The use of SAP HANA CDS Views and the Alteryx Connector for SAP (ACS) with Alteryx is not mutually exclusive. Whether you should use one, the other or both depends upon a number of different factors.
The ACS requires minimal set-up, provides easy access to SAP data and can be used effectively by business users and IT users with varying levels of competency in Alteryx and SAP. Our users come from both business and IT backgrounds. Some are new to Alteryx while others are certified professionals. Some have very limited knowledge of SAP while others have been using SAP for 20+ years.
The ACS works with SAP systems independent of the underlying database regardless of whether SAP is running on HANA, Oracle, DB2, SQL etc.
The ACS can access data from SAP Business Suite applications (i.e. ECC, CRM, SCM, HCM etc.), SAP BW, SAP S/4HANA On-Premise and Private Cloud Editions. The ACS can also access data in SAP HANA CDS Views.
The use of SAP HANA CDS views becomes interesting if your entire SAP landscape is running on SAP HANA.
It does however require appropriate SAP HANA licensing and skilled IT resource to design, build and implement the views. Implementation is therefore likely to be both time consuming and expensive.
In addition to time and cost, there are some additional considerations when deciding whether or not to use SAP HANA CDS Views with Alteryx:
If you use SAP BW today you will have a significant amount of business logic built into your SAP BW Queries. Do you have a clear business case to justify the cost of migrating that logic into SAP HANA CDS Views? The ACS allows you to reuse the investment you have already made in SAP BW immediately, regardless of whether SAP BW is running on SAP HANA or not.
IT Governance and Security
Building and consuming data from SAP HANA CDS Views via the Alteryx ODBC connector requires direct access to the DBMS layer. From experience, this is a show stopper for most businesses. It is a potentially risky strategy to allow direct access to the DBMS layer required by SAP HANA CDS views. The ACS does not directly access the DBMS layer. The ACS accesses data via the application layer and respects the underlying authorizations of the individual or system user and the “safety belts” built into all SAP systems. What does this mean in real-terms? Firstly, you can only access the data you have authorization to access. Secondly, you cannot materially impact system performance while running extracts.
What is your approach to Data Wrangling? Is this something that will be controlled by IT or will business users also wrangle data? How much data wrangling do you want to do and at what level in your analytics platform do you want to do it e.g. HANA vs Alteryx vs Visualisation Layer?
Visualization Layer and SAP HANA Performance
If you connect your visualizations directly to SAP HANA via Alteryx you need to consider the impact those visualizations have on the performance of your SAP HANA system. In one extreme case we are aware of, a customer developed a Tableau Query that spawned 17 SAP HANA queries which consumed all processing memory and crashed the SAP HANA appliance.
But, I really want to use SAP HANA CDS Views
If you are committed to using SAP HANA CDS Views within Alteryx, accept the cost, IT Governance, Security and SAP HANA Performance concerns, you should still consider the ACS.
A number of our customers use Alteryx, the ACS and Tableau (and other visualization tools) for prototyping and discovery. It is fast and it is economical. Once the prototyped solution has been reviewed and signed-off it is then baked back into the SAP HANA platform and exposed as SAP HANA CDS Views which can then be consumed in Alteryx either via the ODBC connector or via the ACS. This is a cost-effective approach to agile development in the SAP HANA analytics space.
Try the Alteryx Connector for SAP
If in doubt, we recommend that you take a trial of the Alteryx Connector for SAP. We will assist you to install the software, ensure connectivity to your SAP systems and guide you through the initial stages of using the tool. You will see that the ACS is as flexible and as easy to use as Alteryx.
To request a free trial, please click the button below.
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