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BW Notes

BW Notes



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Published by Suraj Reddy

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Published by: Suraj Reddy on Oct 02, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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1.0 Introduction
In the fiercely increasing competition amongst corporations it has become mandatory to makequick and sound crucial business decisions based on analysis of business critical data. This is thepoint where data warehouses come into play. Although many companies are relying on datawarehouses, they are still struggling to achieve positive results due to fragmented andinconsistent data. For them SAP’s Business Information Warehouse (BW) provides a completeinformation factory solution. BW is the central component in the SAP suite of applications with anadded advantage of being a software package that can be used in both SAP and non-SAPenvironments.
2.0 SAP’s BW Information Model: Overview
SAP’s BW information model is based on the core building block of InfoObjects which are used todescribe business processes and information requirements. They provide basis for setting upcomplex information models in multiple languages, currencies, units of measure, hierarchy, etc.The key elements in the SAP’s BW information model are:
ODS Objects
Data Sources
DataSources are flat data structures containing data that logically belongs together. They areresponsible for extracting and staging data from various source systems.
InfoSources are the group of InfoObjects that belong together from a business point of view. Itcontains the transactional data obtained from the transactions in online transactional processes(OLTP) and master data such as addresses of customers and organizations, which remainunchanged for longer time period.
ODS objects
An ODS object is a dataset which is formed as a result of merging data from one or more infosources. In it information is stored in the form of flat, transparent database tables that are used for preparing reports and quality assurance purposes.
InfoCubes are multidimensional data storage containers for reporting and analysis of data. Theyconsist of keys figures and characteristics of which latter is organized as dimensions facilitatingusers to analyze data from various business perspectives such as geographical area or types of sales channel.
InfoProviders refer to all the data objects that are present in the SAP BW systems. These includeall the data targets viz. InfoCubes, ODS objects and master data tables along with Info sets,remote Infocubes and MultiProviders.
MultiProvider is a virtual information provider which is a combination of any two physical or virtualinfo providers. MultiProviders do not contain any data and are used to combine data fromdifferent info providers. Their main purpose is to make this data accessible for reports andanalysis.
3.0 Analytical View of Business Information Warehouse Model
SAP’s BW is based on "Enhanced Star schema" or "Info Cubes" database design. This databasedesign has a central database table, known as ‘Fact Table’ which is surrounded by associateddimension tables. These dimension tables contain references to the pointer tables that point tothe master data tables which in turn contain Master data objects such as customer, material anddestination country stored in BW as Info objects. An InfoObjects can contain single fielddefinitions such as transaction data or complex Customer Master Data that hold attributes,hierarchy and customer texts that are stored in their own tables.
Read This Nugget
The BW product is designed to store all business-critical information contained in theR/3 OLTP (online transaction processing) system and other non-SAP systems in a formthat is easy to access and analyze using the BW client tools.The database design used to meet these objectives is an "Enhanced Star Schema" or "InfoCube" (the data against which the end user runs queries).
The info cubes and master data tables that are used in a BW system are generally unique to thatsystem as shown in the figure below:
Figure: SAP BW Database Design
The complexity of the objects in this design leads to the challenge of maintaining up-to-date andaccurate data in all the BW data tables. However, loading data into the BW is accomplished byusing InfoPackages. InfoPackages are tools for organizing data requests that are extracted fromthe source system and are loaded into the BW system. With the progress of BW project thenumber of info packages increases emphasizing the importance of good performance of eachinfo package. Although the DBMS underlying the BW system is monitored by the standardsoftware’s for the R/3 functionality but this leaves a gap between the table spaces and tablenames as they appear at the DBMS level and the BW application level entities to which theseobjects belong. To bridge this gap, the new BW functionality for R/3 includes reports that placeDBMS objects in a BW context. These reports allow the user to take an object at the DBMS leveland associate it with its application-level entity.In case of any problem in order to enable the administrator to identify the problem theInfoPackages are organized on the basis of the object to which they are transporting data- Infocube, ODS or Master Data. The overall request status for the object is displayed, and an alarm istriggered if any Info Package run from any Info Source fails. In this way, the administrator is ableto locate the exact position where a failure is going to impact the users and the BW system. Also,for InfoCubes, Master Data and the ODS to give an overview of the history of requests for thesystem, the progress of the last N requests through each stage of extraction and load isdisplayed, and for any failures, the step that failed is displayed. The performance of requests canbe monitored by display of performance statistics for each stage of extraction and load in the formof graphs.
4.0 Building SAP BW into multi-tier architecture model in BusinessServices
Being implemented on top of SAP Web Application Services SAP’s BW provides a multi-tier architecture (figure shown below), along with a complete software development environment,system management tools and additional functionalities such as currency conversion or security.Although it is closely related to SAP R/3, SAP BW is a completely separate software packagewhich comes with automated extraction and loading facilities.
Components of BW architecture
SAP BW is based on integrated metadata concept with metadata being managed by metadataservices. SAP’s BW has following layers:
Extraction, Loading and Transformation (ELT) services layer.
Storage services layer, with services for storing and archiving information.
Analysis and access services layer, which provides access to the information stored inSAP BW.
Presentation services layer, which offers different options for presenting information toend users.
Administration services.
Metadata services.
Figure: Multi-tier Architectural Pattern

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