Comparing SAP BW, SAP HANA, and SAP BW on HANA’s Data-Warehousing Capabilities


When I first heard about SAP HANA and its enhanced performance, I was very interested in discovering more about the product and learning about the benefits of its in-memory capabilities. It seemed as if SAP HANA would deliver on the most critical of the issues BI projects need to solve: improving query run time and data-load performance. It also seemed that data loads may not be needed at all as all data is sitting in memory. I have many years of implementation experience with SAP BW. This, coupled with my recent experience implementing SAP HANA, made me decide to put together a summary of my findings to provide an overview of the benefits (if any) of implementing the new SAP in-memory technologies, and to discuss which tools can be used for what purpose.

I was especially interested in learning about how the logic delivered in SAP BW 7.x transformations with ABAP routines are implemented in SAP HANA, and if it really performs thousands of times faster as promoted by SAP. On the other hand, I wanted to find out for myself if the new SAP HANA platform has the same flexibility and powerful reporting and planning capabilities as SAP BW 7.x has.

The answer to my first question is, yes. You can still keep the old ABAP logic in SAP BW transformations when migrating to SAP BW on HANA. However, without optimizations to the system, the performance of these routines is not substantially improved as the routines are executed on the application server in the same manner as they are without SAP HANA.

As far as gaining more flexibility in designing reporting and planning solutions, a lot more flexibility is gained with the new SAP HANA platform, but not as much as is gained with SAP BW 7.4 on SAP HANA. As it stands today, SAP HANA by itself won’t be able to replace all SAP BW’s functionality and reporting or planning capabilities, but I believe that SAP BW 7.4 on SAP HANA provides an additional dimension for corporate reporting and planning.

Step by step, I review some of the new features and capabilities that make SAP BW 7.4 on SAP HANA unique and, in many ways superior to, other data-warehousing platforms. At the same time I discuss SAP BW on HANA by comparing it against the performance of SAP BW on any other database and the SAP HANA platform itself.

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