Speed up SAP Netweaver Business Intelligence queries using IBM PureData System for Analytics (Part 1)

Have you ever encountered the need to accelerate reporting within SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW)? Did you find a feasible solution that fits your budget and performance requirements? If not, then you might be interested in how to speed up SAP Business Intelligence queries using IBM PureData System for Analytics, powered by Netezza technology. 

SAP offers a variety of options to help you to improve the performance of your SAP BW queries. These include SAP HANA (as the underlying database, which is an in-memory solution) or SAP Sybase IQ (which is a columnar database working as a sidecar solution). IBM also offers a SAP BW optimized relational database: IBM DB2 for SAP.

But there are additional ways to approach improving performance.

I believe that a more optimal approach is to widen the scope and chose a solution that will provide business intelligence (BI) service consolidating multiple data sources, of which SAP is just one. This should include an evaluation of BI and extraction, transformation and load (ETL) tools, as well as data warehouse appliances (such as IBM PureData System for Analytics, powered by Netezza technology).

From my personal experience with other clients who have reported on data in SAP enterprise resource planning solutions combined with other data sources, I would recommend a target architecture of a downstream enterprise data warehouse, creating a corporate-wide analytical data service built on PureData System for Analytics technology.

Clients I have worked with have achieved significant benefits by extracting and moving the data into PureData System for Analytics rather than trying to extend the capability using existing solutions. The diagram below outlines the high level architectural approach:

While I do understand that some clients wish to minimize the impact involved in improving the performance of reports in SAP BW when they use SAP Business Explorer or any other compliant BI tool, I strongly believe that the benefits of this approach far outweigh the disadvantages.

Client experiences with SAP Business Warehouse

From my regular discussions with SAP BW clients, I know that many users experience constraints in the areas of:

  • Performance to build the data (InfoCubes)
  • Performance of queries and analysis
  • Time to develop and meet new reporting and analytical requirements
  • Difficulty in incorporating data from non-SAP sources
  • Accessing the data using non-SAP analytical tools

When clients have implemented SAP Business Warehouse Accelerators as a solution to some of these challenges, they have often needed to reduce the amount of data kept in the InfoCubes held on Business Warehouse Accelerators. This is to allow such data to be loaded in a timely manner, maintain performance and avoid excess licensing costs.

In addition, many SAP users are reviewing the best architectural deployment approach for SAP ERP data going forward. Choosing alternative, open approaches such as PureData System for Analytics can prove to be the optimum solution.

The benefits of IBM PureData System for Analytics

IBM clients have found significant benefit from using PureData System for Analytics as their enterprise data warehouse and foundation for data services, gaining a responsive and easy-to-use open business intelligence environment. PureData System for Analytics users are able to choose the best reporting and analytical tools to meet their requirements, consolidating and analyzing data from all sources, both within and outside of the organization. Additionally they have managed to avoid the complexity of having to manage and maintain the SAP environment, which adds additional infrastructure to an already complex environment. Many clients are also gaining a significant competitive advantage through the advanced analytics capabilities within PureData System for Analytics.

PureData System for Analytics clients have been able to:

  • Significantly improve the performance of business intelligence reporting
  • Dramatically reduce ETL time using the power of the PureData System for Analytics database in doing complex transformations
  • Eliminate the need and complexity of loading non-SAP data into SAP BW
  • Load SAP detailed data into the data warehouse, where it can be used for other purposes and subjects areas
  • Retain and analyze historical transaction and master data changes across multiple years and the lowest level of granularity
  • Deliver new projects much more quickly and with less risk due to the simplicity inherent in PureData System for Analytics operations
  • Drastically reduce SAP BW size, mostly eliminating additional hardware investments and license costs

In one of my next blog posts, I will dive into the details of such a project we just put into production at a large German retailer. Comment below if you’d like to share your experiences, or follow me on Twitter.