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SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platform

BI 4 on HANA - Part 1: General information on SAP Analytics on SAP HANA


SAP HANA is an SAP appliance and a Cloud based solution containing an in-memory columnar database which enables a fast processing of large volumes of data and the development of applications directly within the data engine.

Thanks to the SAP HANA technology it is now possible to store large quantities of data and access them in real time with high performance and with a minimal IT effort for optimization.

The SAP HANA technology is very well suited for BI and the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4 suite of applications has a great technology fit to make the most benefit out of the SAP HANA functionalities.

SAP HANA as a database for BI data marts

SAP HANA is a database which physically stores data in memory and in a columnar format.  When accessing SAP HANA, the physical storage of data is hidden and client tools see a logical storage of the information based on tables and SQL views.

On top of those tables and SQL views it is also possible (and recommended) to define “Information models”.

Those models are business representations and/or complex calculations, defined on top of the data stored in tables. The information models are ready and optimized to be consumed by client tools.

The models are defined using the HANA Studio application.

The tables and the information models are objects you can use to expose your data for business intelligence.

If we go into the details, the following artifacts are available when running queries on HANA:

Row based tablesTables whose data is stored with a row by row storage mechanism, not a columnar one. Row based tables have a slower read time and are not usually well suited for BI. They are mainly system tables.
Column based tablesTables whose data is stored in columnar format.
SQL viewsLogical views of data stored in tables based on SQL expressions
Stored proceduresProcedures written in a scripted language (SQL Script or R). They can be easily used when their output is directed to a view: querying the view with a simple Select statement triggers the execution of the procedure.
Analytic viewsInformation models defined on one or many columnar tables and SQL views which represents a business context. Analytic views can contain hierarchical information, currency exchange information and other business relevant functionalities
Calculation viewsInformation models defined as a complex calculation on one or more tables, SQL views and Analytic views (e.g. the combination of facts coming from multiple Analytic views or a predictive model on data stored in tables or other information models).

For sake of completeness, another artifact is available for query: Attribute views, we are not going to cover its usage in this document as it is mainly an internal model used to define Analytic Views.

Client access methods to SAP HANA

SAP HANA provides public ODBC, JDBC, oData access technologies to any client application and an SAP internal HTTP based access.

The HANA JDBC and ODBC drivers installed by the SAP HANA Client package. In some situations (e.g. in SAP Lumira) the JDBC drivers is installed directly with the BI tool.

Some client tools use an HTTP access to SAP HANA and don't need an external middleware (Design Studio, Analysis Office). This greatly simplifies their deployment.

In the following articles, we will  detail how each client connects to SAP HANA and how you can set the connection up.

To help understanding how client tools access SAP HANA we divide the methods provided to retrieve data in three categories:

Direct access: the client tool embeds the drivers to connect to HANA and doesn’t require any configuration or code writing to access the data.

Universe access: the client tools accesses HANA via a universe. All configuration and scripting is done at the universe level.

Free hand SQL access: the client tools embeds the driver but the tool user has to write some SQL in order to retrieve data from HANA.

Thanks for reading so far, in Part 2, we are going to see why the SAP Analytics tools are the best BI solution for SAP HANA

Back to the list of available articles here: SAP BusinessObjects BI 4 on SAP HANA