Wednesday, May 31, 2017

SAP Convergence Strategy - Data Connectivity

The April 20, 2017, SAPinsider Q&A on the SAP BI Convergence Strategy has provided a nearly endless supply of blogging material, but this will be my last post on the subject. If you want to read the full transcript, go to the APOS On-Demand Webinars page:

So far, I've focused on the place of individual SAP products within the SAP convergence strategy (the merger of Lumira and Design Studio, what's new in SAP Web Intelligence, BOC), on the newest platform developments (what's new in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4), and on the convergence strategy itself.

Now let's look at a topic that was a little less defined, but ever-present nonetheless: data connectivity.

As convergence reduces the SAP BI toolset, the need for greater connectivity grows, and the pressure is on to supply that connectivity. One of the registrants for the Q&A commented:

Will there be more emphasis on adding new features in the BI reporting/analysis toolset to support non-SAP databases? We see lots of new features and capabilities to better report off of SAP HANA and BW data, but not much related to Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, etc.

Another guest asked about row and cell limitations in Design Studio:

Design Studio has a row and cell limitation. We were hoping this limitation was removed with the convergence of DS and Lumira.

SAP's David Stocker replied:

In BEx and SAP HANA datasources, you can define what the limits are in the backend. For universes, we still have the same hard limit as in 1.6. We've not changed anything in that corner for 2.0. We do plan to revisit this in the future, now that we have the new velocity infrastructure.

Another guest asked about OLAP connectivity:

Hi Team, When would SSAS OLAP based universes or direct non-SAP OLAP connections be supported?

Merlijn Ekkel replied:

We already support various non-SAP OLAP datasources. Please check our Product Availability Matrix 

Another guest asked about BOC connectivity:

Our company is planning to move more to cloud rather than using on-premise, so my detail question is, how is SAP BusinessObjects BI Cloud able to access data on our company (within firewall)? Example, I have Crystal Report access Oracle database in my company, if I want to move that Crystal Report to SAP BusinessObjects BI Cloud, is it possible?

Henry Kam noted:

SAP BusinessObjects Cloud is able to access data within the firewall by utilizing the BOC Cloud Agent to import data into BOC… It is not currently possible to move Crystal Reports to SAP BusinessObjects Cloud.

Another guest:

When will Lumira support SSAS?


Today we have no direct road map plans to support SSAS (or other OLAP datasources). Today the best option would be the APOS Data Gateway that solves the gap.

We thank Merlijn for his acknowledgement of how the APOS Data Gateway is leading the way with enhanced data connectivity for SAP BusinessObjects. Check out the available connectivity options:
What's on your data connectivity wish list?

Friday, May 26, 2017

SAP Convergence Strategy - BOC

The April 20, 2017, SAPinsider Q&A focused on the SAP BI Convergence Strategy.

So far, I've published posts on the convergence strategy itself, and on what's new in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4, and the merger of Lumira and Design Studio.and SAP Web Intelligence. The SAP BusinessObjects Cloud was also a subject of discussion.

SAP's Henry Kam took the lead in the discussion:

Organizations recognize that SAP BusinessObjects Cloud offers a unique value proposition in the market today by combining analytics, planning, and predictive capabilities. These 3 capabilities are not just available under a shared application user interface, but the key is that these functionalities are actually integrated seamlessly together in user workflows. Also resonating with customers is the SAP Digital Boardroom, which is a capability of SAP BusinessObjects Cloud. It provides users with a 360-degree view of their company’s performance in real time, using BOC which is a Cloud SaaS product, with the ability to securely access on-premise data, and displaying analytics on multiple large TV screens that are touch enabled.

Henry went on to discuss how organizations with on-premise deployments should be viewing the move to the Cloud:

We believe in taking a hybrid BI approach. Hybrid BI provides a seamless experience across both on-premise and cloud. When you access content or blend data from on-premise or cloud systems, you are doing hybrid BI. A seamless experience means that business users do not have to think about where data or content is residing; on-premise and cloud clients and assets work together. Sharing resources between on-premise and cloud deployments such as tools, data connectivity, visualizations, security, distribution, budget, organization, program management, training, licensing, and internal evangelization, does not require understanding whether the resources are on-premise or cloud. The journey many times starts with on-premise deployments, which must be extended and expanded into complementary cloud strategies with minimal disruption. One way we are realizing this vision is our planned innovation of providing a new experience which will consolidate access to analytics content from multiple hybrid (on-premise or cloud) systems into a unified experience. Keep an eye out for the analytics announcements at SAPPHIRE as we’ll be unveiling this new solution.

APOS realizes that data connectivity will be one of the most pressing matters for organizations wishing to take advantage of SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, which is why we develop the APOS Data Gateway for SAP BusinessObjects. Allan Pym described this APOS offering during the Q&A:

The APOS Data Gateway for BOC will allow for live data access to on premise UNV and UNX universes, as well as SAP BW (v 7.3 and higher), MSAS, Essbase (Q3) and relational datasources (mid Q2). APOS also has a connector that will enable acquiring data from UNV universes.

Note: The APOS Data Gateway connector for relational data sources has now been released.

You can find more about the SAP BusinessObjects Cloud roadmap in the Q&A transcript, which you can access from the APOS On-Demand Webinars page:

A future post will look at what's new in Analysis for Office.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

SAP Convergence Strategy - Web Intelligence

The April 20, 2017, SAPinsider Q&A focused on the SAP BI Convergence Strategy.

