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I recently wrote a blog on the “BExit” strategy, which highlighted SAP business intelligence (BI)and analytics solutions for SAP Business Explorer (BEx) users to consider as they plan on moving to SAP BW/4HANA. SAP Analytics Cloud (which I referred to by its former name, SAP BusinessObjects Cloud) is certainly one of these new modern solutions that will transform BI and analytics in the SAP BW/4 era. I’d like to come back to it to articulate its value in more details in the context of SAP BW/4HANA.

Agile Data Warehousing

It’s well known by now that SAP BW/4HANA offers the agility of a modern data warehousing solution: it simplifies data modeling, modernizes the user experience, and runs natively on SAP HANA for high performance. There is even more to its agility—SAP BW/4 also offers the flexibility of a solution that can be deployed on premise or in the cloud.

Not only is SAP BW/4 available for deployment on premise, but you can also deploy it via managed cloud offerings such as SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. To spin up SAP BW/4 in these managed cloud environments is very fast and with minimal up-front costs.

Your application can be provisioned and ready for use in hours—typical on-premise setups just can’t match it, can they?

The Ideal Companion

If you’re looking for this kind of high flexibility, then SAP Analytics Cloud will be the ideal companion for your SAP BW/4 application. It offers modern self-service BI along with planning and predictive analytics, all in one product delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS)to the public.

It’s a true SaaS solution, built natively on the SAP Cloud Platform, with no operating system constraints and nothing to download or set up. Its user-friendly, intuitive interface has been designed from the start for modern Web browsers and mobile devices, so that any user can collect, analyze, simulate, plan, and predict using any data on one screen, at any time, without waiting for IT support. SAP Analytics Cloud also leverages a hybrid data access architecture that will support your organization’s journey to the cloud with versatile end-to-end scenarios from hybrid to full cloud with data acquisition or online connectivity.

Hybrid Deployment

So, should your corporate strategy focus on keeping your application, data sources, and data warehouse on premise in your data center, then you can go—or simply start—hybrid and keep SAP BW/4 running on premise while connecting SAP Analytics Cloud. We see many customers following such a strategy with a goal to address concerns over data security.

In that scenario, you benefit from online connectivity to SAP BW/4 in SAP Analytics Cloud which keeps all SAP BW/4 data secure within your corporate network. A reverse proxy set on the SAP BW/4 server manages data access and ensures that no data crosses the firewall. Only metadata is managed in the Cloud on the SAP Analytics Cloud side.

Cloud Deployment

Now, should you have applications and data sources already available in the cloud, then to deploy SAP BW/4 in one of the managed cloud environments mentioned above makes a lot of sense to continue on your path toward more agility. SAP Analytics Cloud is then the perfect fit. The same online connectivity we discussed before for hybrid deployments can apply and you don’t even have to move data from SAP BW/4 to SAP Analytics Cloud, so that all data access authorization settings remain managed on the SAP BW/4 side.

Data Acquisition

While online connectivity is best suited to address concerns over data security, especially in a hybrid deployment, there is another way to pull data into SAP Analytics Cloud—data acquisition. Data acquisition is required to apply SAP Analytics Cloud capabilities in three key areas:

  • Self-service BI (data preparation, modeling, and blending),

  • Smart BI based on machine learning (forecasting, key influencers, target measure simulation), and

  • Planning (write-back).

If you require any of these capabilities with SAP BW/4, then data acquisition will be your option and you’ll manage data authorizations at the SAP Analytics Cloud level.

Native Integration

Whether you go for online connectivity or data acquisition in SAP Analytics Cloud to best cope with your unique business requirements, a very interesting element to keep in mind is that you’ll always enjoy a strong and unique integration to SAP BW/4. Data access to SAP BW/4(for both online connectivity and data acquisition) goes through a native data access interface to BW query which delivers support for most popular metadata set at the SAP BW/BEx level. This provides a functionally tighter integration than MDX queries or SQL queries to underlying SAP HANA calculation views. To get more information about BW query compatibility with SAP Analytics Cloud, please consult relevant help topics for online connectivity and data acquisition.

So, are you interested to explore further the enhanced agility that SAP BW/4HANA plus SAP Analytics Cloud have to offer? Don’t hesitate to visit our web page for more information on SAP Analytics Cloud and its value for SAP BW/4 users. You can even give it a try for free (with no connection to SAP BW).

I’d be very interested in your perspective and feedback. We can continue the discussion here, by e-mail, or on Twitter @taudas

This article originally appeared on the  SAP HANA blog and has been republished with permission.