My top 3 take homes from SAP TechEd 2016

By Mark Villazon, Practice Manager - BI & Analytics on

I came away from Las Vegas SAP’s 20th TechEd conference – the premier technology event for networking, training, and education on all things SAP – excited by three key product developments. Here’s a brief rundown to stay abreast of.


At the conference, SAP made it clear that its new SAP BW/4HANA solution is not simply the next iteration of its Business Warehouse (BW) offering. BW had its beginnings as a database agnostic data warehousing solution, primarily for SAP data. With BW/4HANA, the code base has been completely rewritten – as it was for S/4 HANA – and ERP-optimised to maximise the features and functionality native to HANA alone.

Unfortunately, a migration for existing BW customers is not straightforward but tools will continue to be refined to make the migration/conversion easier. Current customers should look to convert all current BW 3.x and pre-BW 7.4 objects to pure BW on HANA optimised structures, as BW/4HANA will only support Advanced DSOs and CompositeProviders. This could mean a complex project for long time users and a fresh re-implementation may be a more cost effective approach.

Another point of consideration is the BW/4HANA will no longer support BEx Workbooks. Its primarily frontend access point will be BusinessObjects BI 4.2 or BusinessObjects Cloud, so I would advise customers to start converting those old workbooks (if you have any) to Analysis for Office.

All this said, the benefits and features unlocked with BW/4HANA will make the effort all the more rewarding. Imagine a true Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) platform bringing together S/4HANA operational reporting side by side with other SAP data (ERP plus other cloud solutions), and non-SAP data, leveraging BW architected data models with SQL style data warehousing data sets. BW/4HANA promises this in a single, integrated environment, all running on the HANA platform (in memory, real-time, multi-core, columnar, etc). That is a powerful package.

For those customers running SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) on their BW environment, due to the nature of the ABAP platform employed by BW/4HANA, you will need to wait until the next full release of BPC (planned for 2018) to become available. But don’t let this deter you, start converting your BW data flows to 7.5 (HANA optimised) objects – Advanced DSOs and CompositeProviders – now.

With BW now being repositioned at the centre of SAP’s integrated data platform, customers need to start reviewing their BI roadmaps and think about the most logical migration path for you.

HANA Express release for free

The announcement of HANA Express edition puts a “free” in-memory HANA platform in the hands of developers, allowing production-level solutions to be run on the cloud, VMs or on dedicated PCs for solutions up to 32Gb in size and provides the option to scale up as needed. This edition provides access to most of HANA's core functions and features.

BusinessObjects Cloud

Finally, one of the most surprising additions to the BusinessObjects suite is the release of BusinessObjects Cloud (BOC) previously Cloud for Analytics (C4A). In reality, the only thing it shares with the traditional BusinessObjects suite is its name. BOC is SAP’s next generation all-in-one Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) BI, Planning, Predictive, GRC solution built on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform. It offers Lumira-like analytics for BI, combined with an online Excel style grid for planning. It’s a serious SaaS option with a modern, intuitive web based user interface. SAP will continue to innovate in BOC with new features and functions being added every 2 weeks.

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