What does SAP HANA Live mean for reporting and analytics?

SAP HANA Live allows users to easily access real-time data using pre-developed calculation views and the SAP BusinessObjects platform. In this Q&A, Rob Frye, Fernando Ibarra Avila, and Lilisee Thao of Comerit Labs answered questions on the deployment, installation, and features of SAP HANA Live.

If you missed the chat or need a refresher, you may view the chat replay or read the edited transcript below. 


SAPinsiderMatt: Welcome to today’s live Q&A on SAP HANA Live. I am excited to be joined by Comerit’s Rob Frye, Lilisee Thao, and Fernando Ibarra Avila. This Q&A is brought to you by SAPinsider’s BI 2017 conference that will be held February 27 – March 2 in Orlando.

Rob Frye: Good afternoon everyone, and thanks for joining us to discuss SAP HANA Live! I’m Rob Frye, Associate Director of Comerit, Inc., and I’m here with my team of SAP professionals at ComeritLabs. We’ve had the opportunity to work with HANA Live with several of our clients, so we’re looking forward to answering any questions you may have about the product.

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Hey all! Thank you for joining us. We look forward to answering your questions!

Lilisee Thao: Hello everyone, thank you for joining us!

Comment From Cris: Is there a comprehensive document that lists and describes the data sources, available fields and tables, and intended use cases for the Live Views that are provided out-of-the-box?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Great questions! You can find this by going to the HANA Live help portal at http://help.sap.com/hba. From there scroll down until you get to the specific module that you would like to see, and click “English” or any other language that you may want to view. This will lead you to that particular module’s information. On the top right, there should be a “Download” option where you can download the information regarding that particular module. You should be presented with a screen that denotes that the PDF is being built. Please note that there appears to be a problem with downloading these PDFs so you may need to contact SAP.

Comment From Jyothi: Does SAP HANA Live enable live reporting on SAP BO Financial Consolidation? If yes, how?

Lilisee Thao: Thank you for your question. Currently, there is no HANA Live content available for SAP BO Consolidation.

Comment From Kruno: How can you consume hana Live views in XSA to do things like build a custom calculation view by extending a hana Live view? Currently, the classic hana repository packages are not visible from hana XSA containers.

Rob Frye: This is an interesting question. If the existing repository packages are not available for consumption in XSA, you probably need to make sure your development user in XSA has object rights for the specific sap.hba.ecc package. I would, however, recommend using the SAP HANA Live Extension Assistant to extend the existing views and then consume them in XSA. That will most likely be easier in the long run than trying to extend the views manually in the SAP WebIDE. Thanks for the question!

Comment From guest: When working on SAP Hana Studio, how can you get an overview or flowchart where you can start to analyze or study SAP HANA data?

Lilisee Thao: If I understand your question correctly, you can visualize the data flow through the SAP HANA Live Browser. Next, search for a keyword from the view, highlight it, and click the Open Cross Reference button and Graph View to visualize the data flow for any view. Thanks for the question, and please let me know if that doesn’t address what you were asking.

Comment From Cris: To access this content from BO 4.1, do we need to create ODBC to Hana DB, or are there connectors to the Hana Data Views direct provided by Business Objects? Any documentation that would explain the connections would be appreciated.

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Thanks for the question. From my experience working with BO and HANA Data sources, the only way that I have seen BO connections is through an ODBC to HANA. My recommendation is to create connections through IDT in order to have them be a bit more streamlined. This document should give you a good starting point for Integrating HANA content to BO: https://www.sap-press.com/m…. I will also mention that BOBJ 4.2 comes with the option to connect directly to HANA Views without the added layer of utilizing a universe.

Comment From Venkat: How can you quickly and easily tailor the existing SAP HANA Live calculation views to your company’s reporting needs?

Rob Frye: If you use the SAP HANA Live Extension Assistant plug-in with HANA Studio, this task is actually pretty simple. This plug-in can be downloaded from the marketplace, and it allows you to easily see the fields in the underlying tables and activate them in an extended version of the original view. You can also make a copy of the original view and modify the copy by adding nodes to connect supplemental data from other tables. This process is more complicated but also more flexible. Regardless of which path you take, if you’re at all familiar with native SAP HANA modeling, the process should be pretty easy to understand. Thanks for the question!

Comment From Ignacio: During a Lecture at SAP TechEd last year, it was mentioned that SAP was going to stop supporting attribute and analytic views. Is that why HANA Live views are only calculation views? What about any other native HANA implementations where we have used Analytic and Attribute views — should we look into migrating to only calculation views? Thanks.

