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Enhance and Simplify Your Data Warehousing with SAP BW 7.5: Live Q&A on the Newest Features and Functions of SAP BW Powered by SAP HANA

May 31, 2016

During this live Q&A session, Dr. Bjarne Berg, principal at PwC and speaker at HANA 2016, discussed the new capabilities of the 7.5 edition of SAP BW powered by SAP HANA, and answered readers’ questions on what features have been extended from earlier releases and how to leverage the latest release to improve productivity and performance.

  • What are the new features in SAP BW 7.5?
  • How is SAP BW on SAP HANA different than SAP BW 7.5 edition for SAP HANA?
  • Is it true that many of the standard objects are no longer available in SAP BW 7.5 edition for SAP HANA?
  • How has data modeling changed in the new SAP BW 7.5 version?
  • What are the new functional changes in SAP BW 7.5?
  • How does SAP BW 7.5 simplify data architectures, modeling, and real-time data loading?
  • How does SAP BW 7.5 leverage near-line storage (NLS) and dynamic tiering to make the SAP HANA system smaller?
  • What are migration options from SAP BW 7.x to SAP BW 7.5?
  • What is the future of BW?

If you missed the chat or need a refresher, we welcome you to view the online chat replay or read the full, edited transcript below.

Meet the panelist: 

Dr. Bjarne Berg Dr. Bjarne Berg, Principal, PwC
Dr. Berg is an internationally recognized expert in business intelligence. He is a Principal and the Tax Data Analytics and Business Intelligence Leader in Tax Technology & Compliance (TT&C) at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP. He has managed global projects and upgrades for many Fortune 500 companies in Europe and the US for almost 20 years. He has also been a professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Additionally, Dr. Berg is frequently published in international BI journals and is the co-author of the new SAP HANA book from SAP PRESS. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University, an MBA from East Carolina University, a doctorate in IS from the University of Sarasota, and a Ph.D in IT from the University of North Carolina. He attended the Norwegian Army Military Academy and served as an officer.

Live Blog Q&A on ...
 

Transcript:

Melanie Obeid, SAPinsider: Hello! Welcome to today’s live Q&A on the newest features and functions of SAP BW Powered by SAP HANA. I’m Melanie Obeid, Editorial Director of SAPinsider and insiderPROFILES, and I’m excited to introduce today’s panelist, Dr. Bjarne Berg, Principal and Tax Data Analytics and Business Intelligence Leader in Tax Technology & Compliance at PwC.

He has managed global projects and upgrades for many Fortune 500 companies in Europe and the US for almost 20 years. He has also been a professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University. And we are happy to have Dr. Berg speaking at our HANA 2016 event in Vienna next month.

Hi, Dr. Berg. Thank you so much for being here today to answer readers’ questions!

Dr. Bjarne Berg, PwC: Great being here.

Comment from Ceasar: Hi. We are upgrading to BW 7.5 from BW 7.3 SP08 powered by SAP Hana. What would be the recommended approach and version? Would it be the classic version?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Most companies with existing BW systems would most likely use BW “Powered by HANA” as part of their migration to BW 7.5. They can then migrate/retire the old objects before moving to a pure BW 7.5 “edition for HANA” over time.

For new customers or Greenfield implementations, it makes more sense to start with BW 7.5 “Edition for HANA” and never use the legacy objects. In short, you can still leverage the older objects as you plan to move to SAP BW 7.5, but in the long term you should migrate to the new BW 7.5 edition for HANA objects.

The benefits of the new BW 7.5 Edition for HANA is that it has simplified administration, faster development time, and it is easier to maintain by having less replicated object and data. This results in a smaller HANA memory footprint. It also has a much better modeling interface in Eclipse and a new centralized development and admin interface.

