On January 20th, Alexander Peter, SAP, and Ian McAlpine, SAP, provided a great ASUG webcast on SAP BusinessObjects Analysis. The general disclaimer that statements are subject to change. Alex said there have been some changes since TechED.
The Analysis clients in the current offering are in the following high level slide, with focus on the right – an “umbrella” for Analysis clients includes Web Intelligence, Explorer and the BEx products:
The following is the current state of BI 4.0 Analysis portflolio which is now in Ramp-up:
Notice how SAP distinguishes between the Web and MS Office offering for Analysis Clients on the left side.
For MS Office, we have one client: SAP BusinessObjects Analysis Edition for Microsoft Office, formerly known as Pioneer Office, also formerly known as Advanced Analysis edition for Micorsoft office – same term, same product – 3 names for 1 product! The plan is to make it broader with a convergence of clients – Excel and PowerPoint.
On the right side of the above slide, with Explorer there has been buzz this past year. This is an intuitive tool dedicated to business and casual users. You do no not have to know alot on the data/metadata. It has a Google like approach to search for specific values. The system checks to see if there is a query available to answer your question. It is a “cool tool with smart visualization” capabilities. There are 2 flavors:
1) BWA – takes advantage of in-memory technology
2) w/o BWA – more from the Universe area – index universe data
On the left, Alex said there is no substitute tool for BEx Web Application Designer for building and planning applications; it is still the tool of choice for sophisticated analytical application building. Of course some dashboards can be used for Xcelsius and some use cases for Web Intelligence.
A new tool called Analysis Edition for OLAP – it is a web client. This is an OLAP client for the data analyst user type. It is used for multi-dimensional analysis. It has limited formatting and layout options as this is seen more for the WebIntelligence tool. It is more for optimized for interactive analysis on multi dimensional sources. The 4.0 version is for BW source as well as Microsoft Analysis Services (MSAS).
Web Intelligence is the ad hoc reporting tool with strong capabilities in terms of formatting, interactive report creation and share results wtih users.
For BI 4.x, on the above slide, the bottom where MS Office is – it will stay “as-is”.
On the right side is Explorer that empowers the casual users by using Exploration views and will include design capabilities instead of just being a runtime tool, providing Business User Dashboard capabilities. Explorer is one of the first tools to use HANA.
Middle: Web Intelligence is extended more, provide a full replacement for Desktop Intelligence (it is not today) to bring OLAP capabilities in Web Intelligence client such as hierarchy support and access to native OLAP sources.
SAP does not want to make WebI a full OLAP client – this is a big change to the roadmap from TechED.
Analysis Studio is the project name. SAP is going this path for multi dimensional support. The next analysis generation tool – a design environment – like the Web Application Designer – an instrument for IT to build planning and analytical apps – will deliver dedicated apps using the same runtime. Analysis for OLAP will be part of the Analysis Studio offering.
What is SAP BusinessObjects Analysis?
Under this umbrella there are two offerings:
1) 1.0 Office Edition –
It can run against 3.1, and can run against 4.0. The BI Platform (new name for BusinessObjects Enterprise) provides services for storing workbooks and single-signon but it has no impact on the run-time.
Office client is BW only in the first release. It is an Excel based OLAP client providing some PowerPoint integration as well as application building options. The API framework is available in the 1.0 release. A more powerful API framework is available in the 1.1 release which will be in ramp-up end of Q1 and will contain, according to Alex, a powerful developing enviroment and use the Excel development frontwork – for filtering, drilldown on a button.
2) Edition for OLAP
Is BW based also, but can also run against MS Analysis Service (MSAS). It is a Web based OLAP analysis tool, providing a “powerful toolbox for a business analyst”
Alex provided a demo of Edition for Office:
Office Edition works with Excel 2003, but you need Office 2007 for the PowerPoint Add-in to work. The ribbon is still called Advanced Analysis.
Right side is called Design Panel with 3 views. The Analysis view empowers you to do all of your slicing and dicing and drilldowns. Alex explained that the Conditional formatting is new as it is not available in BEx Analyzer. It is available in the Query Designer and was called Exceptions to do some color coding. Alex demonstrated changing the sequence in the grid or on the panel.
In the Workbook design of the demo, he added a chart, hid the the panel and add your own filters. He said you could use the Excel Developer Buttons, or use Excel formulas into the BW backend.
The Information View shows the data last updated. You can drag and drop onto the workbook from the Information View.
Alex provided a demonstration to PowerPoint with a tip to not go more than 10 rows into PowerPoint. Some other points:
– applies existing style sheet into PowerPoint
– the Advanced Analysis ribbon is available in PowerPoint – you can add charts, add info fields, can filter and refresh data
The following is a future Roadmap (as always, subject to change):
Ian McAlpine covered the Web Client of Analysis.
Ian said it was a “zero client” for analyzing OLAP data. It is a successor to Voyager, providing full product migration, and will convert Voyager Workspaces. Voyager will be supported for next few years.
Why did they build Analysis for OLAP?
Ian said there was a direct overlap with BEx Web Analyzer and Voyager when SAP acquired BusinessObjects. Voyager has a strong user interface and ease of use while BEx Web Analyzer had user experience challenges. Ian said they combined the strengths of both into one tool.
For BEx Web Analyzer users, this will be a new user experience with OLAP. For Voyager users there will be new workflows such as the task panel concept on left hand side of the screen to focus on task on hand and see the data on the right hand side of the screen.
In data presentation you can reorder members; this was a challenge with Voyager.
A new information sharing experience in Analysis Edition for OLAP is the ability to export to Excel/PDF. Also new is the concept of Analysis View and export it to Web Intelligence.
In Ian’s demo, he logged on to the new BI Launchpad:
On the right you can see the applications available, one of which is Analysis for OLAP. With Analysis for OLAP you can connect to the BEx Queries, the Cubes, MSAS,
Ian said they honor the meta-data of the BEx query and the predefined layout/drilldown. He also showed connecting to an MSAS Cube, which doesn’t have the predefined layout.
Ian provided a review of the Features Roadmap beyond BI 4.0:
4.0: Focus is on BW support
4.1: More capabilities
See the high level functional architecture below:
Key Takeaways from Alex:
1) The suite of SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions is the recommended and strategic BI front-end offering for SAP NetWeaver BW and other data sources
2) SAP NetWeaver BW remains the strategic data warehousing offering from SAP. More improvements are coming with v7.3 and subsequent releases (ETL & client side)
3) SAP is committed to protect your investments in the suite of SAP BEx tools per the standard long term support and maintenance policy; queries are the right choice
4) With the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 release, SAP is taking the integration to SAP NetWeaver BW to the next level with unique and strong capabilities
Related Sites from Ian/Alex:
ASUG thanks Alexander Peter and Ian McAlpine for an outstanding and informative webcast. Come meet Alexander Peter in person at ASUG Annual Conference on May 18th for the ASYG Analysis Influence Council session.
Finally, special thanks to Ingo Hilgefort for setting up 14 BI 4.0 webcasts for ASUG.