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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
Customers often ask themselves what their path from classic SAP BW on premise to SAP Datasphere might look like. In this blog we will specifically look at the different modernization approaches and show the respective differences.

First, I would like to guide you quickly through our Statement of direction. Many of you have maybe seen, that we have updated the current version a few weeks before.

SAP Datasphere is our strategic target solution for all data warehouse and data management use cases in the public cloud.

With the change towards the public cloud, we are in a transition compared to the old SAP BW on premise solution.

If you like to protect your investments from SAP BW, you can build on existing skills with our tool-supported move with SAP BW bridge.

SAP Datasphere fully supports the RISE & GROW with SAP strategies, and we offer a 90 day trial option which can be transferred to a productive environment later on. Our strong SAP Partner Network can help you to start your journey from the on premise world towards our cloud solution.

Statement of direction 1

To ease the transition of our installed base customers, we offer public cloud, as well as private cloud options in RISE with SAP, enabling them to make the right technology choice for their business needs.

While SAP Datasphere is a ready-to-run cloud application that delivers the latest best practices and continuous innovation, the SAP BW/4HANA Cloud, private edition is a tailored-to-fit cloud offering, helping customers adapt to their unique transformation needs.​​

SAP ERP customers moving to SAP S/4HANA Cloud (leveraging our “RISE with SAP” strategy), need to consider a way forward for their on-prem SAP BW deployments. Some operational reporting/analytics workflows can be moved to SAP S/4HANA Cloud (and get covered by the embedded analytics), but for the most part, the need for comprehensive data and analytics functionality (including data warehousing) will remain.​

In order to help customers transition to a modern business data fabric with SAP Datasphere, we support several innovation journey paths – especially considering the pending end of maintenance of SAP BW. For example, customers that have already invested into a project to move from SAP BW to SAP BW/4HANA should continue on that path in order to land on a supported and full-featured product version. ​

They can then move to SAP Datasphere directly or simply add SAP Datasphere to extend their business warehouse deployment with the innovation, openness, and self-service abilities in a hybrid scenario. Over time, the workloads can get increasingly shifted to SAP Datasphere, and customers can even leverage the SAP BW bridge component to re-use and integrate BW objects with a tool-supported move, or leverage the BW-based data ingestion and staging, including the BW/4HANA business content as an accelerator.​

In some cases, customers can already move their BW systems directly to SAP Datasphere and that is also the recommended solution for Business Suite customers that don’t have a BW deployment.​

Regardless which initial path the customer chooses, they can always move forward to SAP Datasphere – both, technically (BW bridge and tool-supported move) and commercially (private cloud subscriptions can be converted to public cloud subscriptions).​


Statement of direction 2


Why are we talking about modernization?

As I have already explained SAP Datasphere is our strategic target solution and the successor of SAP BW and SAP BW/4HANA. It is important to understand that when it comes to Move to SAP Datasphere, we are not talking about a migration as it was previously the case in the Business Warehouse. Rather, we are talking about modernizing the data warehousing architecture.

In order to decide which data warehousing architecture is the right for you, an understanding of the company data stored in classic SAP BW is elementary. It is primarily about categorizing existing data. These can be divided into 3 sub-areas. On the one hand, there is of course always reporting-relevant data, which is in most cases the current year and the previous year. Active staging data is still updated regularly and covers, for example, the last 3-5 years. The largest database is mostly legacy-relevant data, which is still available due to regulatory requirements, but is very rarely reported or used.

Understand your data beyond the data model


In the SAP BW world all data was centrally stored on premise without having a clear data categorization concept. That was possible because resources required were not that relevant.

Some customers took the first step towards a data strategy by leveraging SAP IQ as cold data storage.

A public cloud strategy needs data categorization, because cloud resources are dependent on the hyperscaler offering and the cost of a data foot print becomes an important factor to consider.


What was your data strategy based on SAP BW?


Explore your options

Let’s jump directly more into the detail and talk about the options how to move to SAP Datasphere. First of all, as I have already mentioned we are not talking about a regular conversion like in the past, rather we talk about a modernization approach.

Some customers also come to the conclusion that they want to start completely new with SAP Datasphere, because their current SAP BW data models are outdated and not worth bringing into the new architecture. That means building up a business data fabric without any of the constraints of a legacy deployment/approach.​ Complete focus on modernization and a simplified data landscape.

Other customers decide for example starting on a greenfield with the development of a common data layer on legacy data in proven SAP BW technology with all unique functions such as transforming data, managing data loading with partitioning, monitoring or error handling. ​

Combine proven SAP BW functionality with modern cloud architecture and take your business warehouse to the next level. The Entity Import or SAP BW/4HANA Model Import in SAP Datasphere automatically creates a new Analytic Model in the DataBuilder based on SAP BW artifacts and queries. Business Layer Artifacts like Dimensions or Consumptions are also created optional.

When it comes to securing investments and skills, there is no getting around of SAP BW bridge in SAP Datasphere. You can move your SAP BW models and queries to the SAP BW bridge with a tool-supported conversion.

As I have already mentioned, the Entity Import for SAP BW bridge in SAP Datasphere automatically creates a new Analytic Model in the DataBuilder. In comparison to the BW/4HANA Model Import, we resolve the composite Provider for example specially for SAP BW bridge and the Architecture Approach in SAP Datasphere.

Our last option shown here is aimed specifically at customers who want to release data models from SAP BW/4HANA and take them over in the direction of Datasphere.

