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Data Warehousing with SAP | SAP HANA 2.0 – An Introduction

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud

In this blog series you will find quotes, backgrounds, suggested further readings and other information related to my latest book SAP HANA 2.0, An Introduction published by SAP Press.

As the goal of the book is to provide an introduction, we could not spend as much time and pages on each and every topic as we wished at times. Although we cover SAP HANA data warehouse foundation with its Data Distribution Optimizer and Data Lifecycle Management applications in the chapter about data management, an overall discussion of data warehousing with SAP was omitted, nor could we discuss SAP Data Warehouse Cloud as it was not released yet. In this blog, I will cover it in a bit more detail and include references where to find more information.


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About the Data Warehouse

Fact tables and dimensions, star schemas, extract, transform, and load (ETL), Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW), data marts, staging, Business Intelligence (BI): most of these terms go back at least thirty years. Bill Inmon and Ralph Kimball wrote the books and are now retired. The term warehouse itself is traced back to the article An architecture for a business and information system (IBM System Journal of 1988).

Companies who pioneered the technology were all acquired; the list is long but we can mention Red Brick Systems (Informix|IBM), Acta Technology (BusinessObjects|SAP Data Services), Expressway (Sybase|SAP IQ) and Panorama (Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services).

Explained in a single acronym? SVOT (Bill Inmon about the ‘Single version of the truth’, 2004). Bring together all system-of-record data for analytics, decision support, and business intelligence. Call it a data hub. For a more formal definition of the data warehouse, see the Gartner Glossary.

The initial focus was on structured data stored in databases and the road went from OLTP via ETL to OLAP and BI with the SAP HANA in-memory platform providing the shortcut HTAP to BI (Gartner on HTAP).

Illustration from the Oracle 9i Data Warehousing Guide (yes, they are into OLAP too; acquired Hyperion|Essbase).

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Dead or Alive

The report of my death was an exaggeration – Mark Twain (source)

Big Data

First there was the threat of big data: unstructured data with too much volume, too much variation, and too much velocity.

Quote/unquote: Period. Like a dodo. Like Monty Python’s parrot (watch the episode).

Not everyone agreed, in particular the software vendors. All that was needed for the EDW was to evolve into a logical or virtual data warehouse (LDW/VDW).

Cloud Computing

The second threat came from above. Cloud computing with Data Warehouse as a service from new vendors like Snowflake and the hyperscalers Amazon, Google, and Microsoft with RedshiftBigQuery and Azure Synapse Analytics respectively.

Going Steady

According to Google Trends, however, there is no reason to panic for the data warehouse but situation look less bright for Hadoop (Big Data Is Dead. Long Live Big Data AI, Forbes 2019).

Follow the Leaders

According to Gartner, most of the leaders in the Data Management for Analytics space are big both on-premise and in the cloud. Source: Magic Quadrant for Data Management Solutions for Analytic (Interested? You can usually get a complimentary copy of the report from the corporate websites of the leaders).

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Business Information Warehouse

Over twenty years ago SAP released its first data warehouse product, Business Information Warehouse, which included an OLAP engine for multidimensional data analysis and a metadata repository. At the time, linking ERP with Business Intelligence was as hot a topic as Data Science and Machine Learning are today.

With the introduction of SAP NetWeaver in 2004, the product morphed into SAP Business Warehouse, BW in short, releases 7.0 – 7.5 (2004 – 2015).

The technology and terminology is unique with InfoProviders, BAPIs, BEx’s, and many others. If this does not sound familiar, you can look them up on the SAP Business Warehouse Community Wiki. Contemporary illustrations were equally original. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words but for this one you just may need them.

The main interface to interact with BW was the Data Warehouse Workbench, transaction RSA1 in SAPGUI (FUTC).

Data Warehousing Workbench: BI Content

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SAP Business Warehouse powered by HANA

Regretfully, we have to continue with our dead notices but this time with an extensive BW obituary.

What inspired Dr. Berg at the time was the first release of BW on the SAP HANA in-memory database in 2013.

There was some initial confusion about whether SAP HANA would replace BW (Hint: no).

Documentation and Learning Journey

The documentation explains in some detail the benefits of running BW on SAP HANA, but to summarise

  • Simplification of infrastructure, modeling and administration
  • Performance – in-memory processing, high compression rates, optimised load processes
  • Leveraging the SAP HANA platform(Predictive Analysis Library, smart data access, etc.)

