Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Update: SAP BusinessObjects Semantic Layer Webinar

SAP's Pierpaolo Vezzosi joined us on February 16, 2017, to talk about what's new in the SAP BusinessObjects semantic layer. Back on February 2, it was SAP's Gregory Botticchio who joined us to talk about what's new in Web Intelligence. Taken together, these webinars give us a great view of the current and future states of the SAP BusinessObjects platform.

Pierpaolo's presentation featured a wealth of information, especially for people working with HANA and BW. He spoke specifically about:
  •  Linked Universes
  • Universes on BEx query
  • HANA

Below, I provide a fairly detailed look at the topics discussed, but it would definitely be worth your while to view the webinar on demand, as Pierpaolo provides live demonstrations on all of these topics, as well as a lively Q & A at the end.

Direct & Online Access to HANA

SP3 saw the addition of Direct access and Online access as methods to access HANA, allowing Web Intelligence reports to access HANA data without the need to build a universe between them, with best practices enabled.

Pierpaolo provided live demonstrations of Direct and Online access to HANA from Web Intelligence using the newer DHTML interface, because, as he reiterated, this is where most new development will occur, due to the impending deprecation of Java applets.

He discussed a number of access methods in detail, and when to use them:
  • HANA online - best for exploration. It is fast and best practices are enabled by default. By default, you can return only 5,000 rows, but the user can override this default. However, "good" reports in Web Intelligence don't return this many rows. The big constraint with online is that all calculations and filtering are pushed back to the HANA system, which means that some complex Web Intelligence calculation are not available in this mode.
  • HANA direct on relational sources - has all the functionality of Web Intelligence, including the complex calculations not available in online mode, and the best performance / cost ratio for reporting. The recommendation is that you start the design process in online mode to discover the data and the shape of the data, then move to HANA direct mode to make all Web Intelligence functionality available.
  • HANA direct on OLAP sources - if you need hierarchies. OLAP on HANA direct may be marginally slower, so if you don't need hierarchies, stick with HANA direct relational mode.
  •  HANA via a universe - if you need to customize your access to HANA. For example, if you want to rename objects and do not have write access to HANA views, you can use a universe to make access more friendly, or if you want to add a layer of security on top of HANA, but in general, SAP does not recommend using universes for HANA access. The default should be to use HANA views.

Authoring UNX Universes on BEx Queries

You can author a UNX universe on a BEx query as a means of improving user adoption. Users have welcomed the ability to access BW directly with Web Intelligence, but many have found BEx queries to be not business-user-friendly. Building a UNX universe on a BEx query simplifies the view of the BEx query for business users. Pierpaolo provides a detailed demonstration on how to author such universes.

Linked Universes

When linked universes were introduced in SAP BusinessObjects XI, their purpose was to make complex universe projects easier to manage. This idea returns in BI 4.2 SP3: You can construct UNX universes and allow objects in those universes to be inherited by a newer universe. Further, when you make changes to the original (or master) universes, the changes are propagated down to the derived universe.

Linked universes allow you to:
  • Deliver a modular approach to universe building in the Information Design Tool (IDT)
  • Insert the objects of a master UNX into a derived UNX universe, with automatic updates propagation to the derived universe

Use cases for this linked universes include:
  • Component Use Case- using a team approach in which each team supplies one or more components for the derived universe (e.g., customers, products, measures)
  • Kernel Use Case - building a large data foundation (e.g., the whole data warehouse) in the original universe, then showing subsets of that universe in derived universes (e.g., for Marketing, HR)
  • OEM Use Case - building a common universe, which is then extended in derived universes for various customers

Again, Pierpaolo provided a detailed demonstration on linking universes, and it is definitely worth your while to view the webinar on demand for these demonstations.

APOS Migrator for Web Intelligence

Allan Pym, APOS COO, also gave a brief description of the APOS Migrator for Web Intelligence, which enables:
  • Bulk conversion of universes from UNV format to UNX format
  • High-volume re-pointing of Web Intelligence reports from the old UNV to the new UNX

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Update: SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 Semantic Layer

APOS is hosting another SAP update webinar on Thursday, February 16, at 11 am EST. This time, it will be SAP's Pierpaolo Vezzosi updating us on developments in the BI 4.2 semantic layer.

The semantic layer has always been one of the features that sets SAP BusinessObjects apart within the increasingly crowded BI space. Universes greatly simplify access to data by providing consistent, business-logic-friendly naming conventions across the enterprise data landscape.

