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Understanding BPC Terminology in a NetWeaver World

For all of you NetWeaver Consultants out there that focus on SEM-BPS, BI-IP or any other SAP Business Planning Solutions and are thinking of moving into the world of BPC, there is a whole new set of terminology out there which may or may not be familiar to you.

The objective of this blog is to help all of those folks out there like myself that have an SAP NetWeaver Pedigree and want a starting point to begin learning and understanding SAP’s new Business Planning and Consolidations application (formerly OutlookSoft). Remember that Business Planning and Consolidations is based on the Microsoft Platform and the newest release BPC 5.1 is based on Microsoft SQL Server 2005.


Since SAP BW 1.2A we have been supporting something known as MDX, or MultiDimensional eXpressions. MDX is a querying language similar to SQL that is used to query MultiDimensional data objects or InfoCubes in our case. MDX a standard now that was developed by Microsoft has a different structure than what we are used to in NetWeaver BI, however this diagram below (from was created awhile back to help us correlate Microsoft objects with SAP objects (see figure 1.1).


Figure 1.1 – Mapping Metadata with Microsoft

This diagram is a good starting point to understanding some of the same terms used and leveraged within SAP BPC and how they correlate to NetWeaver. I really liked this diagram and how it illustrates side by side the terminology of Microsoft and the terminology of SAP so I went ahead and built some new diagrams that attempt to do something similar.

Below are a series of diagrams which draw dotted lines between SAP BPC 5.1 objects and SAP BI objects. These correlations are my own and have helped me understand quickly SAP BPC and the environment in which it runs.


Figure 1.2 – Mapping the Tools and Services within the Platforms

From within SQL Server 2005’s toolset, SQL Server Management Studio can be installed as a workstation component. This tool can be used to view existing Databases, their corresponding tables, views stored procedures etc. From within the ABAP Data Dictionary you can similarly view all of the tables, views and structures available within your NetWeaver installation. Along with being able to view relational objects via the SQL Server Management Studio if you connect to an instance of Analysis Services (Microsoft’s OLAP Engine) you can browse your cubes and see their corresponding dimensions very much like you can from the Administrator or Data Warehousing Workbench (tx RSA1) within NetWeaver.

As of SQL Server 2005 a new tool has been incorporated into their suite called SQL Server Integration Services or SSIS. SSIS is the second generation of what was called DTS or Data Transformation Services. SSIS allows a user to build a data flow using logic to determine a pathway of data based on different levers which can be pulled during the transformation process. Essentially, SSIS is used to load data into SQL Server data objects; tables, cubes, and master data.

SSAS, or SQL Server Analysis Services is Microsoft’s OLAP Engine (MOLAP based). IIS or Internet Information Services is Microsoft’s Web Server. As of SAP BW 3.0 every single SAP BI instance comes with a web application server built in.

At a very high level this begins to draw some correlations for those that have always lived in the NetWeaver world.

Let’s drill in a little bit to the “guts” of what we know as an InfoCube.


Figure 1.3 – OLAP Cube Structure

The diagram above is very self explanatory and is not too different from what we saw in Figure 1.1. The main points that I want to highlight here is that:

  1. A Property is a display attribute but SAP BPC has a feature by which you can flag a property as inApp which is the same thing as a Navigational Attribute.
  2. A Hierarchy in SAP BPC is not the same thing as a BI Hierarchy. A BPC Hierarchy is technically an Attribute within the master data table of a Characteristic InfoObject.
  3. Time InfoObjects are treated as Characteristic InfoObjects inside of SAP BPC.

The last diagram I wanted to go through details the underlying tables which make up an InfoCube.


Figure 1.4 – Tables that make up Cubes

Dimension Tables within NetWeaver correlate pretty much 1:1 with Dimensions added to a cube in SAP BPC. Be careful here because a lot of people use the word dimension very liberally and at times this can be a little bit confusing when you are trying to determine whether they are referring to a Characteristic InfoObject or a Dimension Table.

Within BPC there are three partitions which make up what we would think of as fact tables.

  1. Fact Table – This table corresponds to the F-Table in SAP NetWeaver
  2. Write Back Table – This table correlates functionally to an open request in a SAP NetWeaver InfoCube. When data is written from a planning application in SAP BPC this information is written directly to a separate table. Within NetWeaver this write back is performed by separating data in the F-table by a request ID and writing data directly to the most recent request in the cube that is open.
  3. Fact 2 Table – This table acts as kind of an E-Table. When performance starts to drag in SAP BPC you can “Optimize” your Application (this is an Analysis Services Cube and a heap of contextual metadata) which will move your data from the Write Back Table (this is a ROLAP partition) into the Fact 2 Table (a MOLAP partition). This is done specifically to improve performance


Hopefully these “dotted lines” will help clarify some of the confusion with terminology for the savvy NetWeaver BI folks out there that are getting up to speed on SAP BPC. Shortly I will blog about the BPC Admin Console and explain in NetWeaver Speak what the different objects are and how they relate to one another.