For the details, visit

For the learning journey with trainings and certifications, see

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SAP BW/4HANA

SAP BW/4HANA was released as a new product (version 1.0 in 2016 and version 2.0 in 2019).

This time completely re-architected, optimised and designed to run on SAP HANA. As with the SAP Business Suite, the Business Warehouse was simplified with many significant changes (see the Simplification List for the details and SAP BW/4HANA vs. SAP BW on HANA for an overview presentation). For questions, the SAP BW/4HANA FAQ is a good place to start (2019).

SAP BW/4HANA uses the SAP Fiori web interface. Below the SAP BW Cockpit.

Documentation and Learning Journey

To learn more about SAP BW/4HANA, there are two fairly recent openSAP courses available both presented by Ulrich Christ and Gordon Witzel.

There is a learning journey that lists the available trainings. It is a long trip! Anticipate to take a month off, at least.

If you have gone through them all and if you manage to pass the exam, you can get certified as SAP Certified Application Associate – Reporting, Modeling and Data Acquisition with SAP BW/4HANA.

Certified or not, everybody can join the SAP BW/4HANA community.

For support information, with links to the documentation, guided answers, downloads, visit the SAP ONE Support Launchpad, Support by Product.

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SAP SQL Data Warehouse

Apart from the application-driven approach, or “managed data warehouse”, we can also opt for SQL-based data warehousing. This leverages the built-in application server architecture of SAP HANA XS(A) with products like SAP HANA Data Warehousing Foundation. This topic is covered in some detail in the book (see below).

For a complete overview about the information available on this topic, see the blog post by Klaus-Peter Sauer

Compared to the BW Learning Journeys this is a very short trip. The SAP training HDW410 SAP SQL Data Warehousing only takes three days. Plus we get to do some sightseeing as the course wraps in products like SAP Data Hub and SAP Analytics Cloud, anticipating the next data warehouse generation to come.

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SAP HANA Cloud Services 

For a cloud-based data warehousing, we can turn to SAP Data Warehouse Cloud. It is one of the SAP HANA Cloud Services technologies together with SAP Analytics Cloud (launched 2015) and SAP HANA Cloud (in development).

For how the three approaches, SAP SQL Data Warehousing, SAP BW/4HANA, and SAP Data Warehouse Cloud relate, see

SIngle version of the Truth

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SAP Data Warehouse Cloud

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud was first announced and demonstrated at SAPPHIRE NOW (May, 2019) with a beta program following up. It has been available as of SAP TechEd 2019.

There were two learning journeys dedicated to SAP Data Warehouse Cloud but not all session were recorded. To view the online recordings (with slides), see

For more information, you can visit the SAP HANA Cloud Services microsite and the regular product (“service”) page on sap.com

For the road map, see

Hear Kate Wright from SAP about the single source of truth.

For more videos, see the SAP HANA Cloud Services channel on YouTube.

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Getting Started

There is a free 30-day trial, an extensive onboarding guide, and you can go on a mission with the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud Academy

 

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Help, Community, and Support

Documentation for SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is available from the SAP Help Portal. Here you can find different guides like the Welcome Guide, What’s New, Feature Scope Description, Security Guide, Administration Guide, Modeling Guide and other resources like the learning journey (see below).

There is sample data model on GitHub with Tutorial

To ask questions, post answers, and share experiences you can join the community. It is currently part of the microsite and not the main community.sap.com area.

 

SAP Help Portal – SAP Data Warehouse Cloud

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Learning Journey

A learning journey is available pointing to some of the resources on the SAP HANA Cloud Services website and to the upcoming DWC01 training (no date available yet).

See also the related learning journeys for trainings and certification.

 

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SAP HANA 2.0 – An Introduction

Just getting started with SAP HANA? Or do have a migration to SAP HANA 2.0 coming up? Need a quick update covering business benefits and technology overview. Understand the role of the system administrator, developer, data integrator, security officer, data scientist, data modeler, project manager, and other SAP HANA stakeholders? My latest book about SAP HANA 2.0 covers everything you need to know.

Get it from SAP Press or Amazon:

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Questions, Comment, Suggestions 

Anything I missed? Do not hesitate to post your questions or comments below.

Good stuff? Give it a like and share on social media. Much appreciated!

If you would like to receive updates, connect with me on

Thank you,

Denys van Kempen

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