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This chapter is from the book

1.3 BW—An SAP Data Warehousing Solution

BW is an end-to-end data warehousing solution that uses preexisting SAP technologies. BW is built on the Basis 3-tier architecture and coded in the ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming) language. It uses ALE (Application Link Enabling) and BAPI (Business Application Programming Interface) to link BW with SAP systems and non-SAP systems.

1.3.1 BW Architecture

Figure 1.3 shows the BW architecture at the highest level. This architecture has three layers:

Figure 1.3Figure 1.3 BW architecture4

  1. The top layer is the reporting environment. It can be BW Business Explorer (BEx) or a third-party reporting tool. BEx consists of two components:

    • BEx Analyzer

    • BEx Browser

    BEx Analyzer is Microsoft Excel with a BW add-in. Thanks to its easy-to-use graphical interface, it allows users to create queries without coding SQL statements. BEx Browser works much like an information center, allowing users to organize and access all kinds of information. Third-party reporting tools connect with BW OLAP Processor through ODBO (OLE DB for OLAP).

  2. The middle layer, BW Server, carries out three tasks:

    • Administering the BW system

    • Storing data

    • Retrieving data according to users' requests

    We will detail BW Server's components next.

  3. The bottom layer consists of source systems, which can be R/3 systems, BW systems, flat files, and other systems. If the source systems are SAP systems, an SAP component called Plug-In must be installed in the source systems. The Plug-In contains extractors. An extractor is a set of ABAP programs, database tables, and other objects that BW uses to extract data from the SAP systems. BW connects with SAP systems (R/3 or BW) and flat files via ALE; it connects with non-SAP systems via BAPI.

    The middle-layer BW Server consists of the following components:

    • Administrator Workbench, including BW Scheduler and BW Monitor

    • Metadata Repository and Metadata Manager

    • Staging Engine

    • PSA (Persistent Staging Area)

    • ODS (Operational Data Store) Objects

    • InfoCubes

    • Data Manager

    • OLAP Processor

    • BDS (Business Document Services)

    • User Roles

Administrator Workbench maintains meta-data and all BW objects. It has two components:

  • BW Scheduler for scheduling jobs to load data

  • BW Monitor for monitoring the status of data loads

This book mainly focuses on Administrator Workbench.

Metadata Repository contains information about the data warehouse. Meta-data comprise data about data. Metadata Repository contains two types of meta-data: business-related (for example, definitions and descriptions used for reporting) and technical (for example, structure and mapping rules used for data extraction and transformation). We use Metadata Manager to maintain Metadata Repository.

Staging Engine implements data mapping and transformation. Triggered by BW Scheduler, it sends requests to a source system for data loading. The source system then selects and transfers data into BW.

PSA (Persistent Staging Area) stores data in the original format while being imported from the source system. PSA allows for quality check before the data are loaded into their destinations, such as ODS Objects or InfoCubes.

ODS (Operational Data Store) Objects allow us to build a multilayer structure for operational data reporting. They are not based on the star schema and are used primarily for detail reporting, rather than for dimensional analysis.

InfoCubes are the fact tables and their associated dimension tables in a star schema.

Data Manager maintains data in ODS Objects and InfoCubes and tells the OLAP Processor what data are available for reporting.

OLAP Processor is the analytical processing engine. It retrieves data from the database, and it analyzes and presents those data according to users' requests.

BDS (Business Document Services) stores documents. The documents can appear in various formats, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and HTML. BEx Analyzer saves query results, or MS Excel files, as workbooks in the BDS.

User Roles are a concept used in SAP authorization management. BW organizes BDS documents according to User Roles. Only users assigned to a particular User Role can access the documents associated with that User Role.

Table 1.5 indicates where each of these components is discussed in this book. As noted in the Preface, this book does not discuss third-party reporting tools and BAPI.

