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.

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  1. hello sir, i started reading your tutorials. they are easy to understand. i found only few pages on SAP BW/4HANA. i guess you didnt stop writing. waitinf for yout tutorial on SAP BW/4HANA. thanks in advance

    • BW/4HANA will take around 2 months to finish. I am taking screenshots right now. Need to write, edit, post and optimize the pages.

  2. Hi Shyam,

    kindly post the BW on hana concepts as well like Adv dso, Composit provider etc..

    your postings are so useful for beginners as well experience guy’s.


  3. native hana
    bw powered by hana
    bw/4 hana
    bw 7.5 all are different components … SAP making chaos & confusion .

    Are you planning to put BW7.5 tutorials ?? Awaiting for your response.

    • Chaos isn’t always bad my friend if you are informed enough.
      Each of them have their use cases and you can be the one being paid to lead others out of chaos with your experience in this domain.
      I am planning for BW/4HANA tutorials..which I have already screen capped since the last 3 months but haven’t got the time to upload.
      Would do all of this as soon as I can. Can’t put a date on it as I have too much going on professionally and personally to commit right now.


  4. Hi Shyam,

    your blog is really helpful.. thank you for the clear explanations. I would really really love to learn more from you.. Can you upload the rest soon cuz I am early waiting to learn more from you..

  5. Hi Shyma,
    Your blogs are really helpful . I am working on SAP BODS from last 5 years so please suggest me ,which technology I should learn now for my career growth.

  6. Hey, Shyamuthaman, excellent work buddy.??
    By when do you think SAP will phase out total dependency on the gui? I mean from maintenance and data management aspects, gui based functionalities still matter very much. Ain’t it?
    Thanks for answering.

    • Thanks. They are phasing it out slowly but I think it might take another few years to let it go. It’s probably hard to recreate all of it.
      SAP is focusing on web based IDEs now ..and I presume they would want a fully web interface for BW in the future instead of investing time on integrating BW into a secondary eclipse tool. They’ve already done that for native HANA.

  7. shyamuthaman, could you please suggest me that which would be in demand in future is it BW on HANA or BW/4 HANA and why. Which certification would be helpful.

    • Near future would see lots of BW and BW on HANA to BW4HANA migrations. Of course BW4HANA will be the true future for BW.
      If you have to spend money, I would recommend spending on BW4HANA. But you need to know traditional BW to be able to work on real-time projects where migrations are going on.

      • Thank you:-), Currently I’m working as a SAP BI consultant.
        I want some suggestions regarding BW4Hana and some certification stuff if you could provide so that it would be helpful for me to go through that.

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