Comment from Shakthi Raj Natara: Is there any plans for a semantic portioning objects feature in advance DSO? If so, when can we expect it?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: SPOs were basically intended to simplify data volumes, increase performance of older systems, and overcome the limitations of the older BW platforms and the databases they relied on. With ADSOs on HANA, most of these limitations are no longer there, and the performance is dramatically faster. So the need for SPOs has been reduced. However, you can still do that on the older objects (DSOs/ IC) in BW 7.5 “powered by HANA”. Also, you can now get more than 2 billion integers values by using the new INT8 Key Figure. So there’s not much use for SPOs except in special cases.

Comment from Whats the future o...: With the latest changes, what's the future of BW?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: You can find more on the future of BW in Ned Falk’s article “The Future of SAP BW: SAP BW 7.5, Edition for SAP HANA” in http://sapexperts.wispubs.c...

I am also going to present on that topic in Vienna in 2 weeks at the BI HANA Conference.

Comment from Shakthi Raj Natara: Currently, SAP has only released content for HANA in certain areas. When do we expect HANA to be fully optimized. Is there any specific timeline for utilities features?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: There is new content for AR, AP, Order, Delivery Billing, GL, and a few other areas, but I have seen nothing new in utilities specifically for HANA except for smart meter analysis, which has been there for quite a while.

Comment from Doni: As we know, HANA provides capabilities for OLAP. The one environment for OLTP and OLAP is able to generate real-time information. SAP HANA has built in a "predictive analysis library" with capabilities such as monte carlo, clustering, classification, and regression, along with compatibility to keep running previous versions of SAP BW. Do we need SAP BW 7.5 in HANA to develop a new data warehouse?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Yes, there is a built in "predictive analysis library", as well as the new Hana Analysis Processes (HAP) in HANA and the complete R library for statistical modeling . Basically, BW 7.5 on HANA has ALL the stats functions of other tools like SAS, SPSS, etc.

Comment from Prashant: We are a retail shop using a BW module called "Retail Method of Accounting (RMA)," which has lot of SAP-delivered expert routines. If we migrate to HANA, will SAP change these routines for us? Do we need to do anything to the ABAP code?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: I would expect that code to work great if you are using the "powered by HANA" edition of BW 7.5.

Let me explain: there is actually a difference between BW 7.5 “Powered by” HANA & “Edition for” HANA. In other words, there are two “versions” of SAP BW 7.5.

The BW 7.5 “Edition for” HANA allows you to develop objects faster without having to use many of the old objects from BW 3.x and 7.0/7.3/ 7.4. This allows you to run BW in a much more simplified way and use only HANA-optimized objects. Meanwhile, the BW 7.5 “Powered by HANA” still supports old and new objects like the GUI Modeling interface, InfoObject, MultiProvider, InfoSets, Aggregates, InfoCube, Reportable DSO and Write-optimized DSO, Persistent Staging Area (PSA), and BW 7.x and 3.x DataFlows.

I would test it though!!!

Comment from Guest: Can you talk about how to use the HANA smart data integration capabilities?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: There are lots of new enhancements in Smart Data Integration (SDI) on HANA with BW 7.5. Let me highlight a few of the enhancements and changes:

First, you might want to look at the Smart Data Integration (SDI) on HANA with BW 7.5. The new SDI features now include real-time streaming, real-time direct access, ETL and replication from traditional landscapes and the cloud, as well as Twitter, files, and OData support in SDA.

Actually, BW can be a source system using SDI, since the HANA source system in BW has unified connections to SDA, SDI, and local HANA sources. You can lookup SAP note 2175904 for more details.

Furthermore, you can replicate data in real-time using “UPSERT TABLE”, which is managed by the HANA DataSource, and the data mapping support from source to ABAP data types using BW ETL data loads or HANA data sources in reporting.

There is also support for delta loading in ADSOs, and you can move raw source data to BW in its original format via HANA data types. In addition, there is now OpenODSView direct access to HANA DataSource CompositeProviders, and OpenODSViews can access directly using SDI remote sources.

So, lots of great stuff!!

