SAP Business Warehouse (BW), a model-driven data warehouse product, is built on the SAPNETWARE ABAP platform. It stores transform, and stores data from SAP and non-SAP apps. Data can be accessed through built-in reporting, Business Intelligence, and analytics tools.
SAP BW can also be used by programmers to create and modify data warehouses and perform data management tasks. They also generate reports and build analytics applications. SAP BW is typically accessed by business users through an app developed by a developer such as an executive dashboard or mobile application.
SAP BW, unlike most data warehousing products, is able to define business object data-warehouses such as data sources, queries, and data stores. It then instantiates and manages them in different ways, depending on which platform they are running on.
SAP BW Versions
BW was originally created to offer online analysis ( OLAP) over SAP’s transactional software R/3. This system was optimized for online transaction processing OLTP. BW initially focused on extracting data and SAP reporting on it. However, the system quickly expanded its capabilities and flexibility. It was upgraded to 3.x and became a fully-featured data warehouse that could store data in relational and flat cube formats.
There were also flexible query systems and reporting tools. The transformation was continued with the 7.x version (which immediately followed the 3.x). Although the system can be used outside of an SAP environment, almost all of its usage is within the SAP R/3 and CRM customer base.
SAP developed a series of BW versions based on HANA with the SAP HANA database. These were first seen in the BW Accelerator. This was a columnar query cache that stored BW data models from 7.x versions. BW on HANA, a version based on BW7x, but exclusively running on HANA, was then released. It allows optimizations that are specific to HANA. 2017 saw the release of BW/4HANA. This is the next-generation version (BW4) of BW. It removes many legacy features and introduces new data models that are better suited for HANA’s columnar, in-memory architecture.
How SAP BW works
BW is fully model-driven, which was a unique feature among SAP data warehouse platforms. BW developers use BW’s interface for specifying the data flow and storage requirements of a data warehouse scenario. Then BW instantiates the model on the database, then runs the processes to ingest transform, store, and transform the data. This model is more popular in the cloud age. A business information warehouse is a German software product for business intelligence.
BW was model-driven, which meant that developers could log in to the SAP GUI to use transaction codes such as RSA1 instead of using SQL or stored procedures in a data management system. BW has been moving to open-source Eclipse and web-based tooling that uses the SAP Fiori design languages. These BW models are then deployed in a development environment and tested before being migrated to production and quality control systems.
BW ran on the SAP NetWeaver ABAP Platform up to BW on HANA. However, BW was database-agnostic and supported all databases NetWeaver supported including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and IBM DB2. BW on HANA, BW/4HANA, and BW/SW4HANA are all examples of BW that still uses the NetWeaver ABAP platform. However, BW requires the use the HANA database. Many customers still use BW7.5, the last release that was database-agnostic and which is compatible with non-HANA databases.
Benefits of SAP BW
BW’s model-driven nature has many benefits and disadvantages. BW is a proprietary toolkit. It is harder to find BW programmers than standard SQL data warehouse software programmers. One of the major advantages of BW is the flexibility that the customer has to make changes to the platform. The system can also take advantage of new features without any BW development.
BW customers using BW 7.5 can switch between Oracle or HANA databases easily if they have stayed with a model-driven approach. In the same way, customers of BW upgraded to BW on HANA. Those who maintained a model-driven architecture saw many of their data transformations and activations move from being processed on their application server to being stored in database. This could often lead to a significant performance increase. BW is a model-driven toolkit that allows you to make changes to your processing without affecting the semantics of the model.
Modern Business Warehousing
BW is constantly evolving, mainly to support additional data sources and targets for output, simplification of modeling, and provide additional modeling features such as data aging, and spatial and predictive processing.
BW has been integrated more with HANA’s data management platform and cloud-based tools such as SAPData Hub. BW/4HANA also integrates more with other tools such as Spark, Hadoop Distributed File System ( HDFS), and other big-data management software.