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The dust has finally settled on SAP BW 7.4, and two years, or so, after its initial release, SAP has announced a number of exciting new BI products - SAP HANA VORA and SAP Cloud for Analytics. So you might think that the innovation train for SAP BW has ground to a halt. You’re kidding, right? The beast never sleeps. While we’ve been dazed with these shiny new BI toys, SAP has quietly announced SAP BW 7.5.

What’s more, it’s being released in two exciting flavours:

  • SAP BW 7.5, edition for SAP HANA - for the uninitiated looking to take the plunge into Business Warehousing
  • SAP BW 7.5 on HANA - for those with an existing SAP BW footprint who want the latest and greatest.

SAP BW on HANA, a whole new approach

It’s not breaking news that SAP is shifting away from BW modelling within the traditional (read: antiquated) GUI, and is instead embracing Eclipse as the development environment of the future. For existing SAP BW environments, this means a culture shift to adapt to this new approach to data modelling for new developments, whilst supporting existing classic BW objects. No small feat by any means. But one which should be undertaken to leverage the benefits and power that SAP BW on HANA can offer. Thankfully, this is becoming easier with tools that support the automated conversion of traditional models into new SAP BW on HANA optimized objects.

For Greenfield and new SAP BW installations

The mix of old and new no longer needs to be a concern with the introduction of SAP BW 7.5, edition for SAP HANA. Adopters of this latest release will be fully aligned with the future direction of SAP BW and be empowered to hit the ground running with the latest set of tools and best practices without the overhead of migrating or supporting legacy objects.

If you’re already utilising SAP BW on AnyDB or BW on HANA

You’re not excluded and there is a clear pathway to embrace the benefits of SAP BW 7.5, edition for SAP HANA. This involves first performing an upgrade to SAP BW 7.5 on HANA, then utilising ‘prepare mode’ to transition to SAP BW 7.5, edition for SAP HANA which will allow you convert your existing objects, check for any required prerequisites and, finally, restrict the usage of classic BW objects. From there you’ll be up, running and ready for the future.

What are the benefits of SAP BW 7.5?

As has been the theme since the inception of BW modelling in HANA Studio, simplicity is again a core theme of the elements in SAP BW 7.5. The functionalities of the data modelling objects, Advanced DataStore Objects (aDSO) and CompositeProviders have been enhanced to allow for faster implementation and modelling agility. This is achieved with the simplification (I’m sensing a trend) of the creation process of these objects, or as earlier mentioned, the conversion of existing legacy objects to the best of the best.

With 7.5 (SP1), we can now say goodbye to BEx Query Designer and hello to the next generation BW Query Designer, also embedded into the Eclipse UI. This new approach to query design is not only compatible with BEx Queries, without the need for migration effort, but also comes packed with new features such as HANA View Generation and an Integrated Query Previewer.

Data modellers, like myself, aren’t the only ones receiving goodies, as business users will have even more power creating ad-hoc reporting scenarios with beefed up SAP BW Workspaces - now with additional hierarchy features and support for uploaded local data.

Importing data into SAP BW just keeps getting easier (some may even say simpler) with improved Smart Data Integration (SDI) capabilities allowing for real-time streaming from various sources, direct access to any SDI remote source via OpenODS Views and CompositeProviders and the ability to replicate source data in its original format in BW.

The current hot topic of multi-temperature data management (no pun intended) has also been addressed in this release with additional capabilities being added for both Dynamic Tiering (DT) and Near-Line Storage (NLS). The main additions here are both in relation to the aDSO with automatic data movement to DT being added as a remodelling task, and straggler management taken care of for NLS scenarios to name just two of many examples. With Big Data being a focal point for SAP, expect the enrichments in this space to keep coming thick and fast, with the consumption of SAP HANA VORA models and support of HADOOP as NLS already planned to launch in 2016.

And finally, to round out the major improvements included in this release, planning functionality has been added to the bundle. The SAP BPC 10.1 Add-On, and BPC Embedded model components, are now available for use, as is BW-IP (PAK) with aDSOs becoming planning enabled. Simple, right?

Okay I’m convinced. Can I start using SAP BW 7.5 now?

At the time of publication, BW 7.5 SP00 had just been released, with SP01 and SP02 planned for delivery for November 23 (2015) and February 29 (2016), respectively. For new adopters wishing to get started with BW 7.5, edition for SAP HANA; SP01 is the minimum version and this is only available through the SAP Ramp-Up Process. A date for general release of BW 7.5, edition for SAP HANA has not been yet been announced.

So SAP BW isn’t dead?

Can we stop asking this, please?

But if you really must, you should check out Does SAP HANA Replace BW? (Hint: No, but…) by John Appleby, and think about how the new 7.5 features can add to (and simplify) your business’ Data Warehousing requirements. Better yet, drop me a line and I’m happy to ramble on about how you can use the newest offerings in SAP BW.


About the Author

Cal Loudon
Business Intelligence leader

Cal Loudon is a Business Intelligence leader at Mindtree with a focus on SAP technologies. He has a wealth of experience leading and implementing solutions across a variety of industries globally, specialising in in SAP BW, HANA, and all things data related.

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