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Calculation views will eventually become the standard for creating views. To convert attribute and analytic views, please follow this link: http://help.sap.com/saphelp... and it should provide a good starting point.

Comment From Ignacio: HANA Live views are all calculation views, some of them scripted but most of them graphical. Why is that? And for enhancements, should we consider creating any attribute or analytical views?

Lilisee Thao: There are two types of calculation views: graphical and scripted. The scripted calculation view is an alternative HANA view to use if the other views (analytical, attribute, and graphical calculation views) aren’t able to achieve what you want to do, so generally you would see more graphical views. The scripted views provide greater flexibility than the graphical calculation views to address more complex business requirements. For the second portion of your question, calculation views will eventually become the standard for creating information views. Thus, SAP recommends that you either convert existing analytic and attribute views to graphical calculation views or develop calculation views from the start. Here a guide to conversion that may help: http://help.sap.com/saphelp…

Comment From Josko: Out of more than 1000 SAP HANA Live views, 165 had a query suffix and are meant for consuming. Out of the latter, only 10-20% are enabled for multi-dimensional reporting by Lumira and Analysis. Correct?

Rob Frye: This is a great question, and is probably the source of a lot of confusion. At our most recent count, there were over 200 query views in SAP HANA Live in the standard delivery unit (HCO_HBA_ECC). There are more than 1000 views in total, and these consist of private views (directly on SAP tables), reuse views (intended for reuse as part of other views), and query views. The query views are visible by default in the SAP BOBJ reporting tools as long as you have the BusinessObjects platform 4.2 update or higher. With the latest version of the BOBJ platform, you can consume data directly to the BI tools, or you can build universes using the query views. You can also extend the standard query views and reuse views using the SAP HANA Live Extension Assistant plug-in to SAP HANA Studio.

Remember, you can use the SAP HANA Live browser to view all the VDMs in your system, so make sure to take advantage of this crucial tool. When it’s installed in your landscape, you can reach the browser at http://:80/sap/hba/explorer/

Comment From Josko: Is SAP still working on HANA Live, or it is abandoned?

Lilisee Thao: Yes, SAP HANA Live is still around in the form of SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics, although the views are being completely re-implemented in CDS instead of as graphical calculation views (VDMs). So, for those SAP customers who have Suite on HANA, the current HANA Live content can be deployed. Customers who have S/4HANA can take advantage of the newly implemented SAP S4/HANA Embedded Analytics.

Comment From Josko: How does SAP HANA Live compare to, let’s say, BI Content?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: That’s a great question. The idea behind SAP HANA Live is that it connects (or is a side car to) your ECC system. So what that means is that operational data (transactional data stored in ECC) is available in “real time” for reporting purposes. On the other hand, BI content is determined by content that is stored in SAP BW and is therefore susceptible to data transformations and loads that are determined when data is transferred to the data models in BW. I hope that answered you question.

Comment From Josko: Only a small portion of SAP HANA Live views are available for opening from SAP HANA Live Browser with Analysis/Lumira. Is there any remedy for this?

Rob Frye: I think we partially answered this already, but let me expand on that a bit 🙂

I think you’re referring to the fact that out of more than 1,000 views in the standard SAP HANA Live for SAP ERP content, there are only about 200 or so available for consumption in the reporting tools. This is by design, because these are the views which are meant to completely answer a specific business question. You can expand on what’s available by using some of the reuse views to build your own query views, which also provides the benefit of allowing you to enhance the standard content with other information that is specific to your needs.

Comment From Sid: What is the future of SAP HANA Live after, say, 2-3 years from now, once everything is moved to S/4HANA, which has both analytical and transnational capabilities?

Lilisee Thao: Great question. A similar question was asked earlier. SAP HANA Live will be around in the form of SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics. Instead of graphical calculation views, the views will be implemented in CDS.

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Can I create a new HANA Live VDM by reusing SAP’s provided VDMs?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: SAP HANA Live has numerous reuse views that can serve as the basis for other views and any external z-table data you may have. You can use joins, unions, and calculations in them, just like in any other calculation view that you create. Great question!

Comment From Cátia: What is the best approach to implement security in HANA Live?

Rob Frye: This is a pretty broad question, but in general, just make sure you’re following the guidelines and best practices for SAP HANA security. The SAP HANA Live views, like other views in HANA, should all limit user’s exposure to data based on their user permissions, roles, and analytic privileges. For more information, you can check the security guide at this link: http://help.sap.com/hana/SA…. Thanks for the question 🙂

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Does HANA Live need a separate license to use? If so, what are the licensing options?

