Understanding how SAP HANA powers SAP BW/4HANA


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Describe how SAP HANA powers SAP BW/4HANA


SAP HANA is a high-performance, in-memory database. SAP HANA includes many features to ensure SAP and non-SAP applications run at top speed.

SAP HANA powers SAP BW/4HANA and provides two key benefits:

  • high performance for data loading and reporting
  • storage of huge amounts of data

Let's start with performance:

We have access to more computing power than ever before. In recent years, we have seen memory sizes increase dramatically. Also, CPUs have become incredibly powerful with multiple cores running on each CPU, which means that we can distribute workloads across the cores to achieve very high parallelization.

Many databases rely on disk for data storage, but SAP HANA uses very large memory for data storage.

SAP HANA was built to run on the latest hardware that uses multi-core processors and huge memory. The power of SAP HANA has a direct impact on the performance of SAP BW/4HANA. By utilizing multiple cores across many CPUs, data is loaded faster and queries run at very high speed.

SAP HANA supports the traditional row table architecture found in most databases, but also supports column store tables. Column store tables are optimal for analytical use cases. Data warehousing, and in particular the querying function, is the ideal use case for column tables. SAP BW/4HANA uses column store tables.

There is a very good reason for using column store instead of row store, especially for querying data. A typical query usually requests only a few columns of a table. A query on a row table processes all columns of the table, even those columns you did not request in the query. But a query on a column table processes only the requested columns. Processing only the columns that were requested improves query performance.

One of the additional benefits of using column store tables is that the data in the table is automatically compressed. Compression of data massively reduces the footprint of the table by as much as 90%. This means we can fit more data in SAP BW/4HANA compared to row storage. Compression is taken care of automatically by SAP HANA.

Extending the Functionality of SAP BW/4HANA

The underlying technology of an application is usually invisible to the developers and users of the application. SAP HANA plays a very important supporting role of SAP BW/4HANA; not only by providing high performance and huge data storage, but also by providing additional functionality.

Specifically there are two key functional areas of SAP BW/4HANA that are extended by SAP HANA:

  • data modeling
  • data acquisition

Combining SAP HANA data models with SAP BW/4HANA data models brings together the power of both modeling environments.

Powerful, in-memory data models are built directly in SAP HANA using a modeling object called a calculation view. A calculation view is built using a graphical tool and includes many of the modeling features found in SAP BW/4HANA. However, there are many additional features not found in SAP BW/4HANA. These include advanced ranking functions, generating data intersects, and embedding custom SQL code into the data models.

SAP HANA provides connectors to any type of data source on any platform. SAP BW/4HANA leverages this capability to access any data for either extraction and loading, or for direct access to remote sources.

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