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Using CDS Views for SAP Analytics

3 Sep 2020

SAP HANA introduced a revolution in operational reporting and paved the way for Embedded Analytics. With a move to HANA based systems, several transactional/operational reporting scenarios have become possible in the ERP systems bringing data closer to the business. However, the options for creating these reports can be confusing.

BI developers and customers often find themselves asking questions like “Should we use ABAP Core Data Services (CDS) Views or HANA CDS Views for our data analysis?” and “Can Embedded BW be used for our operational reporting?”

In this article I have captured my views on these questions and potential solution preference.

I am a data warehousing and BI enthusiast, so when Embedded Analytics (EA) was introduced as SAP’s solution for real-time operational reporting integrated with business transactions, I was intrigued. There’s no denying that this is the future for many transactional/operational reporting scenarios. With the power of HANA and CDS views, the S/4HANA application can cater for a variety of operational transactions and business intelligence.

What is SAP Embedded Analytics?

When I started working with EA, I often had to decide which type of CDS view to use and if CDS was the only option for all scenarios.

Before we talk about the different options, let me give you my view on Embedded Analytics and CDS Views.

Instead of a technical definition, I think of Embedded Analytics (EA) as the concept of creating and consuming Virtual Data Models (VDMs) for the purpose of data modelling and transactional/operational reporting. These VDMs could be SAP standard content or custom ones created using CDS Views or HANA Live views (in case of Business Suite).

What are Core Data Services (CDS)?

I see CDS as the vehicle to be used to define and consume semantically rich VDMs. The advantage of CDS views is its Code-to-Data approach which pushes most of the computation down to the HANA database and therefore reduces execution time and improves performance.

There are two types of CDS views and we’ll discuss them below, but we will also discuss HANA Live Views and how Embedded BW integrates with these.

HANA (Native) CDS

  • Created at HANA Database level
  • Built using HANA native SQL, therefore HANA database dependent. HANA Web IDE used for build
  • Used more for technical operations like database administration and extension applications (XS) for consumption within non-SAP application services
  • Can be used to create persistent tables and other database objects like Views, User-defined data types, Associations etc
  • Uses Extended Change and Transport System (CTS+) with specially configured transport routes for SAP (ABAP) systems or SAP HANA Application Lifecycle Management in case of non-NetWeaver scenarios


  • These are ABAP data dictionary objects created and managed in ABAP application service level. On execution, the SQL view is created and executed in the HANA engine
  • These form a large part of EA content and are most typically used content in EA
  • Built using reusable SQL statements that are database agnostic. ABAP Development Tools in an Eclipse IDE (Ex. HANA Studio) used for build
  • Can be used to create views only. No data persistence
  • Uses Change and Transport System (CTS)

ABAP CDS Views come with a long list of SAP standard content which can be used as is or within other ABAP CDS views or ABAP programs to create VDMs. These VDMs can be consumed in Embedded Analytics, Fiori, SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) , Lumira or BusinessObjects reporting.

Existing standard views can be extended using Extended CDS Views to cater for data augmentation scenarios. Nested ABAP CDS views can serve to perform logical data transformations. ABAP CDS views can also be used to create custom data extractors within S/4HANA which can then be consumed in SAP Business Warehouse (BW) as ODP-CDS data sources.

HANA Live Views

Traditionally HANA Live Views were created to provision data modelling capability for SAP Business Suite (ECC on HANA, Simple Finance etc). They do exist in S/4HANA and custom versions can be created using any Eclipse IDE connected to HANA DB in the same way as Web IDE is used in case of HANA XS.

As you would expect, these reside on the DB not on the application layer. Therefore, you would need to define security at the database level (unless you are using these with Embedded BW. More on that below).

These also come with a long list of SAP standard content in the form of SAP HANA calculation and attribute views and can be used for real-time operational reporting. The content is represented as a VDM , which is based on the transactional and master data tables of the SAP Business Suite. These are mainly used for SAP CRM, SAP GRC, Simple Finance etc. They can also be used for mixed scenarios with BW and sidecar scenarios.

Embedded BW

The Embedded BW component is shipped along with the S/4HANA application with no additional license cost. Although, additional components like Integrated Business Planning (IBP) and Real Time Consolidation (RTC) which use Embedded BW need separate licenses.

The version of BW used in the embedded scenario is SAP BW 7.5 powered by SAP HANA. There are currently no plans to enable SAP BW/4HANA for Embedded BW (1).

Note that SAP strongly recommend not to use Embedded BW for Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) use cases. The amount of data persisted in the Embedded BW should not exceed 20% of the overall data volume of the system.

With HANA Live Views as its underlying data provider, Embedded BW provides a BW like environment within an ERP system. Therefore, we can use Analysis Authorisation concepts for security. It is mainly used for IBP, RTC and corresponding analytics like Financial Planning and forecast reports specially involving hierarchies.

It also provides the capability to use features like query designer for OLAP within S/4HANA and therefore be used as part of EA. Like traditional BW objects, SAP delivers numerous Embedded BW objects (e.g. Virtual InfoObjects, InfoProviders, BW Queries, Analysis Authorisations etc). These virtual InfoObjects and InfoProviders are essentially HANA Live view based VDMs on database tables. The BI content can be activated like the standard BW activation.

What to use for Data Modelling and Analytics in S/4HANA?

One would think HANA (Native) CDS Views would be the obvious way to go for all data modelling but it’s actually not the recommended approach. These are used for data models and analytics in specific scenarios like HANA database without SAP ERP or perhaps a HANA sidecar.

Therefore, these type of CDS views are less used for analytics within the SAP ecosystem. HANA CDS is used more for technical operations like database administration and extension applications (XS) for consumption within non-SAP application services.

For analytical use cases, we should focus on the VDMs i.e. data modelling without data replication using ABAP CDS views (for S/4HANA system) and HANA Live views (for SAP Business Suite). Both provide VDMs that can be consumed externally for data extraction to warehouse systems and/or reporting tools for visualisation. Both are part of EA and the primary use for both is Operational Reporting.

To conclude, the capabilities of ABAP CDS views and HANA Live views along with Embedded BW cater for a number of basic transactional/operational reporting scenarios that SAP customers look for.


SAP document ‘Embedded SAP BW – Definition and Positioning’ available in KBA 2773652.

Madhur Chandra

SAP Data & Analytics Solution Architect
Madhur Chandra is an SAP BI & Analytics Solution Architect at Capgemini with experience in SAP BW, Embedded BW & Integrated Planning/Consolidation on S/4HANA and SAP Business Objects including WEBI, Lumira and SAC. He has over 15 years of experience in providing consulting services for varied domains like Finance, Real Estate, Legal and Manufacturing.