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May 30, 2024

How to Extract Data from SAP

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Data extraction from SAP systems is a critical task for many businesses, as it allows for the analysis, transformation, and reporting of business data. SAP, a leading provider of enterprise software, manages a vast array of business operations and processes. Consequently, the ability to effectively extract data from SAP can offer insights into performance metrics, operational efficiencies, and strategic decision-making. With the advent of automated data extraction tools and methodologies, companies can now streamline this process, eliminating manual tasks and expediting access to vital information.

The process of data extraction from SAP typically involves selecting the necessary data, configuring the appropriate export settings, and executing the extraction. The extracted data might include both transactional and master data, which are integral for comprehensive business analysis.

Used effectively, data extraction from SAP can equip a business with the means to enhance its operational workflow and optimise its overall performance. As organisations increasingly rely on accurate and timely data for making informed decisions, the importance of efficient and reliable data extraction from SAP systems grows. With the help of various methodologies and tools, such as SAP Data Services or Datasphere and an understanding of SAP’s data structure, businesses can achieve consistent and robust data extraction processes.

Data Extraction Fundamentals

Data extraction from SAP systems is a crucial process that involves a series of steps and methodologies to ensure that the right data is efficiently extracted for business use. It is important to understand the different methods available and the typical data flow within SAP environments.

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Data Provisioning Methods

Operational Data Provisioning (ODP) is a key method in SAP that offers a technical infrastructure to support data replication. ODP is flexible and can be used with various SAP source systems like SAP ERP or SAP BW.

  • Extraction, Transformation, and Loading (ETL): this process involves extracting data from SAP source systems, transforming it to fit operational needs, and loading it into a target data warehouse.
  • SAP Data Services: this offers the capability to extract, transform, and load data from both SAP and non-SAP systems.
  • SAP Datasphere: this application provides a large set of default connections to access data from a wide range of sources, in the cloud or on premise, from SAP or from non-SAP sources or partner tools.

Typical extraction data flow

The data flow during extraction typically follows a defined path from the source tables to the final destination.

  1. Sources: Data is often sourced from database in SAP ECC or S/4HANA.
  2. Extraction: Data from these tables is extracted using mechanisms such as ODP or CDC replication.
  3. Transfer: The extracted data is then transferred over a secure connection.
  4. Loading: Finally, the data is loaded into the target system, which could be SAP BW or another data warehouse.

Data sources play a pivotal role in defining the structure of the extracted data and contain metadata necessary for extraction processes. It’s essential in controlling what data is extracted and how it is structured during the data flow.

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Extraction Techniques

Effective data extraction from SAP systems relies on using various techniques tailored to meet specific data retrieval needs. These can range from employing SAP’s own data extractors to leveraging SQL queries, ABAP extractors or CDS Views.

SAP Extractors Overview

SAP provides extractors, which are data retrieval mechanisms designed to pull specific sets of data from SAP applications. These extractors are predefined and cover a wide range of modules and data types. Extractors handle both transactional and master data and are often used in conjunction with SAP Business Warehouse (BW) to feed analytical systems. SAP extractors consist of three main types:

  • Transactional Data Extractors: Focus on document-based data.
  • Master Data Extractors (Attributes, Texts, Hierarchies): Aimed at structural data.
  • Business Content Extractors: Prebuilt extractors for specific use cases.

SQL-Based Data Extraction

Extraction using SQL (Structured Query Language) allows for direct access to the SAP database layer. This is suitable when there’s a need for ad-hoc querying and data retrieval that might not be covered by standard extractors. It’s imperative to maintain awareness of the database structure and authorisations for SQL-based extraction to be effective. The process usually involves:

  • Establishing a database connection.
  • Deploying select queries to retrieve desired data sets.
  • Ensuring that the data retrieved aligns with the defined security and compliance measures.

CDS Views

CDS Views offer a powerful way to define semantically-rich data models directly in the SAP HANA database. They enable users to model specific data requirements and serve as a cornerstone for business logic and data representation in SAP S/4 HANA. Key features include:

  • Data Persistence: CDS views visualise data structures and ensure a consistent data format.
  • Enhanced Performance: Because they are managed on the HANA layer, data retrievals are optimised for performance.
  • Extensibility: Users can extend standard CDS views to meet bespoke analytical requirements without affecting the underlying data sources.

These techniques represent the primary mechanisms by which valuable data is extracted from SAP environments, each offering unique benefits and considerations for different business needs.

Tools and Transactions

When extracting data from SAP, professionals rely on specialised tools and specific transactions. These enhance efficiency and provide robust solutions for managing data extraction tasks.

SAP Data Services

SAP Data Services is a key tool for data extraction, transforming and loading (ETL). The service supports a variety of data sources, allowing for extraction from both SAP and non-SAP systems. It enables users to develop and execute workflows that can clean, transform, and integrate data for analytical or operational use. Note as of 2024 Data Services is being phased out and replaced by DataSphere

SAP Analytics Cloud Integration

SAP Analytics Cloud offers tight integration for data extraction, aiming to simplify data processing and enhance business intelligence capabilities. One can directly access SAP DataSphere within the cloud, which allows a seamless flow of data into SAP Analytics Cloud for real-time insights and advanced analytics.

SE16 for Data Tables

The transaction code SE16 is used to view data tables within the SAP system. Users can quickly access and extract data from various tables through a straightforward interface. SE16 is particularly useful for on-the-fly data exports without requiring extensive technical expertise.

  • Access:
    • Navigate to SE16 in the SAP GUI.
    • Input the desired table name.
  • Extraction:
    • Define the selection criteria.
    • Execute to view the table contents.
    • Export the data as needed.

Zentrix SAP Data Extraction

Zentrix simplifies SAP data extraction by offering solutions that enable organizations to seamlessly extract SAP data in real time for use in various analytics, reporting, and integration environments. Our SAP Data Integration service is designed to empower businesses to access their SAP data effectively.

Real-Time Replication with ODP

SAP provides a framework known as Operational Data Provisioning (ODP) that supports real-time data replication. The key components of ODP include:

  • ODP Contexts: Different frameworks such as SAP BW, SAP Data Services, and SAP SLT.
  • DataSources: These objects are linked to source systems and facilitate data extraction.

To implement real-time replication:

  1. Define a DataSource for the relevant ODP context.
  2. Choose the ODP as the source system in your SAP BW or SAP Data Services.
  3. Use SAP Landscape Transformation (SLT) to replicate data in real-time, ensuring minimal latency.
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Author

Jeff Stubbs

Jeff is the founder of Zentrix, a leading provider of Business Intelligence solutions for SAP. Known for his professionalism and reliability with over 20 years of experience, Jeff has spearheaded many transformative projects for clients, enhancing decision-making and business performance across industries. Through his blog, Jeff shares valuable insights into data analytics, systems integration, and business intelligence, offering practical advice for navigating the evolving SAP BI landscape. Follow Jeff for IT insights and updates, and discover how Zentrix is revolutionizing SAP BI solutions.