Since its inception in 2010 and general availability in 2011, there have been several support package updates to SAP HANA with respect to enhancing the feature set as well as providing support for various implementation options. The purpose of this blog is to briefly discuss the implementation and usage scenarios that have evolved over time for making the case for SAP HANA within Enterprise Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Frameworks. However, it should be noted that the intent here is not to go into detailed architectural designs or provide a preferred approach for any particular scenario, rather it is meant to advance a positive discourse to share the knowledge based on personal experience in SAP HANA projects. Further, it would be highly beneficial to develop an understanding as to which usage scenario is being heavily adopted in the industry, especially with respect to addressing challenges presented by Big Data. Lastly, the opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and subject to constructive debate and discussion.
Contemporary Implementation and Usage Scenarios for SAP HANA:
As shown in Figure 1 below, there are four high level usage scenarios where SAP HANA could be leveraged to enhance and improve existing capabilities of a corporate BI Framework (It should be noted however, that the Cloud based offerings such as Amazon Web Services is not being formally illustrated here).
Scenario 1 illustrates the most basic of SAP HANA options with respect to Real Time Analytics using SLT Server (SAP Landscape Transformation). This usage scenario primarily supports trigger based real time replication of data from SAP ECC. The limitations of SLT are that if complex transformations are required on source data before loading it into SAP HANA, then it may not be the best option and SAP Business Objects Data Services (BODS) may serve as a better alternative for transformation purposes. Once the data is loaded into SAP HANA, it could be consumed by various Business Objects (BOBJ) reporting tools to perform analytics on real time data.
Scenario 2 shows that non-SAP source systems could leverage the data integration and ETL capabilities of Business Objects Data Services (BODS) to extract, transform and load the source data into SAP HANA. As mentioned above, Business Objects Data Services allows for complex transformation (Pivot, Reverse Pivot etc.) In this scenario, SAP HANA is mostly functioning as a data mart to address a specific data set for a third party source system. The analytics performed by Business Objects (BOBJ) reporting tools in this case are near-real time but could help reveal interesting analytics about a particular subject or business segment. This also makes a good case for prototyping SAP HANA solution without making changes to an existing BI infrastructure.
In scenario 3, it is indicated that SAP HANA could be leveraged to improve the reporting performance using business content from SAP BW. If this sounds familiar to using BWA (Business Warehouse Accelerator) to improve SAP BW performance, then it probably is true in that the SAP HANA provides an alternative to BWA in this scenario. However, SAP HANA is much more than BWA because it is possible to do further data modeling in SAP HANA by creating Attribute, Analytical and Calculation views in SAP HANA studio while leveraging SAP BW Business Content data sources to perform analytics such as profitability analysis (CO-PA).
Scenario 4 depicts the usage option for SAP HANA as a native database for SAP BW. This is commonly known as the BW (running) on HANA. What this essentially means is to eventually move the Relational Database that is being used by SAP BW to SAP HANA. For this to happen, there has to be a two-step migration process that needs to be carefully undertaken; first upgrading SAP BW to version 7.3 and then migrating the underlying database system to SAP HANA. The details of these migration processes are outside the scope of this blog. It would be very interesting to know if there have been any statistics collected for this particular scenario of SAP HANA integration and usage in existing BI landscape.
Future Vision and Evolution of SAP HANA:
The journey for SAP HANA as an in-memory analytical database solution has only begun. SAP has provided guidance and vision for HANA as an integral part of Business Analytics portfolio. The evolution of SAP HANA is well underway and the companies are evaluating and adopting SAP HANA to meet the challenges of analyzing ever growing Big Data and the hidden trends these analytics could reveal. Over the course of next few years, the architecture and technical capabilities of SAP HANA may yet evolve further to meet the demands of high volumes of data but it would be worthwhile to keep an eye on which usage scenarios various industries are adopting which would ultimately shape both the future vision and evolution of SAP HANA.
As discussed in the beginning, this blog is an effort to help understand which usage scenarios for SAP HANA currently exist, how they attempt to resolve critical business analytics needs and how they fit into existing Enterprise Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Frameworks. The selection of a particular implementation option should therefore be carefully evaluated based on individual business needs. The readers are invited to share their experience and help develop an understanding within the community as to which of the above mentioned scenarios of the SAP HANA usage are currently being most widely adopted.
SAP Certified (ABAP/BW/BODI/HANA)