SAP BW on HANA
SAP was founded in 1972 as a business applications company but really came into prominence in the 1990s with the ERP boom. Its ERP solution (R/3) was first released in 1992. The vendor now employs more than 100,000 people worldwide and had revenues of $27.3 billion in 2020. Today, SAP is one of the largest business software vendors in the world.
SAP’s original strategy was to view BI as an extension of its all-inclusive ERP offerings. Therefore, it launched SAP Business Warehouse (BW) in 1998, a completely packaged and plug-and-play BI solution designed to complement SAP ERP applications. BW is a package consisting of connectors, relational data storage, subject-oriented multidimensional structured data marts and predefined content as well as tools for reporting, analysis and planning. The goal was to provide a plug-and-play BI solution that would make it fast and easy for SAP customers to benefit from BI.
There are different versions of BW available. Traditional BW runs on a standard relational database, but customers can purchase redesigned versions for SAP HANA. From an architectural perspective, there are two variants: standard relational database or SAP HANA. The first version uses well known third-party databases such as Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle for data storage. The “powered by SAP HANA” version uses SAP’s own HANA platform.
There have been many modeling objects in previous versions of BW including InfoProvider, MultiProvider, InfoCube, InfoObject, InfoSet and ODS. In the newer versions (powered by HANA), SAP has started to reduce the number available and introduce other types of objects. In all variants, an InfoQuery is used to query the InfoCubes and “flatten” the results of a query to a table, which can then be used as a data source for reporting tools. It is also possible to incorporate additional logic into queries and, for instance, define new formulas to calculate derived ‘key figures’ (measures). This BW Query concept remains the same with BW/4HANA. This document deals specifically with SAP BW on HANA (powered by HANA).
SAP has numerous implementation partners with a broad knowledge of its product set. With its ‘Cloud Extension Policy’ program, SAP enables customers to transform maintenance on unused software licenses into cloud subscription licenses. License fees are calculated per named user per month, and SAP distinguishes between BI and planning licenses.
SAP BW on HANA seems to be an intermediate step on the part of SAP to address known problems with its outdated SAP BW technology. However, its strategic alignment continues. The HANA database is often used, as is SAP BW/4HANA, for on-premises analytics. Currently, SAP is investing heavily in the cloud, offering a combination of SAP Analytics Cloud as the user tool layer, SAP Cloud Data Warehouse as the analytical data store and SAP Data Intelligence for data pipelining tasks.
User & Use Cases
A wide range of tasks are performed with SAP BW on HANA. 87 percent of respondents do data warehousing and 71 percent perform data preparation with the software. In our view, data preparation as an iterative process in which business users prepare almost code-free data sets for exploration is not what is meant here. It is more likely that respondents are referring to data preparation for data warehousing, which is also addressed with ‘Data Integration’ (51 percent).
SAP BW on HANA is widely used within companies. This is illustrated by the high mean number of users (896). This is hardly surprising given that SAP technology is used primarily by large companies with more than 2,500 employees (74 percent). The mean number of technical users who use SAP BW on HANA and implement use cases (15) is surprisingly high but that number corresponds to the 42 percent of users who cite ‘complexity in development’ as a problem.
Total number of users per company
Total number of administrators per company
Company size (number of employees)
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