Table 1.5 Chapters Detailing BW Components



Business Explorer:

Chapter 5, Creating Queries and Workbooks

Analyzer and Browser


Non-SAP OLAP Clients

Not covered



OLE DB for OLAP Provider



Chapter 3, Loading Data into the InfoCube, on how


to load data from flat files


Chapter 10, Business Content, on how to load data from R/3 systems


Chapter 11, Generic R/3 Data Extraction


Not covered

Administrator Workbench

The entire book, although not explicitly mentioned

BW Scheduler

Chapter 3, Loading Data into the InfoCube, on BW Scheduler

BW Monitor

Chapter 4, Checking Data Quality, on BW Monitor

Metadata Repository

The entire book, although not explicitly mentioned

Metadata Manager


Staging Engine

Chapter 3, Loading Data into the InfoCube




Chapter 4, Checking Data Quality

ODS Objects

Chapter 9, Operational Data Store (ODS)


Chapter 2, Creating an InfoCube


Chapter 7, InfoCube Design


Chapter 8, Aggregates and Multi-Cubes

Data Manager

Chapter 12, Data Maintenance

OLAP Processor

Chapter 13, Performance Tuning


Chapter 5, Creating Queries and Workbooks

User Roles

Chapter 6, Managing User Authorization

1.3.2 BW Business Content

One of the BW's strongest selling points is its Business Content. Business Content contains standard reports and other associated objects. For example, BW provides you, the sales manager, with the following standard reports:

Quotation Processing

  • Quotation success rates per sales area

  • Quotation tracking per sales area

  • General quotation information per sales area

Order Processing

  • Monthly incoming orders and revenue

  • Sales values

  • Billing documents

  • Order, delivery, and sales quantities

  • Fulfillment rates

  • Credit memos

  • Proportion of returns to incoming orders

  • Returns per customer

  • Quantity and values of returns

  • Product analysis

  • Product profitability analysis


  • Delivery delays per sales area

  • Average delivery processing times

Analyses and Comparisons

  • Sales/cost analysis

  • Top customers

  • Distribution channel analysis

  • Product profitability analysis

  • Weekly deliveries

  • Monthly deliveries

  • Incoming orders analysis

  • Sales figures comparison

  • Returns per customer

  • Product analysis

  • Monthly incoming orders and revenue

Administrative and Management Functions

  • Cost center: plan/actual/variance

  • Cost center: responsible for orders, projects, and networks

  • Order reports

  • WBS Element: plan/actual/variance

  • Cost center: plan/actual/variance

  • Cost center: hit list of actual variances

  • Cost center: actual costs per quarter

  • Cost center: capacity-related headcount

Chapter 10 discusses Business Content in detail.

When necessary, we can also use a function, called Generic Data Extraction, to extract R/3 data that cannot be extracted with the standard Business Content. Chapter 11 discusses this function in detail.

1.3.3 BW in mySAP.com

BW is evolving rapidly. Knowing its future helps us plan BW projects and their scopes. Here, we give a brief overview of BW's position in mySAP.com.

mySAP.com is SAP's e-business platform that aims to achieve the collaboration among businesses using the Internet technology. It consists of three components:

  • mySAP Technology

  • mySAP Services

  • mySAP Hosted Solutions

As shown in Figure 1.4, mySAP Technology includes a portal infrastructure for user-centric collaboration, a Web Application Server for providing Web services, and an exchange infrastructure for process-centric collaboration. The portal infrastructure has a component called mySAP Business Intelligence; it is the same BW but is located in the mySAP.com platform. Using mySAP Technology, SAP develops e-business solutions, such as mySAP Supply Chain Management (mySAP SCM), mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM), and mySAP Product Lifecycle Management (mySAP PLM).

Figure 1.4Figure 1.4 mySAP Technology and mySAP Solutions5

mySAP Services are the services and support that SAP offers to its customers. They range from business analysis, technology implementation, and training to system support. The services and support available from http://service.sap.com/bw/ (Requires SAP user ID) are good examples of mySAP Services.

mySAP Hosted Solutions are the outsourcing services from SAP. With these solutions, customers do not need to maintain physical machines and networks.

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