SAP Business Information Warehouse SAP BASIS

SAP Business Intelligence captures, combines, and organizes data from a variety of internal and external sources and makes it available to decision-making processes. The Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) is the key component of the Information Integration layer of SAP NetWeaver, part of the SAP Business Intelligence together with the Knowledge Management. SAP first introduced BW in 1997 as one of the major components of the Business Framework architecture and as one of the first New Dimension products. BW is the data warehousing solution of the mySAP Business Suite.

SAP BW allows you to analyze data from operative SAP applications as well as all other business applications and external data sources such as databases, online services, and the Internet. SAP BW enables Online Analytical Processing (OLAP), which processes information from large amounts of operative and historical data. OLAP technology enables multidimensional analyses from various business perspectives. You can look for information within the entire enterprise by using the Business Information Warehouse Server when preconfigured with Business Content. The importance and use of data warehouse and data mining techniques generally have been increasing during the last few years in the search for business intelligence, particularly in the collection of tools and applications that support company-wide knowledge.

Data warehouses and analytical tools used for unleashing the meaning of huge amounts of data are thought of as an integral component of getting business knowledge feedback. The analytical processes supported by the SAP BW are key to providing a broader business knowledge that can give feedback on the continuous change and improvement on companies by providing key figures and taking business decisions. SAP strategy is to position the BW as a ready-to-go warehouse, including all the components required by a global data warehouse architecture and all the tools for designing, extracting, building, and managing the system. As part the SAP NetWeaver, it is also designed for a seamless integration with the rest of the SAP solutions, and to provide dynamic information through the portal or other GUIs, such as the Mobile devices.

Architecture of the Business Warehouse

Figure shows an overview of the SAP BW conceptual architecture.

  • OLAP processor (server). This includes the data and information models from SAP systems. SAP BW includes information models and report libraries for all the SAP business areas.
  • Metadata repository. This manages and controls the full data warehouse environment.
  • Administrator Workbench. This is the central data warehouse management tool, which can be used for maintaining and extending the BW. The Administrator Workbench is the tool for controlling, monitoring, and maintaining all of the processes connected with data staging and processing in the SAP BW system.
  • Business Explorer. This is the component providing the reporting and analysis tools. This user interface is based on Web technology and MS Excel and contains a large standard report library, as well as the required analysis tools. The Business Explorer works as an information catalog, allowing users to browse the available information from the business applications. The analysis tools that can support complex and multidimensional analysis based on different data views are also a central component of the BW. The Business Explorer offers many possibilities for users to access the information in SAP BW using the Enterprise Portal, the intranet (Web application design), or mobile technologies.
  • Staging engine. Additionally, the BW includes the processes that can automatically extract the data from the source SAP systems and from other external data sources. These are represented by a staging engine with integrated data staging routines that normally run in the background, supplying the BW with current data from data sources. These routines can run at predefined update intervals and are managed from the Administrator Workbench.

SAP BW architecture

SAP BW architecture

There are staging and reporting scenarios. For the staging scenario, you can use SAP systems or external databases as data source. The reporting scenarios are based on the staging scenario with SAP systems as data source. All the communication processes between the SAP BW and data sources are based on BAPIs (Business Application Programming Interfaces), which provide a large degree of openness and extendibility so that the BW can be integrated with other applications, data sources, or tools. The SAP BW systems can be used by all types of users. Besides their main purpose of providing business intelligence and historical performance and key figures to other SAP solution components such as SCM or SEM, SAP BW systems can also be an alternative or a complement to the standard SAP reporting options, and therefore it can help reduce the load and impact on performance of extensive online reporting. The BW kernel, which is the same as the SAP R/3 Kernel, is on the SAP Web Application Server.

Additionally, there is a smooth integration between the BW metadata repository and the ABAP repository, so changes in objects and processes can be immediately transferred to the BW. Users can use the provided and predefined BW reports or can use them as models and create their own. The use of Web browsers and MS Excel spreadsheets makes analysis and reporting easy and simple. Just like many other SAP components, the BW also includes wizards for creating new reports, as well as much functionality for users to customize their own reporting and analysis environment.

