Q&A: What Is On the BI Landscape with BW, SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA Analytics?

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Q: Is there a future for classic BW?

A: Classic BW will stay for as long as the systems are not migrated to HANA. Even if they do, BW may be utilized as an Enterprise Data Warehouse, integrating data from across the variety of sources.

Q: When is best to use BW and when S/4HANA Modeling?

A:  S/4HANA provides operational reporting for current data from a single SAP application. SAP BW/4HANA delivers a modern data warehouse environment which allows organizations to report on current, historical and external data sources from many SAP and non-SAP sources.

Q: What is the up-side of S/4HANA Analytics over native HANA Modeling?

A: The main advantage of using S/4HANA Analytics (CDS views) is re-use of classic ABAP authorizations and avoidance of user creation and authorization-maintenance on HANA DB. Furthermore, if SAP-delivered content is sought-after, S/4HANA Embedded analytics is growing area. HANA Live, in contrast, is in Maintenance, but no evolution is planned by SAP.

Q: How do you "build history" in HANA?

A: S4HANA Analytics is for online real time analytics and BW4Hana is more for historical analysis.

Q: Does it save time to implement HANA-based Data Warehouse?

A: There are three options. A greenfield approach for new installation, System Conversion and Landscape Transformation. Time could be saved by resorting to the appropriate methodology based on requirements.

Q: Is HANA Live fading away?

A: HANA live would not help much for several source systems. When multiple source systems are involved BW4HANA needs to be resorted to. It will not fade away, but would have its own limitations.

Q: What team-training is advised in the BI area?

A: OpenSAP courses are a good starting point. The next one is on SAP BW/4HANA in a Nutshell starting on Nov 8, 2016.

Q: How is predictive analytics integrated in SAP?

A: AP Predictive Analytics was first released in 2015 and combines the features of two previously separate analytics products. The first of these is SAP Predictive Analysis (note: not Predictive Analytics) which SAP released in 2012. It is an advanced analysis tool primarily for data scientists that automated manual analysis. With Predictive Analysis, users can analyze and visualize data via pre-built algorithms written in the open-source statistical programming language, and then chain the models graphically to perform complex analysis.

Q: How is the Internet of Things (IoT) handled in HANA Cloud Platform?

A: IN HCP, IoT is provided as a service. Once this service is enabled by going to the tile, IoT will be ready to be used.

Q: My understanding is that BPC Consolidation works like earlier if we were to upgrade to S4/HANA. How is the data from BPC Consolidation and Planning integrated into the Data Lake?

A: SAP's data lake portfolio would help us to consolidate unstructured data. BPC data being structured need not be brought into data lake.

Q: Should the traditional DSO be converted to ADSO?

A: There is no need to convert them ASAP, I would recommend to do so only once the need is there based on (new) business requirements.

Q: What is the direction/future for Hana Live?

A: HANA live stays, but it stays in the shape it is today. SAP is not investing into building new models / releases of HANA live as we know it. For S/4HANA systems they release new content on Quarterly basis, but this is written using CDS (core data services) technology. This will be the main direction of SAP investment in terms of ready-to-use content.

Q: What's the best practice on preserving history in Suite on HANA or S4 HANA systems?

A: If the question is "how to build history" based on the data that is not available anymore, then there are two options: 1. use (embedded) BW if it already exists, or 2. Use HANA EIM to run the selected models at specific times with specific selections and store these in persistent tables on HANA.

Q: Has there been any thought/road map discussion around integration between SAP S/4HANA Analytics and Google Analytics?

A: I have not heard of such. I think any middle-ware (SAP or not) could stream data into a SAP (HANA) table, which is consumable from the CDS views (S/4H Analytics).

Q: Current HANA / Lumira solutions handle hierarchies very poorly. What is the timeline to see some hierarchies (similar to BW) in Lumira based solutions?

A: As per the latest roadmap from SAP for BW4Hana it should be available first quarter of next year.

Q: We are working to define what reporting should remain in ECC, BW...and what should use Hana. Is there a scorecard or checklist that would help in this determination? Right now, we are asking our users "what would be your ROI in real time reporting?"

A: There are two approaches:

1. For a very-BW-focused house, your approach is right. Find the ones where most value of real-time is and implement it.

2. For greenfield implementations, some customers opt for no-BW approach of Business Suite   HANA modeling for reporting. It normally starts with HANA Live installation and custom modeling on top.

Q: What is the future direction of calculated views vs analytical views?

A: SAP says to use (and builds their HANA Live) on Calculation Views.

Q: How does BW4/HANA provide real time access?

A: For on-line real time access S4HANA analytics would be a better option.

Dmitry to add here: any recent BW system can consume a CDS view in real time via ODP-extractor

Q: It's interesting that SAP is using ABAP based CDS views for S4 HANA Analytics use cases. On the other hand, they are planning to use Graphical calculation views for BW4HANA modeling. I wonder why they have inconsistent strategy for modeling?

A: I would not say it's is completely inconsistent: they are doing front-end all based on Eclipse. On the back-end, BW is a Data Warehouse (with it's own needs and specifics) and S/4HANA Embedded is rail-time analytics case, so they solve it differently. I would appreciate the graphical UI in CDS'es, though.

Q: ECC and BW both are running on HANA, which system is recommended to build analytics?

A: HANA Analytics for live operational reporting and BW for historical.

Q: Are there any Graphical tools available to enhance S4 HANAN Analytics CDS views?

A: There is a Right-click-->Open With --> Graphical Editor. But it is not yet an editor, just the "viewer". I keep my fingers crossed, too.

Q: Any suggestions how I can get a list of all S4 HANA analytics view for specific functional modules?

A: This presentation has a fair bit of information. Starting page 37 you may find the list of models delivered. The list is growing every S4H release.


Q: Are there some best practices for optimizing calculation views?

A: A simple answer is filter as much as you can in projections (before the joins) and aggregate as soon as you can. In my experience, there is a lot of performance gain in pushing down the Input Parameters through layers of stacked Calculation Views. On the other hand, there is no single cure, try exploring performance-related topics. Only the recent ones as difference between releases is quite big yet.

Q: How do you handle time slices such as Month To Date, Quarter to Date, etc. based on calendar year as well as Fiscal Year/Period/Week in HANA Live and S4 HANA Analytics use cases.

A: For YTD, MTD, rolling 12 months, etc., we build dedicate (and quite large) time-dimension table to produce such a mapping and join it to the main transaction-data table.


NOTE: All tools in the BusinessObjects Enterprise suite support BW4/HANA. This includes WebI (SAP BOBJ Web Intelligence). In fact, SAP continues to invest in improving the BW and BW4/HANA connectivity in WebI with each release. None of SAP's tools are affected by the removal of the Java stack, as none of them require it to connect to BW.