Comment from Raj: We are currently on BW 7.4 on HANA. What major benefits will we get if we move to 7.5?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: There are lots of changes between the two. BW 7.5 is the first version that’s really taking full advantage of HANA. Let me explain and place it in context by discussing ADSOs:

Advanced DataStoreObject (ADSO) was introduced in BW 7.4. The ADSO can be used to merge InfoCubes and DSO into simpler data architectures, and can have up to 120 key fields. This new table structure in ADSOs means that the management and performance of frequent data loads is also improved. In BW 7.5 you can now also combine InfoObjects and field based modeling, while leveraging SID entries can be used for query optimization.

There is a Wizard that can help you in building ADSOs step-by-step, as well as integrated on-line help to explain what each option means. ADSOs can be developed using templates from DataSources and InfoProviders. You can do this step-by-step in a wizard or by yourself. However, when working with the ADSO Wizard, it is recommended that you add it to your favorites so that it is easy to locate during the development phase of your project.

There is also ADSO support for planning and NLS, as well as improved delta calculations for non-cumulative key figures (useful for areas such as inventory and headcount and more). BW 7.5 also introduces more dynamic tiering support for change logs and data activation that will help you keep the footprint smaller.

I almost forgot: SAP has said it is planning to add streaming options in real-time to the ADSO in the future. So there are lots of reasons to go with this new InfoProvider.

There are also changes in the new query designer and the workspace query designer. But let me address those in another post.

Comment from F Geldof: Hi, Dr Berg. We are currently on BW 7.4 on HANA. What are the key benefits of upgrading still to BW 7.5?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: There are lots of great changes. I just posted some for the ADSO and the new features of SDI, so let me just cover some of the new modeling features.

SAP has spent significant time on simplifying the modeling tools in their landscape. This includes tools in SAP HANA Studio, inside SAP BW, and also the ABAP development tools. All new tools are based on the Eclipse platform for simplicity and to make each tool easier to use. Since BW 7.4 there have been modeling capabilities for the new ‘Open ODS View’ and the ‘CompositeProvider, and now in BW 7.5 there are many wizards to help you build the new objects step-by-step.

The new modeling perspective for BW on HANA is very intuitive. While it is now Eclipse-based, most experienced BW developers will rapidly find their way around the new interface, and most of the ‘old’ transaction codes still work in this tool.

Comment from ketan doshi: How long is SAP going to support 3.X dataflows?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Good question. It is supported in BW 7.5 powered by HANA, but not in BW “edition for hana”.

Comment from ike: NLS integration has been improved with 7.5. How well is this improvement known and used within organizations? Do you have experience with this technology?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: I’ve seen a lot of use of NLS in the last 2-3 years. I’ve actually implemented it in 5-6 companies last year alone.

As you might know, NLS support has been available for InfoCubes with non-cumulative key figures in BW 7.4 since 2014. But in BW 7.5 CompositeProviders can now use ADSOs stored on NLS by using specific join types, and you can also use BW process types to create NLS DB statistics by leveraging virtual tables.

Finally, with BW 7.5, you can also use NLS for ADSOs and also display reporting value help from NLS (see SAP note 2215265 for more details).

Comment from F Geldof: Hi, Dr Berg. When do you expect all BW objects to be developed from Eclipse instead of SAP GUI?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Most companies with existing BW systems would most likely use BW “Powered by HANA” as part of their migration to BW 7.5. They can then migrate/retire the old objects before moving to a pure BW 7.5 “edition for HANA’ over time.

For new customers or greenfield implementations, it makes more sense to start with BW 7.5 “Edition for HANA” and never use the legacy objects. In short, as you plan to move to SAP BW 7.5, you can still leverage the older objects, but in the long term you should migrate to the new BW 7.5 edition for HANA objects.

Actually, since BW 7.5, All new tools are based on the Eclipse platform for simplicity and to make each tool easier to use. Since BW 7.4, there are modeling capabilities for the new “Open ODS View” and the “CompositeProvider,” and now in BW 7.5 there are many wizards to help you build the new objects step-by-step.

Comment from Chris: What's new with the query designer?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: A major new feature of BW 7.5 is the new Query Designer. It is now moved completely to the Eclipse environment, and there is also a new BW Workspace Query Designer for business users.