Lilisee Thao: The SAP HANA Live content is generally available for any client running ECC on HANA or Business Suite on HANA. To verify whether or not your company is licensed for SAP HANA Live, please check with your SAP vendor. Great question!

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Can I create new query views by consuming SAP’s provided VDMs?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Great question! You will need to have the appropriate permissions within the HANA system in order to do so, but yes, you can. You can do this by customizing previously created query views or using reuse views.

Comment From Raja: While using the HANA Extension, I can only copy the query views and not the underlying HANA reuse or private views. Hence, HL extension is not very useful to me. Any plans to add more features?

Rob Frye: To be honest, I’ll be surprised if any further enhancements are planned for this tool because of the shift to using CDS for SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics, the successor in spirit to HANA Live. You can always make a copy of the base query view and edit the copy within HANA Studio, so for more access to the underlying content, this may be an option. Just make sure you’re being very careful not to edit the original reuse or private views, as doing so may break the query views which depend on them. I can’t stress enough that you should NEVER edit the original SAP HANA Live content. Make a copy and edit the copy. Thanks for this interesting question!

Comment From Zeki: Hadoop and HANA: Are they completely independent technologies or is there room for integration?

Rob Frye: There’s absolutely room for integration. In fact, that’s the purpose of SAP HANA Vora, but Vora is not really the subject of this forum 🙂 For more information, look at http://www.sap.com/product/….

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Approximately how may ready-to-use data models are available to use?

Lilisee Thao: At our most recent count, there are over 200 query views and more than 1000 total views available for use.

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Can we create new VDMs or queries by adding any z-table?

Rob Frye: SAP HANA Live has numerous reuse views that can serve as the basis for other views and any external z-table data you may have. You can use joins, unions, and calculations in these, just like in any other calculation view that you create. Great question!

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Can I consume HANA Live VDMs or queries in ABAP routines?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: That’s a good question. Yes, you can, and there are a couple of different ways of doing it. This blog should give you a good start when trying to consume HANA content into ABAP. routines: https://blogs.sap.com/2014/…

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Can I use HANA Live models and queries in SAP Fiori?

Rob Frye: You can use SAP HANA Live views in any of the standard tools that are capable of accessing calculation views, so using these views with SAP Fiori should not be a problem. Thanks for the excellent question 🙂

Comment From Riley: What is the recommended HANA DB SP for HANA Live?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Awesome question! It is recommended to use the latest HANA database service pack. In general it is best to use the latest updates as they include fixes to known problem.

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Can I use MS Excel to connect and fetch data from any HANA Live query?

Lilisee Thao: Great question! From SAP HANA Live Browser, you have the option of selecting any available view as a data source and selecting “Open View in Analysis Office” to use the view as a data source within MS Excel.

Comment From Riley: Hi Rob, how in-depth does the latest “SAP HANA: An Introduction” book get into HANA Live?

Rob Frye: Thanks for this question, and it’s a pretty good one, since I wrote that section of the 4th edition 🙂 Check out chapter 7, section 3 for an in-depth exploration of this topic, including information about deploying the browser, installing delivery units, and enhancing the existing content. Thanks Riley!

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Apart from the SAP-supplied front tools, are there any 3rd party applications that can consume HANA Live data models or queries?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Thanks for the question! I am sure that it’s possible. Since connection to HANA can be done using an ODBC connection, I am sure that other third party tools can utilize that connection. That is really a question that should be asked to the party that developed the front end tool that you are using.

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): What is the future roadmap for HANA Live?

Lilisee Thao: This is a great question, and our answer may at first seem like bad news, so make sure you read the entire response 🙂

SAP does not have a roadmap for HANA Live in its ECC 6.0 or Business Suite version. According to SAP, the end of mainstream maintenance for this version of HANA Live is the end of this year; however, SAP S4/HANA Embedded Analytics delivers the same sort of pre-defined content for consumption in your analytic tools. With Embedded Analytics, SAP pivoted from graphical calculation views to CDS, which is a more flexible and powerful modeling environment in many ways. CDS also allows easier modification and activation than is generally the case when creating/modifying/activating graphical calculation views.

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Are HANA Live data models (VDM) also valid for S4/HANA?

Rob Frye: There are currently no pre-defined HANA Live views that are incorporated into the S/4HANA space, but S/4HANA has the spiritual successor in the Embedded Analytics package. This product takes the same approach to delivering pre-packaged content but has pivoted to CDS instead of graphical calculation views. If you’re upgrading from ERP to S/4HANA, the existing views should either still work as designed or be converted automatically. I haven’t confirmed this with field experience, but this is the standard approach by SAP when encouraging upgrades, so I can’t imagine it would be any different in this case. Thanks for the question.

