to instant, in-depth customer analysis, advanced segmentation based on energy consumption patterns, and energy efficiency benchmarking.

This new application enables utility companies to turn massive volumes of smart meter data into powerful insights and transform how they engage customers and run their businesses. With SAP Smart Meter Analytics, utility companies can:

Instantly aggregate time of use blocks and  total  consumption profiles to analyze their customers’ energy usage by what neighborhood they are in, the size of their homes or businesses, building type, and by any other dimension and at any level of granularity.

Segment customers with precision based on energy consumption patterns that are automatically generated by identifying customers that have similar energy usage behavior.

Provide energy eficiency benchmarking based on statistical analysis so that utility companies can help their customers understand where they stand compared to their peers and how they can improve their energy efficiency.

Empower customers with direct access to energy usage insights via web portals and mobile devices connected to SAP Smart Meter Analytics via web services.

These capabilities delivered by SAP Smart Meter Analytics  enable utility companies to increase adoption of service options such as demand response programs, launch targeted energy  eficiency  programs,  improve fraud detection capabilities, and develop new tariffs and more accurate load forecasts.

SAP Sales & Operations Planning

SAP Sales & Operations Planning is a next  generation  planning application that is powered by SAP HANA and delivered in the cloud. The solution enables:

Planning and real-time analysis with a unified model of demand, supply chain, and financial data at any level of granularity and dimension.

Rapid, interactive simulation and scenario analysis, using the full S&OP data model to support demand-supply balancing decisions Embedded, context-aware social collaboration enables rapid planning and decision-making across the organization.

These capabilities enable companies to align demand and supply profitably, reduce supply chain costs, and drive revenue growth.

SAP Supplier InfoNet

SAP Supplier InfoNet is a cloud-based solution, powered by SAP HANA, that enables companies to:

Minimize supply chain disruption by proactively monitoring and predicting real-time supply risks across a multi-tier supplier network. Drive stronger supplier performance by benchmarking supplier performance for your company against others in the business network and identifying significant shifts and trends in supplier performance using leading-edge machine learning and statistical analysis

Manage your supply base by aggregating and transforming supplier data to deliver instant insights into the operational health of the supply base.

Recalls Plus

Recalls Plus is SAP’s first consumer mobile app that enables parents to proactively monitor recalls of their kids’ strollers, cribs, toys, and other items for greater safety and peace of mind. Features of the app include:

  • Search recall history by brand or category
  • Create a personal watch list of items like car seats, cribs, strollers and so on
  • Track allergen related recalls
  • Share relevant recalls with others
  • Read and monitor recalls from all relevant US government agencies: CPSC, NHTSA, FDA and  USDA                                                


SAP Business Warehouse (BW) is the first SAP application to be “HANA-fied”  to take advantage of the power of SAP HANA. With more than 14,000 SAP BW implementations globally, SAP BW has become a critical piece of the IT landscape, and it is particularly well suited to benefit from the speed and simplicity that SAP HANA can provide to applications.

To discuss the benefits of SAP BW Powered by SAP HANA, a brief introduction to SAP BW and some recent history of its evolution is in order.

SAP Business Warehouse (BW)

Business Information Warehouse (sometimes shortened to “Business Warehouse” or BW) is a packaged, comprehensive business intelligence product centered around a data warehouse that is optimized for (but not limited to) the R/3 environment from SAP.

SAP BW was developed in the 1990s. Like most data warehouses, BW is a combination of databases and database management tools that are used to support management decision making. BW supplies the infrastructure typical of data warehouses, but also includes preconfigured data extractors, analysis and report tools, and business process models.

It is essentially an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) application that includes many built-in functions to create an end-to-end EDW solution. In addition, SAP BW includes a substantial amount of content based on best business practices. Many SAP customers work with SAP directly through influence councils and the global SAP User groups to define new features and validate content additions.

