SAP #BW4HANA and a SQL-Based Data Warehouse Hand-in-Hand

This blog looks at one of SAP BW/4HANA’s biggest strengths,—its ability to embrace both (1) a guided or managed approach (using the highly integrated SAP Business Warehouse  or BW/4-based tools and editors) and (2) a freestyle or SQL-oriented approach (as prevalent in many handcrafted data warehouses based on some relational databases (RDBMS).

And it’s not restricted to only running those approaches side-by-side! They can also be combined in many ways, which allows users to tap into the best of both worlds. For instance, data can be loaded into an arbitrary table using basic SQL, and then that table can be exposed to SAP BW/4HANA as an info-provider, which can be secured via SAP BW/4HANA’s rich set of security features.

In fact, many SAP customers have one or more SAP Business Warehouse systems for (1) the guided approach and one or more data warehouse systems for (2) the SQL approach (see image below). Those systems depend on each other as data is copied from one to the other so that each system can provide a coherent view on the data.

Challenges of a Dual Landscape

Keeping such a system landscape in sync is not only a technical challenge. Often, separate IT teams own the respective systems. There exists a natural rivalry; they compete for resources, ownerships, who has the better SLAs, whose requirements gets precedence in situations that affect both teams or systems and so on. Fig. 1 shows that situation.

Fig. 1: Typical customer landscape with a Business Warehouse (BW) and a SQL-based data warehouse side-by-side.

The reason for the organizational and technical separation that is shown in Fig. 1:  Typically, it’s because both of these approaches appear to be mutually exclusive and, thus, ought to be separated. This has become a common perception and practice. But now, SAP BW/4HANA offers the possibility of not only a coexistence of (1) and (2) in one single system but also synergetic combinations of (1) and (2). We call these synergies mixed scenarios (see figure 2).

Fig. 2: SAP BW/4HANA combines the best of both worlds in one and the same system.

A Best-of-Both World’s Solution

We’ve documented examples of these mixed scenarios in various presentations, webinars, blogs, and the like. With the advent of SAP BW/4HANA’s latest enhancements, this material is especially worth checking out now. Here is a non-exhaustive list of assets you may want to review:

And for  a simplified view, here is  a summary  of the following options:

  1. SQL → SAP BW/4HANA: Any SQL-consumable table or view can be incorporated into BW/4HANA, e.g. augmented by SAP BW/4HANA based semantics (like currency logic) or infrastructure (like SAP BW/4HANA defined security).
  2. SAP BW/4HANA → SQL: Most of the SAP BW/4HANA based data objects (i.e. info-providers but also SAP Business Warehouse queries) can be exposed as SQL-consumable views, potentially with a loss of some semantics.
  3. SAP BW/4HANA SQL: There are a number of “exit options” that allow users to add SQL, SQL script, R or any other SAP HANA-supported code to SAP BW/4HANA processing. The most popular place is the HANA Analysis Process (HAP) in SAP BW/4HANA.

You can follow me on Twitter via @tfxz. This post was originally published on the SAP  Community blog.

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