When BW Moves to HANA: Potential Impacts to the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform
In this article I explain the high-level considerations faced by customers who are moving their existing BusinessObjects-on-BW landscape to BW-on-HANA. The intended audience is technical personnel responsible for SAP BI Platform 4.x or SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1.
This article is not exhaustive and should not be taken as a substitute for engaging an experienced SAP BusinessObjects professional.
It started with an innocent-seeming question from a large customer with at least 5,000 BusinessObjects users. “We have over 3,800 BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 public reports based on SAP BW 7.3,” their BI team lead informed me, “And another 20,000 personnel reports on top of that.”
“We are now in the process of moving that BW system from Oracle to HANA,” he continued. “We need to understand the implications for our Web Intelligence and Crystal reports. Do we need to change anything? What BusinessObjects reports might break after the migration?”
The business justification for moving to HANA was compelling. By using HANA instead of Oracle to power BW, the customer expected to realize enormous gains in reporting throughput and performance. Another expectation was that new kinds of statistical analysis could be performed on shopping baskets, to understand the relationships between product SKUs that sold well together or at specific retail outlets. The goal of HANA was not only to enable faster reporting, but to provide the opportunity to mine enormous volumes of retail and operational data to identify hidden linkages that could provide clues about how to make the business more competitive.
However, the new analytic opportunities presented by the HANA project had also raised several technical questions in the customer’s mind, and the stakes were high. The customer relied on the availability of the BusinessObjects platform to help with critical day-to-day operations. An interruption in the SAP reporting services could create a ripple-effect that would impact operations.
Some of the questions the customer raised included:
- For supportability reasons, was it going to be better to upgrade to BI 4.x before moving BW to HANA?
- How would the existing BI landscape cope with a change to the underlying database storing the SAP BW schema? (For example, were the 24,000 existing reports going to ‘survive’ the transition to BW-on-HANA, or would their data connections break?)
- Was moving BW to HANA going to pose a more serious impact to BusinessObjects than what it might seem?
- Would logging into BusinessObjects tools using SAP credentials (secSAPR3), or Single Sign On (SSO), continue to work like before?
- What other non-obvious technical considerations might there be for an existing BI-on-BW infrastructure where BW is moving to HANA?
Migration Myths: There’s More Than Meets the Eye
After reading the customer’s email, my first thought was that there would not be any impact to BusinessObjects infrastructure, because the connectivity between reports and BW is normally database-blind. In other words, the reports and Universes are ‘unaware’ of whether BW is running on HANA, SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, or any other supported platform for that matter because the data connectivity references only BW server connection information. Therefore there should be no impact of migrating BW to HANA – or so I initially thought.
I asked some colleagues. “Isn’t moving BW to HANA simply a database migration with no impact to BI Platform?” some wondered.
I did a little more thinking and digging. Quickly it became clear there were several impacts to BusinessObjects reporting. In fact, there were a some myths to dispel!
|In the eyes of BusinessObjects BI Platform, the act of moving BW to HANA is “merely a database change”||Actually, BW is a possible user authentication system with integration for user logons and Single Sign On with potential certificate and SNC interdependencies; it’s a considerably more sophisticated relationship than “just another data source”|
|Moving BW to HANA will be transparent to SAP BusinessObjects tools (i.e., no changes required to Reports, Connections, Universes, or the BI Platform itself)||Depending on the selected migration approach there will definitely be technical impacts to BusinessObjects that need to be planned for, and addressed, post-migration of BW to HANA|
|HANA is “just a faster database”||HANA also enables optional new ECC (R/3) analytic reporting options, such as HANA Live, and new connectivity methods for BusinessObjects tools; leveraging the improved capabilities requires forethought (or at least awareness or planning)|
BW Data Connectivity Refresher
Let’s take a step back for a moment and review the possible ways a BusinessObjects reporting tools can access data in BW. This information is important because it establishes the recommended ways in which reports can consume data from BW, and helps us understand where there might be linkages within Connections, Universes, or reports.
As you can see in the above diagram, BI tools normally connect to BW through BICS, SQL, BAPI, or MDX. BICS is the preferred and most common connectivity method in BI 4.0, while MDX is the most common method in XI 3.1.
These connectivity methods do not ‘tell’ the report which underlying database platform BW runs on. Reports are not aware of the database server name, vendor, or other details – only the BW server itself. In the BICS and MDX scenarios depicted above, BW connection information is centralized in an OLAP Connection (BI 4.x) or a Universe (XI 3.1). What this means is there is a single point of control for updating the connection information for most types of reports, the exception being Crystal 2008/2011 reports that use BAPI under XI 3.1.
Please see Integration of SAP BusinessObjects and SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse for more information on best practices and possibilities for connecting BW and BusinessObjects tools.
Ways to Move BW to HANA
There are three main options for migrating to HANA. Each option has potential or definite impacts to an existing BusinessObjects infrastructure. For more information on migrating BW to HANA, please see BW Migration Options in the HANA Cookbook. (The details of migrating BW to HANA are outside the scope of this article but the high-level options have been presented to help frame our discussion.)
Potential Impacts to BusinessObjects Tools
The following sections provide an overview of possible impacts to BusinessObjects BI Platform when BW moves to HANA.
Area 1: BW Server Name Details Affect the SAP Authentication Plug-in
The SAP Authentication screen in the Central Management Console (CMC) contains an Entitlement Systems tab that may be affected by a BW-to-HANA migration. This is the primary area concerned with potential changes resulting from migrating BW to HANA.