I believe that most BEx query developers will find this interface easier to use and will be able to make the transition without the need for major re-training. What you will see is that many of the options that were previously ‘hidden’ behind tabs are now much easier to access from a unified interface, and that it is supported by content linked to on-line help from SAP.

In short, the new BW 7.5 query designer is now complete in functionality and supports all older options as well as new functionality, such as exit variable support through ABAP Managed Database Procedures. The formula editor is now simplified with the new ‘If’ editor and the new ability to generate a HANA view based on a query.

A cool feature is that previously developed BEx Queries are compatible, and you do not need to migrate them to a newer ‘version’. There is even a new editor for Global Key Figures, structures, and filters, as well as for CKF and RKFs.

So BW 7.5 has a a very robust new Query Designer based on eclipse. Cool stuff.

Comment from Carole: Can we still use BEx tools with BW 7.5?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Depends on what ”version” you go with. The ”powered by HANA” for BW 7.5 supports old BW 3.5 data flows, while the "Edition for HANA” does not. But in general, it is time to migrate all legacy BEx objects over even if it is not strictly required by the “version” of BW you are going to.

Comment from Christian: We want to upgrade from 7.3 to 7.5. Is DMO still recommended?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Actually, no. SAP has stated at Sapphire that in-place migrations is the most correct approach for simplicity and speed for all customers, except for 'special' cases (i.e. extreme data volume).

Comment from Guest: For a new SAP implementation on S/4HANA, can we use analytic capabilities in S/4HANA? Do we need BW at all in a new implementation?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: For S/4 I would push operational reporting to 'HANA Live'. These are basically views that can access real-time data directly from the ERP system. However, for time-dependent master data, data level security (authorization relevant objects), and keeping historical data for management planning and trend reporting, I would keep a smaller BW system.

Comment from Kurt Johnson: Even with the move to the Eclipse modeling tools, will we still have the SAP GUI t-codes like rspc, se16, sm37, sm66, etc.?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: While it is now Eclipse based, most experienced BW developers will rapidly find their way around the new interface, and most of the “old” transaction codes still work in this tool.

Comment from S.G. Thanks for the info on NLS. Can you also cover dynamic tiering?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Dynamic tiering of data in BW has been available since BW 7.4. This means that data that is infrequently used automatically gets off-loaded to disk, thereby saving memory for more important tasks. This saves memory (and money) by moving traditional write-optimized DSOs and PSAs to “warm” storage.

What is new in BW 7.5 is that the data movement to dynamic tiering can be done automatically as remodeling tasks. There are also new supports for using ADSO dynamic tiring support for change logs and activations, thereby keeping the memory footprint smaller.

Comment from ike: In the data "temperature" concept (I don't remember the actual name), archived data is considered "cold data". I have the impression that for “warm” data you could consider NLS or dynamic tiering. What would be the wisest choice?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: I would start with dynamic tiering (available and working great since SP-10) and then plan NLS if the data volume is still too large. You can also 'reclaim' lots of space by removing PSA-DSOs and InfoCubes and going to only to ADSOs in BW 7.5.

Comment from Jacek: Hello, Dr Berg. Will BW 7.5 Powered by HANA combine all the features, objects, IPs, etc. that were available in older versions with new HANA dedicated objects? Is it possible to migrate from older versions to 7.5 Edition for HANA directly?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Hi, Jacek. Not directly. You will have to go via “Powered by HANA” first. However, at Sapphire this month, SAP said that they are working on a tool to help you automatically transfer your legacy objects to new Advanced DSOs (ADSO) and CompositeProviders (expected in SP4 around mid-2016). This tool should help you migrate MultiProviders to CompositeProviders and move data flows to the new BW HANA optimized objects and copy objects, such as InfoCubes and DSOs to ADSOs (no data), as well as support data flow objects, DTPs, and transformations and collect required objects to rebuild data flows from a starting object.

