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Author's profile photo Irfan Khan

Modernizing the Data Warehouse to Make Business Faster, Simpler, Smarter

In the software industry, innovations come in waves

If you’ve watched SAP over the past ten years you can spot the advances. First came the introduction of SAP HANA, our world class in-memory database platform. Then came SAP Business Warehouse (BW) on HANA, which placed our BW product–where the most valuable data from our SAP Business Suite is stored–on top of HANA, essentially providing speed and efficiency. This was followed by SAP Business Suite on HANA, which enabled enterprises to run their core business operations more efficiently. Most recently we unveiled SAP S/4HANA, our next-generation Business Suite characterized by simplification, increased efficiency, and features such as planning and simulation for many conventional transactions.

Most recently, I’m extremely proud of our next wave of innovation – Business Warehouse for HANA, or SAP BW/4HANA. BW/4 HANA is a new product for the next generation of real-time data warehousing. Given that we already have BW on HANA, you may wonder, how is BW/4HANA different? It’s faster, it’s more efficient, and it’s better. It’s that simple. Then again, as they say, the devil is in the details!


As I mentioned earlier, prior to the launch of BW/4HANA we offered SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA. So how does BW/4HANA change the landscape? First and foremost, the most noticeable difference is that we architected BW/4HANA specifically for the capabilities and optimization inside the HANA database, by simplifying the data structures.  From an administrative point of view, there is a dramatically smaller footprint in BW/4HANA. We’ve actually raised the water level of HANA into BW, where the data structures themselves are designed in SAP HANA Studio. To be clear, this means you’re not using an SAP GUI, you’re using HANA. You simply use the HANA Studio to manage BW and access BW models. With BW models available inside of HANA, users can exploit the data stored in BW in myriad ways, using the powerful capabilities of HANA.

Secondly, there is less data redundancy in BW/4HANA and it is no longer necessary to make multiple copies of the information. This is due to the fact that the algorithms which existed in BW have been pushed down into HANA. Pushing complex and powerful algorithms down into HANA makes tasks such as billing analysis a trivial activity. Why would we do this? Simply put: all of the business logic that runs in BW is now running inside of HANA, which dramatically improves performance. The result is currency conversion formulas and transformations on detail-level data accelerated by factors of 10x.

 We also added HANA-specific libraries for BW to deliver new capabilities, including predictive, text analysis, data mining, and machine learning. At the same time, we’re leveraging everything that customers have already done with BW. For example, BW models previously built by customers are now exposed as HANA views. Why does this matter? Because HANA can look at the BW models as tables or views within a HANA database. This is incredibly powerful as we can pull all of the BW content into a broader HANA universe – SAP data, non-SAP data, and beyond.

 Modernizing the User Experience

As with all of our innovations, we prioritized user experience when developing BW/4HANA – delivering a user-centric, visually simplified interface to improve the productivity of users, designers, and administrators. Users can leverage the HANA cockpit to administer BW and can use tools including SAP BusinessObjects Cloud to access BW. The result is an entirely transformed BW experience that is simplified and accelerated, with new code and features that will change the way our customers work in a digital environment.

 Accelerating Open Data Warehouse Development

In BW/4HANA we have opened up BW data models for SQL developers, with no specialized skills required. We recognize that scale-out for BW and HANA has been a big need for our customers and we now have customers executing massive, 50 terabyte plus scale-out implementations, which is a major new breakthrough for these users.

 Sophisticated Data Lifecycle Management

BW/4 HANA allows automatic distribution of data to hot and warm storage areas, lowering the total cost of ownership and optimizing data management. With BW/4HANA, customers can distribute data by age and data values automatically.

Built for the Cloud

BW/4HANA was specifically built for the Cloud. One of our long-term partners, Amazon Web Services, has invested heavily to make their platform scale out and up so that it can run BW/4HANA in the Cloud. By simply using the Amazon X1 platform, users can have much larger, addressable memory servers that are all virtualized in the Cloud. With Amazon Web Services, users get an incredibly powerful server that can be provisioned in minutes with BW/4HANA and SAP BusinessObjects installed on top of it.  BW/4HANA is also being released on our private managed cloud – HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) – with additional cloud support to follow. You can find more information for HEC here.

Who’s going to use SAP BW/4HANA?

Sometimes waves of innovation build over time, leveraging the discoveries and innovation from prior innovations that have run their course. But BW/4HANA is different – this is a new, revolutionary product that can be beneficial for anyone, whether they are running SAP HANA systems or not. If a company that is a BW on HANA user, adapts BW/4HANA, they will see a significant list of capabilities, as well as new features and functions that weren’t previously available. By upgrading, customers who have BW will see substantial improvements to their performance, simplicity, reduction in code, and removal of complex modeling. The list is almost too long to cover. BW/4HANA is also a significant advancement from an administrative standpoint and it brings a modern UI, not just to the user, with technologies like SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, Design Studio and Lumira, but also to the system administrator with mobile enabled applications.

I hope I’ve shed some light on the significance of this new product and imparted my excitement about what it will do for customers. Don’t miss SAP’s latest innovation wave – this is a big one!


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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Please shed more light on the new info object concept in the product. What are the advantages? How good is the data provisioning stack vis-a-vis existing suite?

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      HI Irfan,

      We have bought BW4hana licenses now, the hardware side procurement is still going on , currently we have all the modules developed and delivered in SAP BW 7.4 SP 6 not on hana database .Please let me know the proceedure for migration in this case scenario or do we have to implement all from scratch? if yes are there business content available for how many areas?