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

  • by Sergei Peleshuk, SAP BI and HANA Architect
  • March 17, 2015
Discover how to choose the right data-warehousing platform for corporate reporting and planning. This comparison of the capabilities of SAP BW, SAP HANA, and SAP BW on HANA helps elucidate the best use and benefits of each platform.
Learning Objectives

Reading this article you will learn:

  • How to evaluate and determine which data-warehousing platform option is best for meeting the reporting and planning needs of your organization
  • The differences between the SAP BW, SAP HANA, and SAP BW on HANA platforms, and the pros and cons offered by each
Key Concept

SAP BW Analytic Manager (formerly known as OLAP processor) orders SQL requests in a proper sequence, assembles query results, and pushes down query execution to the SAP HANA server. SAP BW Analytic Manager compiles the execution plan, opposed to the SAP BW system that stores the metadata and is used for the transport and the lifecycle of the data model. BEx Queries are compiled by the Analytic Manager into an optimized execution plan, meaning that most parts are executed in SAP HANA, and only a small part in the SAP BW application server.

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.

Sergei Peleshuk

Sergei Peleshuk has more than 15 years of experience implementing BI technologies for global clients in retail, distribution, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), oil, and gas industries. He has helped clients to design robust BI reporting and planning capabilities, leading them through all project phases: from analysis of requirements to building BI roadmaps, technical architecture, and efficient BI teams. Sergei is an expert in modern BI tools and technologies available on the market, including SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW), SAP HANA, BusinessObjects, and SAP Lumira. Sergei maintains a business intelligence portal at

Sergei will be presenting at the upcoming SAPinsider HANA 2017 conference, June 14-16, 2017, in Amsterdam. For information on the event, click here.

See more by this author


4/12/2015 8:26:32 PM

Awesome Article!!
4/1/2015 1:49:29 AM
Dominik Klupczynski

Very comprehensive article. I find it very useful in my current project. Thank you!
3/31/2015 5:14:07 PM

easy to understand and a good article.
Thank you
3/31/2015 8:44:12 AM

Nice article, thanks

Please log in to post a comment.

To learn more about subscription access to premium content, click here.