SAP BW/4HANA or SAP Data Warehouse Cloud?

Kirsten Nachtmann

March 29, 2022

The Path to the Best SAP Data Warehouse

The Path to the Best SAP Data Warehouse

For a long time, SAP’s data warehouse portfolio consisted of BW 7.5 on HANA and BW/4HANA. For a few years now, SAP has offered another data warehouse solution, one that functions as a leaner alternative to the powerful SAP BW/4HANA. As things stand today, the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud (SAP DWC) is not (yet) SAP’s strategic data warehouse system, however it can provide a perfect expansion of SAP BW/4HANA in many scenarios, or it can be regarded as a lean alternative in the cloud. Depending on the application and requirements for a data warehouse, different scenarios with SAP BW/4HANA or SAP DWC can suit different situations.

With regard to SAP’s data warehouse solution, there are three main scenarios:

  1. SAP BW/4HANA can be used by itself.
  2. SAP DWC can be used as an extension of SAP BW/4HANA.
  3. SAP DWC has all the functions to be used as a stand-alone data warehouse.

1. Stand-alone SAP BW/4HANA

A first indicator of the possibilities for deploying a data warehouse solution at a company is the data privacy-compliant storage of the data. Companies that work with particularly sensitive data or that follow strict guidelines for data storage could have problems in the cloud.  The fact SAP DWC processes data in a public cloud may be a reason not to use SAP DWC. If  even individual data domains may not be put in the cloud, it makes sense to use SAP BW/4HANA as a stand-alone data warehouse solution. If the SAP BW is based on an older release, an upgrade is not necessary, but it is recommended nonetheless.

Handling sensitive data
Handling sensitive data

2.  Combination of SAP BW/4HANA and SAP DWC

If it is possible to process and store data domains in the cloud, the existing data warehouse can be expanded with SAP DWC. Here the sensitive data can be kept on-premise and at the same time, you can enjoy all the advantages of a cloud system by using SAP DWC.

If the company is using a SAP BW, in the best case SAP BW/4HANA or a planned upgrade to SAP BW/4HANA, then the investments in the state-of-the-art data warehouse will not be in vain. Here too, an expansion of the existing SAP BW/4HANA with SAP DWC can make sense since individual use cases are implemented in SAP DWC and the technical department can work independently on the data models.

This makes sense especially if the data from SAP BW/4HANA is enriched with additional data from external systems. The “hobby horse” of SAP DWC distinguishes itself through a simple connection of heterogeneous source systems, both SAP and non-SAP systems. SAP DWC is therefore suitable as a link between existing SAP BW/4HANA and other systems to complete the analysis of the data.

SAP BW/4HANA should also be used as a basis if business content is indispensable for the company. SAP DWC has its own business content. At the moment, however, this is not yet available on the scale familiar from SAP BW/4HANA. In addition, SAP DWC also does not access the structure of the lnfoObjects, which is why a 1:1 transfer of the business content to SAP DWC is not possible. The SAP BW Bridge can make the transfer easier.

Many companies expand the business content of SAP BW/4HANA with their own developments. If these internal developments are also of great importance in the future and turn out to be complex, it is also recommended that you retain these developments in SAP BW/4HANA. Converting the existing programs to SQL or Python can be very time-consuming and, in some cases, the desired results cannot be achieved this way.

Decision criteria for existing SAP BW
Decision criteria for existing SAP BW

3. Stand-alone SAP DWC

If there are not many or no complex in-house developments in the existing SAP BW,  a stand-alone SAP DWC can be a good alternative.  Using a greenfield approach, existing developments can be analyzed and implemented in the state-of-the-art SAP DWC environment. With the addition of the BW Bridge, a brownfield approach can also be considered.  The BW Bridge enables the data models to be moved from the old SAP BW to SAP DWC and to be used again there. This is possible with SAP BW7.3 or later on any DB. Even in-house developments that are implemented in ASAP can still be used this way.

Furthermore, SAP DWC makes life much easier if you are using many external source systems. If there are several non-SAP source systems at the company, the data can be combined and harmonized via SAP DWC in just a few steps. The ability to improve the analyses by enriching the company’s data with external data is simple and ingenious thanks to SAP DWC.

If the company’s technical department is strong and it can develop its own models and perform analyses, SAP DWC is a clear gain. The SAP DWS enables the technical department to add to models provided by IT and to adapt them to its needs. With the SAP Analytics Cloud, business users can create dashboards and reports themselves without the IT department. Working in virtual workspaces also makes it possible to classify the technical departments thematically and implement authorizations easily.

The SAP Data Warehouse Cloud as stand-alone solution
The SAP Data Warehouse Cloud as stand-alone solution

SAP DWE is also a real alternative if the company is already using an old SAP BW. In many cases, an upgrade to a new release is more costly than the transfer to SAP DWC. If the old SAP BW grew up historically and many data models have to be addressed, then a greenfield approach is certainly the right one. With the help of the BW Bridge, however, the existing data models can also be brought into  the new SAP DWC environment and reused.

If no data warehouse was in use previously, a direct start with SAP DWC is recommended. The cloud strategy is pursued with the SAP DWE. It can be regarded as a possible alternative to an SAP BW and is therefore an advanced data warehouse.

We would be happy to help you find precisely the right SAP Data Warehouse solution. We look forward to analyzing and discussing the alternatives with you in more detail.

Do you have any questions? Then please contact us.

Webinar: SAP Data Warehouse Cloud and SAP BW/4HANA: Finding the right data warehouse solution (DE)

The SAP Data Warehouse Cloud and SAP BW/4HANA are both very good data warehouse solutions. We will answer questions relating to the implementation scenarios and architectures of both solutions.

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