The centrality of the semantic layer meant that it needed to be tweaked regularly to keep up with new BI requirements and technological developments, but there is only so much tweaking that a technology can take before it begins to become unwieldy. By the time SAP began to design BI 4, the semantic layer was perceived by some to be approaching those limits, and SAP undertook the task of redesigning the semantic layer from the ground up.

The new semantic layer was designed to support a clear vision of the future of SAP BusinessObjects, and new developments continue to build toward that vision. In our upcoming webinar, Pierpaolo will discuss progress toward that vision, and the road ahead.

Join us to catch a glimpse of the future.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

SAP Web Intelligence Update Webinar Summary

Groundhog Day 2017 was not particularly informative concerning the length of our Winter here in Canada. A recent study determined that the rodents have been right only 37% of the time over the past several decades, which isn't even randomly inaccurate.

However, Groundhog Day did bring us a wealth of information from Gregory Botticchio in the form of a webinar that highlighted advances in SAP Web Intelligence and the road ahead.

Gregory told us about WebI themes if BI 4.2:
  • Building a Trusted Foundation - removing upgrade barriers with Linked Universes, and client improvements with Parallel Queries
  • Enabling the Business - collaboration through Commentary and Shared Elements, client improvements through GeoMaps and Big Numbers, and unleashing the ecosystem through Visualization Extensions
  • Leveraging the SAP Backend - SAP BW improvements with BEx-Authored Universes, and SAP HANA Enhancements with HANA Direct Access and HANA Online
These features were delivered in SP2, and enhanced in SP3 with:
  • dHTML Catchup - striving to achieve parity with the Web Intelligence Java Applet (an ongoing project)
  • Dynamic Input Controls - more than just cascading controls
  • Sets - authoring sets in the Infromation Design Tool, using them to query data, and consuming them through universes
  • Referenced Cells - using variables that return the value of a specified cell, maintaining the context of that cell, and listing referenced cells as Available Objects
  • Commentary - improved usability and lifecycle; performance optimization
  • Parallel Data Provider - parallel query support on BEx queries

When SP4 arrives later this year, it will launch a whole new set of Web Intelligence features that will improve Web Intelligence functionality and render the user experience more consistent with other SAP BusinessObjects solutions. 

SP 4 is scheduled to include:
  • A New Viewer
  • More dHTML Catchup
  • New Chart Technology
  • An SDK & Extensions

Click the link below to view the webinar on demand and listen to Gregory Botticchio, BI Product Manager, SAP, give us the lowdown on what's up next for SAP Web Intelligence

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Update: SAP Web Intelligence

Happy Groundhog Day!

Has it really been a year since APOS last hosted an SAP Web Intelligence Update webinar?

Yes it has.

Between then and now, SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP3 was released, bringing many of the features promised in that webinar to life, including:

  • Java/DHTML Clients Parity
  • Cascading Input Control
  • Shared Elements
  • Comments
  • Parallel Queries

When SP4 arrives later this year, it will launch a whole new set of Web Intelligence features that will improve Web Intelligence functionality and render the user experience more consistent with other SAP BusinessObjects solutions.

History, as Mark Twain famously said, does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme, and we will soon have SAP's Gregory Botticchio, BI Product Manager, SAP, rhyming off what's new with WebI, as APOS hosts a new SAP Web Intelligence Update webinar. Sign up and listen to Gregory on Thursday, February 2 (Groundhog Day in the US and Canada), as he gives us the lowdown on what's up next for SAP Web Intelligence.

Register for this webinar...

APOS Administrator Users - Did You Know?

Did you know that you can now perform a search in Instance Manager for inactive instances in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.x?

This search requires that you also have APOS Insight, as the search is based on integration between these two solutions.

Good news: If you don't have APOS Insight, you can download the free APOS Insight Elements package and use it with Instance Manager to perform these searches.

You'll find APOS Insight Elements for other tasks as well. It will allow you to:

  • Inventory all objects, including report objects, user group objects, folders, categories, and business view objects
  • Use object data to compare historical folder/object structures from different points in time
  • Inventory all report schedules within the system
  • Use schedule data to determine peak server usage as a step toward optimizing server performance
  • Inventory all report instances within the system
  • Use instance data to determine report usage patterns and know which reports are used the most, and which are rarely used
  • Look at the processing activity for a particular time and day and compare that processing activity with other times and days to form a picture of bursts, if they exist, and to reduce processing bottlenecks
  • Use inventories and analysis to initiate a systematic clean-up of your BI deployment to plan for migration, safeguard the health of your system, and prepare for growth.

Download APOS Insight Elements.