Comparing SAP BW/4HANA with SAP BW


After completing this lesson, you will be able to Describe the main differences between SAP BW and SAP BW/4HANA.

Introducing SAP BW/4HANA

SAP BW/4HANA is SAP's solution for an on-premises or private cloud deployment of a data warehouse, and is the successor to SAP BW. Customers with SAP BW as a strategic asset continue to benefit from future improvements and investment protection until at least 2040. SAP Business Warehouse (BW) has been available since 1998 and is in use by a very large customer base. It represents an integrated data warehouse application which provides predefined content (LoB and industry-specific), tools and processes to design and operate an enterprise data warehouse end-to-end. This approach simplifies development, administration, and user interface of your data warehouse, resulting in enhanced business agility for building a data warehouse in a standardized way.


Although not in the scope of this SAP Learning Journey, it is worth noting that SAP Datasphere (formerly known as SAP Data Warehouse Cloud), generally available since 2019, is SAP's strategic solution for the deployment of a public cloud data warehouse. SAP Datasphere is based on a DWaaS (Data Warehouse as a Service) approach with very fast release cycles. SAP BW/4HANA and SAP Datasphere can easily be combined to create a hybrid cloud/on-premise solution which is a popular approach with many customers.

Positioning SAP BW/4HANA within the SAP Business Warehouse Portfolio

SAP BW/4HANA was released in 2016 as the successor of SAP BW, with a strong focus on the integration of existing SAP ABAP application components into the new SAP HANA platform, so that more of the powerful capabilities of SAP HANA could be exploited to provide more speed and flexibility. A key aspect of SAP BW/4HANA is that it follows a more simplified data warehouse approach than SAP BW, to provide agile and flexible data modeling, SAP HANA-optimized processes, and user-friendly interfaces.

The core functionality of former SAP BW releases is preserved in SAP BW/4HANA. However, objects for data modeling, as well as processes and user interfaces, have been optimized to take advantage of the features of the SAP HANA database. Data modeling is restricted to the small number of objects that are well-suited for modeling the layered architecture of a data warehouse on SAP HANA (known as LSA++). In SAP BW/4HANA, data warehouse models can be flexibly combined with SAP HANA calculation views. An intuitive Eclipse-based modeling environment and additional Fiori-based UI5 cockpits are the main user interfaces to develop and run SAP BW/4HANA.

SAP BW/4HANA was not developed from scratch and evolved from a journey that included three key phases:

  1. SAP BW on any database - this was the classic SAP BW that was launched in 1998 and runs on any database (prior to SAP HANA).
  2. SAP BW powered by SAP HANA - this was still classic SAP BW launched in 2012, but was powered by the SAP HANA database to provide performance improvements for data loading and reporting.
  3. SAP BW/4HANA - this is the re-developed solution launched in 2016, that was re-written and optimized to run only on SAP HANA.

For the SAP BW/4HANA redevelopment, SAP NetWeaver-based BW version 7.5 was taken as a starting point and it was streamlined by removing many obsolete, core components. But SAP BW/4HANA still retains many features and objects of the last 20+ years. For instance, user management and authorizations, transport system, system logs or traces, and many more important functions are still available.

To reduce the complexity of the solution, millions of lines of unnecessary ABAP code have been removed. A lot of the processing of SAP BW/4HANA has been shifted to SAP HANA database. SAP BW/4HANA is deeply integrated into SAP HANA and utilizes the SAP HANA engines. The main components that have been removed include:

  • All BW development objects which have been replaced by HANA-optimized development objects (for example, InfoCube, MultiProvider, DataStore Object (classic), 3.x Data Flows).

  • SAP NetWeaver components that are not related to BW (for example, Enterprise Portal, Process Integration, Business Process Management).

  • All interfaces to external databases other than SAP HANA.

Overview of SAP BW/4HANA

SAP BW/4HANA at a glance

New product, new codelineSAP BW powered by SAP HANA is not SAP BW/4HANA. SAP BW/4HANA is a new solution that requires a new software license.
Not SAP NetWeaver any more

~5 million lines of ABAP code deleted compared to SAP BW 7.5 SP4.

But some classic components remain, e.g.: SAP_BASIS, SAP_ABA, SAP_GWFND, SAP_UI

No other databasesSAP BW/4HANA only runs on SAP HANA.
No JavaJava Stack not required any longer.
No Business Explorer (BEx)SAP BW/4HANA does not support BEx reporting. But no change to BEx Queries (now called "BW Queries" and developed using a new tool)
Fewer InfoProvidersMore powerful and flexible modeling objects (CompositeProviders) replace many of the classic objects (MultiProviders, InfoSets etc.)
Fewer Source System typesSimplified data acquisition - fewer source system types but more powerful interfaces.
Customer ExitsReplacement of old customer exists and BADI methods

SAP BW/4HANA is a separate ABAP application. It is no longer part of SAP NetWeaver. This ABAP stack has been streamlined. The core SAP BW data warehousing functions remain, but where there is a HANA-optimized process or data model as an alternative, the previous code lines have also been removed. For example, SAP BW/4HANA does not support InfoCubes. This object type is unknown and modelers now work with the new, more powerful, DataStore Objects (advanced).

