Many companies are planning to make the move to SAP S/4HANA and/or SAP BW/4HANA to take advantage of improved capabilities for real-time reporting. How can you best prepare and execute your transition?
Read the Q&A transcript from BI & HANA 2018 speakers and consultants Bill Faison and Colin Hart from Method360 to gain real-world insight into what you need to be thinking about now for your SAP S/4HANA and/or SAP BW/4HANA deployment.
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Bridget Kotelly: Hello, and welcome to today’s live Q&A, Transition to Real-Time Analytics on SAP S/4HANA 1610 and SAP BW/4HANA. We’re looking forward to a lively discussion. Thanks to everyone who has submitted their questions in advance.
We’re joined for today’s event by Bill Faison and Colin Hart from Method360. Bill and Colin are frequent speakers at SAPinsider’s events, and Bill will be presenting on this topic at the upcoming SAPinsider BI & HANA conference, February 26 through March 1, 2018, in Las Vegas. To learn more about this conference, click here.
Now, I’ll turn it over to Bill and Colin to start taking your questions. Thanks for joining us.
Bill: Hello, everyone. We look forward to answering your questions today.
Colin Hart: Welcome all to this session. I’m glad to be here, and I’m looking forward to your questions.
Comment From Lakhman: Could you explain integration of SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) core data services (CDS) views and SAP BW/4HANA?
Bill: One option is you can now make a CDS view as a data source from SAP into SAP BW/4HANA. Another option is to make SAP BW/4HANA persisted objects as a source for a CDS query view.
Comment: What’s the biggest change on the extractors to an SAP BW system on SAP HANA or SAP S/4HANA? Are there any documents on this available?
Bridget Kotelly: I would suggest looking at the SAP Simplification List for SAP S/4HANA 1610 document to understand which base SAP tables have changed.
Comment From Nick_M: I have implemented SAP HANA (native) as well as SAP BW as an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) for my customers. I understand that there is centralization and harmonization of master data through SAP BW, but the same result can also be easily achieved in native SAP HANA modeling. The only reason I see a new customer going for SAP BW or SAP BW/4HANA is to have standalone SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (SAP BPC) 10.1 or SAP BPC 11.0, respectively, and if the customer is going for SAP S/4HANA, embedded BW can be leveraged for planning and consolidation. I really do not see a need for SAP BW/4 HANA for new customers. I see it as an extra layer of development that could have been avoided. Please share your thoughts on this.
Colin Hart: The business case for many customers for SAP BW/4HANA over SAP S/4HANA is that the customer needs an EDW that holds data sources that have both SAP and non-SAP data. Embedded analytics are limited in scope. In practice, I have found that with large customers, there is need for actual data from ACDOCA transactions combined with plan data that goes beyond the level of detail held in SAP BPC, especially if non-finance data such as material movements needs to be leveraged. Hierarchies are better in SAP BW/4HANA than in SAP HANA native modeling.
Comment From SJ: Does this cover cloud technology, such as SAP Ariba and SAP Fiori?
Colin Hart: Yes, you can link SAP Ariba data to the cloud with SAP HANA using the SAP Cloud Platform Smart Data Integration service, but we faced an issue while integrating in one of our client’s environments. We had an Online Service System (OSS) issue, and SAP had been working on a resolution. In the meantime, we used SAP Business Objects Data Services to provision data in SAP HANA.
Comment From Zeeshan: Can an existing data source on SAP BW (for example, FI/CO, inventory, or sales and HR) be able to provide real-time data in SAP BW/4HANA?
Bill: You can set up extractors to stream table-based data into SAP BW/4HANA or use SAP Landscape Transformation for real-time data.
When looking at real-time options, make sure the extractor does not have to join between many tables, since it might be slow or consume too many resources.
Comment From MUFG: How does SAP Business Objects connect to SAP HANA? Is the connection done through universes, or can SAP Business Objects directly connect to SAP HANA views?
Colin Hart: Yes, you can connect directly to SAP HANA views, avoiding use of universes totally. However, a recommended practice is to use SAP Business Objects based on SAP BW queries rather than direct views for easier maintenance.
Comment: Will SAP BW/4HANA have SAP S/4HANA extractors and content that support real-time analytics?