Primary Potential Impact of Migrating BW to HANA:If one or more of these fields change:
- Message Server or Logon Group (Load Balancing)
- Application Server or System Number (Application Host)
…Then there will be impacts and changes required to BusinessObjects as outlined in Areas 2-9
However, if the aforementioned fields aren’t changing as a consequence of your chosen BW-to-HANA migration approach, then there will be no technical impacts to BusinessObjects tools or reports
Area 2: Authentication and Single Sign On (SSO)
Potential Impacts to Authentication, SSO, SNC:
- The SAP Authentication plug-in screen will need to be updated or else manual Authentication and SSO will stop working
- The SNC Certificate is used only for support of XI 3.1 .UNV Universes SSO-to-BW or Crystal 2008/2011 SSO-to-BW reports or Publications that contain them; if using these features, the SNC Certificate will need to be re-generated on BW and re-copied to the BI server or else Publications (or other features that require SNC such as XI 3.1 SSO-to-DB for legacy .UNV Universes and Crystal 2008/2011 reports) will stop working
- The SSO key store file will need to be regenerated and re-imported or else SSO may stop working
Area 3: Mapped Users and BW Roles
The following section provides an overview of potential impacts to BW users and roles that are mapped to the SAP Authentication plug-in in the CMC.
Impacts to Mapped BW Users and Roles:
- No impact if SimpleUsernameFormat=Yes in the Windows registry
- If SimpleUsernameFormat is non-existent or is set to No, then user aliases might change, forcing you to re-import mapped BW roles (As of this writing, it is unverified if this situation would potentially break any parent/child relationship with Enterprise groups, or cause Access Levels that might be directly assigned to mapped BW roles to lose their assignment)
See the following wikis for more information:
Area 4: OLAP Connections
- OLAP Connections will need to be updated or else BI 4.0 Common Semantic Layer Universes (IDT) and Analysis, edition for OLAP workspaces on BW will stop working as well as Multi-Source Universes that leverage BW Connections will also stop working
Area 5: Universes (XI 3.1 Legacy .UNVs)
The following section provides an overview of potential impacts to XI 3.1 Universes maintained with the Universe Designer tool.
- XI 3.1 Universes on BW will need to have their data connection information updated (in Designer) or else all reports that leverage the Universe will stop working
Area 6: Reports and Dashboards
The following section provides an overview of potential changes to reports and dashboards.
Impacts to Reports and Dashboards:
- Crystal Reports 2008/2011 documents that point to BW will need to have their data source updated in the CMC or else they won’t refresh
- Analysis for Office stand-alone documents that point to BW will need to be opened and updated to use the new server details or else they will stop refreshing
- Dashboards using Live Office connections where the underlying Live Office report becomes broken due to the migration will also stop working
Area 7: Recurring Report Schedules
- Recurring report schedules will fail if the underlying report documents can’t connect to the new BW-on-HANA server
- In the case of Web Intelligence documents, change the underlying OLAP Connection (4.0) or Universe Connection (3.1) and the scheduled Web Intelligence documents will continue to work
- In the case of Crystal Reports 2008/2011 documents, change the Database Configuration (or edit and republish the report from Crystal Reports designer) – mass-editing of report schedules is possible through the BI Admin API through a custom-built script
Area 8: Reports Published Directly into BW
Impacts to Reports Published to BW (via BW Publisher or Crystal Content Administration Workbench):
- If a customer publishes their BW reports from BW to BOE (using CCAW, Crystal Content Administration Workbench, part of SAP IK), the connection info can be updated easily using a setting in CCAW. In this case, all connection in the reports will be updated during next publish.
- The LCM tool can also be used to promote/re-import reports and use the “Connection Override” function to update Crystal Report database connection details.
Area 9: Connecting Directly to HANA
Impacts to the BusinessObjects Servers:
- For Explorer 4.0 SP5+ to work on BW-on-HANA it requires the ability to connect directly to HANA via the HANA Client Tools. Install the 64-bit HANA Client on all BI 4.0 SP5+ Platform processing servers.
Impacts to Developer Workstations:
- Also install the 32-bit HANA Client Tools on developer workstations to enable development of reports, dashboards, Analysis for Office, Explorer and Lumira workspaces, and Universes to occur directly on HANA Analytic Views, Calculation Views, and/or SQL tables via ODBC or JDBC. (Note that 64-bit Lumira requires 64-bit HANA Client.)
Area 10: SAP HANA Live for Operational Reporting
A discussion of SAP HANA Live is outside the scope of this article. Please refer to the following links for more information. Depending on your business requirements, SAP HANA Live may be a suitable alternative or adjunct to BI and/or BW reporting:
SAP HANA Live (formerly known as SAP HANA Analytic Foundation / SHAF):
SAP HANA Live Generic Demos (Offline)
- Speed Demo External:
- Within the SAP HANA Studio 4:17
- Connecting with Analysis Office 5:26
- Connecting with Crystal Reports 2:47
- Connecting with Explorer 2:36
- SAP HANA Analytics Foundation using SAP LT 2:26
Caution: Version Dependencies
Note: For customer upgrading to SAP BW 7.4 (GA intended for December 2013), applying a new BI 4.1 or BI 4.0 Support Pack is mandatory. Please see:
If you are running SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite on SAP NetWeaver 7.4, please be aware of the following:
- SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite 4.1 Support Pack 1 or BusinessObjects BI Suite 4.0 Support Pack 6 is mandatory! Lower Support Pack levels do not incorporate the enhancements delivered with SAP NetWeaver 7.4.
- Please read more in the SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite 4.x release restriction, e.g., SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite 4.1 Support Pack 1 Release Restrictions
The following section contains links to articles, white papers, and wikis that may be helpful to you as your plan your migration of BW to HANA.
- SAP HANA Cookbook for BW-on-HANA:
- Integration of BusinessObjects and SAP BW:
- SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on BW-on-HANA:
- Importing BW Models into the HANA Modeler:
- SAP Lumira (Visual Intelligence) & BusinessObjects Explorer on BW powered by SAP HANA: