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BW on Hana in 2013, Are you ready for the “new normal”?

First things first – it is good to be back, blogging on SCN ! Thanks to SCN team for merging my accounts, and enabling me to start contributing again. Going forward, I will blog here more, along with my personal blog

As some of you might have heard, a couple of weeks ago – I joined SAP Labs. And I am working in a team that deals with customer engagements. Our intention is strictly to enable more customers to get value out of the innovations that come out of SAP.

My first area of focus is BW on HANA. Many of you know that I spent a significant part of my career in BW, BPS, IP, BOBJ , BPC etc. And one of my few regrets when Hana came out was that I was no longer a full time hands on techie to use it with these products for solving problems for my clients. Well, now that I work at SAP Labs – and am not “selling” any more, I guess I can make amends and do some hacking 🙂

Growing up with SAP technologies, I was already used to aggregates, long running process chains etc as part of a normal project. And as a consultant, my objective was always to bend technology to very close to its breaking point – so that customers did not have to do crazy compromises in their business process. And then came Hana – and I realized that the “new normal” was going to be rather different from “old normal”. And the pace at which Hana is progressing “new normal” is a hard concept – we will probably need to start talking in terms of differential calculus or something to keep up 🙂

Few days ago, Hasso and Vishal announced Suite on Hana. This brings up some interesting scenarios in how a customer’s SAP landscape will evolve. And I am just going to view this from a BW/BI person’s point of view. The day after Suite on Hana was announced, I had dinner with a CIO in San Jose, CA. He asked me this question “Now that Suite works on Hana, do I even need BW?” . And then in the next 3 days, I heard this question from several other people.

The short answer is “Yes, you do – for several more years at least”. However, Suite and BW will share some of what BW used to do alone till now. When Suite works on Hana, it can take some operational reporting needs that were solved till now in BW. This is a good thing – users will get more value, and IT will have a leaner BW system to maintain. If you are a BW customer or consultant, now would be a good time to decide on what should reside in BW and what should go to Suite. There are some DW specific things like consolidatoing data etc that should continue on BW. And nothing stops you from using Hana models exposed though BW. In short, you have plenty of choice.

BW has amazing business content – which for the most part has been under utilized by customers and consultants. With Hana cutting down on layers in BW – for example, cubes that were put in place simply for aggregational ease, or aggregates which were mini-cubes within cubes – BW will be a lot cleaner to maintain and enhance. A common complaint in BW shops is that any new report will take a lot of time for IT to turn around. This will not get solved by Hana becoming the database alone, but it should help a lot.

BW 7.3 already has a lot of cool features – for example, you can compare spreadsheet data with datawarehouse data on the fly without any remodelling. I am yet to see a finance user not getting excited when I have shown this to them. The real power of course is with Hana providing super fast number crunching in BW on top of the ability of users to merge data from spreadsheet.

Then there is mobility – the future of BI is definitely trending towards mobility. A big difficulty of doing powerful analytics using mobile devices is that if the source systems take a lot of time in delivering results, the user will generally get upset and stop using the solution. And in the past – when we solved it by pre-aggregation etc, we lost the ability to stay nimble and respond to changes in reporting requirements quickly. Now with Hana , this should be considerably easier with fewer compromises. Of course bandwidth could still be a villain in the mobility story.

Historically, BEx and customers had a love-hate relationship. This got a lot better since BOBJ products became the BI platform of choice. A few years have passed since SAP did the BOBJ acquisition – but my feeling is that there is still a lot of ground to cover for the BOBJ and BW communities in understanding each other. For customers who have BW, BOBJ and Hana – there are a lot of possibilities. And from recent blogs and tweets from several SAP mentors, I am fully aware that there are points of contention on semantic layers, licensing and many other topics. However, while those things get sorted out – we don’t have to sit around idle. BW , BOBJ and Hana all talk to each other – and integration can only get better with time. There are plenty of use cases that can be solved with where things stand today – and I hope that fact does not get drowned while other topics get discussed.

