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 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.
For many years, SAP Business Warehouse (BW) was its strategic offering and foundation for building business intelligence 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. However, these strengths also pose challenges. BW is considered technically complex and has weaknesses in terms of connectivity and the support of self-service analytics for business users. SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is SAP’s new offering for data warehousing in the public cloud that specifically addresses these points. It was launched in November 2019.
While providing a flexible, cloud-based option for the enterprise data warehouse, the solution is also designed to empower line of business to perform self-service analytics by means of a business semantic layer. It follows a federate-first approach to reduce or completely avoid upfront data movement. This increases agility and reduces the required data management footprint. It can be deployed as a standalone solution or to complement existing SAP or non-SAP data warehouses on-premises or in the cloud. It supports a wide range of connectivity to SAP and non-SAP data sources. SAP Data Warehouse Cloud data objects are exposed as tables and views. This makes it possible for external data pipelines and analytics tools to utilize them as target or source respectively. The solution offers a governed sandbox concept for combining enterprise data sources with individual and external data in a domain or use case-specific area called Spaces. If required, sandbox results can be transferred as seamlessly as possible into the enterprise environment.
SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is part of SAP’s family of Data and Analytics Cloud solutions, which also includes SAP Data Intelligence and SAP Analytics Cloud. SAP HANA Cloud, the database foundation for all family members, delivers the required elasticity and performance. SAP is currently addressing a deeper family integration with ‘Project Data Suite 2023+’, marking the shift from dedicated products to integrated services.
SAP BW Bridge for SAP Data Warehouse Cloud was announced at the end of 2021. It enables customers to reuse existing SAP BW investments to extend their data reach in the public cloud without compromising close connectivity to SAP Business Suite and SAP S/4HANA data.
User & Use Cases
It is not surprising that most users (94 percent) leverage SAP Data Warehouse Cloud as a data warehouse. It is remarkable, however, that in comparison only 52 percent use the solution for self-service analytics. The first generation of the solution is primarily targeted at this use case, and we hear from many customers that they mostly use SAP Data Warehouse Cloud to support self-service in business areas. It is also notable that just as many users use the solution for data preparation for business users (70 percent) as for data integration (70 percent). Taken together, this indicates that SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is mainly being used in the area of classic business intelligence (i.e., standard reporting, dashboarding, ad hoc analyses) coupled with self-service data preparation in the business.
SAP Data Warehouse Cloud is not yet frequently used for data governance (9 percent) or data stewardship (3 percent) although it has functions that could provide support in these areas, including the Spaces concept. This is probably due to the fact that the solution is currently still being used in smaller scenarios. The fairly frequent mention of data virtualization (42 percent) as a use case confirms the product’s federate-first approach.
The rather low user and developer numbers also suggest that the product is not yet being used on an enterprise-wide basis, which may be due to the still low level of product maturity attested to by respondents to this survey. This contrasts somewhat with the information that 60 percent of customers use SAP Data Warehouse Cloud company-wide or in several divisions. It is not surprising that SAP is mainly used by large companies. What is surprising, however, is the relatively high proportion of companies with fewer than 100 employees (21 percent). With its cloud offering, SAP seems to make SAP services more easily accessible to small companies by encapsulating the administrative overhead for operating a data warehouse. The mean of 30 users shows that SAP Data Warehouse Cloud scales from small up to large scenarios with hundreds of users.
Extend of usage in the company
Total number of users per company
Total number of developers per company
Company size (number of employees)
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