In the first two blogs (SAP BusinessObjects Live Office – Part 1 of 3, SAP BusinessObjects Live Office – Part 2 of 3) around Live Office I focused on how to leverage Live Office inside of Microsoft Outlook or how to use it in combination with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.
In this part I would like to focus on the option of using Live Office as the source for your SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards objects and how it compares to using Query as a Web Service (QaaWS) and BI Web Services. The blog will focus on the integration with your SAP landscape in regards to the data connectivity options, but the rest of it is generic.
Lets start with the image above showing the options:
- SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.x is able to leverage Live Office and in that way use reports from Crystal Reports 2011, reports from Web Intelligence, and Universes from the release XI 3.1 as a source
- SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.x is able to leverage the BI Web Services and in that way use Web Intelligence reports or parts of Web Intelligence reports as a source
- SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.x is able to leverage the semantic layer directly and in that way link to 4.x based Universes directly
- SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.x is able to Query as a Web Services and in that way use XI 3.1 based Universes as a source
Now lets go a step deeper in the data connectivity options, which will already highlight some of the major differences between these options.
As you can see in the image above:
- SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.x is able to leverage Live Office and in that way use reports from Crystal Reports 2011, which can provide data connection towards SAP ERP and SAP NetWeaver BW.
- SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.x is able to leverage the BI Web Services and in that way use Web Intelligence reports, which only provides you the data connection towards SAP NetWeaver BW.
- SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.x is able to leverage the semantic layer directly and in that way link to 4.x based Universes directly, which gives you the data connection towards SAP NetWeaver BW.
- SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.x is able to Query as a Web Services and in that way use XI 3.1 based Universes as a source, which gives you the data connection towards SAP NetWeaver BW.
- In addition SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards also provides a direct connectivity option towards the SAP NetWeaver BW system.
In addition to the items listed above I would like to highlight the fact that by being able to use Crystal Reports 2011 you are not only able to leverage SAP ERP, but a broad range of data connections – for example PeopleSoft, Siebel, JD Edwards – which are not available for the Semantic Layer yet.
So one item should be very obvious by now. If you would like to have a SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard object using data from your SAP ERP system, Live Office is your choice.
Now that leaves the question, when to use Live Office or BI Web services or a direct link to the Semantic Layer or a direct link to SAP NetWeaver BW for the cases where you would like to show the information of your SAP NetWeaver BW system.
From a technical point of view you can group Query as a Web Service and BI Web Services together, as both options are web service based and you only have limited options to cache or pre-calculated the resultset which is important for cases where you would like to share the SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard with more than just a few people.
The direct connectivity towards the SAP NetWeaver BW system provided since Xcelsius 2008 SP2 is able to leverage all the regular caching mechanism from SAP NetWeaver BW, such as a prefilled OLAP Cache.
Live Office is able to provide the data on-demand, leverage an instance, but also leverage a publication.
Take a look at the table below for further details
As you can recognize in the table above, all of the available options are able to provide you with the data on-demand and most of the options are able to leverage an instance of a report.
Now on-demand data might not always be an option and might not always be what you are looking for and let me provide you with an example.
Lets assume for now that you are supposed to provide all your sales folks with a weekly sales dashboard, providing the current data and providing several interative navigations. The number of recipients is 500.
If you would implement such a dashboard with Query as a Web Service or the BI Web Services, you would have in a worst case scenario 500 connections against SAP NetWeaver BW – based on Single Sign On and the fact that each sales person only should see his / her data.
In addition to the fact that this scenario would lead to 500 connections in the backend, in a case where this shows data which is not changing every single day – why not pre-caching the information ?
if you would now schedule the report to create an instance, you will face the limitation that a simple scheduling is designed to schedule a report for a single person – so you would have to create 500 scheduling jobs, which is not maintainable.
Now that is where the publication comes in. A publication on the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise platform is the counterpart to what is known in SAP NetWeaver as Information Broadcasting and it allows you to setup a scheduling process for as much as recipients as you need, including the data level security. In an SAP environment the data level security is covered by using a server side trust configuration between SAP BusinessObjects and SAP NetWeaver.
Coming back to the table above you can see that Live Office does fully support publications and that I stated “limited support” for the BI Web Services.
The BI Web Service technically speaking does support a publication, but only if the result of a publication is send to each recipients inbox, which then over time will become just a administrative “nightmare” as this makes it more difficult to manage all the instances.
So to summarize:
- If you are looking for an option to create a SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard on top of your SAP ERP system, then Live Office is the right choice
- If you are looking to provide a dashboard for a large audience where pre-caluclation is an option then Live Office in combination with a publication is the right choice as well