Consolidation of Object Types in SAP BW/4HANA

Previous vs. Successor Object Types

Previous Object Type in BW 7.x

Successor Object Type in SAP BW/4HANA

DataStore Object (classic)DataStore Object (advanced)
InfoCubeDataStore Object (advanced)
Virtual ProviderOpen ODS View, CompositeProvider or BAdI-Provider
Semantically Partitioned Object (SPO)Semantic Group
3.x data flow (3.x DataSource, Transfer/Update Rule, InfoPackage)7.x data flow (7.x DataSource, Transformation, DTP)
Source System of type SAP Service API (S-API)Source System of type ODP_SAP
Source System of type DB-Connect, UD-ConnectSource System of type SAP HANA
Source System of type Web Service, Data ServicesWrite Interface-enabled InfoObject or DataStore object (advanced)

Previous vs. Successor Tools/Functions

Previous Tool/Function (BW 7.x)

Successor Tool/Function in SAP BW/4HANA

BEx Query DesignerBW Modeling Tools Query Designer
BEx WebSAP Analytics Cloud
BEx AnalyzerSAP Analytics Cloud or SAP Analysis for MS Office
BEx Information BroadcastingPublications in SAP Analytics Cloud or Scheduling in the SAP BusinessObjects Platform
BW Integrated PlanningSAP Analytics Cloud or SAP BPC add-on for SAP BW/4HANA

SAP has published a detailed document describing the future of each SAP BW object type or function. Following the naming principles of SAP S/4HANA, this document is called the Simplification List and can be found on the SAP help portal for SAP BW/4HANA. There is a clear statement for each object or function as to whether it is still available and supported in SAP BW/4HANA. If it is not compatible with SAP BW/4HANA, the document refers to conversion options and successor objects or functions. It also contains references to SAP notes which provide more details for each object or process.

These SAP notes can also be found via the so-called SAP BW/4HANA Simplification Item Catalog. Accessible next to the Simplification List in the official SAP BW/4HANA help portal, you can leverage a free search to find the relevant SAP note starting with BW4SL (equals SAP BW/4HANA Simplification List) in the title.

SAP BW/4HANA Design Principles

SAP BW/4HANA has been designed according to four central principles:

  • Reduced number of modeling object types and source system interfaces
  • Less administration efforts to maintain data objects and error-prone data flows
  • Sophisticated data lifecycle management based on multi-temperature data concept
  • Expose SAP BW/4HANA models as native HANA calculation views to be consumed in visualization tools such as SAP Analytics Cloud or in customer-specific apps
  • Smart integration of external data virtually, or in batch mode and near real-time
  • New integration approaches for cloud sources
Modern User Interfaces
  • End users: SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP BusinessObjects replacing BEx
  • Modelers: SAP BW Modeling Tools in Eclipse and web-based SAP BW/4HANA Cockpit
  • Administrators: Web-based SAP BW/4HANA Cockpit instead of SAP GUI
High Performance
  • Operations and calculations pushed down to SAP HANA
  • Access to SAP HANA-specific libraries

SAP BW/4HANA Planning Capabilities

Since the start of SAP BW/4HANA product family, planning capabilities have not been a part of the SAP BW/4HANA software component and a corresponding SAP BPC Planning add-on was provided for each SAP BW/4HANA version. The current add-on is called SAP BPC 2021 for SAP BW/4HANA, for example.

This changed with release SAP BW/4HANA 2021: Now you can technically use planning models based on SAP BW Integrated Planning (IP) with the Planning Application Kit (PAK) without an SAP BPC add-on installation. However, there has not been a change in the commercial conditions. All SAP BW/4HANA planning models (SAP BW-IP/PAK, SAP BPC Embedded Model and SAP BPC Standard Model) still need an SAP BPC license separately.

In general, SAP BPC and IP planning models are suitable for customers who prefer an on-premise planning solution. However, please consider that SAP´s strategic direction is planning in SAP Analytics Cloud and future innovation will be provided in this area mainly.

SAP BW/4HANA Maintenance and Roadmap


The up-to-date roadmap for SAP BW/4HANA and any other SAP product can be found via the Roadmap Explorer, using It provides the planned features of the next SAP BW/4HANA feature packs and releases including the focus topics for the future direction.


For more details please refer to the following sources:

SAP BW/4HANA Architecture

You will recognize many of the components of SAP BW/4HANA that continue to exist. However, there are some new components. Launch the following video and learn about the new architecture of SAP BW/4HANA.

The overall SAP BW/4HANA architecture can be grouped into these four main areas:

  1. Consumption (blue color): SAP Analytics and SAP Planning on-premise or in the cloud, or third-party solutions.

  2. Application (orange color): SAP ABAP-based application stack with data warehousing core functions. The focus is in the orchestration of those as the runtime is pushed to SAP HANA wherever possible.

  3. Platform (green color): SAP HANA provides the platform for all data management tasks but enhances the application logic with its modeling, calculation, and integration services.

  4. Sources (grey color): The sources for all data to be integrated physically or virtually. Most of them leverage interfaces provided by SAP HANA or SAP NetWeaver.

This SAP Learning Journey covers all parts of this high-level architecture. The only exception is the consumption layer which relates to front-end tools outside of SAP BW/4HANA .

Log in to track your progress & complete quizzes