Bill: We used SAP Landscape Transformation to replicate the data into SAP BW/4HANA. This way, the data is sent to SAP BW/4HANA whenever the table data was created, updated, or deleted.
Comment From LZ: Are CDS views going to replace SAP HANA calculation views? Is there a graphical editor for CDS views?
Bill: I have not heard that SAP plans on replacing the calculation view with CDS views. I have seen SAP moving more features and functions into the graphical calculation view.
Comment From John: How are you seeing customers who are running SAP Business Suite plus SAP BW migrate to SAP S/4HANA? Are they migrating one, but not the other? Are they migrating both, or sunsetting SAP BW? For the migrations, how is historical data handled?
Colin Hart: Good question, John. One of the major challenges seen to date with SAP S/4HANA implementations is that they are typically greenfield implementations. This type of implementation results in the need for SAP BW/4HANA to address the SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC) history and join with the new SAP S/4HANA data to ensure continuity of the trend reporting. One challenge is the need to address any data conversions addressed in the SAP S/4HANA setup.
Comment From: What’s the biggest change on the extractors to an SAP BW system on SAP HANA or SAP S/4HANA?
Is there a big change compared with the extractors that are used in an existing setup with an SAP HANA ERP system?
Bill: The biggest change we have seen is to certain tables in SAP S/4HANA. For example, the MKPF and MSEG tables are now a simplified table called MATDOC. The MSEGO1 and MSEGO2 tables are now in MATDOCOIL.
I would refer to the SAP Simplification List for SAP S/4HANA 1610 document to understand the table changes.
Comment From MUFG: We have a relational database management system (RDBMS) environment, and our warehouses are Oracle and SQL Server. How would SAP HANA fit in to the architecture?
Bill: Moving to SAP HANA would be a migration of your data and any SQL code that you have written.
Comment From Nick_M: Are we going to get a standard Business Application Programming Interface (BAPI) such as functionality in terms of procedures or another mechanism from SAP? In other words, if we are in the SAP GUI, can we execute a BAPI or a function module and then have the same functionality also available in SAP HANA SQLScript so that it can directly be leveraged in developments?
Bill: I would look at what SAP has delivered with the CDS view to see if they have delivered the functionality you are looking for.
Comment From Kingsley: Should I foresee a significant migration from SAP BW on SAP HANA to SAP BW/4HANA?
Bill: Yes. For example, for the project I’m working on, we saw the development time greatly reduced, and we were able to incorporate any changes the business requested into our models.
Comment From MUFG: Does the migration involve SAP Operational Data Store (ODS, which is now called Data Store Object [DSO]) to warehouse and then to SAP HANA? Or is the migration done with SAP DSO to SAP HANA directly? Our goal is to improve the performance and user experience of the SAP Business Objects reporting platform.
Bill: An ODS is a type of SAP BW object. Moving to SAP HANA should help your SAP Business Objects Explorer platform query performance, but you still need to be using the right tool for the amount of data being pulled back to the client.
Always analyze your query performance to understand where SAP HANA can help.
Comment From LZ: Are custom extractors based on function modules going to be replaced by CDS views if the source system is SAP S/4HANA?
Bill: You can still use custom extractors based on function modules in SAP S/4HANA 1610. CDS views are another option you can use.
Comment From Raj: Colin, if I have SAP Vora in the ecosystem for combining SAP and non-SAP data, and this environment supports hierarchies and online analytical processing (OLAP) modeling, do you still see a need for SAP BW/4HANA?
Colin Hart: SAP Vora functionality is a subset of any system based on SAP HANA, so it would depend on your use cases. Once the use case becomes complex, however, the benefit case would lean toward using SAP BW/4HANA at this point. SAP Vora is a new product, and SAP expects to be expanding its capability. SAP Vora is still maturing, but it has good promise.
Bridget Kotelly: Hi, everyone, that about wraps up our time for today’s live Q&A. Thanks to everyone who participated for your great questions.
To learn more about this topic, as well as many other BI and SAP HANA topics, join us at SAPinsider BI & HANA 2018 this February 26 through March 2, 2018, in Las Vegas. To find out more and to register, click here.
Bill and Colin, thanks again for joining us today for a great chat.