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The Road to SAP BW/4HANA – Part 3

(Updated January 2019)

It’s time to continue our story. Welcome back! In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we described the different paths for getting to SAP BW/4HANA and provided general recommendations as to what path makes the most sense for a give customer landscape. At those early days of SAP BW/4HANA, we had to leave out the details on the “how to actually get things done”. We have invested a lot of brain power, design sessions and development days and believe that we have come up with some pretty cool solutions helping all of our SAP BW customers to make their way to SAP BW/4HANA. This includes “followers” who haven’t touched their SAP BW system for many years running on old disk- and row-based databases.

In this blog, we will focus on the “System Conversion” path for single SAP BW system. Net new implementations and landscape transformations with several SAP BW systems will be covered in future blogs. Let’s dig into the details on how to convert your system to SAP BW/4HANA.

A Look Back

The major focus for building SAP BW/4HANA was simplification. Only 4 of the previous 10 object types use to model a data warehouse with SAP BW are available in SAP BW/4HANA. What do you do if you used some of the 6 obsolete object types, like InfoCubes? As a first solution, we provided a “data flow copy tool” that allows you to setup a second data flow but use only object types that are compatible with SAP BW/4HANA. In other words, it would use only Advanced DataStore Objects for persistency and CompositeProviders for the virtual layer to be queried. However, this tool had some shortfalls: All objects got new names and just empty shells were created. You still had to reload data yourself. Obviously, this could be only a temporary solution.

Next Steps

We have taken the transition process to a whole new level. If you have participated in the openSAP course “Modern Data Warehousing with SAP BW/4HANA”, you already heard about two new options for SAP BW customers. If not, I highly recommend spending a few hours to complete the informative course. The first option is the so called “In-place Conversion”, which is primarily targeted for customers with existing SAP BW powered by SAP HANA systems. The second option is the “Remote Conversion”, which appeals most to SAP BW customers running older releases or databases other than SAP HANA. Recently, we added a third option, the so called “Shell Conversion”. The following figure provides an overview and comparison of these options:

We understand the complexity of these scenarios and are taking a comprehensive approach to cover the transition processes end-to-end. To keep it as simple and straight forward for you as possible, In-place as well as Remote and Shell Conversions are based on the Task List Framework. This framework allows us to define and ship sequences of technical tasks that can then be executed in a customer system. We have used task lists in the past for SAP BW Housekeeping or Post Copy Automation, for example, quite successfully. The generic nature, great monitoring capabilities, and options for customization and customer specific extensions make it an excellent choice also for the system conversion processes.

Project Phases

To better understand the transition process, we defined a high-level plan and activities that we recommend following in this sequence. The steps are aligned with the SAP Active methodology. During the Discover and Prepare Phases, you check general system requirements, complete the maintenance planner (to get the required stack.xml file and download the software packages), check your original SAP BW system, and perform a custom code analysis. At the end of the Prepare Phase, you must decide, whether to take the In-place, Remote or Shell Conversion path.

In-place Conversion

The In-place Conversion starts with your SAP BW powered by SAP HANA system. The minimum release is 7.5 support package 5.

If your system is not running on SAP HANA or on a lower release or support package, and you decided to do an in-place conversion, then a prerequisite step for the in-place conversion is a migration to SAP HANA and a release or support package upgrade (often both can be combined).  For information on the migration of SAP Business Warehouse to a SAP HANA database, refer to the End- to-End Implementation Roadmap SAP BW powered by SAP HANA.

The first step of the In-place Conversion process is to install the SAP BW/4HANA Starter Add-on. As a second step, you will implement the SAP BW/4HANA Transfer Cockpit on your system. After the installation, the several modes are available in the SAP BW system, which define the road to SAP BW/4HANA:

BW mode

  • System works like regular SAP BW system without restrictions

Compatibility mode

  • Existing scenarios can continue running as before but object types not available in SAP BW/4HANA cannot be transported (i.e. moved to production) unless you explicitly whitelist them

B4H mode

  • Only SAP BW/4HANA compatible objects available in the system

Ready for conversion mode

  • Final preparation for system conversion

To help you transition your SAP BW system from one mode to the next, we provide a pre-check program that scans the entire system for incompatibilities and creates a to-do list for you. If to-dos are completed and “all is green”, you can switch to the next mode. It depends on your system configuration what kind of to-dos you get and how many. One thing is for sure: the older your system, the longer the to-do list and the more activities will be required. But don’t be scared even if thousands of items are highlighted. This is where the Transfer Cockpit and its Scope Transfer Tool come to the rescue. The Scope Transfer Tool is based on a task list that lets you select objects and get them automatically converted to HANA-optimized counter parts. The process keeps the object names intact (as far as possible) and brings all data along (*). Isn’t that nice?

