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SAP BW4HANA OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

SAP BW4HANA is the #8 ranked solution in our list of top Data Warehouse tools. It is most often compared to Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics: SAP BW4HANA vs Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics

What is SAP BW4HANA?

Streamline processes and support innovations with a single, trusted source for real-time insights. Based on SAP HANA, our next-generation data warehouse solution can help you capitalize on the full value of all your data from SAP applications or third-party solutions, as well as unstructured, geospatial, or Hadoop-based.

SAP BW4HANA is also known as SAP BW/4HANA.

Buyer's Guide

Download the Data Warehouse Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

SAP BW4HANA Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about SAP BW4HANA pricing:
  • "We started as early birds from the SAP side. We got this entire suite for free. I cannot really talk about the price because we didn't have to pay anything."
  • "This is an expensive solution and there are costs in addition to the standard licensing fees."
  • "In general, it's quite expensive."

SAP BW4HANA Reviews

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HW
Head of Enterprise Reporting & Analytics at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Good capabilities, direct approach, and the right reporting tool for SAP companies

Pros and Cons

  • "Its direct approach is the most valuable. You get more real time and capabilities than BW."
  • "They have taken out a few BW functionalities when they redesigned this. The way of multi-dimensional thinking and star schema got a little bit lost. It may be because of the cost, but certain functionalities that were previously implemented from the BW side should come back again in the whole product. It is a young product. It is version 2.0. In time, I'm pretty sure they will come back again because otherwise, it limits the potential of the product, and I have to do a lot of modeling towards that direction. For me, the analytics focus is too much. It is not cube-oriented in that way, so its functionality is limited. It is not really technically limited in the back end; it is more limited in the front end. It has a data-mining mindset for SQL developers. The navigational attributes should be easy. It needs to be built in models. I see the data mark cube or understanding that the composite provider needs to be models in a cube coming back. The multi-dimensional star schema approach and the reporting need to be done as well as possible to leverage the star scheme below. This is definitely not understood by many consultants and even composite providers for star schema. They always think in terms of flat tables, which is limiting. You need to build the right dimensions, objects, and so on. If you can build this in BW4HANA, then you have this understanding that BW4HANA is not forcing you in this direction, but it should force you a bit better in this direction. Maybe a few elements which were in use in BW should come back again. It would help the community to determine the direction to build on the cube. You can have maybe 50 elements, and then you can expand it to what you need by leveraging navigation. So far, this functionality is a little bit limited in the tool, and it is not thought through, but I think it will come. They should also be adding more capabilities for the transformation between different objects. In BW, this is currently limited, especially towards composite providers. It is a bit complex basically in the building. You have to have a lot of knowledge as well as know how to do it better because it is a bit different from BW. There is not too much expertise currently in the consulting markets. Many are trying to build something, but it may be based on their knowledge of what they have from the BW and HANA side. You have to find the right mix from both of them at this time. We also have HANA Native. These are our two different sync sources basically, and we have approaches to connect nicely, but it is hard to manage your team because a lot of coaching is required."

What is most valuable?

Its direct approach is the most valuable. You get more real time and capabilities than BW. 

What needs improvement?

They have taken out a few BW functionalities when they redesigned this. The way of multi-dimensional thinking and star schema got a little bit lost. It may be because of the cost, but certain functionalities that were previously implemented from the BW side should come back again in the whole product. It is a young product. It is version 2.0. In time, I'm pretty sure they will come back again because otherwise, it limits the potential of the product, and I have to do a lot of modeling towards that direction. For me, the analytics focus is too much. It is not cube-oriented in that way, so its functionality is limited. It is not really technically limited in the back end; it is more limited in the front end. It has a data-mining mindset for SQL developers. The navigational attributes should be easy.

It needs to be built in models. I see the data mark cube or understanding that the composite provider needs to be models in a cube coming back. The multi-dimensional star schema approach and the reporting need to be done as well as possible to leverage the star scheme below. This is definitely not understood by many consultants and even composite providers for star schema. They always think in terms of flat tables, which is limiting. You need to build the right dimensions, objects, and so on. If you can build this in BW4HANA, then you have this understanding that BW4HANA is not forcing you in this direction, but it should force you a bit better in this direction. Maybe a few elements which were in use in BW should come back again. It would help the community to determine the direction to build on the cube. You can have maybe 50 elements, and then you can expand it to what you need by leveraging navigation. So far, this functionality is a little bit limited in the tool, and it is not thought through, but I think it will come. They should also be adding more capabilities for the transformation between different objects. In BW, this is currently limited, especially towards composite providers.

It is a bit complex basically in the building. You have to have a lot of knowledge as well as know how to do it better because it is a bit different from BW. There is not too much expertise currently in the consulting markets. Many are trying to build something, but it may be based on their knowledge of what they have from the BW and HANA side. You have to find the right mix from both of them at this time. We also have HANA Native. These are our two different sync sources basically, and we have approaches to connect nicely, but it is hard to manage your team because a lot of coaching is required.

