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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
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AstorhausThis blog looks at one of BW/4HANA's biggest strengths, namely to embrace both, (1) a guided or managed approach - using the highly integrated BW or BW/4 based tools and editors - and (2) a freestyle or SQL-oriented one - as prevalent in many handcrafted data warehouses (DWs) based on some relational database (RDBMS). And it is not only restricted to running those approaches side-by-side! They can also be combined in many ways which allows to tap into the best of both worlds. For instance, data can be loaded into an arbitrary table using basic SQL capabilities to then expose that table to BW/4HANA as if it were an infoprovider that can be secured via BW/4HANA's rich set of security features.

In fact, many SAP customers have one or more BW systems for (1) and one or more DW systems for (2). Those systems depend on each other as data is copied from one to the other so that each system can provide a coherent view on the data. Keeping such a system landscape in sync is not only a technical challenge. Often, separate IT teams own the respective systems. There exists a natural rivalry; they compete for resources, ownerships, who has the better SLAs, whose requirements gets precedence in situations that affect both teams or systems and so on. Fig. 1 shows that situation.

Typical customer landscape with a Business Warehouse (BW) and a SQL-based data warehouse side-by-side.
Fig. 1: Typical customer landscape with a Business Warehouse (BW) and a SQL-based data warehouse side-by-side.

The reason for the organisational and technical separation that is shown in fig. 1 is typically found in that approaches (1) and (2) appear to be mutually exclusive and, thus, ought to be separated. This has become a common perception and practice. Now and as mentioned above, BW/4HANA offers the possibility of not only a coexistence of (1) and (2) in one single system but also synergetic combinations of (1) and (2) - see figure 2.

Fig. 2: BW/4HANA combines the best of both worlds in one and the same system.


Examples for synergies between (1) and (2) - the frequently cited mixed scenarios - have been documented in various presentations, webinars, blogs and the like, sometimes still in the context of BW-on-HANA but all of that is even more applicable now to BW/4HANA as the latter has seen a number of enhancements. Here is a non-exhaustive list of material:

In a simplified way or as a summary, there is the following options:

  1. SQL → BW/4HANA: Any SQL-consumable table or view can be incorporated into BW/4HANA, e.g. augmented by BW/4HANA based semantics (like currency logic) or infrastructure (like BW/4HANA defined security).

  2. BW/4HANA → SQL: Most of the BW/4HANA based data objects (i.e. infoproviders but also BW queries) can be exposed as SQL-consumable views, potentially with a loss of some semantics.

  3. BW/4HANA ⇄ SQL: There is a number of "exit options" that allow to add SQL, SQL script, R or any other HANA supported code to BW/4HANA processing. The most popular place is the HANA Analysis Process (HAP) in BW/4HANA.


This blog can also be found here. You can find me on Twitter under @tfxz.