July 26, 2012 // By: Dr. Matthias Merz, Camelot IT Lab
In our experience, SAP HANA in-memory technology leads to significantly better performance in a variety of usage scenarios. Nevertheless, most customers tend to use SAP HANA in one of two ways: either for operational analytics to support operational reporting, or in combination with SAP Business Warehouse. SAP expert Dr. Matthias Merz, explains how these scenarios work on a technical level.
In the first scenario, SAP HANA functions as a standalone database to support operational reporting and runs in parallel with existing application systems. With the help of the SAP LT Replication Server (SLT) or SAP Business Objects Data Services (BODS), operational enterprise data can be replicated from SAP and non-SAP systems into the SAP HANA appliance. While BODS enable the creation of complex ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) processes for extracting, modifying, and loading data, the SLT allows a trigger-based replication of all the relevant tables. A specially designed SAP add-on transmits datasets simultaneously to the HANA database when insert or update operations are executed on tables in an ERP system, which means that the datasets are available for reporting in near real time.
Once the enterprise data to be analyzed is available in the HANA appliance, the next step is to enable operational reporting. Generally speaking, this scenario is based on the use of the BusinessObjects frontend tools, which access SAP HANA via special interfaces. Access to the data in the HANA appliance takes place via information models (attribute, analytic, and calculation views), which can be created using the SAP HANA studio.
The second usage scenario involves using the HANA appliance as a primary database in a SAP NetWeaver BW system. Starting with SAP NetWeaver Release 7.3, SP5, you can perform a heterogeneous system copy and replace your existing database (such as Oracle, DB2, or MS SQL) with SAP HANA. In this scenario, the SAP NetWeaver application server and the SAP HANA database run on different hardware systems. All the data from the BW system is stored in the HANA appliance’s main memory. To protect the data from potential loss due to incidents such as power outages or hardware defects, conventional database techniques are integrated in the HAHA appliance, making it possible to create snapshots and write native database logs. This approach has already been used successfully in the context of SAP liveCache technology for many years.