For how long have I used the solution?

SAP BW4HANA is a relatively new product from the SAP side, but we have been running almost a two years project now and moving from BW to BW4HANA. So, it is a completely new build of the entire environment. We just completed that in November last year.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have used BW and HANA Native. BW4HANA is definitely much better than BW. It is also much better than HANA Native.

How was the initial setup?

It depends on your experience, the approach, and so on. I took over the project when it was already started. It had been running for two or three months. I would have approached it differently if I was there during the kickoff. It is challenging when you are too much focused on old products, and you don't have a good model in place or a good understanding of the business model. For me, it was not so difficult. I did it a lot in my former positions and during many years of experience in multidimensional data modeling, but for most of my colleagues and my team members, it was quite challenging because they had more experience in reporting subs, SQL subs, and so on and not so much experience in data modelings and so on. 

In general, you need to acquire experience in this. There are not so many in the market. I also had a bad experience with consulting companies. I had to correct them and technically detail the process for how to do this.

It is simply the mindset. When we approach it with the mindset of how it was done in BW or HANA, you get a process that is not really efficient. When object-oriented approaches are not taken into consideration, everything gets built a hundred times, and instead of being more object-oriented, it gets quite complex. It always requires good modeling and an understanding of the business requirements, which can be quite challenging.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We started as early birds from the SAP side. We got this entire suite for free. I cannot really talk about the price because we didn't have to pay anything.

What other advice do I have?

It makes sense for all enterprise companies that currently have BW in place to move over because BW4HANA has more reasonable performance, and it helps you in getting reporting. An enterprise can manage the reporting on this one product. In my previous company, I had to do and review reporting for end-users at the aggregated management level, not only at the transactional level. 

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten. It is definitely an eight for reporting low and high at the management level as compared to others, but it is also dependent on the design. I had to provide and I still need to provide a lot of things knowing how my former colleagues have approached those things. From my point of view, it is never always the product, it is the experience we have in the design and context. BW4HANA is definitely much better than BW. It is also much better than HANA Native. It is definitely the right tool in terms of reporting and security on top of the SAP companies. Most of the companies are SAP companies. If you need an additional reporting tool on top, this is a solution.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
SA
Lead Consultant at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 10
User-friendly and flexible with lots of standard features, but it needs to be more customizable

Pros and Cons

  • "Out of the box, this solution has a lot of standard features."
  • "Connecting multiple sources is a challenge because you have to go through a lot of different setups."

What is our primary use case?

We are a solution provider and this is one of the solutions that we implement for our customers.

We primarily use this solution for data warehousing and reporting.

What is most valuable?

This product is user-friendly.

Out of the box, this solution has a lot of standard features.

The product is quite optimized, having simple processes for change management and different security features. It offers a lot of flexibility.

Things are going more agile nowadays and you want to use a solution like BW/4HANA. It is more agile and more open to other sources. It integrates well with visualization tools like BusinessObjects.

What needs improvement?

This solution is very costly compared to competitors on the market, which stops some people from implementing it.

SAP has to be more customer-centric. They are aware of the standard business use cases but if changes are made then they are not aware of them, which makes the product more difficult to support.

You receive a standard product, which is fine, but it needs to be made more customizable.

Connecting multiple sources is a challenge because you have to go through a lot of different setups. For example, if you want to use FreeSQL then BW4/HANA lacks the support.

Some of the options that exist are very complex, which makes it tough to integrate.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using SAP BW/4HANA for the past six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

As this is an on-premises solution, scalability can be a challenge. SAP claim that it is scalable, but I don't think so because it will add to your cost. I think that it should be more cloud-oriented. Basically, it can be scaled but it has its limitations.

We have perhaps 200 to 300 users in our company and it is being used on a daily basis.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is quite a stable tool.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support for this solution is good. The availability is good and the responses for more information are quick. However, it can sometimes take a long time to get a solution. Sometimes, it is so long that I can find the solution faster myself.

There is one problem for which I have not received a resolution. They have taken a lot of input from us, yet have been unable to pinpoint the problem. This is a challenge that I still face.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have tried Snowflake and it is also quite a flexible tool. It is more open in that you can bring in data from multiple sources by just installing some DLLs and parameter files.

How was the initial setup?

The length of time for deployment, to get everything up and ready to work, depends on several factors. For example, if depends on the number of objects and the number of reports that are needed. When we implement this solution for somebody, we do our estimation based on those two.

One of the projects that I worked on took approximately one year to go from the initial stage up until the point where it could be used for reporting purposes.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This is an expensive solution and there are costs in addition to the standard licensing fees.

