20 Aug Can SAP HANA Enterprise Replace BI Content?
The SAP landscape has changed dramatically in the last 5 years. Specifically, in the Business Intelligence space, BW is no longer the only option an organization has when it comes to meeting its BI needs. We talk with customers a lot about what direction to go. The answer depends on a lot of factors including the current state of your environments. In this blog, I will discuss a couple of the options as well as answer the question Can SAP HANA Enterprise Replace BI Content?
Customers new to SAP will usually find that foregoing BW and implementing HANA Enterprise for their BI needs is the easy answer. This can sometimes be complicated by the need for BW dependent functions such as APO and BPC, but doesn’t have to be. HANA enterprise can still be implemented for traditional BI needs, while a small BW footprint can exist to support APO and BPC.
Other customers have mature BW environments and the options are not always as clear or straightforward. They can implement BW on HANA and gain significant boosts in ETL and report performance or alternatively, they can begin decommissioning BW and migrate their reporting to HANA Enterprise. This allows for process improvements during the migration as well as removing many of the ETL and batch processing burdens that exist today.
One concern that is consistently raised in the discussions of moving away from BW is the loss of the BI content to extract complex datasets out of ECC. Inventory is often used as a great example. Anyone who has ever implemented inventory content in BW understands that level of complexity from the standard datasource and its complex code and load procedures (not to mention days or weeks of statistical setups when reloads are need). Up until about a year ago, we had many of the same concerns and often viewed this as a reason to consider BW on HANA versus HANA Enterprise.
Those views are rapidly changing. Over the past year, our Phoenix consultants have had the opportunity to take on many of these challenges. Leveraging our strong functional and technical backgrounds, we have successfully reverse engineered many BI datasources and delivered HANA information models for many of the traditional content areas.
This includes many of the most popular datasources covering Sales & Distribution (Order, Delivery, Invoices and Pricing Conditions) as well as COPA. We have also delivered some of the more complex datasources including Inventory, Product Costing, Standard Bills of Materials and Production Order Bills of Materials.
The lesson learned after going through all of this is that the HANA Information models are not nearly as complex as you might think. Data modelers do have to change the way they think. Modelling in HANA requires mastering a brand new toolset and changing the way you think about bringing datasets together. A modeler also has to change the way they think about what is possible with large data volumes. The idea of delivering inventory balances by simply summing all issues and receipts since the beginning of time in a multi-billion row data model may seem absurd, but believe us when we tell you… It is possible. With strong analysis and design work, this information can be brought together in views that are understandable, scalable and reusable.
Another big win with this is that you will be delivering near real-time reporting as well as removing layers upon layers of BW ETL logic thus removing countless hours of batch processing. Sure SLT has its quirks, but they pale in comparison to the idea of reloading historical data from ECC to BW especially when we are talking about logistics datasources.
The question of where to take your new or existing BI landscape can be daunting and there are a lot of important factors to consider. But don’t let SAP’s BI content be one of them. The information can be modeled in HANA and the benefits are enormous.
The consultants at Phoenix Endeavors are on the front lines of this topic and are gaining valuable experience and providing unique insights to our customers. We will continue to blog about them over the coming year to hopefully help answer some of those questions and share our insights.
Brad Simon is a data architect and developer with over 18 years experience implementing business intelligence and development solutions across all versions of SAP including BW on HANA and HANA Enterprise. Brad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org