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SAP data warehousing: What are the options?

There's no one way to go about data warehousing, explains data expert Ethan Jewett. Here's what you need to know about deciding which route to take.

What is SAP's answer for enterprise data warehousing software?

First, what is data warehousing? It is a discipline centered around managing and integrating data over long periods of time, across multiple business areas, from many sources and with multiple users. There is no one way to do data warehousing, and every methodology will have ways of handling problems like integration, data quality, access control, time dependency and data volume in a consistent way. You can read about some of these challenges in greater detail in this article laying out a framework for choosing between HANA and SAP Business Warehouse (BW).

There are two ways to come to an answer about software for SAP data warehousing because there are two major approaches to data warehousing in the SAP world at this time: using a data warehousing modeling application and using individual tools.

BW is SAP's data warehousing modeling and management application. But it is also reasonable to architect, build and manage a data warehouse using other tools of your own choosing. If we were to use only SAP tools for this, we would probably use HANA and/or Sybase IQ as databases, SAP Data Services for transformation and loading, and SAP BusinessObjects (BOBJ) business intelligence software for managing a business semantics layer and reporting. Then we could layer on SAP Information Steward to manage data lineage and metadata, maybe the SAP Data Quality Management tool as well, plus Sybase PowerDesigner for modeling. Or we could use third-party tools for many of these tasks.

That list may seem intimidating, but, then again, data warehousing is a complex and difficult discipline. Many of these tools (or third-party equivalents) can be found filling roles even in BW-centric environments. SAP data warehousing is a discipline, and SAP provides tools ranging from the more integrated (like SAP BW) to the more platform and methodology agnostic (like SAP Data Services).

This was first published in February 2014

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