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Comparison of Live vs Extract – SAP BW and SAP BW4/HANA with Tableau

Dec 4, 2019

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SAP Business Warehouse (BW) has a profound history as a data warehouse in the SAP landscape with the versions ranging from SAP BI to the latest SAP BW4/HANA.

SAP BW follows an OLAP architecture and the data is consumed for reporting through Bex Queries which provide a schema for the model-based objects residing in the system.

The major difference between BW and BW4/HANA lies in the database used for storage. BW can be used for non-SAP databases like Oracle, Salesforce but BW4/HANA is an SAP HANA dedicated warehouse.

SAP has its own front-end tools for reporting such as Web Intelligence, Lumira Designer, SAP Business Objects but owing to the growing demand in self-service BI space, the need to connect SAP with on-demand tools such as Tableau, Power BI is growing in the market.

Tableau is a powerful and fast-growing data visualization tool used for data visualization with the latest release version being 2019.4 which has a dedicated HANA DB connector for supporting HANA hierarchies which is one of the most expected features to stabilize the connectivity with SAP landscape.

Tableau – SAP BW connectivity

The data processing with SAP BW is handled through the OLAP processor. The data is exposed to the system with the help of Bex queries. The data is passed to tableau through Multidimensional Database (MDX) layer.

Comparison of Live vs Extract – SAP BW and SAP BW4/HANA with Tableau

Tableau has several products in its landscape and to name a few:

  1. Tableau Desktop – The tool having 60+ data source connectors which are used to develop dashboards
  2. Tableau Server – End users can access workbooks, data sources through this platform

Tableau Desktop has 2 distinct connections with SAP BW:

  1. Live Connection – An active connection is a setup between Tableau and SAP BW to acquire data on a real-time basis. The data is retrieved from BW for every single action performed in Tableau’s end.
  2. Extract Connection – A snapshot of the source data is imported as .tde or .hyper file from which dashboards can be created. The extract file can be set to refresh the schedule to maintain the latest data

Both the connection types have their own advantages and disadvantages based on the feature compatibility.

The live connection can be utilized for real-time data reporting, but the performance issues should be taken into consideration since every request is refreshed from BW.

The import connection can be utilized to analyze historical data present in the extract file source. Since the extract is in Tableau’s native format the performance is relatively better when compared with a live connection

Feature Compatibility

Feature compatibility is split into two distinct aspects.

  1. Tableau features to be taken into consideration while connecting with SAP BW.
  2. SAP BW features to be taken into consideration while connecting with Tableau.

Tableau Features – SAP BW Compatibility

Comparison of Live vs Extract – SAP BW and SAP BW4/HANA with Tableau
Comparison of Live vs Extract – SAP BW and SAP BW4/HANA with Tableau

Stay tuned for the upcoming webinar on Tableau and SAP BW compatibility for more information on the feasibility and extended parameter list. To learn more about Visual BI’s Tableau Consulting & End User Training Programs, contact us here.


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