We know that our customers love to “code”. Did you follow best coding practices, used APIs instead of direct SQL on generated BW database tables, didn’t call unreleased functions in standard SAP BW code? If yes, your custom code will be in good shape. However, if not, then the simplification brought by SAP BW/4HANA might have a significant impact on your programs. You will have to adjust your custom code accordingly. Help me! We heard you and developed a Code Scan Tool, which is available in the SAP BW/4HANA Transfer Cockpit. It will find if and where in your custom code you have referenced for example InfoCubes or classic DataStore Objects or called SAP functions that are obsolete in SAP BW/4HANA.

Once your system is fully HANA-optimized and your custom developments adjusted, the system can be switched to B4H mode. You can remain in this mode until your cut over day to SAP BW/4HANA. That’s when downtime for your business begins. You will switch to “Ready for Conversion” mode immediately followed by the technical system conversion to SAP BW/4HANA. There will be a few post conversion tasks and clean-up and then… ta da… Your system is live on SAP BW/4HANA! Altogether, this final phase should take only a few hours.

Remote Conversion

If after the discover and prepare phase you decide for a remote conversion, then the next step is to install a brand-new SAP BW/4HANA system. We have a task list available for you that will automate and therefore greatly simplify the initial system setup. This is the beginning of a parallel run of old SAP BW and new SAP BW/4HANA systems. Remember, this approach will work for any SAP BW system with release 7.3 or higher and any database platform that your system is running on.

You can now use the Transfer Toolbox to select data models and flows out of your existing SAP BW system and transfer them over a remote connection to the target SAP BW/4HANA system (*). This is where you can choose: your chance to build a clean system, leave old and unused objects behind, and reduce unnecessary layers of your data warehouse. We are again using a task list that begins with a scope selection followed by a process to find all dependent objects like transformations, source systems, DataSources, queries, etc. All objects will then be transported to SAP BW/4HANA and this is where the magic happens. We import InfoCubes and classic DataStore objects and turn them on the fly into Advanced DataStore Objects. MultiProviders will become CompositeProviders. Nice! Since we want to run in parallel, the remote task list will also convert and reconnect source systems. This works very similar to the approach we used for running parallel systems for migrations to SAP HANA that you might be familiar with (Post Copy Automation).

In a subsequent step, we will use the SAP BW/4HANA Conversion Cockpit to also bring the data over from SAP BW and convert the request management (from Request IDs to Request Transaction Sequence Numbers). This tool is developed by the SAP Data Management & Landscape Transformation group and currently in Early Adopter Care. General availability is planned for end of Q1/2019.

Together with your data models, it makes sense to transport related custom developments and adjust them accordingly to work with the new HANA-optimized models and SAP BW/4HANA. If your original system is not on SAP HANA, we recommend to also HANA-optimize your ABAP code at this time. Of course, this is another chance to clean-up and leave old sins behind, right?

Once you completed the transfer of all required objects, developments, and configuration, you certainly want to test that all works well in your new SAP BW/4HANA system. It’s all low risk, since it runs in parallel with your existing SAP BW system, which remains unchanged. You should be able to compare both sides easily. All good? Tell your users to logon to SAP BW/4HANA and turn your old system off. Done.

Shell Conversion

Some customers like the Remote Conversion approach but want more flexibility when it comes to the data that should go into the new SAP BW/4HANA system. This is where a Shell Conversion is the way to go. It will bring over all data models and flows like a Remote Conversion. However, neither master nor transaction data are transferred. This gives you the following options: Re-load as much data as you like from your source systems, load data from original SAP BW system, or simply ignore historical data and start fresh. The Shell Conversion is already in general availability and works for SAP BW release 7.0 or higher.

Summary

We know there are a lot more details to cover, but this gave you an overview of how In-place, Remote, and Shell Conversions work in general.

For a presentation style version of this blog (“The Road to SAP BW/4HANA”) and many more details on SAP BW/4HANA, please visit the SAP Community Network and check out the FAQ document.