Comment From Tim: Hi Rob. You mention the “SAP HANA Live Extension Assistant plug-in”. In your explanation above, are you referring to the ability to pull custom fields from SAP tables and have those fields somehow come through the layers to the query layer so that those fields can be a part of our reports?

Rob Frye: The SAP HANA Live Extension Assistant is available for download from the marketplace. With that installed in SAP HANA Studio, you can modify the query views in HANA Live by activating underlying data from the model, which was available but not included in the original view. As an alternative, you can make a copy of a query and enhance it with additional data from other tables as required. Either approach should work. I hope that answers the question, but if not, please let me know 🙂

Comment From Gopakumar(TCS): Are there any issues or customer feedback regarding HANA Live integrations with other applications?

Rob Frye: The SAP HANA Live delivery units were expanded greatly between the original release and the final version that is currently available. The first iteration was primarily focused on sales and accounting, but there are now numerous content packages available, and many of these are being redesigned for use in S/4HANA. Documentation on using SAP HANA Live can be found at https://help.sap.com/hba, but sometimes the documentation is…sometimes less specific than we may wish. For assistance in wading through the options available, we recommend the 4th edition of SAP HANA: An Introduction (yes, this is a shameless plug :)). Chapter 7 of the book contains a lot of good information about deploying SAP HANA Live delivery units and the HANA Live Browser, and it also gives tips and tricks that may not be obvious to the uninitiated. Thanks for the great question!

Comment From Zeki: What is the minimum BO release to utilize SAP HANA Live?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: The oldest version of SAP BusinessObjects that I have used to connect to HANA is BI 4.0. I am pretty sure that it was not optimized for that sort of connection, so I am sure that the latest iterations of BO are.

Comment From Frank: Can you explain the impact of the HANA Live transition to Core Data Services and how HANA Live can be migrated to CDS?

Rob Frye: SAP HANA Live views are being completely re-implemented in CDS instead of graphical calculation views (VDMs). So, for those SAP customers who have Suite on HANA, the current HANA Live content can be deployed. Customers who have S/4HANA can take advantage of the newly implemented SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics. As far as adapting HANA Live content to the new SAP S/4HANA data structure, you can do that, but it will require a separate security profile for SAP HANA. If you already have customized views, you may have to adapt them to the new data structures. Great questions!

Comment From Dany: If we assume that performing data modelling in SAP HANA for the purpose of data analysis requires access to SAP HANA Studio, how do companies go about deploying HANA studio to business users, and what sort of security governance is required in this case?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Great question! This one is a bit difficult to answer because every company is different, and there should already be protocols in place to deliver installation files to local machines. An alternative would be to use the SAP WebIDE (web based tool) in order to do perform your data modelling. There are two security roles that need to be in place in order for users to have access to HANA Live content: sap.hba.explorer.roles::Business and sap.hba.explorer.roles::Developer.

Comment From Josko: Is it possible to log on and preview things (i.e. texts) in SAP HANA Live Browser in a language other than English?

Rob Frye: Hi Josko. Generally the text language for data previews should be controlled by the default language in the user configuration, so if, for example, your user profile is configured with German as the language, then by default, a data preview should provide the German text for text joins. Thanks.

Comment From Hari: From cost perspective, how much does HANA Live cost in the cloud?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: That’s tough to answer. In a general sense, the cost of running content on the cloud is cheaper because there is no need to acquire hardware and most vendors tend to have plans where you only pay for what you use. There are a couple of things that you need to keep in mind, such as networking capabilities and security.

Comment From Dany: How difficult is it to create custom views in SAP HANA if we consider the extensive customizations that have historically happened in many SAP implementations?

Rob Frye: The difficulty can be expected to scale according to the complexity of what you’re trying to accomplish. For relatively simple data models, those can usually be created in a day or two. For complex tasks, like consuming COPA data and making it available for reporting, the development cycle may be much longer. As with most questions in the SAP landscape, the answer is really, “It depends…:)” Thanks for the question.

Comment From Dany: How does SAP BW fit in the future, especially if we consider the larger amount of effort required to build contents in BW and the increasing need to implement agile BI where the emphasis is on creating minimal actionable BI content and working progressively on enhancing it?

Rob Frye: This is really more of a HANA roadmap question, so I’ll refer you to an excellent blog from 2014 that addressed some of these questions: http://sapinsider.wispubs.c….