Customers frequently inquire about the differences between SAP BW and their existing EDW solution. To answer this question, we need to be familiar with the fundamental features common to all EDWs. All EDW systems include a database and a data modeling tool. Many companies that implement an EDW will choose an alternate modeling tool based on features and functionality. In addition, there are a number of other tools that   companies need to add to complete their enterprise-ready data warehouse. Specifically, they will need a content-management tool, a metadata-management tool, security software, a master data manager, workflow capabilities, and many more. The challenge most companies face is integrating all of these software tools into one seamless operation. As you might suspect, this is often easier said than done.

SAP BW provides many of the functions needed to install an enterprise- ready EDW. The major difference between SAP BW and these other EDWs is that the additional software elements that are “add-ons” in a traditional EDW are included in SAP BW, and they work together right out of the box. In addition, SAP BW offers solutions to customers who need to expand the included functionality. An example is a scenario in which the included security is adequate, but the customer needs to participate in a greater identity management solution (e.g., SAP Identity Management Services.)

SAP BW and In-Memory Computing

One of the fundamental aspects of EDW systems is their ability to manage multidimensional data (cubes) and to conduct analytical operations on this data. As previously mentioned, one key element of an EDW is a database.

An In-Memory database means all the data from the source system is stored in a RAM memory. SAP HANA In-Memory Database wastes no time in loading the data from hard disk to RAM. It provides faster access of data to multicore CPUs for information processing and analysis.

A major limitation of most databases is that they were designed and optimized to manipulate transactional data stored in a relational database management system (RDBMS). More specifically, they were configured to provide the best performance for row-based inserts imported from OLTP applications. EDWs are a different breed of application entirely. As OLAP rather than OLTP applications, their primary role is to read data from the database and display them in reports or analytical views. EDWs almost never insert data into rows as an OLTP application does. Therefore, many of the performance issues (and related technical solutions) in the EDW are a direct result of this mismatch between the needs of the application for OLAP workloads and the OLTP design of the underlying databases.

For an EDW to operate with the complex data needed for advanced analytics, the data warehouse application has developed functionality that circumvents the basic limitation of the database and provides better performance. This structure is referred to as the Layered Scalable Architecture (LSA) model.

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Although the LSA model provides a foundation for developing data models, the  additional layers  of functionality that are  designed to work around   the limitations of relational databases cause performance issues as the amount of data increases. Specifically, these additional layers limit the flexibility of the system and place heavy workloads on the hardware. To combat this problem, SAP introduced the SAP BW Accelerator (BWA) in 2005. BWA is an in-memory appliance that can be added to the SAP BW system landscape to provide query acceleration and to offload some SAP BW functions to the appliance. Basically, an index of a slice of data from the BW system, such as a cube, is copied to BWA and stored in RAM. This function is very similar to the way that Google indexes websites.

Next, user queries are directed to the in- memory columnar index of the data, rather than to the physical data arranged in rows on physical disks in the BW system. SAP designed this shift to in- memory indexing for queries as a workaround to avoid the performance penalties that must be paid when users attempt to read large datasets of a disk-based database. SAP BWA provided an  in-memory,  columnar  system that allowed queries to operate up to 100 times faster than a disk-based system. This development was an important leap for many SAP  BW customers who were experiencing diffculties due to the limiting nature of the RDBMS. In many ways, the introduction of the BWA was the first real proof point for SAP that in-memory databases could provide the “magic bullet” to eliminate the horrible performance issues inherent in disk-based databases while simultaneously reducing the costs and complexity of the application that had to be built around these performance bottlenecks.

Evolving In-Memory Footprint in SAP NetWeaver BW

Figure 1: SAP BW and In-Memory Technology

This description of SAP BWA sounds very similar to SAP HANA. There is, however, one fundamental difference between the two systems; namely, BWA is a caching engine rather than a database. SAP HANA can now take the place of a traditional RDBMS and an SAP BWA appliance.


About Author

Ravindra Savaram is a Technical Lead at Mindmajix.com. His passion lies in writing articles on the most popular IT platforms including Machine learning, DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, RPA, Deep Learning, and so on. You can stay up to date on all these technologies by following him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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