I am Sasi Kathirasen Mani, a Senior Consultant – HANA/BI with SAP Australia for the last 7 years. Over the past 12 years I have worked for a minimum of 25 different clients across North America, Australia, New Zealand, India and Singapore and gained a wealth of experience in Business Analysis, Business Intelligence, Datawarehouse and HANA. I have high-level HANA/BI architecture, design, and development experience, as well as Datawarehouse design experience. I have BI/HANA experience in several industries including Utilities, Finance, Retail, Technology, Manufacturing, Government and Hospitality. My strength is analytical approach to situations and functional knowledge backed by hands on development experience in HANA & BI.
Recently, I helped implement SAP HANA for a utilities company based out of Australia. This utilities customer collects humongous amount of data on a daily basis, but the quality and accessibility issues were hampering their ability to turn that data into actionable insights to support vital business decisions across their business areas. A Program was set-up to introduce new tools (SAP BI 4.0 Suite, SAP Data Services 4.0) and database (SAP HANA) to lay the foundation for various business areas to confidently and quickly access accurate and quality data to enable the customer to work smarter and improve business outcomes.
SAP HANA based agile data mart and SAP BI based reporting solution was implemented in 15 sprints spanning across 20 months. The project was no exception and had its own challenges. The challenges were overcome in a timely manner with the help SAP Services, Australia.
What challenges did the customer have to overcome?
- Massive volumes (Billion+ rows) of history data had to be validated, cleansed, transformed and loaded from flat file
- Millions of rows of incremental data had to be loaded within the batch window and on a real time basis
- AS AT (Snapshot) analysis of the data at different levels being a key requirement
- Different security requirements for numerous outbound interfaces and 1000’s of users with different security profiles
- 100’s of stored procedures and functions in Oracle had to re-written in SAP HANA along with enhancements and several other new requirements that were not possible in their legacy system
- Highly complex system landscape for SAP HANA, SAP BI & SAP DS (50+ Servers) leading to environmental inconsistency issues
- Cutting edge technology resulting in steep learning curve with more than 50 developers and testers (onsite and offshore)
- Product issues that comes with new technology and when the customer is an early adopter
How did SAP Services help customer tackle these situations?
- SAP team helped design the jobs in such a way that all the validations, transformations and cleansing logics were pushed down to the HANA database. HANA analytic capabilities were leveraged to process the high volume of data in the fastest time possible. SAP Data Services Job design ensured that the data flows were executed in parallel where possible. The strategy of divide and conquer was used in different ways and means to achieve higher performance
- Data model designs leveraged the native history capabilities in HANA to address the AS AT requirements and the requirements of slowly changing dimensions
- A sophisticated and highly flexible security model and framework that fulfilled the current and future requirements was designed and implemented. The security design ensured seamless integration with different tools using Active Directory integration.
- SAP services team were spontaneous in providing effective alternate solutions to overcome any product issues that cropped up during the project and ensured that there was either no delay or very minimal delay to the project
- SAP team provided several trainings and created best practice documents to bring the developers and testers up to speed with the cutting edge technology
- Best practice life cycle management and stringent process were put in place to avoid inconsistencies in the 7 tier landscape of various SAP Products
- The HANA database was explored in all fronts to address the different business requirements. All most all of the HANA artefacts were used in the implementation with the assistance of the SAP Services team
How does the customer feel now?
Having been through the entire journey of 15 sprints of implementing an agile data mart using SAP HANA, I must admit that it was tiring and rocky at times. But, the outcome for the customer is overwhelming and this is not an exaggeration. The customer benefits are endless – data available in near real time, the queries are processed at a phenomenal speed, the business is not IT dependent anymore with the self service capabilities, minimal training, reduced administration, superior reporting and decision making. What more can a SAP Consultant expect than a highly satisfied customer.
“With SAP HANA, the customer is not in reactive mode anymore”