A complete end-to-end documentation of the transition process from SAP BW to SAP BW/4HANA is already available in the SAP BW/4HANA Conversion Guide.

Best,
Marc Bernard
@marcfbe

(*) If you still have left-over data flows from the 3.x days, you will have to migrate them to 7.x functionality before the Scope Transfer Tool can be used. For Remote and Shell Conversion, this data flow migration has to be done in the original SAP BW system.

52 Comments
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  • Hi Marc,

    Our BW version is 7.5 SP08 and installed SAP BW/4HANA Starter Add-on.

    I am trying to use in-place conversion tool to convert BW objects to B4HANA compatable objects.

    Followed the steps provied in the note 2383530 and impletmed all the recomended notes.

    Could you please let me know how to access in-place conversion tool?

    Thanks,
    Naresh

    • Hello Naresh,

      please create an customer message on component BW-B4H-CNV and request access to the SAP BW/4HANA Transfer Toolbox. Development will get in touch with you so we can provide direct support.

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

  • I am surprised more people upgrading do not have this question regarding the target development environment. Hana Studio (Eclipse) development environment is part of now what is XS classic which has been replaced by XS advanced which uses WEB IDE as the development environment. As XS classic and XS advanced can run in parallel, which development environment should one target to use going forward?

    • Hi John,

      native HANA data warehouses are best modeled using Web IDE. If you take the BW approach, then HANA Studio with the BW Modeling Tools (and ABAP Developement Tools) is the way to go.
      You can combine/access the models from either option in a mixed approach.

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

  • Are there any technical constraints that one should be aware of when combining, or rather, stringing the roadmap options together? For example: a) The first implementation is a new BW/4 HANA implementation with a small scope. b) The larger scope is done later, possibly as a remove conversion for selected objects from a single highly customized legacy BW system.
    Regards,
    Juliana

    • Hello Juliana,
      the suggested scenario is possible. You do have to watch for name conflicts in such case since the conversion tools are not able to rename objects (yet).
      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

      • Can you advise when the functionality to rename objects will be included in the Remote Conversion Tool? Also, what objects can be renamed? Will this extend to InfoObjects? This could be an extremely powerful tool to have for re-implementations where we see random naming conventions.

        • Hi Jonathan,
          Renaming is on the longer term roadmap. No timeline yet. Very doubtful that InfoObject would be included though.
          Best,
          Marc
          Product Management SAP HANA DW

    • Hello Jacek,

      it might seem technically possible but it’s an unrealistic scenario. Remote conversion requires moving all BW data over a network connection to SAP BW/4HANA. It would require an excellent network connection to the cloud. Also remote conversion will use a parallel productive run for old and new systems. This means all Source Systems connected to BW will also have to be connected to SAP BW/4HANA. If SAP BW/4HANA is in the cloud, then there’s even more traffic between your existing systems and the new SAP BW/4HANA to be expected. Overall, high risk that something does not work… Please separate the move to any cloud deployment from the conversion of your SAP BW system to SAP BW/4HANA.

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

  • Marc,

    Thanks for the details. For in-place conversion, once we complete the transfer tool steps, do we need to transport from Dev to QA to Production ? Or we need to run the transfer tool in all the environments manually ?

    • Hello Sohil,

      Only the selection of what will be converted (scope selection) is transported from Dev to QA/Prod. Then the transfer tool has to be run in each system separately (once for each scope).

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

  • Hello Marc, i am really fan of yours blogs and follow your post since several years. I have several question about a BW/4H Scenario embedded into a S4H.
    – Is it possible to install BW/4H and S4H in the same server ?
    -We would like to avoid replication of data and be able to have a modelisation based on open DSO based on Data source itself based on CDS view for Master data and transactionnal data. Can we have such modelisation case with BW/4H.
    -Lets imagine that we need to have some rules that need to used field from several table in S4H, can we join this different table using several open DSO, link them into a composite provider, build a Transformation on the top of this composite provider and then consume the result of this into a CP or ODSO ? Or should we link all this table in the CDS view ?
    -What the business content for the master data will look like in the future ? will it be Info object or Open DSO ?
    -BPC Embedded was supposed to be delivered by Q2 2017, is it available on the last release of BW/4H ?

    Thank a lot for all the answer you can provide me.

    • Hello Hichem,
      I’m glad you like my blogs :-). There will be more, so keep following.

      SAP BW/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA must not be installed on the save HANA database. You can install them on separate database tenants however, in general we do not recommend this since it introduces many dependencies (like running the exact same HANA version).

