SAP BW/4HANA 2.0 – SAP’s vision for a modern packaged data warehousing solution

The core theme for our upcoming #itelli2019 Conference taking place on the 15th May 2019 in London is “Community”. With a widening focus across our customer base at itelligence we are now finding that we are working with an array of solution communities. One such community is our ‘Analytics Community’. With each of our communities we strive to keep them informed of the latest news to ensure our customers are ahead of the curve.

As such please enjoy the following blog from David Bradley from itelligence as he looks at some of the innovations available in the forthcoming release of SAP BW/4HANA 2.0.

If after reading you want to learn more then why don’t you join our #itelli2019 Community, at our annual SAP Conference? You can apply for your #itelli2019 tickets here.

Vision or Reality?

SAP BW/4HANA 2.0 is to be released at the end of February 2019, with SAP’s mission statement for SAP BW/4HANA 2.0 as:

BW HANA

We will take a look at some of the innovations available in this latest release of BW/4HANA, the planned future direction of the solution and what this means to existing BW customers and those potentially considering BW/4HANA.

Simplicity

A key value proposition for BW/4HANA is simplification.  However, with BW/4HANA 1.0, this was often more vision than reality.  With BW/4HANA 2.0, the vision is now becoming a reality.  Take the user interface firstly; with 1.0 you found yourself having to switch between Eclipse, SAP GUI and Web Admin Cockpit – where was the simplicity here?  With the release of 2.0, we are now seeing this vision evolving. The Web Admin Cockpit has become more of a true administration cockpit, rather than just a process chain monitor.  The UI5 web-based tool, now allows you to personalise the experience, including subscriptions and notifications.  Also, a number of additional services have been added to the cockpit; including:

• Enhanced master data  and process chain maintenance
• Remodelling execution
• Data tiering maintenance
• Analysis Authorisation editor
• Volume and data statistics
• Data Protection Management (integration with ILM)

We can now see that there is a clear distinction of providing an intuitive user interface for managing the BW/4HANA application that can be accessed via desktop and mobile.  Even the good old BW statistics have been given a fresh new look, but this is more than just beautifying the existing solution.  ABAP CDS views are now used directly on the statistic tables, so no further need to schedule the loads to the standard content.

In addition, Eclipse modelling tools have also been improved.  Those objects that previously still required a visit to the SAP GUI have now been integrated into Eclipse, namely process chains, currency and unit of measure conversions.  The BW/4HANA modelling tools in Eclipse will continue to be the tool for the BW developer, and there are currently no plans to move to XSA/WebIDE.
Further additions of note to the Eclipse modelling tools include the Data Store Object remodelling; similar to the previous info provider remodelling tool but now for use with aDSOs, so no more dropping entire datasets to perform a simple redesign.  The data tiering has been optimised to allow for cold store connections to be configured at the object level.  Finally, for those of us who have experienced the frustration of having to wait for activations to complete before being able to work on other activities, there is now asynchronous object activation; so the editor is no longer blocked during activation.

Data Integration

I remember my first BW/4HANA project with the aim of connecting multiple source systems, both SAP and no SAP, to the BW application.  No problem we thought; we can utilise SAP Data Services for the non-SAP sources.  After a call with the SAP Account Manager and an SAP Data Services expert, we realised that integrating these 2 SAP products wasn’t as easy as we presumed it would be.  With BW/4HANA 2.0, we no longer need to load from Data Services to HANA tables and then load into the BW application.  With the introduction of the ‘Write Interface Enabled’ DataStore Object setting, Data Services can now write directly into Inbound Queue.

This write interface functionality can also be used for integration with SAP Cloud Platform Integration (make connections to cloud applications easy), SAP Netweaver PI and SAP Data Hub.  It should be noted that there is no open support for ETL partners.
The data integration that will be delivered through 2019 is a key driver for BW/4HANA, as this will allow all the SAP Cloud Applications to integrate with BW/4HANA.  The S/4HANA Cloud integration is planned for S/4HANA Cloud 1905 and will be based on the ABAP CDS content.

