How To Save a Million Dollars Using SAP BW 7.4

Victor Ayers

Recent customers who have made the move to SAP BW 7.4 on HANA have encountered some unexpected expensive surprises. One of our customers recently upgraded to SAP BW 7.3 and then HANA. They already had 8 years worth of data in their BW database. The original sizing requirements were given based on the current usage and should have provided for enough space for 3 years. After the impressive ROI of moving to BW on HANA, the customer's CFO decided to implement SAP BPC 10 Netweaver edition on HANA. BPC unfortunately requires that BW data be loaded to a staging area and then loaded again into a BPC actuals cube. This increased some of the reporting areas space requirements by a factor of 3-4. The customer had also gone on a shopping spree acquiring new branches, bringing them onto SAP at a rate of 20 branches a month. To their surprise, they were down to their last 10% of space on their brand new HANA box by the end of year 1.

The customer contacted SAP about adding an additional terabyte of space to their existing HANA environment. To their surprise, an additional 1 TB would add $1.2 million in cost on top of their initial investment.

So a solution was needed that could help save a million dollars and help mitigate further expansion costs as their database grows at an exponential rate. The typical options are to archive the oldest data or to move some data to SAP BW Near-Line Storage (NLS). Archiving was not an option, as they needed to report on all data for trending analysis. NLS required updating the info providers and bex queries to access NLS data. SAP offers Sybase IQ as a NLS option but it doesn't come cheap with a typical cost well over a quarter million dollars.

The best course of action is to upgrade to SAP BW 7.4 and leverage the new features available. BW 7.4 can now connect to ever more databases and systems such as Hadoop or Teradata. SAP introduces a new feature called the Federated Enterprise Data warehouse. Customers can start with a much lower initial investment in Hadoop starting at $25,000 or less if they consider a cloud based solution vs. Sybase IQ. Hadoop relies on cheap common hardware rather than expensive HANA dedicated hardware. Hadoop is great at massive parallel job processing and gives performance results similar to HANA. A new concept called "Open View ODS" allows clients to combine internal BW data models with virtual tables stored in a Hadoop cluster, thereby combining the data in both storage areas so that the end-user sees it all as one. When the end-user needs to report on older data, performance is still in the same tier as HANA.

Here is a basic roadmap of how to accomplish this:

  1. Upgrade to SAP BW 7.4.
  2. Install a Hadoop Cluster such as Cloudera or Hortonworks.
  3. Connect your Hadoop Cluster as a Source system to SAP BW 7.4.
  4. Replicate your BW data models into your Hadoop system.
  5. Create Virtual Tables in BW to connect the Hadoop models to BW.
  6. Combine your BW data models with your Hadoop models using Open View ODS.
  7. Create OpenHub destinations for each large cube/DSO, include all fields available.
  8. Connect the Hadoop models to the OpenHub tables, this will allow you to load the older BW data into your Hadoop tables. (Other methods are available such as BOBJ DataServices).
  9. Automate the Hadoop loading process by creating a process chain in BW that loads data older than X years. Connect this to the Hadoop loading mechanism, dependent on your choice of vendor.
  10. Migrate your Bex queries from the legacy BW model to the new Open View ODS version using RSZC.
    1. This data warehouse architecture may also be of benefit to non-HANA customers. Reducing the data volumes in the BW environment will improve query performance and older data will benefit from fast Hadoop processing. Customers can reduce the initial $1.2-1.5 million upfront investment in HANA by starting with a smaller environment, giving a 50% savings. The extremely low-cost scalability of a Hadoop environment will prevent the customer from ever having to expand their HANA environment in increments of a million dollars. To fully explain this we have prepared a guide called "How to Save a Million Dollars using SAP BW 7.4" by clicking the button below.