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Author's profile photo Peter AMOR

Five Factors for a Successful SAP HANA Implementation

The ability to manage “big data” in real time has revolutionized the way businesses analyze and manage performance. The revolution, though, lies in more than just quick data processing – instead, new database technology from SAP radically changes how and when businesses use the information they receive, regardless of its volume and complexity.

With SAP® NetWeaver® Business Warehouse (BW) running on SAP HANA, SAP has changed how organizations think about data management technologies, construct applications, and consume the results. Businesses that adopt new technology can sharpen their competitive edge by dramatically accelerating the speed of not only data queries but fundamental business processes.

You can benefit from this new database model in one of two ways:

  • Upgrade your existing installation to deploy SAP NetWeaver BW powered by SAP HANA, ending up with a single instance of SAP NetWeaver Data Warehouse
  • Install a new instance of SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3, running a parallel landscape

(To find out which implementation option is right for you, see this article by Tom Kurtz.)

Whatever option you choose, five major factors affect the success of your implementation:

1. Up-front assessment

Before you begin, it helps to understand the requirements and scope of a SAP HANA implementation. Assess your overall architecture, database platform, business applications, and current SAP NetWeaver BW footprint. You also need a clear understanding of the technical elements of your implementation. Do you need to upgrade to SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3? If so, which version will you be upgrading from – 7.x or 3.5? What about requirements such as authorization migration and Unicode migration?

Before SAP HANA, SAP BW consultants routinely followed a Layered, Scalable Architecture (LSA) methodology for building and structuring the business warehouse. The LSA methodology helped create a standardized approach that organized data by functional area, geography, and other key dimensions. With SAP HANA, the new LSA++ methodology takes advantage of in-memory capabilities to deliver simplified data models, increasing flexibility and optimizing enterprise performance management. Using LSA++, which is a fundamentally different approach to data modeling, requires careful upfront planning to optimize your SAP NetWeaver BW solution powered by SAP HANA.

Performing an upfront assessment will align the HANA platform with the strategic solution landscape. Accurate scoping and a clearly defined architecture and design will help you stay on schedule, meet financial budgets, and identify necessary skills and personnel.

2. Data quality and sizing

With a SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP HANA implementation, as with any data solution, the results are only as good as the data you start with. Take the time to analyze existing data, clearly define which data should be migrated, and specify the volume of data to be stored, and you’ll be more likely to accurately size the required HANA hardware – and limit unexpected changes during the implementation.

Also consider the data to be stored in the SAP HANA system. You must understand both the frequency of data loads and which elements and volumes need to be loaded. SAP BW Data Store Object (DSO) improvements provide significant data load performance benefits and directly take advantage of SAP HANA’s column-based data processing. However to ensure optimal performance and a robust and scalable solution, you’ll want to clearly architect the data elements and points of integration.

Data management must be an ongoing consideration, and your final data optimization exercise should be performed after migration. To take full advantage of SAP HANA in-memory capabilities, deploy SAP HANA as the database for the SAP NetWeaver BW instance following the principles for LSA++.

3. Related project components

An SAP NetWeaver BW on HANA migration is likely to interact with a number of other systems and applications; consider how the interplay among them will affect the project. For example, SAP BusinessObjects™ Business Intelligence (BI) solutions are often used for SAP HANA solution output. Ensure best practices for business intelligence implementation, and ask the project team to consider data output formats.

Also consider how data gets into SAP HANA. It may seem straightforward to load SAP ERP data into SAP HANA, but what about the ETL approach for data from non-SAP sources? Mismanaged data can lead to project escalations and delays.

Increasingly SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP HANA projects are not just for reporting and analytics purposes. SAP solutions are also taking advantage of SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP HANA as a platform. For example, SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC), SAP Business Warehouse Integrated Planning (BW-IP), and SAP Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM) products all have the capability to take direct advantage of SAP HANA in-memory and high performance capabilities. If your project contains one of these solutions, you should ensure it includes the specific, related SAP HANA functionality.

4. Project management

There is no single timeline for an SAP HANA project. Each project is different; each has distinctive contributing factors, characteristics, and objectives. Use a standard project methodology, such as the SAP ASAP implementation methodology, to ensure that a project addresses all critical activities, phases, and deliverables necessary for success. The SAP ASAP methodology has been updated to incorporate SAP HANA activities required for a standard in-memory project. Accelerators, best practices, and implementation tools have also been updated or developed to shorten project timelines and reduce risk. Methodology, timelines, and key activities will vary based on your technical landscape, expectations for in-memory functionality, and use case.

Of course, with complex SAP HANA projects the need for robust project management only increases. Strong project management can provide visibility while ensuring the best possible outcome for each project.

5. Skills and experience

SAP HANA is a new technology – the success of any implementation depends in large part on your ability to find experts with needed skills. Critical resources will also vary depending on how you leverage the SAP HANA in-memory solution and the use case you choose.

Consultants at SAP Services HANA Center of Excellence (COE) have in-depth skills and knowledge that come from having performed a multitude of complex implementations. Based on extensive experience with numerous successful SAP NetWeaver BW on HANA implementations, the SAP Services HANA COE can advise you of the best approach and alert you to common pitfalls. With a large pool of certified talent, SAP Services HANA COE can help ensure the success of your SAP HANA implementation while speeding timelines and managing the return on investment.

Learn More

Let SAP HANA Services help you optimize your SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP HANA implementation. We can help with assessment, data sizing, and quality issues; solution considerations; project management; and more. Whether you need initial advisory design or a complete implementation, SAP’s expert planning and installation services can help you streamline and accelerate your migration plan for maximum benefit.

To learn more about how SAP can help you deliver maximum business benefits, go to

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