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Unveiling SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse 7.3: Streamlined Data Modeling, Enhanced Data Provisioning, Improved Performance, and More New Features for SAP Customers

by Lothar Henkes | SAPinsider

October 1, 2010

In the last few years, SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse showed constant growth as an integrated, scalable enterprise data warehouse. As SAP unveils the latest release, SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse 7.3, SAPinsider reviews its key features and benefits—from easier data modeling to enhanced data provisioning to improved data loading performance.
 

More than 11,000 customers are using SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) as their integrated, scalable enterprise data warehouse (EDW).1 This robust solution, which supports various database platforms, enables companies to promote better decision making. Information from various parts of an organization — and its different systems — is consolidated so users can have a 360-degree view of company data, both current and historical. SAP NetWeaver BW contains predefined data models and patterns, as well as tools for data integration, data management, and information lifecycle management.  

SAP NetWeaver BW showed constant growth in the last few years, despite the recent economic downturn. Organizations that have been running SAP NetWeaver BW, as well as customers who are new to the offering, can benefit from the new features SAP is unveiling in the solution’s latest release, SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 (see sidebar). These enhancements enable easier data modeling, enhanced data provisioning, improved data loading performance, and more (see Figure 1).

Let’s investigate the key features and benefits of the new release in more detail.

 

         New Enhancements

         Key Features

         Business Benefits 

Streamlined Data Modeling 

  • Automated semantic partitioning
  • Wizard that guides the user through automated creation of semantic partitions to create scalable data containers
  • Reduced development efforts
  • Accelerated enterprise data warehouse (EDW) implementation
  • New graphical capabilities
  • Top-down approach to build complex data flows
  • Ability to create a graphic as data flows are built
  • Predefined templates
  • Data Flow Copy tool, Data Flow Migration tool, and Data Flow Wizard
 
  • Simplified data flow design and modeling
  • Accelerated EDW implementation

Improved Data Provisioning

  • Technical coding improvements
  • Targeted coding updates that boost load performance
  • Faster data loading
  • Close integration of SAP BusinessObjects Data Services with SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3
  • Direct connection between SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 and SAP BusinessObjects Data Integrator that enables external data to be brought in and generates metadata and data flows
  • Full functionality of an extract, transform, and load (ETL) tool
  • New impact analysis and data lineage capabilities
  • Integration with SAP BusinessObjects Metadata Management
  • Visualization of objects affected by changes to metadata
  • Trusted information
  • New HybridProvider capabilities
  • HybridProvider that can combine real-time data with historical data
  • Fast and easy modeling for reporting scenarios that require real-time and historical data

Interaction with SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator  

  • Interaction with SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator
  • Analytical functions processed by SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator
  • Analysis Process Designer that creates analytical indexes
  • Faster access to data in DataStore Objects
  • Enhanced performance related to analytical capabilities
  • Shorter response times, leading to faster, more accurate decision making
Figure 1 An overview of the key enhancements available with SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3

Simplified, Streamlined Data Modeling

Enhancements in SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 enable easier and more streamlined data modeling with automated semantic partitioning and new graphical capabilities. 

Automated Semantic Partitioning

The goal of semantic partitioned objects (SPOs) is to model a semantic partition once and then apply the model repeatedly in order to create and maintain highly scalable data containers while reducing development efforts.

In earlier SAP NetWeaver BW releases, multiple manual steps are required to achieve semantic partitioning and scalable data containers. For example, if an administrator needs to create 20 partitions (broken down by geography, year, business unit, and so on), he or she has to run through every step manually, linking transformations and data transfer processes (DTPs) and creating process chains. And if the partitions need to be modified, then the administrator has to start over and apply each change manually.

With SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3, semantic partitioning has been significantly simplified with a wizard that automates the creation of SPOs and guides users through the process (see Figure 2). An administrator can now use automated semantic partitioning to create InfoProviders that consist of multiple DataStore Objects or InfoCubes with the same structure. This leads to highly scalable data containers when data is loaded. An administrator can also load the objects in parallel, enabling better performance.

This automation drastically reduces the manual effort required to create, maintain, and change semantic partitions, and it enables fast implementation of enterprise data warehousing with SAP NetWeaver BW.

Figure 2 In SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3, a wizard simplifies the creation of semantic partitioned objects

New Graphical Capabilities

SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 also features new capabilities for graphical data flow modeling to help simplify data flow design and accelerate an EDW implementation. Using the drag-and-drop technique, an administrator can easily build complex, end-to-end data flows (see Figure 3) — from a DataSource to an Open Hub destination. This top-down approach — starting to design the data flow from a high level — guarantees a two-stage procedure: graphical modeling on a meta level that can then be implemented in the relevant technical objects. With the ability to immediately generate a graphic as data flows are built, an administrator can design the model more easily. He or she can start with a high-level blueprint of the data flow, discuss this graphic with team members, and then use it to implement metaobjects. The data flow graphic can also be reused as a template across the organization.

