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Options for updating data in on-demand BI applications

One of the key strengths of on-demand business intelligence (BI) solutions from SAP BusinessObjects is that they can connect to data that comes from either your local on-premise sources (e.g., SAP or Oracle) or third-party, off-premise sources (e.g., Salesforce or NetSuite).

However, a question that we’re often asked is, “How data can be updated within an on-demand BI application – given that it doesn’t ‘own’ the source data?”

The answer is that there are, in general, two ways to update data: 1. The push method. 2. The pull method.

The push method

Pushing data to your on-demand BI application involves software that you install near the data source itself. We provide two options:

  • Desktop Publisher
  • FTP Agent

Desktop Publisher runs the report locally inside your corporate network and then updates your reports on, our report-sharing service.

If you have massive amounts of data to upload regularly, then instead of, you’re probably using SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand, our full-featured on-demand BI solution, in which case you’d use our FTP Agent to move your data into a data warehouse that we host for you.

The push method is easy to set up and keep secure, since nothing from outside your network will access your data. Desktop Publisher in particular is very flexible and can get you up and running very quickly with an on-demand BI application from any data source you have. However, the reports will be limited to scheduled updates (hourly, daily, or weekly, for instance) – which means the reports will never contain any “live” data.

The pull method

If you want your reports to be updated live or on demand, then you’ll need to pull data into your reports.

If your data source is external and available via a web service (as in the case of Salesforce), your reports can simply call the web service to update the data whenever the report is opened.

If your data source is internal, we can install a proxy agent called Open Data Connector (ODC) in the DMZ of your corporate network, allowing controlled and secured access to the data.

Although using the pull method means that your reports will always be up to date, it can be more complicated to configure, especially for internal data – or external data sources that don’t provide access through web services.

[Note: This discussion is based on material provided by Carl Dubler, product manager for and SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand.]

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