Optimisation

As of BW/4HANA 2.0, an SQL view is now created for all aDSOs.  This provides enhanced capabilities for mixed modelling scenarios and also provides access to SQL based transformations.  Within the Analytic Engine, more functions have been pushed down to the HANA layer to improve overall performance.

Data Protection

The data protection workbench is an innovation for BW/4HANA 2.0. The main highlights of the workbench are the integration of SAP ILM with BW/4HANA, thus allowing replication of notifications from ILM to BW.  This integration supports the identification of info providers containing sensitive data and the ability to delete this data selectively.

Roadmap

Returning now to the vision, what else is on the future roadmap?
SAP’s Data Warehousing as a Service (SAP DWaaS), which includes Project Blueberry, remains on the roadmap and promises to offer highly standardised industry content, with integration to SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP Data Hub.  SAP plans one common code line for BW/4HANA and DWaaS.  There is an expectation of a SAPPHIRE launch with 2H19 availability.
SAP are also looking towards automation and predictive; so using machine learning to help administer and manage the DWH and predictive techniques to improve system health monitoring.
On the Data Integration front, there will be further integration with SAP Data Hub and the modernisation of the Open Hub framework.

Wish list

So what else would I like to see on the roadmap?

As part of BW4/HANA 2.0, there will be new standard content delivered that can only be installed on a 2.0 system.  I have yet to see what is included in this add-on, but I would like to see business content across LoBs for all on-premise and cloud-based SAP applications. The content should consist of everything from data extractors to models to queries to even SAP Analytics Cloud content for faster implementation.  This could be taken further and have standard content that delivered reporting use cases across the SAP applications; for example, combining finance/sales data from S/4 with HR data from SuccessFactors or marketing data from C/4HANA.

With the future release of DWaaS, we might get some of this highly standardised industry content delivered.
I am reticent to request this, having only just got all the BW developer functionality into the Eclipse BW4 modelling tools, but I would like to have a single web-based interface for BW/4HANA.  The Web Administration Cockpit combined with an SAP Web IDE for BW/4HANA.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the SAP BW/4HANA 2.0 release is a more complete solution than the previous and is definitely much closer to the reality of a modern packaged data warehousing solution than just a vision.  So what does this mean for BW customers; existing and potential?

Both BW7.5 and BW/4HANA 2.0 currently have mainstream maintenance support until 31st December 2024.  BW/4HANA 1.0 mainstream support ends on 31st December 2021, and older versions of BW currently under mainstream support will see this end on 31st December 2020.
Therefore if you currently run BW and are not on either BW/4HANA or BW7.5, then you should be already thinking about your upgrade options.
If you are thinking of upgrading from BW7.5 to BW4/HANA 2.0, then initially it looks like you will need to go to BW/4HANA 1.0 and then upgrade to BW/4HANA 2.0.  A direct upgrade path to BW/4HANA 2.0 is planned for BW/4HANA 2.0 SP02.

For customers looking to upgrade from an older version of BW, then prior to the release of BW/4HANA 2.0, the decision on whether to upgrade to BW7.5 or BW/4HANA was an interesting one, with valid arguments for both. BW/4HANA 2.0 has changed this.

With the release of BW/4HANA2.0, I would recommend that all customers (existing and new) should strongly consider moving to BW/4HANA.  With the latest innovations and enhancements included within BW/4HANA 2.0 combined with the fact that SAP’s future focus and investment will be on that, this new version has undoubtedly tipped the scales in strengthening the business case for BW/4HANA.

For customers looking to move to DWaaS in the future, you can still move onto BW/4HANA or continue your investment in BW/4HANA, as due to SAP’s commitment to a common code line between the two offerings, migration to DWaaS from on-premise will be an option.

Want to learn more? Why don’t you join #itelli2019, our annual SAP Conference, on Wednesday 15th May 2019? You can apply for your #itelli2019 tickets here.

Written by David Bradley, SAP Solution Architect – BI Analytics, Itelligence

 


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