And then there is BPC and IP – I am partial to planning since some of the most interesting projects I have worked on have had big pieces of planning functionality. Performance is a big deal in planning – since it has always been a problem from business users to dive into more and more detail when it comes to planning. It is not just the amount of detail – it is also the ability of doing more and more changes to a plan to adapt to an ever changing market. With Hana sitting under BW, planning gets a boost. And more good things are in the works all the time .

Moving BW to Hana is not exactly rocket science at this point. Several customers are now using BW on HANA – so I would think the rest of the world would not even need POC projects, and can move directly with real projects. If you are not in 7.3 version of BW yet, you would need an upgrade. And then of course you need to migrate the database to Hana. Most migrations can be done over a weekend or so – with larger sized systems needing a little more time. You do need some HW for Hana , so remember to consider that as you are planning your project.

The actual technical migration is not a complex activity – and between SAP and partners, there are plenty of experts who can help with getting that done.  Of course you need to do some testing. One advantage of migration projects is that a lot can be verified by just doing the same process in old system and new system, which is not very time consuming. Also, if you diligently check statistics of usage – you can probably narrow down the scope of testing significantly. And once you have migrated – you can of course do design optimizations at your own pace to make use of Hana. If you need help – SCN is an awesome resource for you to get your questions answered.

I am very excited to get started with the “new normal” for BW in 2013, are you? Let me know if I can be of assistance in any way.

I am especially keen to see what roadblocks you see in the way of more customers using BW on HANA. I don’t know if I can solve it for you every time, but trust me I will do everything to get rid of those roadblocks wherever possible.

And did I say I am super excited to be back on SCN? 🙂

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  • Hi Vijay,

    Welcome back to SCN! 🙂

    I really enjoyed this great blog and seeing the perspective from someone who has got their hands dirty a lot with BW. I’ve read in a few places about the impact SAPonHANA could have on BW and whether there is still a need. I definitely think you’ve answered that question!

    I’m looking forward to your next blog on SCN!

    Best regards,


  • Vijay,

    Two things;

    1. report writer/painter

    2. weekend changeover into HANA

    while the first can easily be tossed aside for accountants with direct table query access from HANA the second may be an uphill battle with the current database admins, especially those trained in the existing footprint.

    today, maintenance widows do take weekends to complete (os patches, database patches, security patches, etc.). how can we convince those admins that starting on Monday we are running in a new landscape and the detailed knowledge they have gathered over the years is no longer needed?

    in welcoming back to SCN and wishing the continued and happy wordpress printing

    i’m enclosing my best regards,


    • Thanks Greg

      1. report painter/writer : Sure a lot of customers have investments in this. As suite works on Hana – this should get a boost, or you can rewrite.

      2. Education and talking to other customers who have done it are key. DBAs have moved from Oracle to Microsoft etc in the past. Hana migration is a similar process. Also, with BW – it is perfectly viable to run the newly migrated system for some time in parallel with the old system to make sure IT and business are comfortable. It is not easy convert DBAs over night – but given SAP’s commitment to Hana and the value it brings to them, I do think a lot of the DBA community will start embracing Hana.



      • Engagement from SIs without the skillset for HANA or the same vision as SAP will be stumbling block for SAP’s vision of customers embracing Suite on HANA. I can imagine some consultancies wanting to continue selling their existing DBA services for Oracle/SQL/insert DB specialist skill here…

        • I agree – it is important to make sure SI partners are aligned with SAP’s vision. That is a pre-requisite for scaling Hana adoption in my opinion.

  • Great job Vijay, as aways.

    As you highlighted, very exciting times indeed for all of us.

    BW on HANA is simply groundbreaking. Business suite on HANA though is then…. …. well … most don’t even get it yet… a paradigm shift that will make what we do today, very different in the future. But, a far future to be realistic.