Comment from F Geldof: Right now there is a limitation in BW 7.4 of only being able to add two InfoProviders to join  a CompositeProvider. Is that restriction removed in BW 7.5?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: As you might know, enhanced CompositeProviders was introduced in SAP BW 7.4. It basically replaces the ‘old’ CompositeProvider, TransientProviders, and VirtualProviders on HANA, as well as BW MultiProviders and InfoSets. Since BW 7.4 on HANA, you could also join and union InfoProviders and HANA objects for faster data model implementations.

It is important to understand that a major benefit of Enhanced CompositeProviders is that it can push the execution of logic from application servers down to SAP HANA, which can result in dramatic performance improvements for queries, dashboards, and analytics.

New improvements for BW 7.5 include CompositeProviders that now take advantage of the performance improvements introduced in HANA SP-10 and therefore execute faster. You can also group similar output structures for easier access, and in 7.5 you can also convert existing CompositeProviders and BW MultiProviders ‘automatically’. At Sapphire, SAP said that they are currently finishing work on adding the support for temporal joins in CompositeProviders and anumber of objects limitations. This may allow you to completely remove the need for InfoSets and MP as well and overcome the limitations.

Comment from Sumanth: Hello, Dr.Berg. Are there any limitations to using Smart Data Access when connecting to external interfaces in terms of data volume and connectivity?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: All data loads’ performance depends on volume and connectivity. The new SDA/SDI features in BW 7.5 now include real-time streaming, real-time direct access, ETL, and replication from traditional landscapes and the cloud, as well as Twitter, files, and OData support in SDA.

Actually, BW can be a source system using SDI, since HANA Source system in BW has unified connections to SDA, SDI, and local HANA sources. You can lookup SAP note 2175904 for more details.

Comment from Kurt Johnson: Will the BW security model stay essentially the same?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Yes. If you converted when upgrading to BW 7.x, you have the same security, just with 6 more objects for HAP, Tracing, Enhanced CompositeProviders, OpenODS views, etc.

Comment from Shakthi Raj Natara: How do we check the size of an ADSO? In a non-hana database we can use DB02.

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Just go to the HANA admin interface and look up the table to see size in terms of # of rows and memory footprint.

Comment from Kishor: For a new SAP S/4 implementation, do we need SAP BW? Can we use native S/4 analytics, CDS views, etc.?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Yes, as well as the 800 views in HANA Live and the 240 query views for reporting (see my article on this in the December 2015 issue of the BI Expert magazine). However, for time-dependent master data, historical data, planning, and “corporate memory layer” (SLA), I would still keep a BW system for management reporting, NOT operational reporting.

Comment from Alejandro: We are migrating from BW 7.3 to BW on Hana 7.5 and going live with SP02. Is it recommended to go live with this level? Or should we think about implementing SP03 (we already ran the unit testing phase)? Our go-live is in November 2016. In summary, is SP02 a stable release from your point of view?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Since you are so far away from go-live I would go to SP03. By the time you go live, SP04 will be out, and you are already two behind if you go with SP02. So while it is stable, I would still suggest SP03.

Comment from Guest: Changes/upgrades in BW are too frequent. Is it not discouraging companies from going to BW? There seem to be no stability.

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Yes, while we had lots of time between 2004S/BW 7.0 and BW 7.3 (almost 5 years), it seems like BW 7.3/7.4 and 7.5 came with a very high frequency (about 18-24 months apart).

The main reason for this is that SAP wants to make sure that the next generation of BW takes 100% advantage of HANA and pushes logic to the database and away from app servers, and that is simply too great of a benefit tan to wait 3-4 years for between releases. SAP is also modernizing their GUI and development interfaces.

Comment from Jacek: How does BW 7.5 (Powered On or Edition for HANA) work with non-BI datasources like local Oracle databases?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: In BW 7.5 you can use Simplifying Source Connectivity options. In general, Operational Data provisioning (ODP) will be used for SLT and SAP source systems, while HANA Source System will be used for other file systems and other database connectivity.