What other advice do I have?

SAP is introducing a lot of new features and making this product even more flexible.

The suitability of this solution depends on how big the business is and how much they want to invest in data warehousing. The effectiveness will vary from customer to customer. For example, I don't think that it is a good solution for small or medium-sized businesses because it is very costly. It involves a lot of maintenance costs and a lot of expertise. For a big customer, who is SAP-centric, with lots of SAP data or SAP business processes, this is one of the best data warehousing solutions.

Rating a product involves taking many things into consideration, such as scalability, performance, and security features. It also depends on what industry it is being used in.

Overall, I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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RM
SAP Technical Director at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Good reporting, well-suited for medium to large-sized organizations

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features are the speed of reporting and the HANA database."
  • "It takes too long to escalate problems from the first level of support."

What is our primary use case?

We are a solution provider and this is one of the products that we implement for our clients.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the speed of reporting and the HANA database.

What needs improvement?

I find the migration from an existing BW platform to be quite difficult. It is quite cumbersome for our customers to migrate to BW 4HANA.

The impact that it has on the ECC/ERP system is a problem because they are relying solely on the ODP tool to perform the extract.

It takes too long to escalate problems from the first level of support.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for a bit less than two years, from around the time that it came out.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is something that needs to be improved. There are too many SAP nodes to implement on a regular basis to get everything working.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is a scalable solution but it depends on the hardware. Our clients vary in size from small to very large organizations, although for this product, most of them are at least of medium size.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is okay, although it can be improved because sometimes it takes too long to get the correct expert to deal with the issue. Essentially, the wait at the first level of support causes us to lose time.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is rather complex. It can be up and running in two or three days but it takes a week to have it perfectly implemented.

We implement both on-premises and cloud-based deployments for SAP BW 4HANA.

What about the implementation team?

Our in-house team does the implementation and deployment for our customers.

What other advice do I have?

This is a good product and one that I recommend implementing. 

As we look at the information we have for the cloud solution, it would be helpful to have something more clear from the vendor in terms of strategy. More information on the direction of the data warehouse solutions, going forward, would be helpful. Today, there is a market for HANA both on-premises and in the cloud, but the data warehouse cloud solution that is coming up is quite different.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
SP
SAP Enterprise Services Specialist at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Consultant
Top 20
Stable, scalable and easy to maintain

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution is easier to maintain than traditional SAP products."
  • "The solution does occasionally get a few bugs, but this is typical for any product."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is used for the reporting on various dashboards for analytical purposes.

What is most valuable?

HANA is based on a column store, and it is very effective for reading the data. 

BW has a major advantage because most of the activities on the BW system are reading data rather than writing data. 

The product, overall, is very good.

The solution is easier to maintain than traditional SAP products.

All of the information that is provided by the solution for managing the HANA database is excellent.

What needs improvement?

I can't think of anything the solution needs in terms of features to make it stronger. It's a great overall solution.

The solution does occasionally get a few bugs, but this is typical for any product.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using the solution for the past two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have found the solution to be quite stable. It doesn't crash. It's been great.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

If a company needs to expand the solution, they can definitely scale up. It's quite easy to do so.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've reached out to technical support in the past. We reach out when there are some bugs or some specific issues on the product. They are very good. We've been satisfied with the level of support.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't a part of the initial setup, so I can't speak to the implementation.

What other advice do I have?

We are SAP partners.

The solution is deployed on a scale-out environment, which involves five nodes of 1TB each. We have four worker nodes and one standby node.

I'm not the consumer of this product. I'm an administrator of it. I'm basically supporting this project but I'm not the actual customer.

I would definitely recommend the solution. It is the way forward if an organization is already in the SAP ecosystem. It's good to adapt to it sooner rather than later. I would definitely advise companies to implement it.

I would rate the solution nine out of ten. 

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
NM
IT Director at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Used for ERP with good financial costing and material management features

Pros and Cons

  • "From an ERP point of view and a functionality point of view, it works very well. The benefits are in that of financial costing and material management."
  • "In the next release, I would like to see their BI component introduced with a mobile version, as it is not currently present."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case of this solution is for our ERP purposes.

What is most valuable?

From an ERP point of view and a functionality point of view, it works very well. The benefits are in that of financial costing and material management.

The only component that is not fully known is the HCM (Human Capital Management), but we have gone with SuccessFactors.

What needs improvement?

The HCM needs improvement, but as a company, they have stopped any development on this.

In the next release, I would like to see their BI component introduced with a mobile version, as it is not currently present.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for just over three months and we have just gone into production.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, we have not had any issues. This solution is stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not had the opportunity to test the scalability, as we are retail at the moment and using it as a storage system.

At this point, we have only three users.

It is being used daily, but we plan to use it more extensively in the future.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have only contacted technical support once and they were helpful. Their response time was also good.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward and similar to other ERP deployments.