      You can avoid replication and model across systems. The best way is to use (or create) ABAP CDS views in SAP S/4HANA (to model as much there as possible like joining S4 tables). Then consume these views in SAP BW/4HANA. See more here:
      https://blogs.sap.com/2017/08/15/sap-s4hana-and-sap-bw4hana-what-to-do-where/

      For complex scenarios, like big joins between S4 and BW4 data, you will still want to replicate data to your data warehouse environment. Also historical data might not be available in S4 as long as it would be in your DW.

      Master data is still modeled as InfoObjects (i.e. replicated). This is to get best performance for queries. However, InfoObjects are optional in BW4 so you can start with using Open ODS Views and add InfoObjects later (when you need hierarchies etc).

      SAP BPC 11, version for SAP BW/4HANA is available for several months already.

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

  • Thanks Marc for sharing the detailed information on conversion to BW4HANA.

    We have Scenario,our BW version is 7.4 SP14 and have BW4HANA Separate System.Planning for Remote conversion of few BW data flows to BW4HANA.

    Could you please let me know how to access remote transfer tool Box and please correct if any steps are not in place for remote conversion process.

    1.Scope Selection – BW data flows which needs to be Converted to BW4HANA.
    2.Install Transfer Tools on BW 7.4 system.
    3. Convert data flows to BW4HANA optimized data flow and collect for transport.
    4.Proceed data load.

    • Hello Santhosh,
      yes, on a high level that’s it. The remote conversion is still in piloting. Please follow the instructions in SAP Note 2383530, section 2.2.
      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

  • “For complex scenarios, like big joins between S4 and BW4 data, you will still want to replicate data to your data warehouse environment. Also historical data might not be available in S4 as long as it would be in your DW.”

    – This is precisely why many customers want to continue with using Embedded BW in Suite. This is a big minus as it takes you away from real time reporting.
    It would be great if SAP can publish an official document clearly explaining why above approach is not recommended. And what’s it in SAPs road map to make S/4HANA and BW/4HANA talk to each other in real time (even for large volume of data).

    Thanks,
    Anup

    • Hello Anup,
      this is not the place to discuss Embedded BW or DW use cases. Please see our positioning, https://www.sap.com/documents/2015/06/3ccee34c-577c-0010-82c7-eda71af511fa.html.
      Of course, we have real-time integration between SAP S/4HANA and SAP BW/4HANA and it can work for very large data volumes as well. In complex cases, you will not get “sub-second response times” as is often expected. So either you live with longer query runtimes or you bring the data together in one system where we have the change to optimize data models and performance, for example of very large inner joins.
      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

  • Hi Marc,
    Very helpful and comprehensive information. We’re planning to turn on the B4H mode but might not upgrade the system to BW/4HANA for up to next 2 years. This is because of some constraints on the BPC 10.1 implementation. Would we able to activate the needed BW 7.5 business contents after turning on the B4H mode or compatibility mode?
    Regards,
    Waseem Ahmad

  • Hello Marc,

    could you please clarify one point? Remote conversion is used only for other Data bases than HANA. Or If I have BW 7.4 already running on HANA I can go with Remote Conversion?

    • Hello Łukasz,

      Remote conversion also works with SAP BW powered by SAP HANA release 7.3 to 7.50.

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

    • Hi Amit,

      I think you are referring to the remote conversion. Good question. SLT (the DMIS add-on) is installed on original SAP BW and target SAP BW/4HANA systems. You don’t need a separate SLT system.

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

  • Marc,
    Thank you for your blog. We are investigating a scenario where we will be implementing S4 as a green field implementation and would like to use Remote Conversions to bring data marts from a SAP BW Powered by HANA to a new install of BW4HANA. We do not want the dataflows, just the data marts and the historical data for reporting purposes. Will the transfer tool allow for us to pick the data containers while leaving the data transformations behind?

    • Hello Lacey,
      yes, this will work. You can limit the scope of a transfer to only InfoProviders.
      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP HANA DW

      • Marc, thank you for this information. We are looking to leverage remote conversions to bring over data marts and data to a greenfield implementation of BW4HANA. Does SAP still require the Data Management & Landscape Transformation group perform these activities or are we now able to perform these task in-house?

