Two approaches to connect Business Objects products and SAP systems are possible. They can be described as direct and indirect approach, depending on the IT landscape. In the following the two approaches and the used products from Business Objects will be described.
This picture shows the direct approach: SAP BW and the other SAP systems are directly connected to the Business Objects platform via the Business Objects Integration Kit for SAP. The integration kit is a collection of different drivers to access specific objects inside the SAP systems.
There is also a second connection displayed in the picture, called universe. Universe is a special object. It is used to simplify the usability for business users for ad-hoc web-based query reporting.
Business Objects Integration Kit for SAP
The integration kit is a set of drivers to connect to a SAP BW or other SAP system. The following list shows the drivers of that kit and the objects which can be accessed:
- BW Query Driver -> BW Query
- MDX Query Driver -> BW Query, BW Cubes
- ODS Driver -> ODS Objects
- Open SQL Driver -> transparent tables, pool and cluster tables, views and ABAP data clusters and functions
- InfoSet/ABAP Query Driver -> SAP Query, InfoSet
- BW OLAP BAPI -> BW Cubes
These drivers allow to access cubes and queries which are stored inside the BW and to use them for reporting purposes. It is also possible to access tables in an SAP ERP system and get the required information out of them.
Business Objects Universe
Universes are used by Web Intelligence and Desktop Intelligence. Their main goal is to support business users. As dimensions and measurements are most of the times stored in technical abbreviations, business users need additional information in order to be able to do the reporting they need. For this reason Business Objects developed universes. A universe is a semantic layer. It transforms the technical abbreviation into a business term which the business user can relate to. This is done via mapping of technical name in the system to a business term in the universe.
A universe consists of three parts. The first part, the connection parameter, stores the information to which system a universe is connected to. This allows the end-user to select the universe that is needed and be connected to the correct system right away. The technical name of the desired system is not needed in this process.
The second part includes classes and objects. Objects are dimensions or measurements in the system. They can be logically grouped into different classes.
The last part is a schema of the database which is only required by the developer of the universe.
The universe has to be built by the customer. There are no pre-built universes available. Only Rapid Marts (see below) include prebuilt universes.
This picture displays the indirect approach. The indirect approach can be used in cases where neither SAP BW exists nor another data warehouse is used. If a data warehouse exists, Data Integrator can be used to create data integration processes for SAP and non-SAP systems into the data warehouse. If no data warehouse exists, Rapid Marts and the Data Integrator can be used to accelerate the business intelligence development.
Data Integrator is a tool of Business Objects to correlate and integrate data from any source into one data foundation. It provides a graphical interface to perform all the tasks involved with building, testing and managing an ETL (extraction, transformation, loading) jobs.
There is the possibility to create a firewall between the source and the target system by using the data validation features. Only data that fits to the created business rules will be forwarded to the target system.
Another useful feature is the end-to-end impact analysis. With this feature it is easy to analyze how a change in the source system will affect the ETL and BI environment.
An important feature for the end-user is the end-to-end data lineage. It enables the end-user to see when the data was last updated, where the data was derived from, where it was computed, and how that was done. This visibility is critical in helping users to trust in the available information.
Usually the development of a data warehouse will take several months and special skills are required. Rapid Marts from Business Objects help to accelerate the BI deployment, to gain insight into the data, and to lower development costs. They represent pre-built data marts which can be implemented in weeks instead of months. Basically they consist of preconfigured metadata, sample reports and built in best practice for data integration. Customizing of the Rapid Marts is still possible. It is also possible to link different Rapid Marts and provide analysis across different areas. Rapid Marts are only available for selected business areas.
To find out details about the planned Business Objects/SAP offering have a look at the product roadmap at: SAP and Business Objects roadmap