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If you have ever attended one of the Business Objects User conferences in that last few years you will know that Xcelsius has been the shining star of the show. Especially when it comes to easy to use and install products that almost anyone can take advantage of. I don’t believe I have seen an executive presentation that didn’t have some flavor of Xcelsius in it. Especially this last year, the innovative use of the Xcelsius SDK really wowed the crowd in the presentations that I was in.

Well a new star has been born, BusinessObjects Polestar. Although not a new product, its my opinion that this year will be the year of Polestar and will most likely be the hottest product at SAP BusinessObjects for the next couple years and maybe the hottest product at SAP. Polestar is an intuitive search and data discovery tool. Describing Polestar doesn’t do it justice, which is probably its biggest problem. You really have to see Polestar in action to really understand the power it brings as a data discovery and search tool. But unlike Xcelsius, Polestar is a server product which isn’t always available to the average user to install and get access to, until now.

The SAP BusinessObjects Innovation Center released a Beta version of Polestar in the cloud. Polestar in the Cloud lets you upload your own data sets to allow you to analyize and search through the data. If you go to http://polestar.ondemand.com/ you can go and try it out for yourself.

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*** This is cloud version is currently in BETA so may not have been scaled for large numbers of users. Stay tuned to my blog as updates become available. ***

On the site they have a video tutorial as well as a couple sample data sets you can go ahead and play with. I would definitely make sure that you go beyond just viewing the demo. It wasn’t until I started playing with the tool that I saw the true power of the tool.

The datasets that they provided: NHL statistics and a retail store sales numbers weren’t too exciting to me because I’m more of a basketball fan than a hockey fan, and retail sales numbers are a little bit too boring for a Thursday afternoon.  So I went out and found a NBA player statistics database that provided me with cumulative stats for all the players from both the NBA and the old ABA.

Being a Steve Nash fan (Personal claim to fame, played against him in high school) I thought I would start by drilling down into the career assist numbers to see if Steve Nash was getting anywhere near catching the all time NBA assist leader in total assists.

The chart which was automatically generated for me showed me what I thought was “Magic Johnson” as the all time assist leader. Since I knew that was wrong I started to think the data I had downloaded was bogus. Since the tool allows you to really explore the data I started to take a closer look.

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You can see from the graphic above John Stockton didn’t even show up in the top ten. Before I gave up I clicked on the ‘Johnson’ column which I supposed was representative of Magic Johnson.  I soon discovered that the Johnson column was representative of everyone ever named Johnson, who ever played basketball in either the NBA. As you can see Johnson, Williams, Smith and Jones are pretty popular last names in the NBA, and guys with these last names have been pretty successful at racking up the assists.

From drilling down on the data I was able to discover more about the data set. The tool showed me that my data set had ‘last name’ and ‘first name’ in different columns. I quickly switched the measure to the unique identifier which represented the players. On the chart below you can see that John Stockton is clearly the all time assist leader, while Steve Nash who appears to be 20th in all time assist has a long way to go before catching the leader.

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So given a little time and curiosity I was able to use the tool to explore and search through the data to find the results I was looking for. This is just a simple example, but you can imagine how you could use a tool like this to explore and learn from your own dataset, whether you are planning for next years Fantasy Football draft or while exploring your companies expenses to find nuggets of data that might prevent layoffs in this crazy economy.

I would definitely advise you to try out the sample data sets or upload your own and see the power that Polestar in the cloud provides.

Over the next few weeks I will start to talk more about Polestar in the cloud and will begin to talk about how developers might be able to start to leverage some of these features in their web applications.

 

** You can download the Basketball dataset that used in Polestar here:

http://www.databasebasketball.com/stats_download.htm

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11 Comments

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  1. Mark Yolton
    I liked your intro to the tool with real data borrowed from somewhere else, and your exploration including the mixup on common last names and how you solved the “error.”  Looks like another cool new tool / product.  Also great that we could use Polestar in the cloud with real data if we want to, as a testing ground.
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  2. Richard Hirsch
    I think it is a great idea to use the cloud to demonstrate new SAP software.

    Are there other ways to input data besides file upload? What about an RSS feed or use of a REST API?

    D.

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    1. Robert Horne Post author
      Richard, you beat me to my next blog post. Later this week I’ll write about the APIs that we are planning to make available on the BETA. We are hoping to see what kinds of cool things people come up with. Stay tuned…
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    1. Robert Horne Post author
      Hi Richard

      I tried the examples again and it seemed to work for me. Polestar uses Flash, could this be a problem for you?

      Keep in mind that this is a demo BETA machine and it could have been a load problem. You might want to try again later, or see if it will work with one of your own datasets.

      I used IE 6.

      Thanks,
      Rob

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  3. The Tool definitely provides much greater flexibiliy and new depths to Dataset selection and Analysis.The best part ofcourse is the performance.

    Do you have any updates on Tool’s integration aspect with SAP Standard products
    Can Polestar ‘In Cloud’ APIS be consumed as services from the other SAP Tools?

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    1. Robert Horne Post author
      Hi Sachin

      Keep in mind that Polestar in the Cloud is currently a preview release, but yes it can be integrated with other SAP products. All you would have to do is grab the data from the SAP source, convert the data to XML and upload it with the Polestart API.

      We are using this preview to get feedback on the API for use in an official cloud version or the on premise version of Polestar. If you have any suggestiongs please let us know.

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