In the first step, SAP BW/4HANA Hybrid can be used with SAP Datasphere. In addition to the advantages already explained in option 3, a synchronization option can be used between SAP BW/4HANA as the source and SAP BW bridge as the target system.

This allows to keep data models in sync until the final data model has been transferred to SAP BW bridge and SAP Datasphere. The old data flow in SAP BW/4HANA can then be removed from the reporting.


Explore your options

Let's quickly delve a bit more into the details and explore both the Big Bang approach and a gradual transition to SAP Datasphere.

By Big Bang we understand the direct takeover of SAP BW related Dataflows towards the public cloud and our strategic target solution SAP Datasphere. Of course, this does not mean that all existing data models have to be adopted in one step. By using a Shell conversion, you migrate “scopes” from the SAP BW context. These can be of different sizes and contain only individual data flows.

Utilize the remaining time until the end of maintenance in 2027 and, in the meantime bring all used data flows in the direction of SAP BW bridge and modernize your query layer with our Entity Import in SAP Datasphere. The SAP BW bridge Space in SAP Datasphere is automatically provided from our side and acts as an inbound space for all SAP BW bridge related data models.

Via the model import, a remote table on all part providers of a BW Composite Provider is created and a remote table on all assigned Info Objects with master data as well. On top of that, an analytical dataset reflects your composite provider where all part providers are joined together again. The new query artifact is the analytic model, this one should be used for reporting purposes within SAP Analytics Cloud.


Big Bang

Big Bang

Gradual Transition 

Many customers also face the challenge that not all company data can be stored in the public cloud or that regular SAP BW functionality with for example add-ons or hybrid models are still required.

In this case, the gradual transition comes into play. As already mentioned in the previously, we provide support for SAP BW/4HANA until 2040. We are currently planning to deliver a new product version every 2 years and this year for example SAP BW/4HANA 2023 will be released.

Customers who decide to move towards SAP BW/4HANA as an initial step can start with hybrid scenarios with SAP Datasphere and import data models into SAP Datasphere even without SAP BW bridge. I'll explain the difference in a short demo afterwards.

Especially for customers who have already migrated to SAP BW/4HANA or are currently planning to do so, we offer an easy synchronization option of meta data between SAP BW/4HANA as a sender and SAP BW bridge as a target system.

SAP BW bridge is based on the same codeline as SAP BW/4HANA and can therefore be combined very easily.

This means that data models can slowly be removed from SAP BW/4HANA at your own pace and transferred to the SAP BW bridge. The synchronization option allows data models to be overwritten multiple times in the target system if changes in the original data flow in SAP BW/4HANA had to be implemented later.

After the respective data model has been completely adopted and kept in sync, the original data flow in SAP BW/4HANA can be switched off and the data supply for the respective reports comes via SAP Datasphere with SAP BW bridge.

Gradual Transition


Complexity drivers

As already mentioned, when we talk about a modernization of the data warehousing architecture, it is important to know what the complexity drivers are.

When we look at a complex SAP BW architecture, complexity drivers are quite easy to identify. These 6 SAP BW features make your SAP BW architecture complex:

  1. SAP BW Queries based on the OLAP engine

  2. NON ODP Sources

  3. OpenHubs

  4. APD’s

  5. Add-ons like BPC or BCS

  6. Mixed Modeling

All customers use classic SAP BW queries based on the OLAP engine. This changes with SAP Datasphere.

SAP Datasphere is our semantic layer combining data from several sources & layers and covers the same functionality as OLAP queries.​

Many query features have already been implemented. Others have been identified and are listed as roadmap items.

SAP BW bridge is our ingestion/staging layer for SAP related sources like SAP ECC or S/4HANA. Important to understand in this regard is that all other sources must be migrated to the SAP Datasphere Core.

SAP Datasphere provides many more data source types than SAP BW. All data sources that were available in SAP BW are equally available in SAP Datasphere.​

A classic SAP BW is often used to distribute company data. Using OpenHub, CSV files are sent to other target systems. In SAP Datasphere, data can be made accessible to other target systems via API.

Typically, the Analysis Process Designer (APD) is used to discover and identify hidden or complex relationships between data from various databases in a company's systems. The analysis results are saved in BW data targets. For SAP BW/4HANA, there is a conversion option offered into dataflow objects. In SAP Datasphere you have the option to modernize the analysis process with a DataFlow artefact (manual).

Another effort driver within the modernization approach are classic add-ons that were used in SAP BW such as BPC for planning or SEM-BCS for consolidation. SAP BW add-ons are not supported in ​SAP Datasphere or SAP BW bridge.

Strategically, the successor for SAP BCS is S/4HANA Group reporting. The successor for SAP BPC is SAP Analytics Cloud Planning

For SAP BW/4HANA, we support the consolidation add-on (SAP BCS4/HANA) and SAP BCS is aligned with the SAP S/4HANA maintenance strategy​.

The last identified challenge is mixed modeling. SAP HANA on-prem is based on XS Classic, while the SAP HANA Cloud engine underlying SAP Datasphere is based on XS Advanced (XSA).

Due to this challenge, a migration cannot be offered currently.


Complexity drivers


In this year's Devtoberfest you will learn more about our strategy, BW MOVE.

Both sessions are planned for October 12, 2023 and can be found at the following link.

BW MOVE: Explore Your Modernization options

Conversion Deep Dive to SAP Datasphere


Please let me know if you have any detailed questions regarding BW MOVE or the journey to SAP Datasphere.