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BW/4HANA development best practice : go max HANA or use BW objects

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This is a bit of a read and a bit philosophical, so my apologies.

With BW4HANA we have our BW toolbox with ADSO's, master data, composite's, etc as well as the ability to use HANA DB capabilities like table functions, calculation views etc.

I now have a different approach than a senior developer in my team. I will use the HANA capabilities more conservatively. In the end I will have a more traditional composite provider with characteristics, master data attributes and some keyfigures leaving some work for the queries in the way of selected and calculated keyfigures, for example.

My colleague on the other hand goes full on HANA. Extracting the data to ADSO's and then using table functions, calculation views, etc on the underlying tables to deliver a final view that has everything, from joined master data to calculated and restricted keyfigures, so that there is little work required in bex queries.

My composite would have maybe a few keyfigures and further selections would be made in the query, where his composite could have more than hundred.

His way of working has some advantages, it could be faster, because selections are pushed to hana and it is more easily used in other reporting environments by business users because the view has everything precalculated.

But I think there are some disadvantages too. It is more difficult for another developer to understand, harder to maintain and does not leverage the capabilities of BW. Subjectively, I also find it not very elegant to have an explosion of keyfigures in the view and composite provider.

How do you work? Is there a consensus on best practice? Are there guidelines for SAP on this matter? I haven't been able to find anything.

I'm very interested to hear other thoughts.

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Hi Jorg,

Before the technical aspects, key differentiator would be the license type.

Most of the customers prefer "HANA Runtime". Such a license type limits most of the HANA modelling functionalities. In that case, BW modelling would be the only choice for most scenarios

Apart from the license, my approach depends based on the source of data.

BI Content solves or helps for most of the SAP source systems. For instance, I see no advantage of modelling S/4HANA data (SD, FI, MM etc.) from scratch on HANA.

In terms of virtual layers as you've mentioned, BW composite provider and query designer still have advantages compared to HANA modelling objects. For instance, you simply add your characteristics to your composite provider and all attributes, texts, hierarchies are ready to use. However, this will be done manually on calculation views by projections, joins etc. Considering the number of characteristics/dimensions it makes a huge difference.

I faced some scenarios in the past that HANA modelling were easier or performed better.

However, lately I managed to solve such problems with ABAP CDS views as well.

There're also challanges for a hybrid approach. You have to manage users, authorizations, monitoring, administration etc. on both environments. The question here would be "Is it worth it?".

What I've noticed so far is; if people are familiar with BW modelling tools and feel confident with that, no problem to choose it. However, when they have a SQL background, they probably go with HANA modelling.