Top 10 SAP BW topics on the minds of our customers

Following this year’s SAP TechEd && d-code and the first wave of follow-ups from customer meetings, I’ve collected the top #10 topics of SAP BW operation at this time; while this may not be a representative picture of all SAP customers and BW installations worldwide.

I’m writing this to give you good picture of the kind topics people are discussing when stopping by at our booth at TechEd, and when I meet with customers when carrying out my role as head of DataVard’s consulting and Custom Development teams.

So here we go… the top 10 SAP BW topics on the minds of our customers are:


1. To HANA or not to HANA?

The biggest questions system owners have nowadays when they considering moving their SAP systems, is whether it is worthwhile to adopt SAP HANA. Basically, there is only one answer: yes. It is. Full stop. Why? Because having a complete SAP stack; will be best in performance, implementation, and operation.

However, in answering the first question, raises additional questions such as when and how. OK.  When… well, when it makes sense, today may be too early – as you may need to check with other more urgent topics. If your system is running, then it is most likely not too urgent, and you can use the time to evaluate the real benefit and the urgency.

If you know you’re ready to move, then brings the how, to answer this you might want to look at DataVard’s and SAP’s co-innovation service called “Road To HANA” which is a unique way of moving to SAP HANA flexibly and fast.


2. System copies and test system refresh. 

System copies for release cycles, QA system rebuilds, DEV system refreshes and sandbox systems cause work and delay. Also non-production systems eat up a lot of database space. At DataVard, we provide three ways of copying SAP systems:

  • Lean System Copy (LSC) is used to replicating completely empty SAP systems with custom developments, users, authorizations, data models, etc. are in place – but no application data whatsoever. Resulting in very small system copies.
  • Selective System Copies (SSC), replicating reduced systems with data based on time slices and / or organizational units. Allowing you to build non-production systems with a small percentage of the application data of production systems.
  • Full System Copies (FSC), is what it says it is, where all data is taken along, but the copy procedure automation helps in reducing the workload.


3. Database footprint reduction

BW systems can be drastically reduced in size. Using our famous BW-Fitness-Test (for which we proudly received several awards!) shows time and time again, much data in BW is outdated or “cold” data. To address this, we offer a SAP certified NLS solution called OutBoard, and we are SAP’s first (and so far only) RDS partner for NLS implementation using any storage medium ranging from IQ to files.

This is becoming more and more important nowadays with customers moving to SAP HANA, where you need to closely monitor and limit data growth.


4. System Consolidation

Many of our customers have complex landscapes with several production systems, mainly because of historical reasons. A truly global BW has many advantages, both in the areas of TCO and reporting itself. By consolidating system landscapes opens these savings and reporting potential.

This can be achieved using DataVard’s and SAP’s SLO approach. You might want to check out my slide deck from a speech at this year’s SAP TechEd && d-code here.


5. Housekeeping

NLS and data archiving is only part of getting rid of bulky data. There is another part called housekeeping. Being one of the most unpopular topics on the planet, however it is of vital importance to make sure ongoing housekeeping is running smoothly, by avoiding manual effort, through automation housekeeping, managed preferably from a central location in the SAP landscape, yes we have solution for this too, that you should check out called ERNA.


6. Testing, testing, testing (or: how to minimize the effort)

New SAP support packages combined with a fast paced project schedule many of our customers struggling with keeping up with testing. Therefore, we created a way of automated SAP BW testing which is unique in focusing on BW backend test cases that require complex processes. This tool is called KATE and can help you significantly reduce test efforts.


7. Never ending batch and performance in the backend

In global and “big data” systems it is getting more and more difficult to find suitable time windows for ETL processes. Using three tools we help customers reduce runtime of long running BW batch:

  • Our BW Fitness Test to assess the as-is situation
  • DataVard Canary Code to monitor and log the performance, and to provide a starting point for drilling down into long running processes
  • And the clever minds of experienced DataVardians who are not scared by 100+ TB BW systems


8. Avoiding Downtime

DataVard’s CanaryCode helps to avoid downtimes proactively. How? Using a clever combination of cross-system-landscape monitoring (including HANA – specific DB KPIs!) and alerting. At some of our customers, who use Canary Code they have avoided substantial down times in 2014. We’re so excited about this solution that we gave away free test versions on the SAP TechEd in Vegas and Berlin in 2014!


9. Being agile in development

Flexibility is getting more important in BW development and deployment. We help customers in this by addressing data transformations, restructuring, remodeling and refactoring in BW environments. We always rely on a tool based approach and not on pure manpower to be faster and more efficient, e.g. in complete data model name space changes.


10. Last, and least: no real pain points are Frontend, reporting performance, and robustness! 

Funnily, topics from some time ago such as BeX, Frontend, Bobj, etc. are not real pain points just right now. They are always topics on the radar of our customers for very good reasons, but currently they are not the hot now-or-never topics they used to be some two years ago.

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll go into more detail on each of these and explain the pain, and possible solutions – both in SAP standard and DataVard’s tool and services to help everybody challenged by and with difficult situations with SAP systems.


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