Implementing a data warehouse that integrates SAP R/3 data with data from other enterprise sources is one of the hardest, riskiest,and most time- consuming challenges an IT professional can ever face. In prioritizing the requirements for R/3 warehousing, Hurwitz Group concluded that the requirements fall into two broad categories:
- Packaging requirements. SAP R/3 users need and prefer packaged solutions for data warehousing instead of using generic tools or hand coding to build custom solutions. A packaged solution for warehousing with R/3 must include prebuilt extraction routines, data transformations, queries, reports and data models for various types of marts.
- Technical requirements. Hermetically sealed R/3 is by no means the average database environment. Extracting data with integrity and performance from the R/3 environment requires special third-party tools that can access the great number of unique and proprietary data structures within R/3.
Hurwitz Group recently conducted research to determine which software vendors score well when measured by these two requirements. A summary of research findings can be seen online at: www.hurwitz.com/news/compl andscape.html
THE HURWITZ TAKE: The long list of software vendors now offering packaged solutions attests to the need among SAP R/3 users for packaged warehouse solutions. The list also corroborates Hurwitz Group's assertion that SAP AG's business information warehouse is too narrowly defined to serve as an enterprise-scope data warehouse.
SAP R/3 users considering warehouse solutions should avoid generic extract, transform, move, load (ETML) products. Although these may provide the tools and servers needed to build a warehouse, building a warehouse from scratch takes time, costs considerable development payroll, strains resources and runs the risk of integration failure. Therefore, R/3 users who clearly understand the benefits of packaged solutions or they wouldn't be using an ERP system should look for packaged data warehouse solutions that provide data models and queries specific to the needs of the SAP R/3 user.
Some of the most difficult-to-satisfy requirements for warehousing with SAP R/3 involve accessing R/3 data structures with data integrity and efficiency. These are common warehousing requirements, but they are far more difficult to satisfy in the SAP R/3 environment than in others because of the enormity and complexity of R/3. Hence, R/3 users should look for data warehouse solutions that include prebuilt components in the package that can access the broad array of complex data structures that R/3 contains.
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