What the new BW4/HANA update tells us over the future of SAP Datawarehousing
As you might know SAP has changed the release cycle for SAP BW/4HANA with a “new” version coming out now every year. Yesterday marked the day that BW/4HANA 2023 was released. Not a big release moment, but a small PDF with the changes that are in the 2023 version of BW/4HANA. In this blog I will take you through the release PDF and also give you an insight in what this release means for the future strategy of SAP for datawarehousing.
If you are thinking that there must be quite a lot of updates and new features coming with a yearly release than unfortunately I have to disappoint you. The total release PDF contains just 11 pages, and that is including a title page, table of contents and a two page disclaimer. This also shows that the development of BW/4 is at a minimum: for the past few releases we see that new features have been mainly catered towards the transition to SAP Datasphere (via SAP BW Bridge) or can be reused for that purpose.
BW 7.5 is going out of maintenance
With the end of maintenance deadline for BW on HANA 7.5 coming up in 2027 this conclusion might make your life quite a lot simpler, as a customer who is currently using a BW on HANA 7.5 system. Choosing between an upgrade to BW/4HANA or SAP DataSphere seems to become more evident by the day. Thankfully we saw this coming quite a while ago and started developing the Interdobs BW Bridge Optimizer which will make the transition to SAP DataSphere, via the BW Bridge, a seamless transition. You can learn more about the Interdobs BW Bridge Optimizer in this Youtube clip from Ronald Konijnenburg.
Back to the topic at hand, lets discuss the PDF with the new released features. The document contains 5 topics: Data Modeling, Data Acquisition, Analysis, Operation and Administration, which I will follow as a guide through this blog.
The first feature that is new in BW/4HANA 2023 is the option to directly push a messaging request into an Advanced Datastore Object (ADSO). This is especially useful where you have a scenario with a high volume dataload on a high frequency and can be added via a new step in the process chain. The second new feature is that it is now possible to remodel a datastore object via a rule defined in JSON. This feature seems to be quite small, but makes total sense since a lot of the “newer” technology platforms seem to use JSON as an intregration language. The third new feature is the ability to apply analytical authorizations when exposing an oData service on an InfoObject. Before this upgrade a user that had authorizations for a certain InfoObject could see all the data within that InfoObject. With the analytical privileges you can now limit that to whatever the user should be able to see. The last feature, on the data modelling side, is a new Package Explorer View that comes with the BW Modeling tools. This view displays the ABAP Packages and the BW objects assigned to them.
The most important feature seems to be the grouping for extraction enhancement. You are now able to include navigation attributes (of an InfoObject) as a key for semantic grouping. With the new upgrade you also get the ability copy filter definitions for extraction and you are able to generate a Data Transfer Intermediate Storage where you can use the navigation attributes of an InfoObject while loading from an InfoObject (i.e. for sorting).
BW/4HANA 2023 comes with a Enhanced Structure Overview for queries. This is especially useful when structures in the query definition becomes complex.
On the monitoring side SAP has added a view extra usage KPI’s that administrators can use to see the performance of their system. It is now possible to see the Average CPU Usage and the Average Peak Memory of process chains in one overview. You can see this for both the ABAP and Database side.
The InfoProvider Data Preview app is a new app added to the Data Display and Editiong app group that enables us to generate a web-based preview of the data in a certain InfoProvider. Obviously this is really handy when you quickly want to check what kind of data is in a data provider and don’t want to use for example SE16.
All in all we can conclude that the updates with this new 2023 version of SAP BW/4HANA are marginal. On the other hand SAP has been quite clear on their vision of the future of datawarehousing (hint: that is SAP DataSphere) so this was to be expected. As a data warehouse SAP BW/4HANA is still a strong solution, with all the added history of SAP BW sitting in the product, and will stay a stable and formidable product until it will go out of business in the far future. But if you are currently sitting on a BW on HANA system and see the deadline of 2027 coming, going with SAP DataSphere is starting to make more and more sense.