Introduction to SAP BW4HANA

1. What is BW/4HANA?

BW/4HANA is the next-generation SAP data warehouse application, which was introduced early in September 2016.  BW/4HANA has evolved from BW and is completely optimized and tailored to SAP HANA.  The BW/4HANA code, which is intertwined with SAP HANA engines and libraries, can run only on SAP HANA.

2. Why SAP BW/4 HANA


A survey of over 250 customers worldwide showed that revenue growth is proportional to agility.  Agility, therefore, has a significant impact on the results of any organization.  In SAP BW/4 HANA, SAP has simplified the data models and upgraded to friendlier user interfaces to make the product easier to use.  SAP BW/4 HANA's first customer Fairfax Media, managed to complete a 6-month project within three months' time.

New Deployment Option

In addition to agility, BW/4HANA gives you some new deployment options.  Other than deployment on premise, customers can now deploy on the cloud also, thus giving them the ability to complete their project very quickly.  They can test and build things on the cloud, and if they want, they can choose to deploy back on premise.

The next generation Data Warehouse

With its logical data warehouse approach, IoT handling capability and data lakes, SAP BW / 4 HANA is undoubtedly the next generation Data Warehouse solution.

3. How can a customer move to SAP BW/4 HANA?

SAP BW/4 HANA requires SAP BW 7.5, SP 4 or higher.  To migrate to SAP BW/4 HANA, SAP has introduced the SAP BW/4HANA Starter Add-On, which uses transfer tools to make the system ready for SAP BW/4HANA.  However, from a functional perspective, it's the same.  It allows you to move the objects from BW powered by HANA to BW/4HANA.

4. SAP BW/4 HANA and SAP Powered by HANA

BW/4HANA and BW powered by HANA have a lot of things in common. First of all, BW/4HANA is a logical continuation of everything we did with BW and BW powered by HANA.  Some of the basic fundamental principles of SAP HANA are:

  • OLAP
  • ETL
  • Modeling
  • Lifecycle Management
  • Scheduling and Monitoring
  • Planning

All the above aspects which BW covers, the way it integrates all these elements in one integrated application – all this continues to hold. So, you will feel quite familiar with the way you integrate and transform data and the way you define queries.

However there are some fundamental differences such as the ones listed below:

  • SAP BW/4 HANA is a new product and not part of SAP NetWeaver, except a very few components.
  • It has introduced an innovative code line which runs only on SAP HANA database.
  • It supports only SAP HANA optimized objects.

5. SAP BW/4 HANA Design Principles

5.1 Modelling Objects

There were around ten different modeling objects in BW. Now, it has been reduced to around four modeling objects in SAP BW/4 HANA, thus increasing the simplicity.


SAP BW/4 HANA Design Principles

5.2 Architecture

Less Persistence Layers

You don't have any mandatory layers just for performance reasons. Basically, a query can run on any layer.

Leaner and more flexible architecture

In the composite provider, we can combine data from various layers independently, so we don’t have to bring data into one common layer to combine it.

Reduced the development effort

The lesser number of layers have dramatically reduced the development effort.

5.3 Operations

We have 3 different options-

  • HANA Enterprise Cloud
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Microsoft Azure

User Interfaces

The most important change is that the BEx front end is not supported in SAP BW/4 HANA anymore.  SAP has moved from the BEx Analyzer in the direction of Business Objects suite. Do note that the BEx queries are still there as BW queries.

6.1 SAP Business Objects for Business Users

  • SAP Business Objects Cloud
  • SAP Business Objects Design Studio
  • SAP Business Objects Analysis

6.2 User Interfaces for Modeling and Administration

For modeling, we have an Eclipse-based design interface and for administration, we have UI5 applications.  SAP has introduced the “data flow modeler” for the eclipse-based modeling side. To start modeling, this is quite easy, fast, and agile.

7. Performance Principles

7.1 Pushdown of computations

We will be pushing down most of the computations from the OLAP side into the HANA database, i.e., all the OLAP functionalities are pushed down to the HANA engines, thus increasing the performance.  The calculations or computations will be performed in the HANA database, and only the result will be passed on to the presentation layer.

7.2 Integration of SAP HANA Platform Capabilities

SAP BW/4 HANA leverages the high performance of HANA engines inside BW.  For example, integrating the data which you manipulated or logically enriched in a HANA model into BW is possible (we've already seen that in BW powered by HANA) and the same holds true for data integration and data transformation. SAP BW/4 HANA also leverages all kinds of libraries, functionalities, and algorithms which the HANA platform brings, typically via the HANA analysis process in BW. This way it can integrate all of them into a BW-managed process, and execute those functionalities with data inside BW by writing it into another BW container.

8. Conclusion

SAP BW/4 HANA is going to be the next generation Data Warehousing solution.  This is an extension of the existing solution with a focus on making it much easier, faster, and more efficient for customers to deploy SAP solutions for their business.

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Renjith Rajeev's picture
Renjith Rajeev
SAP Consultant

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