Another key point of the SAP BW strategy is its very low implementation costs, because the kit includes all the needed models, configurations, and staging services for being able to work with data from other SAP systems right out of the box. This makes the need for data modeling only for special purposes or when loading the warehouse with external legacy systems.

BW Within SAP NetWeaver and New Features

Within the SAP NetWeaver Integration platform, BW offers new features and capabilities that position it as one of the key components. One of the new features of special importance is the Business Intelligence Information Broadcasting, which enables users to broadcast and schedule reports as needed. SAP Enterprise Portal serves as the single point of entry for the end user to access the complete business intelligence (BI) information portfolio. A SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) is designed like a conventional R/3 system. However, a number of special characteristics need to be considered.

For example, connections to source systems (for example, operated by suppliers) call for high performance and continuous availability. Extraction and loading processes must be stable and rapid. Data warehouses are associated with extremely large volumes of data, and this requires a database cost-based optimizer to guarantee the required level of performance. Other specific new features of the integration of Business Intelligence processes and tools within SAP NetWeaver include the following:

  • Based on the SAP Web Application Server
  • Seamless integration of BI applications within the SAP Enterprise Portal
  • Deployment of precalculated BI Web applications on mobile devices via SAP Mobile Infrastructure
  • Integration with new Internet Graphics Server (IGS)
  • Wizard-based information delivery
  • Business Information Java Integration Kit
  • BI platform enhancements

    As part of the SAP NetWeaver architecture, SAP BW draws from and utilizes the capabilities of the other components for business intelligence usage. The sum of the functionality of SAP BW and the contribution of other components of SAP NetWeaver form a platform that represents the next major step in the evolution of business intelligence. Depending on what extra components you use and how you configure your SAP BW system, you can use SAP BW for different business purposes.

BI Information Broadcasting

Information Broadcasting allows the user to precalculate BEx Web applications, BEx queries, and BEx Analyzer workbooks as required, or to distribute these in SAP Enterprise Portal, which means automatically distributing, sharing, and providing information to the enterprise in a dynamic way. The BEx Portfolio represents the central point of entry for accessing Business Intelligence information in this respect. BI Information Broadcasting leverages Knowledge Management features such as subscription, feedback, discussion, collaboration, rating, and enterprise search. Information broadcasting with SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) enables users to broadcast and schedule reports as needed.

BI Information Broadcasting includes the following features:

  • BEx Broadcaster (including wizard) as a Web-based user interface
  • BEx Broadcasting precalculation and distribution services as the infrastructure
  • BEx Analyzer precalculation server for precalculating BEx Analyzer workbooks
  • Business Intelligence services for integrating with SAP Enterprise Portal and presenting BEx Portfolios
  • BEx Portfolio (as part of SAP Enterprise Portal) containing precalculated documents and current documents in one overview

You can call the BEx Broadcaster from the BEx Web Application Designer, the BEx Query Designer, and the BEx Analyzer. You can also call the Broadcasting wizard in the Context menu of Web applications.

The following existing scenarios are also replaced by BI Information Broadcasting:

  • The precalculation of BEx Web applications for offline usage. It was previously possible to precalculate BEx Web applications with the Reporting Agent and download them with the BEx Download Scheduler. This function, which is still possible with SAP BW 3.5, supports the grouping of precalculated documents using scheduling packages in the Reporting Agent and the periodic scheduling of downloads in the Download Scheduler.

As of SAP BW 3.5, this scenario can be performed with BI Information Broadcasting. Precalculated BEx Web applications can be sent by e-mail and documents or directories can be downloaded from the BEx Portfolio using Knowledge Management services. BI Information Broadcasting makes the following functions available:

  • Grouping precalculated documents in directories
  • Receiving notification when precalculated documents are changed
  • Sending of documents when changed

As of SAP BW 3.5, BEx Web applications containing BI specific content can be created as iViews directly in SAP Enterprise Portal 6.0 on Web AS 6.40 by using the BEx Web Application Designer or the BEx Query Designer.

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