So far, I've published posts on the convergence strategy itself, and on what's new in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4, and the merger of Lumira and Design Studio. Let's turn our attention to SAP Web Intelligence.

During this year's Q&A, Gregory Botticchio told us that the Web Intelligence team had delivered approximately "50 innovations and cumulative enhancements." The top 6 most popular, according to Gregory:
  • Parallel refresh of WebI data providers, for all datasources
  • Commentary: add a comment in a report and in a table cell
  • Shared Element: share and reuse blocks (table, carts) between users
  • New SAP HANA access mode (direct access and OnLine)
  • dHTML catchup vs the Java applet
  • Dynamic, or Cascading, Input Controls

Coming in SP4 are improvements to the Web Intelligence dHTML client, new chart types and cumulative enhancements, but the biggest news in SP4 is a new Web Intelligence interface:

…we will mainly deliver a new, modern and elegant, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence experience. It will be an interface build in HTML5, using some SAP Fiori UI5 elements. And it will be mostly an interactive viewer that you will have the choice to use in parallel of the existing one.

Gregory also gave us some details on the road ahead for Web Intelligence:

In the mid/long-term: We are planning a new simplified and modernized WebI Designer, to complete the story. Also we are thinking of changing the way to create reports by proposing Suggestions and Recommendations. Interactive Analysis for the end-users will also be key in this future release.

You can find more about the Web Intelligence roadmap in the Q&A transcript, which you can access from the APOS On-Demand Webinars page:

Future posts will look at what's new in Analysis for Office and SAP BusinessObjects Cloud.

Friday, May 5, 2017

SAP Convergence Strategy - Merging Lumira & Design Studio

The April 20, 2017, SAPinsider Q&A focused on the SAP BI Convergence Strategy, and nowhere is that convergence more apparent than in the merger of SAP Lumira and SAP Design Studio.
So far, I've published posts on the convergence strategy itself, and on what's new in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4.

The coming release of Lumira 2.0 will unite the Lumira and Design Studio code base in recognition of the fact, as David Stocker put it during the Q&A, that " the use cases of an agile viz tool and a custom app actually overlap in the wild." The merger of these two solutions is meant to simplify the workflow from business users to designers.

The backend convergence will facilitate such workflows, while the maintenance of separate client applications will preserve and improve usability for the business user and the designer. Blair Wheadon described the SAP vision:

Lumira 2.0 has major improvements in usability, data access, and is converged with SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio to enable the creation of sophisticated analytic applications… Data access: Key new features include online access to BW from Lumira Discovery 2.0 (the successor to Lumira Desktop) and improved access to Universe data in Lumira Designer 2.0 (the successor to Design Studio desktop 1.x) which removes the row limit for Universe access. This will ensure direct access to governed data and remove the need to create data extracts and ungoverned data silos. In addition to data access, the usability of Lumira Discovery is much improved with a single canvas UX, improved filtering and input controls, new chart features like smoothed lines and improved formatting control. Finally the ability to open a Lumira Discovery visualization with Lumira Designer and turn it into a full blown analytic application is very powerful. This means that any dashboard from the simplest visualization up to full-blown planning applications can be handled by the same tool. As requirements change, you don't need to switch tools.

The combination of Lumira Discovery 2.0 (formerly Lumira Desktop) and Lumira Designer (formerly Design Studio Desktop) will enable seamless collaboration between business users and designers to create custom dashboards and analytic applications from business user visualizations.

You can make this collaboration even more effective by expanding your data connectivity options. The APOS Data Gateway solution is designed to help you do just that. The APOS Data Gateway is a data connection and data transformation solution which provides extended data source and data volume options for SAP Lumira and SAP Design Studio. It also enables enhanced interoperability with BI components across the SAP landscape.

You can find more about the Lumira / Design Studio convergence in the Q&A transcript, which you can access from the APOS On-Demand Webinars page:

Future posts will look at what's new in Web Intelligence, Analysis for Office, and SAP BusinessObjects Cloud.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

SAP Convergence Strategy - Highlights from the April 20, 2017, SAPinsider Q&A

As usual, this year's SAP Convergence Update event, brought to you by SAPinsider and APOS, covered a wide range of topics. While nominally about convergence, the conversation naturally turned to many of the individual SAP BI solutions, and how they are affected by the SAP Convergence Strategy.

The discussion concerning the SAP Convergence Strategy itself can be found here:

For your convenience, I'll break down some of the more salient topics discussed at the event here on the Well Managed BI blog. Today, I'll focus on the discussion on Service Pack 4 for SAP BusinessObjects.

During the Q&A event, SAP's Merlijn Ekkel told us:

Within SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP04, we release the initial version of our fully revamped BI Launchpad and Web Intelligence Viewer, where end users will gain the ability to leverage the new and fresh UI for BI with great experience. Besides these, many smaller enhancements have been added.

He also announced that the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.2 SP04 What's New presentation deck had been published only a couple of hours earlier.

More good news: According to Merlijn, SP4 marks the beginning of a major overhaul of the BI Launchpad, including "a revamp of the scheduling and publications process."

You can access the complete transcript from the APOS On-Demand Webinars page.