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Objective

SAP BW/4HANA is a Next GenerationData Warehouse which doesn’t offer front-end anymore. Three approach strategy is discussed here to support SAP and Non SAP Analytics tools in the market.

SAP BW/4HANA – Next Generation Data Warehousing Solution

The overarching concept and goal of SAP BW4/HANA is to provide software support for customers to integrate SAP operational data sources with “big data” sources and create a data warehouse that exposes its data to different front ends.

All BW/4HANA objects automatically produce native HANA objects which can be used to cover scenarios which are previously not possible. Customers are now able to use strengths of multidimensional oriented (BW/4) and relational oriented (HANA) approaches to supporting different types of Business Intelligence Reporting and Analytics

BW/4HANA does not include front-end solutions anymore, as was the case with BW (SAP Business Explorer – BEx front ends were shipped with BW). Customers now have the opportunity to use new and modern front ends.

Three approach strategy of SAP BW/4HANA for business intelligence reporting and analytics:

  • SAP BW/4 approach
    • Access for SAP front ends: BICS (BI Consumer Services) is the data access protocol for BW/4HANA front-end tools. With the native BICS interface access, SAP delivers a proprietary means of connecting to BW/4HANA content. BICS is built on native API calls and allows BW/4HANA users to reuse their BW/4HANA query definitions. BICS offers better query performance using the native API as well as the consumption of OLAP metadata (e.g. hierarchies and variables) in BW/4HANA. Also, SAP offers INA, a new proprietary connection protocol for its own cloud front ends.
      • SAP BusinessObjects BI suite
      • SAP Analytics Cloud
    • Access for third-party front ends: In contrast, third-party front ends connect to BW/4HANA using generic MDX-based interfaces, which do not leverage the BW/4HANA specifics most of the SAP tools can. Third-party vendors often struggle with specific metadata and/or performance when querying the system. Therefore evaluate the quality of the connectivity/interface to the BW/4HANA system and possible influences on front-end functionality in the tool.
      • Power BI
      • Tableau
      • Qlik
  • SQL approach
    • New in BW/4HANA is the option to access system-generated calculation views in HANA where users can benefit from its SQL oriented approach to accessing data. System-generated calculations views can be enhanced by creating custom calculation views. Most front ends access data in HANA using relational interfaces such as SQL. MDX is still available as a HANA interface. However it only supports a small subset of MDX commands, leading to problems when using third-party tools that require full functional MDX support. To connect to HANA, SAP also offers a proprietary connection protocol called INA for its own front ends.
      • SAP BusinessObjects BI suite
      • SAP Analytics Cloud
      • Power BI
      • Tableau
      • Qlik
  • Mixed Approach
    • Mixed approach will combine strengths of multidimensional oriented (BW/4) and relational oriented (HANA) approaches. In mixed approach BW/4HANA system leverages the full HANA platform capabilities e.g. to build native HANA operational or agile data marts for real-time consumption, by also leveraging for example the predictive analytics library, text analysis or geo-spatial intelligence. That means that there are not only BW models stored on the HANA database but also native HANA models. Those two different model artifacts can be consumed by SAP or 3rd party analytics tools thru the BW/4 approach or SQL approach.

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