The short summary of this is that BW is so entrenched in the SAP client base that it’s not going anywhere any time soon. It is, however, changing and evolving to address problems with data redundancy and take advantage of virtual data models instead of persistent summary tables and the PSA. Many companies will probably elect to upgrade to SAP BW 7.5 on HANA in a simple “lift and shift” approach to start with, and then will optimize their current and future landscape with LSA principles The eventual landing spot for companies with existing implementations will likely include a hybrid of old and new. New customers should consider SAP BW/4HANA. Thanks for the great question.

Comment From Venkat: How frequently does SAP update the HANA live content to provide more views, and what is the approach that customers can take to get the latest package?

Rob Frye: It looks like attention to the development of new content has shifted to SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics in CDS. There are numerous content packages available for SAP HANA Live under the SAP HANA Live Content Tools download section on the Launchpad. In short, newer content will likely be focused on S/4HANA content, so this is another reason to consider an eventual migration to the newer platform. Thanks for the excellent question!

Comment From Stéphane: When should we consider using sap bw instead hana Live?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Great question! The idea behind HANA Live is to perform real-time operational reporting. On the other hand, with SAP BW you can perform analytics on more historical data. So it really depends on the reporting needs as to which one is best to use.

Comment From Zeki: Which SAP BusinessObjects analytical solutions are available for SAP HANA Live?

Lilisee Thao: Currently, HANA Live is integrated with Lumira and Analysis for MS Office; views can directly be pulled from HANA Live Browser into these SAP BI tools for reporting.

Comment From Venkat: How do we deal with warm or cold data in another database, like Hadoop and IQ, when it comes to HANA Live views?

Rob Frye: Wow, this is an interesting question. Although I haven’t been involved in an implementation this specific, my intuition is that this would likely be handled through dynamic tiering behind the scenes and would have little impact on the user overall other than in the speed of rendering results. In short, you can most likely just connect to virtual tables from these external sources and will therefore have no impact on warm/cold data as managed by dynamic tiering in the HANA database.

Comment From Josko: In your experience what is the average time to develop new calculation views based on HANA Live views?

Rob Frye: It really depends on your approach. If you’re simply activating fields from the original source content with the Extension Assistant, that development cycle should be very short. If you’re using reuse views as part of more complex views, then that development cycle will depend on the complexity of your goal. I’m sorry for another “…it depends…” answer, but it really does depend on several factors. Thanks for the question 🙂

Comment From Can: At what point would Hana Live become a preferred solution for a customer with the option of including SAP BW (with BI Content) in the landscape?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: I alluded to this in a previous question. Because HANA Live is connecting to the ECC system, then the purpose is to perform real time operational reporting. On the other hand, BW tends to have more historical data; thus reporting would be done in a more historical sense. It all really depends on the reporting needs.

Comment From Josko: Is there a way to reuse user roles and authorizations form SAP Business Suite when doing reporting based on SAP HANA Live views?

Rob Frye: That should be implemented by default. The data available to the users through the HANA Live views should be limited to what is available to their user in Business Suite. You may have to add object access to that package for the user or user role, but otherwise, the implementation should depend on the user authorizations in the SAP system. Thanks!

Comment From Josko: The number of SAP HANA Live views that can be opened in MS Excel from the HL Browser is pretty small.

Rob Frye: Yes, you’ll be limited to the query views, but there should be over 200 of those for the standard HANA Live content.

Comment From Zeki: Can you describe the Hana Live and data services connection?

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Very similar to other data services connections, a HANA connection will require a data store. Here is a link that can give you a good start: http://saphanatutorial.com/…

Rob Frye: That’s all we have time for today, but thanks so much for all your interest. If you have further questions, you can reach out to us at comeritlabs@comerit.com. We’ll try to answer any additional questions you may have. Thanks for your time, and have a great day. We look forward to seeing you all at the BI/HANA 2017 conference in Orlando soon.

Fernando Ibarra Avila: Thank you everyone! A lot of interesting questions. We enjoyed answering them 🙂

Lilisee Thao: Thank you everyone for your participation. You all had great questions on HANA Live. Have a great day!

SAPinsiderMatt: This has been a great event! Thank you Rob, Lilisee, and Fernando for all your insightful answers! Thank you again to everyone who asked a question!

You can join us at BI 2017 for more on SAP HANA Live. Rob and Fernado will be presenting the following sessions.

Rob’s Sessions:

Step-by-step instructions for securing your SAP BusinessObjects platform

Accelerate your reporting and analytics using SAP HANA Live

Installation and deployment of SAP HANA smart data access

Fernando’s Sessions:

Extending BI content to mobile devices: Leading practices, tools, and architectural considerations

Step-by-step guidelines to build and deploy mobile analytics with SAP BusinessObjects Roambi

Introduction to SAP HANA extended application services