It took three months to deploy this solution.

What about the implementation team?

We had the help of a system integrator.

What other advice do I have?

I would look at the Cloud option. Although the Cloud is not mature enough at this time, people who are planning to deploy this solution perhaps a year down the road may benefit from it. The Cloud may be something they would want to consider.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
JY
Deputy Manager with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Calculates big data and has predictive analysis memory

Pros and Cons

  • "It can calculate data in detail. Before we could not calculate financial documents and accountant documents in detail, we could not do it at a document level but now we can. This is the most important feature. It also has predictive analysis memory."
  • "Not a ten because it's expensive and its ecosystem is not very open."

What is our primary use case?

1.We use it to generate operational analysis for our internal operations, for example, HR analysis, financial analysis, etc. 

2.We use SAP BW4HANA to calculate data and feed to Tableau / SAP BO to visualize data.

How has it helped my organization?

1. SAP BW4HANA's memory computing help us calculate into much more detail data  such as accouting document level. And it's very fast.

2. We have capabliity to realize requirements related to big data, real-time anlysis.

What is most valuable?

1.It can calculate big data. One year ago, SAP BW took us a lot of time around four hours to finish our process chains, but now it's better. 

2.It can calculate data in detail. Before we could not calculate financial documents and accountant documents in detail, we could not do it at a document level but now we can. This is the most important feature. It also has predictive analysis funationlity.

What needs improvement?

We already had a lot of cubes built-in based on SAP BW.  We hope these BW cubes can support real-time anlysis without migration to SAP HANA modeling.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for more than one year. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We can draw down to the document level for a document. The problem is that when that document records are bigger than the platform, it causes the platform to slow down. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I have opened tickets with technical support. They've been good. Sometimes they take a while to respond. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend SAP BW/4HANA.

I would rate it an eight out of ten. Not a ten because it's expensive and its ecosystem is not very open.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Senior Strategy Manager at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Reliable, scalable, and has good support but they need more integration

What is our primary use case?

I was a developer. We use this solution for sales reporting and financial reporting.

What is most valuable?

I like that it's quite quick.

What needs improvement?

I would like more integration. Cost is a factor. It could be improved. The installation could be simplified.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using SAP BW4HANA for seven years. The version that I dealt with was 7.4, and the company I am in now is using the latest version. I am just starting to use that now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

SAP BW4HANA is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's a scalable solution. I don't have any issues with the scalability of this product. We have 200 to 300 users in…

What is our primary use case?

I was a developer.

We use this solution for sales reporting and financial reporting.

What is most valuable?

I like that it's quite quick.

What needs improvement?

I would like more integration.

Cost is a factor. It could be improved.

The installation could be simplified.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using SAP BW4HANA for seven years.

The version that I dealt with was 7.4, and the company I am in now is using the latest version.

I am just starting to use that now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

SAP BW4HANA is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's a scalable solution. I don't have any issues with the scalability of this product.

We have 200 to 300 users in our organization who use it.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have contacted technical support, they are generally very good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I used standard reporting, which didn't meet our needs and we had to go through a data warehouse.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is quite complex.

We are a worldwide team, we need quite a few people to manage this solution. We have a team of eight to manage this solution in Europe and close to the same to manage it in Asia. 

We have a team of 14 or 15 to manage this solution worldwide.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

In general, it's quite expensive.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend this solution in certain circumstances, but for others, probably not. It all depends on what the use case was.

I would rate SAP BW4HANA a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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Sherif-Hassan
Senior Consultant SAP / BW / SAP BOBJ at edraky
Consultant
Top 10
Helpful dashboard and reporting with good technical support, but the interface should be simplified

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is the dashboard."
  • "The dashboard should be simplified and made easier for exploration and decision making."

What is our primary use case?

I am a consultant and this is one of the solutions that I use for my clients.

In general, my clients use the dashboard and reporting services. They use it for modeling sales and service, material management, and stock management. They have automated reports that are sent daily by email.

The environment depends on the client.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the dashboard.

When using BW/4HANA, then is no performance degradation with Big Data.

What needs improvement?

The dashboard should be simplified and made easier for exploration and decision making.

Some customers have said that they would like to use the dashboard to send themselves data in an Excel file directly by email.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with SAP BW/4HANA for eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

BW is a stable solution as long as it is on HANA. Otherwise, some applications with Big Data will result in performance issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable but it depends on the server.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have dealt with technical support and they have been good.

How was the initial setup?

The installation of this solution is not simple, although configuring it is not a problem. 

What about the implementation team?

It is better to have help from integrators or consultants for the installation.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is implementing this solution is to first follow the basics. It is possible that you will want some enhancements but you have to start at the beginning and start with the basic practice for modeling.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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