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SAP (NetWeaver) BI versus SAP BW: The Sequel

It’s time to update my web log from November 2004 about the terminology for our business intelligence offering from SAP. (“SAP BI versus SAP BW: What’s in a Name?” at [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken])  Before I get into that, though, it is definitely not true that we keep changing the name to confuse the customer – which is speculation that I have heard from some of you! I know that we keep you on your toes with this, but our goal is to use terminology that appropriately reflects both our features and what constitutes the product that we offer to you, the customer. As those factors change, so do the terms. It’s not always easy for us either – my previous blog contains a now-obsolete term!  As such, for a brief recap, SAP started out with a standalone product called SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW). Business Intelligence (via mySAP BI and then SAP BI) came into usage as we expanded our features within the component itself and by bundling/integrating with other components. As a broader (and industry-standard) term, SAP felt that BI was a better description of the solution. We held onto the SAP BW term for our release numbers to ease the transition.  That takes SAP BI as we knew it up through the SAP NetWeaver 2004 release (SAP BW 3.5). With the newest release, we are going a step further. Originally, we thought we’d call this SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence 7.0, as was stated in the first blog. But while this was a better description of the business intelligence component, we realized that it doesn’t reflect the fact that BI a fully integrated piece of the SAP NetWeaver platform! Therefore, you will now hear us refer to either SAP NetWeaver 2004s, or, if we think we need to emphasize the BI aspect of it, we’ll use “BI capabilities of SAP NetWeaver 2004s”. Is this just a marketing decision? Not at all. With SAP NetWeaver 2004s, BI capabilities include features provided by the portal and knowledge management/collaboration components, so we want to focus on the scenarios supported, not the underlying components.   Note that the term SAP BW will not just disappear – yet. You’ll still see the historical references to SAP BW, of course. But new and forward-looking information will be found under SAP NetWeaver.  Challenging?!? Definitely! But we’ve got the best customers in the world, so I know we’ll all get there.  (See also Michael Eacrett’s blog “Obituary for ‘SAP NetWeaver Components’ 2003 – 2005” at /people/michael.eacrett/blog/2006/06/17/obituary-for-sap-netweaver-components-2003-150-2005 for a comprehensive discussion of the single platform view for SAP NetWeaver.)
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  • Hello;
    The pace and the distance of SAP's look sounds great with the industry standards name change. I actually like the new name even though we have the old name always in our memories.


  • Ok, nothing is done without a reason (considering that reason more or less meaningful is then something useful to engage someone in conversation during coffe breaks, but, in my opinion, I prefer to avoid this subject!), but, onestly, the name "BI capabilities of SAP Net-Weaver 2004s" is what we can read on an identity can we use such a verbose (even if fitting and appropriate) name during our working days (and frequently nights) ?!
    How can anyone imagine a consultant saying to one of his colleagues "I'm working on BI capabilities of SAP NetWeaver's nice!" ?!
    I think that we all from BI community need a nickname...
    I'm not talking about official documents and serious stuff, but just how can we name our life's reason (at least for 8 hours a day!) at the bottom of our hearts, in the inwardness of our thoughts...
    As usual, everything will be judged by posterity!
    • Hi Roberto,

      I don't see any difference from saying that you work on BI and that the release is SAP NetWeaver 2004s or saying that you work on FI and the release is SAP R/3 4.6c. There can't be many SAP customers who wouldn't be familiar with the way we refer to the ERP solution and its underlying components.

      I would not be in favor of an unoffical nickname, because then what does a person new to the SAP community do? They aren't going to know your nickname for it and this would make their search for information more difficult.


      • Hi Katie,
        I know that this is all NetWeaver but in most companies there are different servers for Portal, KM, Bi etc. And I can't really tell the people to install the BI abilities of the NetWeaver 2004s and expect them to know what to do. For me this is the biggest lack. How do I call the installation to separate it from a NetWeaver Portal etc.?
        I guess the term SAP BI will unofficially spread throughout those who currently call themselves BW consultants. Because the difference between BI and FI is that you had no chance to install FI on your own, you always had an R/3 system. Now you have a NetWeaver 2004s BI system and a NetWeaver 2004s Portal Sytem etc.
        Any idea how we call the installation itself?

        Best regards

        • Hi Dirk,

          Internally to your organization, you can call it whatever you want! I would say that you should call your installation whatever makes the most sense - a name that hopefully will be clear to your colleagues but that can easily be translated back to "SAPanese". (Some customers use project names that are great internally, but then they have trouble when the are talking to SAP.) I would expect you to refer, for example, to your BI, XI, Portal, and MDM servers (as appropriate). After all, we (SAP) are still going to have to maintain separate forums for the many different capabilities of SAP NetWeaver 2004s, so we'll still be "breaking up" the platform to talk about it.

          My main purpose in this blog was to try to educate people so that they know where to look for information (#1!) in SAP sources and to encourage others posting to SDN to stick with the terminology as well, to try to make that search easier.