Start with a Good Data Model for SAP HANA

  • by Decision First Technologies
  • Christopher Hickman, Associate Director, Data and Analytics, Protiviti
  • Don Loden, Director - Data & Analytics, Protiviti
  • Jonathan Haun, Director, Data and Analytics, Protiviti
  • May 3, 2013
Learn about data modeling techniques in SAP HANA, including what has improved performance for our clients.

Data modeling in SAP HANA is quite similar to traditional data modeling with some subtle differences. Data must be modeled into efficient structures that take full advantage of SAP HANA’s in-memory structure and analytic modeling capabilities before presenting the data to reporting tools such as SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0. In certain cases this deviates from traditional data modeling techniques.

Traditionally, star schemas have been used as the backbone of BI design, and this approach also works well as a baseline data model for SAP HANA. With a traditional relational database management system (RDBMS), your data is modeled into a star schema consisting of fact tables with measures and dimension tables with attributes to describe the data. Notice in Figure 1 that the Fact_Sales table has measures of units sold with foreign keys to the dimension tables: Dim_Date, Dim_Product, and Dim_Store. Data structured in this manner performs quickly and efficiently when joined in queries and presented to reporting tools.

Decision First Technologies

Decision First Technologies (DFT) is a professional services company specializing in delivering end-to-end business intelligence solutions to its customers. An SAP gold-channel partner and six-time SAP BusinessObjects Partner of the Year, DFT resells and offers certified consulting, training and technical support for all analytics as well as database and technology products in the SAP BusinessObjects portfolio. DFT’s comprehensive BI solutions allow users to access, analyze, and share information stored in multiple data sources, including SAP and non-SAP environments. The company’s data warehousing practice designs and implements enterprise solutions utilizing SAP Business Warehouse, appliances such as SAP HANA or traditional relational database technologies. With more than 10 years of experience, DFT has helped hundreds of companies make better business decisions, dramatically reducing costs, increasing revenues, and boosting profits. For more information on Decision First, visit or follow on Twitter @DecisionFirst.

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Christopher Hickman

Christopher Hickman is associate director, data and analytics, at Protiviti. Previously, he was a principal consultant at Decision First Technologies. He has experience in the SAP BusinessObjects suite of applications as well as ESRI's range of GIS applications (ArcGIS Desktop, Server, Business Analyst Desktop, BA Server, etc) and systems used to tie the two together (APOS, Centigon, Antivia), resulting in fully featured business and location intelligence systems. He is also heavily engaged in social media and the opportunities presented with the synergy generated from various social media utilities. You can follow Chris on Twitter @chickman72.

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Don Loden

Don Loden is an information management and information governance professional with experience in multiple verticals. He is an SAP-certified application associate on SAP EIM products.  He has more than 15 years of information technology experience in the following areas: ETL architecture, development, and tuning; logical and physical data modeling; and mentoring on data warehouse, data quality, information governance, and ETL concepts. Don speaks globally and mentors on information management, governance, and quality. He authored the book SAP Information Steward: Monitoring Data in Real Time and is the co-author of two books: Implementing SAP HANA, as well as Creating SAP HANA Information Views. Don has also authored numerous articles for publications such as SAPinsider magazine, Tech Target, and Information Management magazine.

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Jonathan Haun

Jonathan Haun, director of data and analytics at Protiviti, has more than 15 years of information technology experience and has served as a manager, developer, and administrator covering a diverse set of technologies. Over the past 10 years, he has served as a full-time SAP BusinessObjects, SAP HANA, and SAP Data Services consulting manager for Decision First Technologies. He has gained valuable experience with SAP HANA based on numerous projects and his management of the Decision First Technologies SAP HANA lab in Atlanta, GA. He holds multiple SAP HANA certifications and is a lead contributing author to the book Implementing SAP HANA. He also writes the All Things BOBJ BI blog at You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @jdh2n.

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