SAP Data Warehouse Cloud and Business Warehouse – one year on

Author – David Bradley, Solution Architect – Analytics, NTT DATA Business Solutions UK&I

Hopefully you found my previous blog Data Warehouse Cloud – a replacement for SAP Business Warehouse? interesting and useful.  It is now a year on from that blog, and I wanted to give you my views on SAP BW/4HANA and DWC, and where I believe we stand now.

The Challenge

Source – SAP

The challenge that we face in analytics hasn’t changed significantly in the 20 years I have been working with analytics in SAP, however, what has changed is:

  • there are now massive amounts of data available; from an ever expanding number of sources
  • the speed at which this analysis is required and time available to take action on these results
  • the ability to allow all stakeholders to get the data they need to take action rather than rely on others to provide

Source – SAP

Data Warehouse Cloud

Source – SAP

SAP DWC is being positioned as the tool to help meet these challenges.  A tool in which both IT and the business can work together to provide the insights in a timely manner.  IT can provide the data and the business users can provide the business context.

Within DWC, the past year has seen rapid deployment of new features and content.  As was seen when SAP Analytics Cloud was first launched, the focus on cloud based innovation remains high within SAP.  This does not mean that the innovation and development of the BW/4HANA environment has stopped, just that the pace of the innovation and delivery of updates are at different levels.  BW/4HANA is an established offering and therefore the updates occur on a less frequent basis.  The cloud based solution currently has new solution versions every 2 weeks, whereas the on premise solution will receive a major feature pack every year.

What can be seen, however, is that for both offerings the roadmaps align around the integration of both tools and the ability to re-use existing investments within the cloud based solution.

Source – SAP

Future Direction

Source – SAP

So what is the right path for existing BW and Enterprise Data Warehouse customers?

There are still a high percentage of BW customers that have not migrated to BW/4HANA and are operating on BW7.5, whether this is on HANA or any DB, so what is the roadmap and future direction for these customers?

The majority of customers are looking at cloud solutions in one way or another, so what are the options for data warehousing?

BW/4HANA remains SAP’s strategic on premise data warehouse offering.  This can remain as a traditional on premise solution or migrated to a private cloud offering.  For customers looking for public cloud offerings then DWC is your solution.

However, Hybrid, remains the option for customers looking to continue getting value from their existing BW investments.

If you are one of the many customers that are running BW7.5, should you consider migrating to DWC or BW/4HANA?  There is no simple answer to that question, and each individual customer will have different use cases, but what can be seen from SAP’s announcements at SAPPHIRE and the planned innovations is that the hybrid option is here to stay for the short to medium term.

Source – SAP

Tightly integrating existing (or new) BW solutions into DWC is a key focus area for SAP, and should provide a migration path for the future.  In the slide below I have collated all the DWC and BW/4HANA planned innovations from the respective SAP Roadmaps that focus on the integration and cooperation of the DWC and BW/4HANA systems.  This is not limited to sharing BW data within DWC, but also allowing for process integration both ways, sharing of security models and importantly the lifecycle management of the data models transferred from SAP BW/4HANA.

The model transfer functionality for SAP BW/4HANA and the associated lifecycle management, enables future investment and development of the SAP BW/4HANA system whilst allowing for this data to be consumed within DWC, thus providing ongoing support for dual combined development and innovation activities.

Source – SAP

SAP Data Warehousing – Statement of Direction

Source – SAP

The statement of direction from SAP in regards to data warehousing further consolidates the view that the future is hybrid, allowing the best of both worlds to coexist whilst allowing for any future transition to pure public cloud.

Hybrid

Source – SAP

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud can provide the business users with the unified semantic layer and self-service access that they require, whilst SAP BW/4HANA can remain as the ‘single version of the truth’ repository for centrally managed data.

DWC and BW combined together provide:

  • Business user empowerment
  • Semantic Modelling
  • Cross-functional reporting
  • Openness

Source – SAP

Conclusion

If you are a customer without an existing investment in data warehousing, then DWC could be the ideal solution for you.  Can DWC currently do everything that BW/4HANA can do?  The short answer is No.  The capabilities currently within DWC might be sufficient for your needs, but if you require the additional functionalities available with BW/4HANA then either a standalone BW solution or more likely a Hybrid solution, combining BW and DWC are likely.

For customers with an existing investment in data warehousing, then BW/4HANA remains a strong option.

You might be running a BW7.5 on HANA solution and question the need to move to BW/4HANA.  However, if you are planning to take advantage of the combined capabilities available within the Hybrid approach, then a migration to BW/4HANA will best allow the tight integration between the BW and DWC systems.  The model transfer functionality is only available with BW/4HANA, and although there are other ways of integrating BW systems into DWC, as with SAP Analytics Cloud, all the investment and innovation around this integration is being directed at the BW/4HANA solution.

If you are currently running SAP BW/4HANA, then you can be safe in the knowledge that your investment in the tool is secure.  Your business is running software that:

  • will be supported for the long term
  • can be hosted either on premise or within a private cloud
  • is capable of providing the basis for a tightly integrated hybrid approach with DWC
  • will provide a future migration path to a pure cloud solution if required

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NTT DATA Business Solutions
NTT DATA Business Solutions

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