    Welcome to the “dark” side! Looking forward to hearing more of your insights.


      • Yes, indeed. For us partners too. Thanks Hasso for your wild dream…  😉

        Serious now, I foresee a shortage of prepared resources on the business side. I will write a BLOG about it soon….(Hana is not about speed, it is about Business transformation…)


        • Yes, ESPECIALLY for partners. It is important for partners to start thinking of how to change business processes for the better using Hana.

          • Yes, a lot will be contributed by partners, but SAP needs to play a central role in it.

            Afterall, business innovations are primarily introduced by SAP in Enhancement packs.
            Also, without a central coordination/communication/promotion, lots will be lost in “translation”.

            It is the beginning of the chicken and egg paradigm. Customers will buy ERP on HANA when they see the value. The Value is largely understood, when you run on HANA…

            Sales and go-to-market efforts need to be orchestrated….


  • Hi Vijay,

    Welcome back to SCN, and thanks for another great blog post. Whilst I’ve been involved in the discussion about semantic layers and best way forward, I am excited by what 2013 will hold.  With HANA becoming foundational to the Business Suite and BW (and hopefully BOBJ soon too 😉 ) there is lots of new things to learn and understand. I’m making it my project this year to learn more about BW, especially as it seems to have become easier and less complex with operational reporting moving back to ERP.

    Thanks, Josh

    • Thanks Josh – you are absolutely right. It is the best time to get into BW, since you can readily model a lean and flexible DW based on Hana. Enjoy the ride, and keep us posted on your progress.

    • hi Josh, how far have you been able to explore and work on your project.. will you be able share you research.. that will be such a great help! pls let me know



      • Hi Manish,

        Thanks – I’ve done some internal BW training with some of our other consultants and enjoyed learning more about how it works. Of course projects have kept me busy, but I’m comfortable now explaining the basics of BW.


  • Hi VIjay,

    With Suite on HANA if BW (even with on HANA) is going to be redundant in the next 3-4 years, then are you suggesting the existing business road map should plan for real time reporting in ECC rather than in BW ? and implement it sooner rather than later?


    • Hi Venky

      I don’t think BW will be redundant with suite on Hana. Suite is not the only source of information that a company needs to report on. And even within SAP sources – you often need to merge information – like Sales orders in ECC with opportnities in CRM and so on. So I seriously doubt BW will be redundant.

      However, the second aspect you raise is important too – Suite on Hana is an amazing opportunity to take business processes to a more optimal level, where it makes sense. So definitely start on it at the earliest if your processes can make use of Hana. Also, as you said – it is also important to define your architecture principles on how you determine what reports stay in BW and what goes into suite. And as we go forward, SAP will provide more guidance on this as well.



  • Great blog! You hit the hot topics across Hana, BW, ERP and BOBJ.

    Surprisingly many customers seem to believe that there will be no more need for BW once  Business Suite on Hana is available. It’s good to remind that Data Warehouses still will be required in future.


  • Hi Vijay,

    always a pleasure to read your blogs. I would second your view that BW will not be redundant in any near future. I would even tend to think that it will evolve a lot more, especially when you consider all the third party data which might me merged as well into your analysis, not to mention big data. Those external resources in most cases have no real need to be mixed with the current realtime transactional data.

    I am very much looking forward to see more business examples as Leonardo Araujo  is mentioning. The speed of HANA is cool and exciting but the business scenarios that define if or if not there will be a real ROI will be the decision drivers. IMHO there is still a lot to do from all sides, SAP & the SI.

    We have just started to design the road, the trip will be a lot of fun! Good to know that you are on Board !!!

    • Hi Carsten,

      About the compilation of Business Cases of HANA, SAP actually provides a website for that.

      SAP HANA Use Cases

      But I believe we actually need:

      • Business Suite product focus
      • Visibility on SAP’s own published use cases (it may get lost in the middle of so many suggestions)
      • Some sort of priority by subject.