SAP’s data warehouse, known as SAP Business Warehouse (BW), is available to run on the SAP HANA database. If you run your business on SAP, it’s important to understand the differences between SAP Business Warehouse and SAP BW on HANA. Like so many evolutions of the SAP suite, changes are incremental. There’s no need for panic or a rush to change things. However, the new HANA-ready BW offerings provide a number of business advantages.
What is a Data Warehouse?
While SAP calls its product a “Business Warehouse,” this type of product is known to the IT industry at large as a Data Warehouse (DW) or Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW). A DW is a data management system designed specifically to facilitate reporting and data analysis. It’s a centralized repository of corporate data from operational systems. The intent of the DW is twofold: It organizes and combines data from across the enterprise while eliminating the strain on production databases that may be created by analytics workloads.
What is SAP BW on HANA?
SAP originally released what it called the Business Information Warehouse (BIW) system in 1998. Later, the name became simply SAP BW. The product solved the problem of reporting on transactional data, which was difficult at the time due to limitations in hardware. You could run transactions or a report, but not both at the same time without a serious deprecation of database performance. SAP BW addressed this constraint by extracting data from operational systems at night and transforming it into an optimal format for analysis. Then, it would load the data onto a separate BW system, leaving the production database available for its regular work during the day.
With the advent of the SAP HANA in-memory database, it became possible to run SAP BW on SAP HANA. SAP BW can run on other databases, too. It works with Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2 and Oracle, among others. However, there’s more to it than just giving SAP BW users another database option. SAP BW has been optimized to run on SAP HANA and its in-memory architecture.
SAP BW on HANA offers a significant increase in business analytics performance due to the speed of the SAP HANA in-memory database. By running on ultra-fast solid-state memory, BW on HANA can, for example, generate reports in hours that might have taken days on a traditional Hard Disk Drive database. It can also query current data instead of older, archived reports.
Difference between SAP BW on HANA and SAP BW for HANA
What’s the difference between SAP BW on HANA and SAP BW for HANA, also referred to as BW/4HANA? They’re different applications, but they both run on the same underlying SAP HANA database. SAP BW on HANA is the legacy BW software, only now it runs on SAP HANA. BW/4HANA, in contrast, has been engineered to take advantage of the SAP HANA database’s power. Benefits of SAP BW/4HANA include:
- Improved integration, e.g. with SAP Data Hub, SAP Analytics Cloud and other analytics solutions—enabling wider use of data for business intelligence across multiple workloads and hosting scenarios.
- Replacement of the legacy SAP GUI Admin Workbench with the more modern SAP BW/4HANA Web Cockpit. Frontend users get a UX built with SAP Fiori for enhanced productivity.
- Simplified admin and data modeling, with the ability to accelerate change requests and time to implement.
- Ability to adopt new features upon release.
Do I Need S/4HANA to Migrate BW?
We get asked this question often. There’s a perception that you have to move everything in your SAP landscape to SAP HANA once you adopt the database. This is not the case. You do not have to migrate ECC and SAP BW to HANA simultaneously. There is not a dependency that requires S/4HANA to run SAP BW on HANA.
In fact, it might make sense to move BW first. This gives you experience on SAP HANA without affecting your production instance of Business Suite. You can then move to S/4HANA when you’re ready. At the same time, you might find benefits from moving to S/4HANA and BW to SAP HANA together. This speeds up your SAP HANA adoption schedule. It also saves you the hassle of two separate upgrade projects, helping to minimize both costs and business disruptions.
Working with an Experience Partner for SAP BW on HANA
External expertise can be quite helpful in deciding how to approach moving BW to SAP HANA and when to make the move to BW/4HANA. Many factors come into play, including how to handle issues affecting operational and BI workloads during the migration as well as hosting strategy. Moving to the cloud is, or should be, part of the thought process here.
We can help you think through the best options for your distinct business circumstances. We have the experience to get you to effective use of SAP Business Intelligence tools and overall success with data analytics. Our system consultation helps assess your business requirements, ensuring that your final solution will meet your business needs.