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One of my current clients has been pushing forward the migration of BW to HANA time and again. They got lucky it seems – as per 7 September, 2016, SAP BW on HANA was officially succeeded by BW/4HANA 1.0 (who said no more BW because of HANA??). In terms of capabilities, BW/4HANA appears not to be too different from BW7.5 SP4. But SAP stresses it is a new product. Probably that is because SAP wants to be in a position to charge you extra.  Anyway, time to review the impact on your internal SAP strategy and roadmap. Here’s how.

Let’s first have a look at the new BW/4HANA product.

Quite a few simplifications have been made to the product but the list of planned innovations is also intriguing. Some examples: SAP BW/4HANA optimized Business Content for Financials and Logistics will only arrive in 4Q16 - might be helpful indeed. Your Big Data / Machine Learning initiatives may benefit from SAP making BW available as source system type for Hadoop through Apache Spark, an open-source in-memory data processing framework. SAP BW/4HANA Analysis Process with Spark/Hadoop-based execution is planned for 2Q17. SAP is pretty progressive here: enterprise adoption of Spark is still very early, according to the Gartner Hype Cycle for Data Science, 2016. One to watch: integration with SAP’s other cloud offering like SuccessFactors and Ariba is a planned innovation with no date given just yet.

What changes in BW/4HANA when it comes to data modelling, reporting and analytics

Traditional BI Content is no longer supported (software components BI_CONT and BI_CONT_XT). Extractors - Business Content DataSources  - that are released for Operational Data Provisioning (ODP) will continue to be supported. The ODP Source System is replacing the SAP Source System in SAP BW/4HANA. Analytics are now created on top of HANA-optimized objects, like the advanced DataStore Objects (DSO) and CompositeProviders and no longer on InfoCubes and Classic DSO’s. Front-ends offerings from SAP include SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio and SAP BusinessObjects Analysis. SAP Business Explorer (BEx) is no longer supported. In addition, SAP BW/4HANA provides open interfaces for 3rd party BI tools based on SQL, MDX and oData.

What are the next-step options

If you’re using BW on HANA already, moving to BW/4HANA will require you to convert your object set again (potentially semi-automatic). Good for this current client of mine as they can go through this only once, should they decide to upgrade rather than start anew.  And since they’ve decided to keep ERP ‘s like S/4HANA in-house there’s more good news: BW/4HANA will be available as an on premise version, next to cloud versions running in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud ( HEC) and the AWS public cloud (contact ENSEAD Advisory for AWS deployments in less than two weeks).  Current BW on HANA will remain to be on the SAP product list for a while but innovations will mainly be done in BW/4HANA.

Assess the impact of BW/4HANA ASAP

Bye, bye SAP BW on HANA, hello new BW/4HANA. If not already in progress, review your internal SAP strategy and roadmap ASAP. Important considerations obviously are any current BW on HANA initiatives you have currently running, reporting tool set policies, sourcing from a cloud, impact on add-ons like SEM-BCS and BPC, impact on your planned or in-flight Big Data and MDM- initiatives, and user experience. Need support? ENSEAD Advisory can help.

Source: SAP BW/4HANA FAQ, SAP BW/4HANA Roadmap

MENDEL KOERTS joined EY Consultancy in 1996 after graduating from both Business Administration and Computing Science. He founded ENSEAD Advisory in 2011 and is associated to Gartner Consulting. As an independent IT advisor he has specialized in IT Strategy & Architecture with a specific focus on SAP-enabled Digital Transformation

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