By David Allen | SAP S/4HANA Solutions

September is the start of planning season for most companies. Everyone is gathering data to support the 2018 budget proposal and that data is located throughout the company. SAP data is being reported through the SAP Business Warehouse, existing planning data may be on a separated SAP Business Warehouse environment, non-SAP data may be aggregated in a separate data warehouse, and then there are the thousands of offline reports compiled manually in excel. Unfortunately, this disaggregated view on data management and analysis is common across companies, but there is a better way with SAP’s release of BW/4HANA and the time to plan for this is now.

SAP BW/4HANA is a next generation data warehouse that is built entirely on SAP HANA, the advance in-memory platform. SAP BW/4HANA offers enhanced data modeling and governance, high-performance solution development, a modern user experience, and incredible flexibility including the management of SAP data, third party data, and unstructured data on a single platform.  A key difference of SAP BW/4HANA compared to other data warehouse solutions is that SAP BW/4HANA does not focus on centralizing and duplicating data but connecting data in a logical format to streamline the reporting, to eliminate the data silos, and to ensure data is tuned for results and cost.

SAP focuses on four key themes when discussing the changes in SAP BW/4HANA.

Most of these are achieved by leveraging the capabilities in the SAP HANA in-memory platform and removing any previous redundancies that were required in a traditional database approach. This eliminated millions of lines of code between the warehouse and the database and interweaves SAP’s Business Warehouse into SAP HANA. Furthermore, SAP BW/4HANA leverages the SAP HANA development environment, is enhanced from the advance analytics in SAP HANA specific libraries including predictive modeling and machine learning, and can be deployed in an on-premise or cloud-based environment.

One of the key questions asked by our customer is … What is the migration strategy to SAP BW/4HANA?

SAP provides several approaches to the transition to SAP BW/4HANA but ultimately, the decision will be very personal for each company based upon how they are currently utilizing SAP Business Warehouse and other enterprise data warehouse solutions. SAP currently documents three core approaches.


New Implementation or Fresh Start approach is a straight forward scenario for companies that never utilized SAP Business Warehouse or believe their past approach will be very different to their future plans. As companies focus on data as more of an asset to their future decisions and not just an outcome, this approach will be very common for companies.

System Conversion approach is an in-place conversion and focuses on a full system conversion of an existing SAP Business Warehouse environment. This requires the SAP Business Warehouse to be on SAP HANA prior to converting to SAP BW/4HANA.

Landscape Transformation approach is a remote conversion of an existing SAP Business Warehouse environment(s). It is based upon a new installation of SAP BW/4HANA and the existing SAP Business Warehouse environment is converted into the new SAP BW/4HANA environment. This conversion is best when the company is focused on a carve out or consolidation scenario for the current SAP Business Warehouse environment. A consolidation scenario could be for regional SAP Business Warehouse environments or if the company has SAP Business Warehouse solutions focused by use. This can include having specific solutions for Business Objects reporting or having a separate SAP BPC landscape.

Many companies will look at the transition to SAP BW/4HANA as a technical project that needs to be scheduled as part of an overall SAP upgrade strategy. First thing to note is that you can start the transition to SAP BW/4HANA prior to deciding on what to do with SAP S/4HANA. SAP Business Warehouse is setup in a separate environment and can be accelerated to achieve success on the analytics front.  Second thing to note is that SAP BW/4HANA is not just a technical project, but a tremendous business value driver when people think of data as a core asset to predicting the future of the company. When thinking about SAP BW/4HANA, think of the outcomes your company requires and not the technology stack. SAP BW/4HANA is focused on tuning your company’s data across your company’s environment and driving real business results.

Overall, the start to a modern data warehouse will be different for each company. To help you in understanding more about your company’s roadmap to SAP BW/4HANA, I encourage you to participate in our webinar on Thursday, September 28, 2018 or contact us at to discuss an assessment of your current environment and data strategy.