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Why #BW4HANA ?

Benissa-2016-08With the recent announcement of BW/4HANA some questions arise on the motivation for a new product rather than evolving an existing one, namely BW-on-HANA. With this blog, we want to shed some light into the discussions we have had and why we think that this is the best way forward. Here are the fundamental 3 reasons:

1. Classic DBs vs HANA Platform

Nowadays, HANA has become much more than a pure, classic RDBMS that offers standard SQL processing on a new (in-memory) architecture. There is a number of specialized engines and libraries that allow to bring all sorts of processing capabilities close to where the data sits rather than the data to a processing layer such as SAP’s classic application server. Predictive, geo-spatial, time-series, planning, statistical and other engines and libraries are all combined with SQL but go well beyond the traditional Open SQL scope that has been prevalent in SAP applications for almost 3 decades. Please recall that Open SQL constitutes the (least) common denominator between the classic RDBMS that have been supported in SAP applications. Long time ago, BW has broken with that approach a bit by introducing RDBMS specific classes and function groups that allowed to leverage specific SQL and optimizer capabilities of the underlying RDBMS. Still, the mandate has to be pushing BW’s data processing more and more to where the data sits. Accommodating a “common denominator” notion (i.e. complying with “standard-ish SQL”) impedes innovation at times as it stops adopting highly DW relevant and effective capabilities from HANA.

2. Legacy Objects / Backward Compatibility

BW has been originally architected around the properties and the cost models imposed by the classic RDBMS. Over the past decade, cautious re-architecting has allowed to continuously innovate BW and to safeguard the investments of the BW customers. There has been a strong emphasis on keeping newer versions of BW as compatible with past versions as possible. Similar to sticking to “standard-ish SQL” this impedes innovation in some areas. BW/4HANA breaks with this strict notion of backward compatibility and replaces it with tooling for conversions that might require user interaction here and there, thus some effort. However, this allows for removing some legacy not only inside a software product but also in existing DW instances that move from BW to BW/4HANA.

Now, with some “baggage” removed it has become easier to focus on new, innovative things without being squeezed into considerations about backward compatibility in order to keep older scenarios going that you would build differently (e.g. with BW/4HANA’s new object types) nowadays. So and in that sense, BW/4HANA is a much better breeding ground for innovations than BW-on-HANA can ever be. This is not because BW-on-HANA is a bad product but because it comes with a guarantee of supporting older stuff too which BW/4HANA does not.

3. Guidance

Finally, and that is basically the result of 1. and 2., many of our partners and customers have asked us for guidance about which of the many options BW provides they should use for their implementation. Some of those options are there simply because they got introduced some time ago but would be actually obsolete within a new product. So, SAP has decided to reduce the complexity of choices and created a product, namely BW/4HANA, that offers only those building blocks that customers and partners should use now and in the future. The product has become simple and that will translate into simplified DW architectures.

I hope this blog helps you to understand why SAP has moved from BW to BW/4HANA. In simple terms, it’s similar to choosing between renovating and rearchtecting your existing house or building and moving to a new house with the latter fitting your furniture and all the other stuff that you cherish. We all hope that you will feel comfortable in the new home.


This blog has also been published here. You can follow me on Twitter via @tfxz.


PS: More details are revealed on Sep 7’s SAP and Amazon Web Services Special Event.


PPS: In this 4 min video, Lothar Henkes and myself describe the motivation and plans for BW/4HANA. It was recorded at the BW/4HANA launch event in San Francisco on 7 Sep 2016.

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  • Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for updates on SAP BW 4 / HANA. There are few questions that are coming up in my mind.

    1. If a customer wants to upgrade from, suppose SAP BW 7.3 on any DB, what would be the suggested migration steps? Would it be - SAP BW 7.3 on any DB to SAP BW 7.3 on HANA then to SAP BW/4 HANA? Or is there any minimum support pack from which only we can upmove to SAP BW/4 HANA?

    2. What about the SAP BEx, how does life of BEx looks in future?

    3. What are the major differences we see between SAP BW 7.5 Edition for HANA and SAP BW/4 HANA.



    • Shubam:

      1. 7.4 architecturally is way different that 7.3. 7.4 should be your target from there, your company can decide to go either way BW/4Hana or just BW powered by hana.

      2. Bex is not expiring anytime soon.

      3. The system is for running on Hana DB only. It is more simple to run and real time reporting, no ETL



      • Hi Paul

        I am mit getting your Point 3.

        edition for HANA is only HANA DB ,, so what so you mean?

        And does anyone know the difference between 7.5 and BW/4 Hana?

        • Ralf:

          Some differences are as follows:

          • 7.5 has an ETL process - BW4/Han - No ETL process only views
          • 7.5 has not got Transactions - BW4/Hana has virtual data models sitting on database layer (physical tables)
          • 7.5 is limited for operational reporting - BW4/Hana is for operational reporting

          I hope this clarifies your questions.

    • Hi Shubham,

      ad 1.: Here is a short version on how to get to BW/4HANA. You might want to look at Marc Bernard's blog "The Road to SAP BW/4HANA – Part 1", too.

      ad 2.: No, BEX is not supported anymore. BW/4HANA means #BEXIT, as some people name it 🙂

      ad 3.: Today (comparing BW 7.5 SP4 and BW/4HANA 1.0 SP0), the biggest difference is the data flow modeler. However, the biggest difference is the roadmap and the underlying foundation that has been created with BW/4HANA. A huge topic will be the integration of an RDBMS-based DW - like BW/4HANA - into a big data landscape with Hadoop, Spark, VORA etc.

      I hope this helps.


  • hi Thomas

    thanks for the news for BW4HANA and especially the FAQ which provides answers to most questions already!

    As far as I understood the new product "BW4HANA" and the decoupling from NetWeaver means that there is also a new licence necessary. Will the licence include any HANA native modelling / mixed modelling approaches?

    Thanks and best regards


  • HI Thomas,

    I would like to understand the main differences between SAP BW/4HANA vs SAP BW 7.5 on HANA. As far as I read, I understand SAP BW/4HANA has more restricted features with respect modelling. Please suggest what is the driving reason for a customer who is already on SAP BW 7.5 on HANA to plan for SAP BW/4HANA