Since many years, lots of organisations worldwide have implemented SAP BW as a strategic system for their reporting requirements. With the actual trends, such as Big Data, Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things (IoT), there is an increasing need for flexibility and real-time data processing for the analysis of mass data. SAP HANA (High Performance Analytic Appliance) provides the technology for doing this. I recommend migrating to SAP BW on HANA for getting the most out of the new optimisations for Data Retention, Data Modelling and the Architecture. For SAP BW systems, HANA does not only come with performance improvements, but also includes many new features and opens new possibilities for structuring an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDWH).
Combining data from SAP BW and SAP HANA
Many organisations have a large BI system landscape that matured over the years. This offers many possibilities for strategic data analyses. With SAP HANA, the different possible scenarios are more versatile than before and therefore raise many questions. These scenarios for the interaction between SAP BW and SAP HANA are covered under the term “Mixed Scenarios”. But what are they exactly?
So far, there are only two substantially different Data Warehouse approaches in practice: in the Application Approach, all tools and services for the operation of an Enterprise Data Warehouse come with SAP BW – additional tools are not needed. The advantage of this approach: all Data Warehouse tasks are completed with one integrated and compatible toolset. The disadvantage however: the flexibility is restricted with this approach.
Totally different is the SQL Approach. With this approach, different, individual tools are used for completing the tasks. In this case, the Data Warehouse is formed by a combination of individual services and tools that are all connected to the database. This makes the access to the data more flexible, but also makes the operational work more complex.
The best of both worlds – combined in the Mixed Scenarios
Mixed Scenarios are based on the principle of data models being implemented both in SAP BW and directly in the database (SAP HANA), providing all advantages, features and possibilities of both approaches – Application Approach and SQL Approach. As such, a BI developer is provided with many different possibilities for modelling and developing data models and ETL processes. Thanks to the increased flexibility, this can be composed custom-made, meeting the individual requirements.
Usage of the SAP BW Analytic Engine
In this scenario, the data procurement (extraction, replication or real-time access) is completely processed through the SAP HANA database and the SAP BW system is mainly used for providing the reports with data. I therefore recommend benefiting from all potentials of the Analytic Engine. From a technical perspective, modelled HANA Views are made available within BW Composite Providers.
Through this scenario, for example, HANA Live Views and CDS Views (S/4 HANA) can be integrated with each other.
Native HANA for agile scenarios
In most cases, a virtual access can be set up under the pretext of an ETL-based physical data transfer. This HANA advantage can be used in this scenario. As such, data from different source systems can be transferred very quickly into SAP BW, which supports an agile implementation approach. Thanks to this approach, reports can be discussed with the business departments at an early stage in a context of Rapid Prototyping. This will ensure a long-term user acceptance. If required, the virtual access can also be shifted to a classic ETL process at a later time.
Reporting on HANA Views
In this scenario, the data procurement is completely processed through the integrated SAP BW functionality. As such, the classic and proven ETL processes are used within the SAP BW system. The data in SAP BW are accessed with reporting tools through generated HANA views. BW InfoProviders create the basis for these views. Thanks to the available modelling flexibility, complex logic and the calculation of additional key figures can be processed within the SAP HANA database.
This scenario is for instance very useful when you work with a relatively high number of SAP source systems. As such, the data extraction can occur through Content DataSources. The reports, however, need to be created with SAP BI tools (such as SAP Analaysis For Office and SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio) or third party tools.
This article explains a few examples of plausible scenarios that can only take place in a SAP BW on HANA context. In practice, however, you can also implement a hybrid scenario. In general, you need to define the framework conditions (such as the architecture guidelines and the integration of reporting tools) in advance. As such, requirements for a clean, easy to maintain and future-proof system should always be striven for.
In case you want to find out which scenario(s) cover most of your current and future requirements, I recommend you investigate the entire process of all different components (SAP BW, SAP HANA and Front-end).