        • Hello Shabbar,

          The Remote Conversion for SAP BW/4HANA is available as Early Adopter Care program. If you would like to participate in the program, please access the following link: https://influence.sap.com/sap/ino/#/campaign/1259
          You could also get in touch with your local SAP consultant or use the SAP Support Portal, component “CA-LT-BW4” in case of any queries.

          Best,
          Marc
          Product Management SAP DW

  • Dear Mark,

    Great blogs for someone who has started exploring ways to BW/4HANA. Big thank you for that.

    I have one question – In remote conversion, a new SID (System ID) is created and we transport objects from existing system to new system. What happens to Native HANA objects in such case? Do we need to migrate/move them to new SID? For ‘In Place’ conversion it won’t matter I think as the Native HANA objects will stay in the same system.

    Could you please share your view on this?

    Thank you.

    Regards,
    Yogesh

    • Hi Yogesh,

      generated views will be generated on the target system, so no need to move them between the landscapes (note: a view on an InfoCube might be different from a view on a corresponding ADSO). Objects created in HANA directly, are not moved by BW tools. You will have to use HANA-based transports (CTS+) or re-create them in the target system.

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP DW

      • Thank you Mark for a prompt and clear response.

        So this means for customers who are on BW 7.x on HANA with considerable amount of development on Native HANA (including data other than BW data), ‘In Place’ conversion makes more sense. For ‘In Place’ conversion, since upgrade to BW7.5 is a must, inclination was more towards ‘Remote Conversion’ with carving out only required scenarios possible.

        For ‘Remote Conversion’ with a new SID, with its advantage of NOT having to convert entire legacy BW system (only carve out of relevant scenarios), will have additional efforts of either re-creating/transporting (with migration of data) the Native HANA objects.

  • Hi Mark,

    A quick question on Remote Conversion path. Since the SID of the system will be changed, what happens to Native HANA objects (Ex. Calculation Views, Native HANA Tables)? Do we need to move them to new SID as well or there is some easy way for the same?

    Thank you.

    Regards,
    Ankeet

    • Hi Ankeet,

      generated views will be generated on the target system, so no need to move them between the landscapes (note: a view on an InfoCube might be different from a view on a corresponding ADSO). Objects created in HANA directly, are not moved by BW tools. You will have to use HANA-based transports (CTS+) or re-create them in the target system.

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP DW

  • Hi Mark , We have two BW system one is non hana and other is bw on hana and ECC is shared .In case we plan to go for remote conversion will delta queue cloning will happen automatically or we have to atke source system down time .

    • Hello Madhukar,
      remote conversion in general is a process for one BW system. Delta queues from ECC to this BW system will be cloned. If you want to consolidate another BW system into the target SAP BW/4HANA system, then I would do it one after the other.

      Best,
      Marc
      Product Management SAP DW

  • Hello Marc,
    We are on BW 7.5 for NW considering a path of BW on HANA to BW/4HANA and are using BW-IP and SEM-BCS. Can SEM-BCS infoproviders and queries be converted in place for BW/4HANA? If we implement a new BPC 11.0 classic system, could we also continue using some of the planning sequences created for BW-IP and converted to BPC 11.0 embedded along with the new BPC 11.0 classic development at the same time?

  • Dear Marc, thank you for another great blog post. I have a customer with a rather large inventory management cube, they are already on BW on HANA. Can they, in theory, use remote conversion to convert the cube to an ADSO on the same system?
    This would make the path to BW/4 much smoother.
    Kind regards, Thomas

  • Hi Marc – Always a pleasure to read your blogs. I wanted to run a scenario by you and wanted to get your thoughts on the best conversion approach. We currently have 3 BW environments:
    BW 7.4 SPS20 on HANA 2.0 in HEC
    BW 7.3 SP15 on DB6 – On Premise
    BW/4HANA in HEC (different geographical location and a much )

    Our goal is to consolidate the 3 BW systems in to a global BW/4HANA system. The BW 7.4 on HANA and BW 7.3 AnyDB are our biggest BW systems. What would be the best conversion scenario in this case?

    Thanks

    • Hi Mustansir,

      such cases always require a customer-specific approach as there are too many dependencies related to data and (other) systems. Best recommendation I can give you is to get in touch with the SAP Landscape Transformation team (via your account executive) who will help assessing your landscape and come up with options and recommendations for consolidating everything into a single data warehouse.

      Best,
      Marc
      SAP HANA Competence Center

      PS: Start with defining your ultimate goal in as much detail as you can. That will make it easier to line up paths from where you are today to this end state.