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The Infrastructure/Architecture that supports SAP BW

This document is something, that’s not more on the technical side of sap BW, but it talks about the essential infrastructure and the architecture that’s required to setup a complex SAP BW system.  The architecture for a business warehouse or application is driven by a business. There is a lot of thought process involved in making the business decisions on what software/hardware to be installed to support any application or a business warehouse.

The following infrastructure entities need to be identified before the actual installation of SAP BW Product.

  1. Operating System (Servers)
  2. Storage
  3. Database

The above 3 are the major entities, but there are other different components, that we need to identify like…

Middleware – ODBC, OLE, OLE DB, DCE, ORBs, and JDBC.

Data base connectivity – ODBC, JDBC, OLE DB, and others.

Data management – ANSI SQL and FTP.

Network access – DCE, DNS, and LDAP.

For now, we will focus on the 3 major entities (server, storage, and database) which majorly contribute to the business warehouse Infrastructure framework or architecture.

What is a Server  ??

Server provides an environment where applications can run, no matter what the applications are or what they do, It is dedicated to the efficient execution of procedures (programs, routines, scripts) for supporting the construction of applications. A Server is like PC, with the components processor, RAM, hard disk etc. Depending on the complexity of the architecture or business need, We can either have the Storage, Database and SAP BW on a single server, but this is not supported in a real scenario. In any ideal scenario, there will be a dedicated server’s like, application server for hosting the SAP BW, Database server for database  and storage server for Storage.

Based on some of the following criteria’s a server is determined.

  1. Reliability and Scalability
  2. Performance, Security, Transaction supports.
  3. Flexibility

The popular Servers that are currently available in market are Aix, Unix, Solaris, Linux, Zos, Windows etc.

What is a Storage ???

As the Business Warehouse data increases, the server farm continues to grow until it reaches a capacity whereby it is no longer feasible to store data in each server’s local hard disk. The more efficient method is to set up a SAN (Storage Area Network) and relocate all data into it.

SAN is basically a collection of storage disks which run on its own network to ensure super fast transmission speeds. To ensure fast response times when sending and receiving data, the SAN runs on its own set of protocols and is connected via fiber channels for maximum bandwidth.

Since the SAN (Storage Area Network) is one giant storage box comprising many pieces of hard disks, it requires its own management system to handle its operations. No one server controls the SAN as its disks are allocated to all servers. Via a central console, the SAN administrator switches from disk to disk as though moving around all servers’ storage disk.

Based on the some of the  following criteria a Storage device is determined.

  1. Data capacity, Reliability and Scalability
  2. Archiving
  3. Performance/Speed
  4. OS compatibility
  5. Cost

The popular storage System Vendors are EMC, NetApp, IBM, Hitachi and HP etc..

What is a Database ???

Database is an application that manages data and allows fast storage and retrieval of data. There are different types of databases like Network, hierachical, relational etc. The most popular and efficient is Relational Database Management System.

Based on the following criteria a Database is determined.

  1. Data Capacity
  2. performance, scalability, high availability

d  Security.

  1. Flexibility
  2. Cost
  3. Disaster recover/ backup and restore stratergies.

The popular  Databases Vendors are Oracle , DB2, SQL Server.

All the 3 entities Servers, Storage ,Database are chosen based on their cost,compatibility,security, scalability,performance,parallelism , with each other in terms of how the work requests flow from one server to the other.

The following are some of the combinations chosen by most of the vendors/customers to establish a efficient infrastructure running.

  1. Sunsolaris, EMC2-storage, Oracle , SAP BW
  2. ZOS(z-series),IBM-storage,DB2 ZOS,SAP BW
  3. Aix, IBM-Storage,Db2 LUW, SAP BW
  4. Windows, EMC/NetApp,, sql server, SAP BW.

Please note, from a business perspective or licensing perspective this combination may change accordingly, for example a small business warehouse with 1 terabyte can go with the combination of (Windows, netapps, sql server, SAP BW.).

A banking sector or a large retail business warehouse with 100’s of terabyte can go with the combination of (ZOS,IBM,DB2 ZOS,SAP BW)..

Let’s consider a business warehouse, where we want to develop a Business Warehouse architecture for the following business scenario:

Nightly updates –  batch runs.

Worldwide availability – parallel or distributed servers.

Customer-level analysis – [large] server size.

New data sources – flexible tools with support for meta data.

Reliability – job control features.

We divide the Entire Business Warehouse Architecture into Data Architecture, Infrastructure Architecture and Technical Architecture.

Data Architecture – This is completely driven by business processes. A entity relationship/data model /dimension model is established, for example in a manufacturing environment the data model might include orders, shipping, and billing.

Technical Architecture – This can also be part of a data architecture, focus on the interfaces, Security, how to handle the data from different sources, gives a picture on some of the below entities.

Middleware – ODBC, OLE, OLE DB, DCE, ORBs, and JDBC.

Data base connectivity – ODBC, JDBC, OLE DB, and others.

Infrastructure Architecture – Defines the flow diagram/structure for all the entities that support the business warehouse.

  1. i.e., Application Server, Database Server and Storage Server, Below is a sample Architecture.

As this is an overview, I will not go further into detail of the Architecture design, below is one of the logical and functional architecture designed for a typical business warehouse.

Logical Architecture :


Functional Architecture


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