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SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, another pretender or the real thing?

15 Jun 2020

Throughout my career, I’ve sat opposite both internal and external clients preaching the benefits of SAAS solutions and the importance of getting your data right to help businesses make informed decisions. So, when SAP released its new Data Warehouse Cloud (DWC) product it made my arguments much easier to win. DWC combines, in my opinion, the two most important developments in the IT world – SAAS and Data Warehouse. If I don’t take this opportunity to talk about it, I will forever hold my head in shame!

What is SAP Data Warehouse Cloud?

As I have already mentioned, I am a firm believer in the benefits of both SAAS and Data Warehouse. When SAP decided to bring these two concepts together it created a platform which delivers versatility and scalability, but also one that enables both business and IT professionals to integrate data with ease and deliver informed decision-making analytics. At a glance, it overcomes the core business challenge of making data available in a timely manner and combines enterprise data with third-partly data sources like social media (LinkedIn, Instagram) or internal data in flat files, etc.

The benefits of DWC can be summed up by 3 words: Spaces, Spaces and more Spaces (maybe five)! DWC has introduced a new concept of virtual work areas called Spaces. Enterprise IT administrators create the Space, allocating resources (disc size, CPU usage, and in-memory usage), creating connections and most importantly giving permission and access to users.

Once the Space is set up, business users can integrate their data, create data models and stories or dashboards. The simplicity that SAP has introduced in this product can only benefit how businesses can positively interact with their customers /clients through this one-stop self-service solution.

Why choose SAP DWC?

If your organisation is currently a SAP house, my advice would be to add DWC to your short list and make some time to sign up to the 30-day free trial and gain hands on experience. When I dissect products, I always focus on three things – analytics strength, usability and governance. When I speak about usability, I mean how quickly and easily can I complete activities, and can I be self-sufficient. If you can’t do this, then think hard because cost of ownership could start to increase quickly.

DWC does have several other key benefits which should be looked at in more detail. Some of these are:

  1. Data Democratisation

DWC creates an environment for both business users and enterprise IT to work in parallel to connect to enterprise and third-party data sources, and to create data models by combining homogeneous and heterogeneous data to derive insights.

  1. Connections/ Security

DWC brings the concept of openness by means of adapters to connect to SAP and non-SAP data sources for both on-premise and cloud sources. The data can be virtually accessed which means the data never leaves the on-premise platform, ensuring better security. The other option is to replicate the data in DWC.

Furthermore, with SAP HANA in-memory capabilities, DWC has the power to process data at a high speed and perform real-time analytic and complex reporting on the fly. This will be the topic of a future blog.

  1. Governance

Using Spaces in DWC, ownership is assigned in the simplest way, enabling the owner to add members and add permissions. Only authorised members can add or change content in a Space. I often compare this to the simplicity of setting up team sites in SharePoint, initially difficult to grasp but now it just comes naturally!

Another key benefit of DWC, is the ability to join and analyse governed enterprise data and other sources of data from flat files or other applications to create data models and deliver insights without extracting to spreadsheets or compromising on data security.

  1. Rapid Solution Deployment

Modelling a new analytics requirement in DWC is simple. SAP HANA Smart Data integration technology can connect to SAP and non-SAP sources and flat files (such as CSV). This enables structured and unstructured data across on-premise and cloud data sources to come together.

The ease in using DWC’s graphical data flow builder will help users to create data models by dragging and dropping tables and views, defining join conditions, applying filters and calculating columns. Once these data models are deployed you can create stories or dashboards using the built in Story Builder or SAP Analytics Cloud.

There are advanced data flow capabilities for IT professionals to carry out advance extraction, transform and load (ETL) processing by combining structured and unstructured data in the open SQL schema, parent-child hierarchies, scheduling data flows (process chain), routines, etc. SAP’s roadmap shows more advanced ETL capabilities are planned for release in Q3 of this year.

  1. Built-in Analytics (Story Builder)

DWC introduces story builder, a sleek and easy functionality which gives business users the flexibility to rapidly analyse their dataset and change their data model as requirements dictate. The built-in analytics is a lite version of SAP Analytic Cloud (SAC) and can be used to create stories. DWC is integrated with SAC and can seamlessly switch and create visualisations in SAC.

I believe, data-driven strategies are a core necessity to support business growth, customer satisfaction and informed decision making. DWC is an all in one solution that brings together data integration, data modelling and analytics which is built on a foundation of availability and scalability. It’s a solution that benefits both business users and enterprise IT to partner together to promote self-service.

This is the first of a multi-series blog with the next part focusing on use cases and getting started with DWC. To find out how Capgemini can help your organisation benefit from DWC, please get in touch.