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  • Hi Scott

    This is awesome content and am sure all our community visitors are going to be greatly benefitted with this. Looking forward to your blog on the admin console

    Muthu Ranganathan

  • In your diagram called “Tables that make up a Cube” and the text that follows it, you equate the Fact table with the F-table, and the Fact-2 table with the E-table. Is it not the other way around?

    Outlooksoft describe the WriteBack, Fact2 and Fact table as short, medium and long term storages respectively. Also, the Lite and Full Optimizations move information from WB to Fact2 and then to the Fact table. From this perspective it seems the Fact2 would be more like the F-table, and Fact more like the E-table.

  • Hello Scott,

    This blog is a great resource for all SAP BI-IP consultants and gives a good understanding of whats head.

    One thing I am finding it difficult to understand which probably would be clear once you have your blog for Admin Console. I have few questions regarding SAP BPC. Can you please shed some light?

    1) SAP BPC 5.0 (currently available) works only on SSAS Server and does not have work on BI Netweaver framework. Is this correct?
    2) Will SAP BPC 5.1(to be released in Q1 2008?) have integration with Netweaver framework? We are already in 7.0. So will BIA be leveraged with SAP BPC 5.1?
    3) Also will the planning functions (FOX, ABAP, BPS functions) be still applicable?


    • Danny,
      Answers to your questions

      1) SAP BPC 5.0 (currently available) works only on SSAS Server and does not have work on BI Netweaver framework. Is this correct?
      Yes you are correct. The BPC 7.0 version thats coming up in June 2008 will be in netweaver framework
      2) Will SAP BPC 5.1(to be released in Q1 2008?) have integration with Netweaver framework? We are already in 7.0. So will BIA be leveraged with SAP BPC 5.1?
      It is not 5.1 but BPC 7.0 that will be on netweaver. You will be able to leverage BIA

      3) Also will the planning functions (FOX, ABAP, BPS functions) be still applicable?
      No, Planning functions will not be available, But the same would be realized through the K2 logic that exists in BPC.

      Hope the above is helpful
      You could also post queries in our CPM forum to get additional responses

  • Hi,
    i really can’t touch how to customize BPC ? which language is supported in BPC customization?
    which framework i will write on?
  • Hi Scott

    Can you help please?

    We are planning to build a major planning application. With the recent acquisitions by SAP, things are a bit shaken up in SAP BI world. We are trying to figure out whether we should use BI IP or BPC to build the planning application.

    We are looking for the following things:

    Any previous Outlooksoft/BPC exp?
    Rsrces on BPC
    Integration between BI data model and BPC?
    Any study on Proof of concept related to BPC.

    Anything related to the above topics would surely help.

    mukund.umalkar at gmail dot com !

    • Hi Scott,

      Presently we are using BPC 5.1 Version and BI 7 Netweaver.We planned to get the data from BI(Transaction Data & master Data’s) as a flat file and need to upload it into BPC 5.1.
      We are building BI 7 flows based on BPC 5.1.
      Here Properties in BPC are Attributes in BI
      These are properties of Account Details in BPC 5.1
      Account Detail Code
      New Account Detail Code
      Long or Short Description
      Define Hierarchy
      Scaling option
      Detail Group
      Flow Type of Account
      Account Flow Code
      Input or not
      Subtables Origin
      Family or not

      in BI 0ACCT_TYPE we can take master Data for this  there is no attributes available.few inputs are not avialable in R/3
      Some of them are properties in Reporting(BI).So how we can provide these informationas as a  flat file to BPC.Since there is no standard data source available.Less enhancements are needed.

  • Hi Scott,
    Can you plesae let me know how to connect BPC 5.1 to BI 7.0?
    As BPC 5.1 is a stand alone system we cannot use RFC right?

    Thank you and much appreciated.

    • At present we are using SAP BI 7.0 and BPC 5.1.So integrationg is not possible with present Version BPC 5.1.
      How we can get the BI Data(Master Data,Fact table,Hierarchies) and load into BPC 5.1 Version.Does it supports getting data from info cube or Open hub services to flat file and load into BPC.
      Can anyone suggest me.