SAP Data Warehouse Cloud – The Future of Data Warehousing

As a new member of its Business Intelligence (BI) platform family, SAP has launched a cloud-based solution for Data Warehousing. Together with the already established SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC), the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud (inofficially also called SAP DWC so far) now constitutes the core of the “SAP HANA Cloud Services” portfolio. The new product in an SaaS (Software as a Service) model is a HANA-based end-to-end solution for Data Warehousing which combines data management processes with Advanced Analytics. 

Within the SAP Beta Program, s-peers AG was among the first companies which exclusively performed intensive testing of the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud. In the process, we used various Proofs of Concept (POCs) to examine the new SAP cloud solution thoroughly in every detail – including error reports and suggestions for improvement which were returned to SAP as a direct feedback. 

In order to do this, a data model and a story dashboard in the Finance area were set up exemplarily. Thereby all required steps (integration, harmonization and preparation of the data as well as the final visualization of the report) were considered precisely. 

The SAP Data Warehouse Cloud (already generally available) offers the following components for this purpose: 

Spaces are virtual work environments which respectively facilitate data modelling, data integration and the preparation of story dashboards for a certain group of users. Very interesting in this context are the so-called Open SQL Schemas which provide an open interface for data storage in an SAP Data Warehouse Cloud space. Many other details regarding this aspect are presented by Sven Knöpfler (Head of Technology at s-peers) in his comprehensive expert article. Here is the Link to it: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/predictive-controlling-creating-forecast-data-r-writing-sven-kn%C3%B6pfler/ 

With regard to the data modelling process, the Data Builder offers various options for the integration, transformation (syntactic as well as semantic) and subsequent conjunction of data. The data integration can be carried out via a CSV import, a graphical view or an SQL-based view. The last two options provide easy access to all tables which are either stored in the Data Warehouse Cloud or which are linked with an on-prem HANA database via a live connection. 

The definition of Entity Relationship Models (ERMs) representing the semantic layer is possible as well. Thereby ER models can be helpful in visualizing and improving the understanding of relationships between different data sets. In addition, this activates the “Join Recommendation” function in the Data Builder. In a graphical view, this function is used to set the described relationships between the tables automatically when a join is accomplished. 

As already known from the SAC, the Story Builder includes various functions for the preparation of reports and thus for the visualization of key figures. Currently, the DWC Story Builder does not yet offer the full range of SAC functions. Nevertheless, all users with some SAC experience will get acquainted with the handling very quickly. 

The Business Catalog component offers a very intuitive and fast way to find existing models, such as dimension and fact data models. This is how sees are maintained with metadata (purpose, responsible teams/persons, tags) and can be easily searched and found.

Via the Connections component, a connection between the DWC and external data sources (e.g. an on-prem SAP HANA) can be defined and also be checked. Currently, the connection types SAP HANA, SAP ABAP and OData are available.  

During the Beta phase, this component was not yet available to its full extent. However, it can now be used e.g. to manage users, to create/assign authorizations and to track activities. 

In a POC, we have joined virtual database tables from an on-prem HANA (Journal Entry facts from SAP Business One as well as Cost Center and Account master data) in the DWC Data Builder and have combined them in a graphical view. In addition, various columns were created for the key-figure calculations – accompanied by the elimination of redundant columns. 

In graphical modelling, the data flow is then generated quite simply with a few mouse clicks and is configured in the context menu of the individual functions (recognizable by the blue nodes). Subsequently, the created view can be used as a data model in the integrated Story Builder. Based on the data model, the following dashboard has been designed: 

Data Warehousing of the Future

The above-mentioned examples demonstrate: The SAP Data Warehouse Cloud features a modern and visually appealing user interface which shares strong similarities with the SAC design. In the area of Data Warehousing, the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud offers an appropriate solution for the 21st century and thereby closes the previous gap in the backend segment of the BI Cl

We like to refer to our customer idorsia, who uses the DWC productively and proves that we talk about much more than theory.

You would like to get more information about this topic? Then we would be pleased to personally present you all functions and advantages of the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud optionally also combined with details on the SAP Analytics Cloud if required. Just contact us! 

Authors: Eugen Gering, Paul Vatter