Birchman’s experience of implementing SAP Data Warehouse Cloud (DWC) for a global customer

Everyone is excited about SAP’s new cloud data warehouse application and are eager to understand its experiences and the benefits it brings to SAP’s portfolio of modern BI.

Birchman had the opportunity to complete a number of Proof of Concepts for customers, which lead the full-fledged implementation for this global customer with a large data footprint.

SAP DWC has been positioned as a self-service data warehouse system for Business Analysts, power users, and super users.

The main requirement that the client wished to address was the flexibility to perform self-service modelling whilst maintaining data integrity. Whilst SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) does offer a degree of self-service analytics, it does so with IT-delivered data models which have very limited capabilities to combine multiple models without further developing the models.

SAP DWC provides tools that can empower all levels of users to select, combine, and analyse data from different source systems (SAP or non-SAP) using a graphical data model builder. Or for more adventurous users; a free-hand SQL editor.

BI Architecture

In this blog we will discuss some of the key advantages of SAP DWC as well as some of the limitations that we experienced in the early stages of implementation:

Advantages:

    • SAP DWC can be up and running within 2-3 weeks with connections to SAP and non-SAP source systems.

    • A great deal of flexibility to combine data across different functional areas for their cross-functional reporting.

    • Create multiple spaces and share with various teams without duplicating data.

    • Data replication and direct access options to get data from source tables and views.

    • It provides connectivity to a number of on-premise and cloud systems like S/4HANA, BW/4HANA, AZURE.

    • SAP DWC can be connected to both SAP and non-SAP reporting tools like SAP Analytics Cloud, Analysis for Office, and Power BI.

    • Business users can use DWC easily with or without the knowledge of SQL scripts.

    • Complex data models and reports built on them can easily be shared across team members due to native SAC integration.

    • SAP DWC Database Explorer is used for expert modellers with large data requirements.

    • 5 million cell restrictions of Analysis for Excel can be overcome using CSV extract by running scripts in Database Explorer.

Limitations:

    • The limitation of parent-child hierarchy means that each node must have a single parent and, a dimension containing a parent-child hierarchy, can not include any other hierarchies.

    • Planning is not possible at present in SAP DWC however it is in the future roadmap.

    • Limitations on using Composite Providers directly as source objects with temporal joins are not supported.

    • SAP DWC standard contents are limited when compared to BW/4HANA Business content.

BW/4HANA still remains as the Enterprise Data Warehouse system due to its enriched and robust business content models and reporting across different business modules. BW/4HANA and SAC allows the user to do snapshot, historical, trends and KPI reporting to meet users’ daily, weekly, and monthly requirements by publishing the reports globally. Modules such as Payroll, HR, Inventory, and Treasury need a very complex integration of tables and views which are delivered through Standard business content data sources and data models with highly efficient delta capabilities.

Challenges and how SAP DWC helped to overcome

Change is inevitable in the modern IT world. It’s even more cumbersome for global business users who have been using their own legacy tools for years such as Excel, SE16 (SAP Table display), SQ01 (SAP Query builder), and Power BI with file uploads, to then shift to a newer common BI strategy. However, there are big advantages with regard to data integrity and data governance.

For this customer, introducing SAP DWC at the centre of its BI Architecture has made this task easier by empowering users with flexible and user-friendly tools, that not only provides them with analytical capability, but also enables them to build cross-functional data modelling from various sources without them worrying about the data extraction; and also enabling them to share this easily with their teams.

This has also helped to attract other teams, who were working in silos across the globe, to come together and work as a common team. They can clearly see the advantages of this tool over their own legacy tools.

Birchman has also positioned SAP DWC with BW Bridge (which enables SAP BW/4HANA-based functionality to be available as part of SAP DWC) to two other clients as an Enterprise Data Warehouse which would be greenfield implementation in 2023.

We will continue to post more blogs sharing our experiences, challenges, and feedback from future SAP DWC implementations.

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