Data Warehousing: Tutorial 8 [BI Tools: SAP BI Part 1]


In the previous tutorial on data warehousing, we learnt data modelling and normalization. In this tutorial, we would discuss about one of the ETL tools of data warehouse, that is, SAP BI.

SAP BI stands for System Application and Product Business Intelligence. It is an ETL tool used in business warehouse for extracting, transforming and loading the data from source system to data warehouse which can be used for reporting purpose.


ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning which is business software for managing the functions of a business using some integrated applications. The advantages of using ERP are that they are built in programs where no coding is required and all the functions of ERP are integrated.

ECC stands for ERP Central Component. SAP ERP constitutes all the SAP functions along with SAP R/3 system. SAP ERP manages all the functions viz. Human Resource, Purchase, Sales, Production, Business Intelligence etc. SAP ERP is equivalent to SAP ECC and operates in real time where business transactions take place. It is the source or origin of data. Online transactions take place along with storage simultaneously.



SAP ECC consists of 3 layers viz. database layer, application layer and presentation layer. It is also called 3-tier client/server architecture. In the database layer, data as well as metadata (including primary and secondary keys) are stored. Here, all the data of SAP R/3 system is present. The application layer consists of logical programs used for processing the data while the presentation layer constitutes SAP GUI for collecting user input. The application layer contains services required to run SAP R/3 system. GUI stands for Graphical User Interface which lies in presentation layer and is an interface between users and the SAP R/3 system. (In R/3, R stands for Real time while 3 stands for 3-tier system)


In ERP, as the data is present in different tables, system gets slow. The data is not optimized due to the absence of joins in the tables.

The SAP ERP data including flat files and relational tables is loaded into SAP BW which is the single point of access of all the data. Flat files and relational tables are interfaces between SAP ERP and SAP BW. No transactions take place in SAP BW and the transactional data is loaded from ERP to SAP BW. Processing of mass data takes place in SAP BW. Here, historic report is run. All the data is put at one level and then processed. Data is stored in archive memory in SAP ERP. The data which is not loaded in SAP ERP goes to SAP BW. If the memory is not sufficient, it leads to low performance. And the data load is also affected.

Types of Data

There are two types of data viz. Transactional data and Master data. For example, transactional data consists of all the details related to business transactions like order purchased, received goods etc. But the master data consists of non-transactional data. It contains the data defining a business entity. E.g. customer master, product master etc.

Data Mining: Data mining helps in business analysis and has a number of advantages. For example, a hotel owner has all the day to day transaction data. He came to know from the analysis obtained using data mining that customer who takes dinner is interested in drinking beverages as well. Thus, he plans to give discount coupons of beverages along with dinner. This would help in increasing his sales.

The major difference between ECC and BW is that ECC uses OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) for the daily business transactions while BW uses OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) for analysing the data and using the analysis for business growth.

Continue reading the next datawarehousing tutorial on SAP BI Part 2.


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