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SAP HANA has brought exciting innovation into the stagnating database market. As many of you know SAP HANA is not just a fast database (it does that very well anyway!) but also a built in application platform.  One of the interesting usage scenarios for HANA, is SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA (popularly known as BW on HANA).

My team and I have been lucky enough to have engaged in some very early HANA and BW on HANA projects. In this blog, I will discuss some of the BW on HANA scenarios & how SAP has worked with our customers to exploit the power of BW on HANA.

BW is on 17,000 productive instances and continues growing in installed based. BW on HANA is SAP‘s strategic EDW solution, the product direction and roadmap had been provided clearly by SAP from the start. You can find more info in these blogs: Blog: Does SAP HANA Replace BW? (Hint: No.); Why BW and HANA are such a good combination; The HANA EDW

Our customers were eager to adopt BW on HANA solution and many have already gone live. As a solution with a large installed base our customers deploy in 5 different scenarios:

  1. Rapid database migration of BW on RDBMS to BW on HANA
  2. BW on HANA fresh installation and moving only the required, data models  & content, in the process optimize and cleanup the BW system
  3. Carving out a part of large BW and moving only relevant content (maybe for a business unit or region)
  4. HANA as real time, high value agile/custom data mart and later migrating BW to BW on HANA
  5. New projects, initiatives on new BW on HANA installations

Scenario 1:

This scenario is probably the most popular, where customer migrate the entire BW database to HANA. This is one of the fastest ways to exploit the power of HANA and show real value to end users. BW BEx queries perform 20x-30x faster compared to legacy DB. The benefit of this approach is that it’s simple, fast and doesn’t require any changes to the BW layer. Reports, data loading & planning functions perform much better and IT can show some real tangible benefits to business users quickly.

Our team has worked and working on many such projects, we have migrated up to 11TB database in a scale out scenario. There are many other such projects running across the world, the largest I know of for an Oil & Gas customer with 30TB+ BW system.

Scenario 2:

This scenario is an ideal opportunity to optimize BW system by eliminating data models not required anymore, and at the same time migrate to BW on HANA. Many customers have taken this approach to migrate to BW on HANA and cleanup the system at the same time.

Based upon this approach, my team is about to start work for a major distributor of electronic components. This customer is operating in multiple time zones and sometimes reports take more than a day to get refreshed with data. The idea here is to make the system leaner by moving only relevant content and setting up the base for revamping EDW based on BW on HANA.

Scenario 3:

This scenario is similar the one above but the difference being some customers like to carve out and maintain both old BW on RDBMS and new BW on HANA for a while. There are few reasons for this, for example, like 1 business unit/region might be ready, budget constraints, risk mitigation etc. I am currently discussing with a customer (conglomerate in commercial products, aerospace, engineering) CoE on what are the good use cases to deploy HANA and generate “user-pull” for HANA. As you can imagine in a large organization with a geographical & business spread, there are many BW & reporting solutions.

One of the scenarios is to carve out a BW on HANA system only for corporate level consolidated reporting, as there is interest from that part of the business. Corporate level reporting has anyway its own structures and requirements different to a BW system for a business unit.

Scenario 4:

This scenario is a mix of separate HANA for agile data mart (i.e. create data in marts for specific high value scenarios) and then move the BW on RDBMS to BW on HANA. There are customers who are either live or have projects running on this scenario. You may wonder why we have 2 different HANA options? Simple, there is a business opportunity/issue which needs a solution. These high value targeted use cases can be sometimes best solved by HANA agile data mart. 

We worked on a similar approach for a retail customer in Latin America where HANA agile data mart went live. Shortly after that, customer signed up to start migrating their BW to BW on HANA. A clear endorsement they saw of the value of HANA in 2 different deployment options!

A handy feature you can exploit is that, BW data models can consume data from HANA models (from HANA data mart). So BW can now get real time data from HANA and consume it at run time

Scenario 5:

This scenario is obviously when customers want to have a new EDW solution. For example, a very large oil & gas customer is taking advantage of BW on HANA to revamp their Data Warehousing platform for a big part of their business. They are laying the foundation for analytics by completely revamping reporting with BW on HANA.  I often work this customer team to provide advice on BW design, utilizing SLT for real time with BW, using BO tools for visualizations.

One of the interesting aspects of BW on HANA adoption is that, customers are looking at this as an opportunity to enable appealing visualisations, dashboards & mobile analytics with Business Objects 4.x. 

For any mature EDW it is a given fact you need a data aging strategy. SAP BW introduced Near Line Storage (NLS) along with partners with BW 7.0. Now you can implement data aging or multi temperate data with SAPs own BW NLS based on Sybase IQ. You can find more SAP BW Near Line Storage solution (NLS) based on SAP IQ.

For those of you want to understand the uniqueness of BW on HANA and the value HANA brings to BW solution please read this blog: Blog: What Makes #BW-on-HANA So Unique!


We had looked at many different ways in which BW on HANA is being deployed across a spectrum of customers. This blog was BW on HANA focused, but I want to quickly touch upon different ways HANA can bring innovative solutions to our customers.

SAP’s customer base is huge and we come across varied business challenges. That’s why HANA can be delivered in different scenarios  as, platform, with content, accelerator, products on HANA and next generation applications. The following illustration is a favorite of mine, which gives you a quick view of how HANA can help our customers perform better:

Click here for more info about SAP HANA Services