Camelelot ITLab authors Mathias Merz and Steve Blum contrast deployment scenarios for SAP HANA Live and SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA with typical customer requirements.
For many years, companies have successfully been using SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) to analyze their business data. Unfortunately, SAP BW is not always able to fully meet today’s requirements in terms of flexibility, real-time capability, and efficient handling of mass data. Especially when conventional database systems are used, high-performance reporting on the basis of up-to-date, highly granular ERP data is not really an option.
For increased performance, SAP BW is also available on the SAP HANA platform.
SAP HANA, an in-memory database, now provides the technical prerequisites necessary to meet these high demands. SAP BW powered by SAP HANA combines the functionality of SAP BW with the advantages of SAP HANA’s faster processing speeds. Other solutions, such as SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA or SAP CRM powered by SAP HANA, also make use of the benefits offered by SAP HANA. The SAP HANA database itself offers fundamental functions that allow similar structure modelling to SAP BW (SAP HANA Views). Using these functions, data can be directly analyzed in reporting tools (such as SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio). Through SAP HANA Live, a product tailored specifically for SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA, SAP delivers several predefined SAP HANA Views that can be used as a basis for operational reporting.
SAP HANA Live does not, however, contain the extensive functions of an SAP BW system, it only covers operational reporting. For example: As shown in Figure 1, only SAP BW allows the consolidation of data from different sources, as well as harmonization of this data for use as a basis for company-wide reporting. New SAP BW structures (such as CompositeProvider) also make it possible to utilize combined scenarios (SAP HANA and SAP BW powered by SAP HANA) in an integrative manner. SAP is currently investing heavily in this area, and working hard to develop new functions for SAP BW on SAP HANA. Figure 2 matches suitable deployment scenarios for SAP HANA Live and SAP BW powered by SAP HANA with typical customer requirements.
SAP BW functions not covered by SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA with SAP HANA Live
SAP Business Warehouse brings together data from different sources so it can be analyzed in an integrative manner. Since the source system data is often composed of different data types, units, or notations, it is standardized in the SAP BW system by means of complex computational operations. Harmonization of master data through mapping tables is also commonly carried out in the SAP BW system.
In SAP BW, raw data is enriched with several types of metadata, such as data type, conversion method, multilingual description, time dependencies, and administrative information. This allows complex analyses that include multilingualism, currency, and unit conversions to be conducted without additional time and effort. SAP HANA Views make it possible to analyze data based on SAP ERP tables. What is missing are overarching semantic concepts. Another drawback is that highly complex analyses need to be implemented separately for each model.
For every SAP HANA Live model, access rights can be managed in great detail. But, unlike in Business Warehouse, there is no superordinate level in the hierarchy, which means these access rights need to be maintained manually for every model. If, for instance, an employee is only permitted to see a key figure for a certain region, this restriction has to be implemented separately for every view, even if several views are based on the same table.
SAP BW includes a planning engine that enables planning on the grounds of historical data, a component that is missing in SAP HANA Live.
If, as SAP recommends, SAP BW is used to archive operational data, for example to adhere to compliance regulations, the analysis of historical trends is only partially possible in SAP HANA Live. SAP BW, on the other hand, provides comprehensive historical records for reporting purposes.
Top Image: Shutterstock