Figure 3 A graphical data flow created with SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 using the drag-and-drop technique

In addition, SAP offers predefined graphical models that customers can use as templates and modify as necessary. For example, models are available for creating a layered scalable architecture (LSA) — an implementation guide recommended by SAP for flexible and scalable EDW solutions.

Further enhancements in the area of data flow modeling include:

  • A Data Flow Copy tool to copy complete data flows and process chains
  • A Data Flow Migration tool to easily migrate — or reverse migrate — complete data flows with automatic adaption of related InfoPackages and process chains
  • A Data Flow Wizard to automatically create complete data flows from a DataSource

Improved Data Provisioning

As an enterprise creates and works with more and more data that needs to be loaded into SAP NetWeaver BW, load performance becomes increasingly important. With SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3, data loading in DataStore Objects has increased by approximately 40% as a result of technical coding improvements. The load performance has also been optimized for both initial loading and subsequent delta loading of master data.

Increased Flexibility with Non-SAP Systems

The close integration of SAP BusinessObjects Data Services with SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 enables SAP NetWeaver BW to be significantly more open and flexible toward non-SAP systems, making it easier to bring in external data.2 The direct connection between SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 and SAP BusinessObjects Data Integrator (technically realized using the new source system type “Data Services”) enables you to establish connections between SAP NetWeaver BW and non-SAP systems, and trigger the generation of metadata and data flows. With the integration of SAP BusinessObjects Data Integrator, which has predefined extractors for non-SAP systems, companies now have the full functionality of a complete extract, transform, and load (ETL) tool.

New Impact Analysis and Data Lineage Capabilities

By using SAP BusinessObjects Metadata Management, SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 customers can now benefit from the advantages of change impact analysis and end-to-end data lineage in heterogeneous environments (see Figure 4). When an administrator wants to change metadata, such as DataStore Objects, InfoProviders, and queries, he or she can visualize all of the objects that would be affected by the change.

SAP BusinessObjects Metadata Management also allows users to see the lineage of their data — that is, earlier transformations made before the data was loaded into the system. The visibility into data lineage ensures that you can trust the information because you can see where the data is coming from and what transformations have been made.

Figure 4 Change impact analysis and end-to-end data lineage in heterogeneous environments

New HybridProvider Capabilities

The architecture of the new HybridProvider, a modeling object, allows data from DataStore Objects, like real-time data, to be easily combined with data from InfoCubes, like mass data or historical data (see Figure 5).

When a HybridProvider is created, the administrator can decide whether the data of the relevant InfoCube is stored directly in the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator (SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator), thus avoiding data persistency in the SAP NetWeaver BW database. When the HybridProvider is activated, the relevant transformations, DTPs, and process chains are automatically generated, providing fast and easy modeling for reporting scenarios that require combining real-time data with historical information.

Figure 5 The HybridProvider combines real-time data from a DataStore Object with historical data from an InfoCube

Take Performance to the Next Level with SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator

Customers who work with SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator are familiar with its ability to speed up the time needed to access data stored in InfoCubes. Now, by using SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator in conjunction with SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3, you can access data residing in DataStore Objects more easily and experience better performance related to analytical capabilities.

Analytical functions — such as MultiProvider mapping, exception aggregation (for example, Count Distinct), and additional SAP NetWeaver BW objects (for example, master data, DataStore Objects, virtual InfoProviders, and analytical indexes) — guarantee additional performance enhancements because they are now processed in SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator.

Analytical indexes — for example, the result of a join between a query and a local CSV file — are created using the Analysis Process Designer, a tool within SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3, and are transferred to SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator. Using JOIN or UNION, an administrator or experienced user can combine multiple analytical indexes to make a Composite Provider that is exposed as an InfoProvider for a query (for example, SAP BusinessObjects Advanced Analysis) and is processed at runtime with very high performance by SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator.

As a result, users can enjoy quick, reliable response times, leading to faster, more accurate decision making. In addition, an administrator doesn’t have to spend time building aggregates or focusing on tuning tasks.

Learn More

Using the enhancements available with SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3, organizations can model and load data quickly and easily, saving time and resources. And by using this latest release with SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator, companies can experience improved performance.

To learn more about the enhancements covered here, as well as other new features available with SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3, you can download a detailed presentation from SAP Developer Network (SDN) at www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/index?rid=/webcontent/uuid/e0cc2bb4-db1e-2d10-20bf-a60539049be4.

Lothar Henkes (lothar.henkes@sap.com) joined SAP in 1989 as a consultant in the areas of Materials Management and Production Planning. From 1992 to 1994 he worked for SAP America, and from 1996 to 1998 he was part of the European Consulting Services team. He joined the SAP BW team in 1998 and has been responsible for SAP NetWeaver BW product management since 2001.

1 For more information about EDW initiatives, see “Look Before You Leap: Key Considerations for Formulating an Enterprise Data Warehouse Strategy” by Jake Klein in the January-March 2010 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

2 For more information, see “Base Your Business Decisions on Cleaner, Smarter, and More Meaningful Data: Enhanced Integration of SAP BusinessObjects Data Services and SAP NetWeaver BW Promotes Accurate Data and Informed Decisions” by Heiko Schneider in the January-March 2010 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

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