SAP have made their latest Data Warehousing application (BW/4HANA 2.0) available for trial on a pre-installed server in SAP’s Cloud Application Library (CAL). Great news for developers who want to see what is new and try their hand on the latest and greatest kit. Getting started is not as straight forward as one would have hoped – or even as easy as it used to be. In this blog post, Jan van Ansem shares a few things to consider before embarking on the BW/4HANA 2.0 journey on CAL.
A lesson from history – successful introduction of SAP BW/4HANA 1.0 through CAL
Back in 2017, immediately after the introduction of BW/4HANA, SAP offered a fully-fledged trial environment through CAL. This environment contained a working installation of their new data warehousing product, and a virtual environment with development tools. This meant that after launching an environment, developers could immediately get started with BW development, without having to configure or install any additional software. You could simply connect to a remote desktop to use HANA Studio and SAP GUI. It was magic, and this has helped a lot with preparing organisations with their roll-out to BW/4HANA.
Enter 2019: Introduction of BW/4HANA 2.0
Earlier this year, SAP released the new product version of BW/4HANA, 2.0. It has some interesting new features around data protection, integration with the HANA Deployment Infrastructure, and more. If you want to read more about what is to be found in the new version I will shamelessly refer you to the blog I wrote at the time of the release, which you can find here.
The CAL image took a bit longer to materialise, but since a few weeks there is one available. Unfortunately, this time round it does not come with a virtual desktop with development tools, nor does it just work with a click of the button. And like last time, despite this being a free trial version, you will incur some cost for cloud computing and cloud storage.
BW/4HANA 2.0 on CAL – considerations
Below are three things to consider before you start with your BW/4HANA 2.0 journey on CAL:
No virtual development environment means you need local development tools on your laptop
What you want (need) is the following:
- SAP GUI
Admittedly, with the BW/4HANA 2.0 version the Web Cockpit there is less and less you need to do in SAP GUI, but some tasks can still only be done in SAP GUI. You will need SAP GUI for some configuration steps (more about this later in this blog).
- SAP HANA Studio (or any other Eclipse IDE with BW tools plugin installed)
This is of course the main tool for BW development.
- PuTTy / FileZilla (or any other terminal emulator / FTP client)
These are typical tools for ‘Basis’ and usually deemed unsafe in the hands of BI consultants. The reason why you (might) need it is that the instance does not work ‘out of the box’ and some config tasks need to be performed. More about this in the next paragraph
The instance does not work ‘out of the box’ so further configuration steps are required
The idea with a platform or infrastructure ‘as a Service’ (PaaS/Iaas) is that you have an easy way of creating an instance, without having to perform installation or configuration steps. SAP knows how to do this, I have successfully used SAP’s ‘as-a-service’ offerings for BW/4HANA 1.0, for HANA Platform 2.0, for Data Hub (although that last one was a bit fiddly!). With BW/4HANA 2.0 it is not so straight-forward though, and some manual config is required. Luckily someone much more capable in this area than I am has done all the hard work, so please refer to Ronald Kramer’s blog on SAP BW/4 2.0 – CAL to take you step-by-step through the configuration steps.
Beware of the costs
SAP has made BW/4HANA 2.0 available as a trial free of charge, but your cloud provider will charge you for compute and storage. I am on AWS where I have a HANA 2.0 Platform. I ran into some unexpected charges, and found that storage incur a fixed cost, regardless of your instance being ‘up’ or ‘down’. This is as opposed to compute time, which is charged separately, and is significant cheaper when your instance is down. You can tune the configuration of your storage to reduce the costs, as described in this blog.
I believe that if you run your instance for 30 days (the trial version will expire after that) you should be able to get a good few hours on the system for less than USD 100.
BW/4HANA 2.0 on CAL and beyond
I would like to encourage people to have a look at BW/4HANA 2.0 and make use of the CAL free trial version. However, I know from experience it is frustrating when you want to get started with something and you find out it does not work, or costs more than expected, or is more difficult to set up than you thought. Hopefully this blog post helps you to decide if you think it is worth doing it. If you do, I am sure Ronald Kramer’s blog will be incredibly helpful to you.
It would be great if SAP could iron out the few wrinkles in the BW/4HANA 2.0 CAL offering to make it easier for BW consultants to get a taste of the new BW version. It would be even better if the offering could be extended to a virtual development environment as well.
BW/4HANA 2.0 might be the last major release on CAL as the Data Warehousing community is anticipating the announcement of BW/4HANA in the Cloud. SAP have been working under the code name of ‘Project Blueberry’ to create a full data warehouse environment in the cloud. When this happens, the installation of local tools will be a thing of the past. I can’t wait for that to happen. In the meanwhile, enjoy your BW/4HANA 2.0 journey!