One of my personal goals this year was to ensure that Bluefin Solutions was the first SAP Partner to showcase SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3, powered by SAP HANA. This is exactly what we will be doing this week at the SAP UK & Ireland User Group conference in Birmingham. Please visit the stand and talk to either Ian Brown or Mike Powell, who are our resident SAP HANA experts. If you want to know about the migration, then Lloyd Palfrey will be there on Sunday - he's the expert.
And so it was, that yesterday evening, we got a copy of the software to install on our SAP HANA appliance. Huge thanks to at least 10 people in SAP that helped out with this, and probably a lot more behind the scenes. Your assistance breaking down doors and making this happen is hugely appreciated. I'm not going to name names because I will inevitably forget someone - you know who you are!
What is BW on HANA?
BW on HANA is SAP's next-generation in-memory database running as the underlying for the first SAP application - SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse. It replaces the underlying Microsoft, IBM or Oracle database with SAP's HANA database and is massively more performant than anything that any other vendor has to offer, because it runs in-memory.
Why would you want BW on HANA?
If you are one of 14,000 SAP NetWeaver BW customers and you have problems with report performance, flexibility or overnight schedules that run into the day and impact business operations, this product is designed specifically for you. And really, that means almost anyone, because these are typical and normal challenges associated with a Data Warehouse - SAP or non-SAP.
Getting ready for BW on HANA
For the non-technical people - this is pretty standard stuff to get your system ready to move to another platform. Just like if you wanted to move from HP to IBM or IBM to Fujitsu, which is usually done for reasons of managing the Total Cost of Ownership of your IT assets. It requires some technical expertise.
For the technical people - If you're thinking about getting ready for BW on HANA then there are a few things you have to do. First, install (or upgrade to) NetWeaver BW 7.3 SP05. Then read SAP Note 1647785 "SAP NetWeaver 7.3 BW, powered by SAP HANA - Information" and apply the corrections in SAP Note 1644137 "Composite SAP Note: BW porting in SAP HANA DB, NW 7.30 SP06".
Now you can follow the standard SAP migration process for any SAP product - there is very little different about HANA. Check database tables, indexes, data dictionary. And run the usual export process using the normal NetWeaver BW 7.3 CD. This will give you a standard SAP export. Please do all the things I said if you want to try it, they are not just best practice, they are mandatory.
Migrating to BW on HANA
From here it is easy (if you have an experienced and certified SAP Migration Consultant to hand, as I did). If you don't, then I suggest you find one! We installed the SAP HANA 1.0 SP03 database first, which takes about an hour. It's a simple process and because SAP HANA runs on an appliance, there are very few choices to make.
Next we ran the SAP installation media for SAP NetWeaver BW 7.3 on HANA and pointed it to the export that we created before and pressed the go button. I think this process took about 20 minutes to happen from when we started it to when the export started.
And this is what's amazing - an hour later, it had migrated what was on the export into SAP HANA and installed the SAP application software onto the appliance. And a few minutes after that, SAP had finished installing and was running. I've seen a few SAP migrations and they are usually straightforward when well prepared (and nightmarish when ill-prepared!) - but I have never seen anything happen this fast. What's more amazing is that there were virtually no problems and the SAP HANA database remained rock stable throughout.
Bear in mind that we were already running the latest version of NetWeaver BW and I had a crack migration team that already had substantial SAP HANA database experience working on this. Your mileage may vary depending on your environment and who is doing the migration so I don't want to promise what results you might have. Obviously it also does not take into account the needs of making it live, including regression testing!
So what are the initial reactions?
First, bear in mind that this is 5 days after the product was released into Ramp-Up - that's just out of alpha and into beta for most organisations. And second, I wasn't doing a fresh install, I was using real, live, customer data - which could easily have caused problems. Both of these things would normally mean quite a lot of teething problems, and I have found none yet. I'm sure there are some and we will help SAP iron them out during the Ramp-Up program.
So take a simple example, the SGEN process, which compiles all the SAP code natively and is required for fast system operation after you install SAP. This normally takes 8-20 hours on a system this complex. On HANA: 45 minutes.
And I've not done benchmarking yet, but it is just lightening fast to use both for administration and for reporting. Everything happens at the speed of thought. It is a true pleasure, and initially it looks stable as well.
I've said before that this product is a no-brainer for the 14,000 SAP NetWeaver BW customers. I stand by that today, and I stand by my point that product maturity will be key to its take-up.
What changed for me today was that my initial experience suggests that the product maturity is excellent for a product at this stage. If normal SAP rules apply, the product will be in limited shipment for the next 6 months (typically) but after that, the take-up should be immense.
And if you are one of the 14,000 SAP NetWeaver BW customers, take note. This product will solve the pain that you have been feeling around data warehouses for the last 5-10 years. It's that big.
P.S. The SAP technical people like Lloyd love it too. Fast and easy to use, for administration and backups. Well done SAP.