While the current source system connectivity options are still available, SAP is working on simplifying and consolidated HANA objects.

Comment from Christian: Is Data Services still relevant when you have 7.5 in place?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Yes. For ETL-based data movement and data integration/cleansing, BODS is still a great tool.

Comment from georgi: Can you discuss the new source options?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Using Operational Data Provisioning, you can distribute your data using OData capabilities in BW 7.5. You can even use OData for Delta data loads from ADSOs. You can also create access by generating a NetWeaver Gateway Service based on a Data Provider. This can be used by other SAP and non-SAP applications using standard HTTP/OData.

In general, with OData, SDI, SDA, ODBC, JDBC, DBSQL, and standard SAP interfaces, SAP BW 7.5 on HANA is a truly an open data platform

Comment from Guest: How come BW still can't handle Big Data efficiently?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Well, it has come a long way. I worked with a client to move a 60 TB BW system to HANA and with another to put a 40 TB BW system on HANA. So I have to say that it can handle Big Data when modeled correctly with performance in-mind.

Comment from ketan doshi: You said that CompositeProviders push all the logic to the Hana database. What objects do this?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: If you remove logic from queries and BOBJ universes, you can do that in Enhanced Composite.

Comment from ketan doshi: Do ADSOs support Selective Deletion like Classic DSOs do?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: It’s a slightly different approach, but in general, yes, you can do that.

Comment from Abhi: Hi, Dr. Berg. We have just finished upgrading from BW 7.0 to BW 7.4 on Oracle DB, and our next step is to upgrade the DB to HANA. Do you recommend staying on BW 7.4 or upgrading to BW 7.5? Currently, we use BPC 10.1 Standard version and upgraded that from BPC 7.5 NW to BPC 10.1 NW Standard. Are there any significant improvements in terms of reporting performance and data loads? Currently, only a few BPC process chains are allowed for Parallel Execution.

Dr. Bjarne Berg: For BPC there are a few new changes in BW 7.5. You get a new BW 7.5 add-on and embedded modeling for financial consolidation that leverages integrated planning. For Integrated Planning (IP), you will find that measures for planning are available in BW Workspace Query Designer for business users and that Fox formulas are improved.

You can now use ADSOs for planning, as well as local hierarchies and local planning scenarios (i.e. for departments and business users).

So, I would go to BW 7.5 Powered by HANA, even though there are not major changes to the BPC process chains.

Comment from Abhi: Is BW 7.5 recommended for BPC 10.1 Standard, or is it advisable to move to BPC 10.1 Embedded?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: I am not a BPC expert, but I believe SAP is recommending the embedded 10.1 version. I would refer to them on that.

Comment from Guest: Can you comment on the challenges BW faces with Big Data?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: The major issue is the size of tables and the partitioning/movement of those. It is all possible but requires thinking design, not 'finger power', like some BW systems that have been developed.

Comment from Safinch: We want to do a system copy from production on BW 7.5 on HANA to a quality BW system. The quality BW has the same disk volume but asmaller memory footprint. Can dynamic tiering be used to push data to warm storage in QBW during the system copy process?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: Yes, and you can also flag objects for off-loading out of memory. So it can be done, but it can be a very slow process if the copied system is significantly smaller than the original one.

Comment from Shakthi Raj Natara: Can you please explain ADSO with and without the change log table options?

Dr. Bjarne Berg: That would require a bit longer than this forum allows (technical discussion), but there are some great sources for this info at SAP SCN SAP BW 7.5 Frequently Asked Questions. You can find it at http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC... Also, the SAP NetWeaver 7.5 Help portal page is found at https://help.sap.com/nw75

Melanie Obeid: Thank you, everyone! It’s been a great discussion today. Dr. Berg will be speaking at HANA 2016 in Vienna in June. You can check out his sessions in this link. And click here for more information about the HANA 2016 event, including a full list of speakers and details about how to join us in Vienna 20-22 June.

Dr. Bjarne Berg: If you have any questions in the future, my email address is bjarne.berg@pwc.com.

See you at the conferences!

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