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SAP ERP on HANA - Is SAP BW Dead?

by Dr. Berg

January 13, 2013

On Jan 10th, SAP Announced that SAP ERP can run on the in-Memory Platform called HANA. What does that mean to BW? Is data warehousing dead? Can we simply Report on ERP instead and skip data movement, DSOs, infoCubes, modeling and the extra hardware?  In this blog we look at where we are now and what it may mean for the future. By Dr. Berg

ERP on SAP HANA

As of January 10, 2013, SAP said it supported the deployment of their ERP Business Suite on HANA. The solution requires enhancement pack 6 for SAP ERP version 6.0 and ABAP AS version 7.4 which was made available at the same time.

This raise many questions about the future of traditional On-Line Transaction processing (OLTP) and separate On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP) such as data warehouses. Is there really a need to separate the reporting from the transaction processing?

The answer depends on the time horizon you are planning on. In the short run, there are simply too many valuable models in SAP Business Warehouse (BW), Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO), Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) , Integrated Planning (IP) and all the other DW based tools to throw them all away. However, these tools also has several Achilles heels; they are not true real time and require separate infrastructure and data movements.

But, SAP Makes a Bold Statement...

Two days ago, SAP's Vishal Sikka wrote in his blog: “with the collapse of OLTP and OLAP in one platform there is a massive simplification on the way” . There is naturally a lot riding on this vision and a substantial amount of development must take place to organize the data in the OLTP system in a way that is de signed for reporting.  

I can see that some operational version of this can be done in the future through separate HANA reporting tables in the ERP system (much like what we used to have with EIS, SIS, LIS in the early days of ERP), or by creating views on the data using HANA studio, XS or other tools.

Dr. Berg Speculates

However, for the foreseeable future, I believe SAP BW provides an integrated platform for model driven analysis on data that needs to be preserved at the time of transaction, integrated with external data, and which contains the corporate ‘memory’ of what happened in the past.  So, the vision of an integrated BI and ERP system on the same platform is just that; a vision.  Technically, it is not possible to install BW and ERP on the same HANA system today.

On the other hand, for real-time operational reporting the ability to move your SAP ERP system to a HANA platform allows you to execute transactions faster, reduces the database size, simplifies the administration (really!) and provides new analytical capabilities inside the ERP system that simply was not possible before.

Some Early Examples of ERP on HANA Analytics

An example of these is the new abilities is found in the SAP Business One Application, version for the HANA Platform. In this ERP solution,  SAP included embedded contextual dashboards in the transactional screens.

This include graphs for items such as most purchased products by customers, credit dashboards,  real-time inventory trends, vendor analysis, cash flow forecasting,  and much more.  SAP has also announced that they plan to develop even more of these types of applications in future release (so this may be the future of operational real-time analytics).

Conclusions

There is a lot of people wanting to skip the model driven approach and go straigh to ERP for analytics and BI. For those it is important to be reminded that there is a reason why the models were build in the first place. It was to simplify reporting and provide a business view to cleansed, integrated and often transformed transactional data to provide meaning.  This is not found in a transactional table.  So we may get there as Vishal stated in his blog, but there still along way to go.. 

SAP BW is still an integral part of the data warehouse landscape for many years to come, and with HANA there is even more benefits to keep it around...

But, O’boy is it not fun speculate though?   :-)

Dr. Berg

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COMMENTS

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Eric Xue

9/25/2013 9:04:53 PM

BW is dead.

HANA itself can serve as the model analysis platform. Think about this, have transaction table in the ERP on HANA, then create analytic model directly on these tables in HANA. The models are real time and cost less storage compare to replicating the data into another system(BW). Who will go with BW when that option is on table?

Now the problem is HANA still lack of modeling capability in some key areas, but that could be resolved in 1 or 2 releases.

Venugopal Kambhampati

9/25/2013 9:04:53 PM

Happy New Year 2013 to all,
Interesting thoughts above...
Questions...
1. What might be the key "motivations" that have led to implementation of >16000 odd SAP BW installations?
2. How many of those might 'go-away' due to HANA?
Best wishes,

Venu

Kristine Erickson

9/25/2013 9:04:52 PM

Editor's note: You'll find Vishal Sikka's blog post -- mentioned here by Dr. Berg -- at www.saphana.com/community/blogs/blog/201...


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