What is SAP BW/4HANA?
Finally, we start with the actual topic – SAP BW/4HANA. If you have directly landed on this page, I request you to go to our previous tutorial explaining the journey from SAP BW to BW on HANA to the current SAP BW/4HANA version that we have. This tutorial also lists the pre-requisites for starting this tutorial. So please check them out before you continue further.
Since SAP HANA came to life with native HANA based data modeling, SAP BW modelers around the world have been concerned about their job security. How many times has someone asked you if BW will be replaced by HANA? I’ve personally heard that hundreds of times. The answer to this is of course – No, or at least not in the near future. SAP BW brings in too much to the table to be just shoved away. It had years of development behind the BI content- which is a set of template data models which you can just install and start customizing. For example, if you wanted a data flow for general ledger, find the BI content and install it and then customize it as per your business logic. It saved a lot of time in development. Plus one of the major reasons SAP BW can’t die right now is because then what would you do with so many customers who spent years building their data warehouse? It would take millions of dollars, years of effort and a lot of consultants pulling their hair out to debug the existing codes and decode this logic and rebuild in SAP HANA native models like calculation views. Anyone who has experience in coding would agree with me that developing something from scratch is way easier than trying to understand someone else’s code and rebuilding it while also understanding the dependencies. Debugging an old code written by someone else is the time where a developer questions his/her life choices.
Difference between BW/4HANA and BW on HANA
This is also a fun question I’ve started getting recently. Before we get into the details, let’s address this question. Starting with BW on HANA 7.3 until BW on HANA 7.5, SAP created new types of data modeling objects and also kept optimizing the old objects as well. For example, there is a new data model called the advanced DSO (commonly called the aDSO) which is well optimized to work on SAP HANA. But at the same time, there were objects from older developments like InfoCubes and DSOs (different from aDSO). SAP kept optimizing them so that they performed better with HANA but it was like dragging along a bunch of old stuff that must be thrown out eventually.
You can also understand this with another example of the iPhone/Android updates. Whenever these operating systems get updated, they send updates to the new phones as well as some old ones. Every time a new update gets released, there will be a set of phones that won’t get the updates anymore because they have become too old to be supported.
SAP also now wants to focus on building a business warehouse with only the new objects that are optimized for SAP HANA and in line for their vision of a leaner architecture in data modeling.
So, the primary difference between BW on HANA and BW/4HANA is that BW/4HANA no longer supports those old objects like InfoCubes and DSOs. If a customer wishes to move to BW/4HANA, they need to convert all such legacy objects into newer BW/4HANA objects. SAP provides programs that can do this conversion but there will be some pre-migration effort to clean up everything that is no longer supported before moving to BW/4HANA.
Another difference here is that BW/4HANA data modeling will now take place inside the SAP HANA studio tool. We move away from the traditional SAP GUI based modeling although there are small tasks still done there. This shift started from SAP BW on HANA 7.4 and with 7.5 and now BW/4HANA, we now are almost completely shifted bases into this eclipse environment. In the future, we would see a move into a web based development environment just like SAP HANA’s Web IDE that has come in for native HANA modeling.
On the downside, BW/4HANA still doesn’t support planning applications so that’s one reason customers would want to wait for future releases/updates to migrate.
Also, from past experience, we’ve seen that jumping on to new product isn’t a great idea always as it might have a lot of bugs and missing features. It will be wiser to wait for the product to stabilize before jumping on the bandwagon.
There are many more differences but then we would learn them as the course progresses. The ones I outlined are the major differences – at least according to me.
Let’s get into the features of BW/4HANA in our next tutorial.