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SAP BW/BO data flow and separation between front end and back end with the help of a iceberg

When I was a absolute beginner in the SAP world a while ago, the relations between the Data from the operative source systems, the BW system and the various BI visualization tools was not so simple explainable for me.

The dataflow from the source systems over the SAP BW and the Query Design to the Data visualization was for me a long time a black box.

To make the start for beginners into the world of SAP BI easier and to show the relations other colleagues from SAP ERP modules (e.g. FI, CO, SD, HR, etc.) and decision makers as primary users of BI in a transparent and easy way, some time ago I have designed the following figure:


The aim of this figure is to simplified illustration of the data flow starting with the different possible source systems (e.g. ERP, CRM, 3rd party, XLS, etc.) over the data modelling and data management with respect to the LSA principles of Layered, Scalable Architecture (by Juergen Haupt as godfather) in the Data Warehouse (SAP Business Warehouse) and the Query creation in the BEx Query Designer to the data visualization with the tools of the SAP Business Explorer (SAP BEx) and BusinessObjects BI for SAP.

But above all, the picture is supposed to show the separation between BI front end and back end. The decision makers as the consumers of the reports always see only the tip of the iceberg where they use the frontend tools of BEx (Analyzer, Web Application Designer) and BO (SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio, SAP BusinessObjects Lumira, SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Microsoft Office, SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP, SAP Crystal Reports, SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards etc.).

The back end area begins (water surface) with the creation of BEx Queries. The Queries are based on the MultiProviders of the SAP BW system which bring data from different InfoCubes together. The data from the different source systems passing through the ETL-process (extraction, transformation, loading) and provided in a consolidated and adjusted form in the InfoCubes.

Ultimately, with the help of this figure should be underlined the „Extract once – deploy many“ principle of the Corporate Information Factory (CIF) Resources by Bill Inmon, Inmon Data Systems.

Note: As mentioned in the beginning, these form of the iceberg figure should make an easy overview of the SAP BW/BO dataflow and the separation between front end and back end. Further possibilities, such as BW on HANA or operational Reporting in the ERP system are not taken in this figure.

I hope this BI iceberg figure is useful for you and I looking forward to your opinions of this figure.

Best regards,


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    • Hi Martin,

      thanks for your comment to my blog post.

      I think for BI experts with several years of experience in BW/BO there is nothing new.


      But for newbies or decision makers as user of BI, it could help to explain the complete data flow from source systems -> bw data model -> semantic layer with BEx Queries and finally the tip of the iceberg, the data visualisation with BEx / BO Frontend tools with the help of one single .ppt slide.


  • Hi Michael,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge. See what a nice visualization can do, addressing all the aspects of data logistics and presentation.

    In my opinion it's not only useful for people who are starting with SAP BW and/or SAP BusinessObjects. It's also necessary to show to the Business Users the whole story behind presenting the right and trustworthy information using any BI front-end application. Moreover, it can also be useful for various IT stakeholders (e.g. your ERP or CRM colleagues, project manager).

    As we all know, the solution architecture options did not become more simple. Therefore you have to simplify and abstract as you have done for the classic Architected DataMart scenario using SAP BW founded on LSA/EDW principles.

    The visualization does not cover completely the Operational Analytics' scenarios using the source systems directly (possibly in conjunction with native HANA, with or without replication). Maybe a small enhancement (or a second visualization) is enough because you basically have to replace the Data Warehouse part with HANA modeling (e.g. analytical views, calculation views) or Operational Data Providers because here data is not staged in the classic way.

    I believe that SAP BW on HANA is implicitly covered since it does not conceptually change the Data Warehouse. The presentation still makes sense in this scenario.

    Best regards,