Last week I had to good fortune to attend the SAP Run Better Tour (RBT) in NYC. Apart from being dazzled by the fanfare that traditionally accompanies any SAP announcement, my best learning occurred in the corridors, blogger deep-dive, and break-out sessions where I spent valuable time learning from SAP Technicians, customers and fellow bloggers.
The following four main themes underpinned the SAP RBT:-
- Big data in Real Time
- Insight with confidence across Business and Social Data
- Instant powerful BI in your hands
- The Best Fit, Right Size, Right now
For this weblog I will focus on the first RBT theme and explain my take on how, as one of the existing 15,000 SAP Business Warehouse (BW) customers, you might prepare yourself for the possibility of joining the in-memory journey.
Which version of BW should I aim for?
For those customers still on BW version 3.5 (and older) you don't need to be told that you have been out of standard support since March last year. All customers should be aiming for the strategic BW7.01 release. Whatever version of BW you settle for, make sure you opt for Unicode conversion as part of the upgrade. You will find it increasingly difficult to remain on the long term BW roadmap unless you opt for a Unicode instance.
For those who are interested in extracting the most value out of investments in BW technology, you may wish to purse the following features which are delivered as part of the recently released BW7.3
- Semantic object support to facilitate the creation Cubes directly on the Business Warehouse Accelerator (BWA);
- Tight integration with BI4, Terradata, Nearline Storage, Archived objects and Solution Manager;
- New graphical modelling toolset;
- ABAP WebDynpro rewrite of the Integrated Planning engine;
- Out of the box performance improvements (20%-40% improvement on DSO loading); and
- Several administration improvements including the Database usage monitor, and improved Administration Cockpit.
Which version of BWA should I aim for?
For those who have already made the investment in BWA technology, you need to be on BWA7.0. The next version, BWA7.2 is required for BW7.3. If you are in the process of deploying the BWA, you should jump directly to BWA7.2 regardless of your BW version. The BWA7.2 will run in full BWA7.2 mode if you pair it with a BW7.3 system and quite happily run in BWA7.0 mode if you pair it with a BW7.01 system.
Those who are interested in extracting the most value out of investments in BW technology, will be pleased with the following benefits when you pair a BW7.3 system with BWA7.2
- BW space savings gained from loading InfoCube indexes on the BWA directly from the BW DSO;
- Master data storage on the BWA for snappy F4 help and hierarchy support;
- Improved BWA analytic indexes; and
- The BWA calculation engine to speed up performance and take load off the BW7.3 system
What about my BW J2EE stack?
It's no surprise that SAP has been backing away from further J2EE developments on the BW platform. The winding down of the BEx, the replacement of BICS with the BO client and the rewrite of the Integrated Planning module in ABAP WebDynpro should be fairly obvious signs. SAP will however continue to support existing BW dual-stack customers by offering the following options:-
- Support for a BW dual-stack upgrade from BW7.01 to BW7.3; and
- The J2EE Splitter to extract the J2EE from your dual-stack BW system to a stand-alone J2EE instance. This process (still in Pilot phase) will offer both the J2EE Schema removal or MCOD possibilities.
How do I get onto the In Memory roadmap?
In its first iteration, HANA1.0 is aimed at the Operational and Agile Data Marts. This makes HANA1.0 a good match for highly volatile data which changes frequently or historical data which can be supplemented with external data and modelled on the fly. The first HANA1.0 customers who attended the RBT (including Christian Ritter from Hilti and Alan Capes from Canadian National Railways) spoke about the successful acceleration of Business suite and CRM based scenarios.
Jon, Christian and Tony at the RBT NYC.
How to get HANA 1.0 into the BW landscape.
Customers can opt for a side by side HANA1.0 deployment for the BW landscape provided they are on BW7.3 and BWA7.2. The BWA will evolve into HANA1.0, in fact, HANA1.0 is able to be run in BWA mode. This means there will be no additional license required when running the HANA1.0 appliance in BWA mode. Existing BWA customers who purchased BWA hardware late in 2010, may be able to reuse this hardware as part of the move into HANA1.0. Customers with older BWA hardware may be able to redeploy it as part of a BOE (or similar) landscape update. Please check this closely with your BWA hardware provider.
The benefits of deploying HANA1.0 in an existing BW landscape include a large performance boost courtesy of the improved compression and processing power of the In-memory Computing Engine, as well as the capability to build customer specific acceleration scenarios taking data from multiple sources.
What's next on the HANA roadmap?
In its next iteration, HANA1.5 will be aimed at Architected Data Marts , this is great news for the BW roadmap. Subsequent releases of BW 7.3 will begin to unlock HANA1.5 specific capabilities such as online Data Store activation in real time. Another strategic improvement slated for BW 7.3, is the database support for Terradata and Sybase ASE, so customers can now shop around for the best database to suit their needs.
The most exciting prospect of HANA1.5 is the ability to move the BW data out of the existing database and run it directly from the Appliance. With the compression rates offered, increased performance and reduced database licensing costs, this makes HANA1.5 quite an interesting value proposition. The downside of moving the BW database, is the disruption required to execute this process. I understand the process is similar to that currently followed when performing a Unicode conversion.
Which HANA Vendor should I choose?
Do you go with the vendors with the long BWA history, or the new guys on the block with the long history of network switching and Wan acceleration? The differentiators will be in the form of what extra pre-sales, installation and support services the vendor can offer - and of course the price.
The sizing process for HANA1.5 will also be an interesting prospect. I heard talk of an Extra Small HANA built on a rack mounted server. It won't be too long before the price of a 64 core rack mounted server with 2-4tb of RAM becomes a viable proposition.
Still to come.
I would have liked to spend more time discussing high availability, back-ups, how to architect HANA Development and Test servers, cloud based HANA, HANA virtualisation and of course HANA alerting and monitoring using Solution Manager. But there are only so many hours in a day.