SAP BW/4 HANA has now been available to customers for exactly a year. That is a good reason to look back and compare it with SAP BW on HANA 7.5. Another reason is that many of my customers are curious about what makes SAP BW/4 HANA different from SAP BW on HANA. I would therefore like to explain it here.
History of SAP HANA with BW
SAP BW 7.5 on HANA represents a world between "old BW" and the new "HANA-optimized BW". SAP BW 7.5 on HANA integrates itself into both worlds (such as support for alternative databases, InfoCubes etc., new ADSO objects and the Eclipse environment) and is the basic version used in the code split. The common foundation is clearly identifiable by the more extensive use of BW Modeling tools with increasing support package numbers. For example, SAP BW 7.5 on HANA SP4 can only manage InfoObjects via Eclipse. Most of the code is used in both major releases. This is also reflected in references that are very often relevant for SAP BW 7.5 (and earlier) and SAP BW/4 HANA, such as in the Analytic Manager or the MDX interface (see ref. 2477412, for example). But there are also completely new functions in SAP BW 7.5 on HANA, such as the enhancement of external HANA views for native SQL access to BW objects, and these are constantly being added.
It is clear therefore that SAP BW/4 HANA is not a completely new development and that there is currently no urgent need to upgrade from SAP BW 7.5 to SAP BW/4 HANA. On the other hand, there is no reason not to, as SAP BW/4 HANA is built on a stable software platform. The basic requirement is the strict use of HANA-optimized objects. Customer migration is supported by the "BW/4 HANA Starter Add-on", which helps to convert legacy objects such as InfoCubes and to ensure the compatibility of further developments with BW/4 HANA. As a result, different compatibility modes exist for SAP BW 7.5:
Normal SAP BW release, as SAP BW 7.3 on HANA and SAP BW 7.4 on HANA, but with more robust optimization to SAP HANA as a database backend
SAP BW 7.5 (with SAP HANA only) with SAP BW/4 HANA add-on. As such, legacy objects such as InfoCubes can still exist, but they cannot be created or modified (unless they have been explicitly added to a whitelist).
The system is in SAP BW/4 HANA mode. Only HANA-optimized functions can be used. The functionality is that of an SAP BW/4 HANA system, which permits a simple upgrade to SAP BW/4 HANA.
The modes can be set in the report RS_B4HANA_CHECK_ENABLE.
It will certainly be exciting in the future when important new features are introduced exclusively for SAP BW/4 HANA, offering genuine added value for existing environments. Until then, there is no urgent reason to change from SAP BW 7.5 on HANA to SAP BW/4 HANA. It is worth mentioning, however, that SAP BW/4 HANA should be used for new installations. As already stated, there is no reason to introduce an older release because of the similar codebase.
You will find more information here:
SAP BW/4 HANA FAQ: https://assets.cdn.sap.com/sapcom/docs/2016/08/c4458a08-877c-0010-82c7-eda71af511fa.pdf
SAP BW/4 HANA Roadmap: https://www.sap.com/documents/2016/08/740d6709-877c-0010-82c7-eda71af511fa.html