Last week SAP provided ASUG this webcast to the ASUG Business Intelligence Community on BusinessObjects BI 4.1 customer validation. First SAP reviewed what customer validation was, and then they reviewed the delta from BI4 SP4 to BI4.1. Please note that the usual disclaimers apply, that anything coming in the future is subject to change.
What is customer validation? It addresses the question of how a customer can start the implementation before starting ramp-up and accelerating the go-live of a product. Ramp-up for productive use
SAP’s motivation is to “meet the customer expectations regarding product quality, get the customers closer to development, and enable early live customers”. Their goal is to increase the quality of SAP software before shipment and to integrate the customer in the product lifecycle.
SAP is looking for customers to participate in customer validation of BI 4.1, and allows you to be the first one to touch the software. The plan is to improve product quality
What is a Customer Validation?
According to Stefan Kneis of SAP, it is a proof of concept, it occurs before the ramp-up, it is free of charge and includes direct development support. As a customer it allows you to get familiar with the latest functionality.
Some of the benefits include a proof of concept with your data; save costs with free of charge project support, shorten go-live projects, expand your SAP knowledge and reduce project risk via direct development engagement, according to SAP. Customer validation #BI4.1 “allows you to contribute to overall roadmap” – take any feedback and be part of ASUG Influence.
Figure 1: Source: SAP
SAP would like customers to be a part of validation for those who have an interest in an early go-live
Consulting support is free
Knowledge transfer – everything you need to know about this release
The customer needs to involve resources during the validation, provide a test system landscape, develop test cases, test processes, and start the project as soon as possible.
Figure 2: Source: SAP
Figure 2 shows the timeline for customer validation phase for BI 4.1. SAP is just starting to build the customer pipeline. The customer needs to complete a feedback agreement and a test evaluation agreement as it gives you a royalty free license to install and what you can and limitations. You cannot take the customer validation software to production.
Customer validation BI4.1 planned for early 2013 and after that the planned ramp-up is to start in May
Based on BI4 FP3 success, they plan to have a Phase 1 in early January. Development is still working on the product. Normally validation begins after development. Phase 1 will allow time to address gaps and focus on quality activities before building the final product.
Phase 2 will address gaps in phase 1 in April. Ramp-up begins in May.
Geoff Bazira , SAP BI Production Management, reviewed features in BI 4.1.
Figure 3: Source: SAP
Figure 3 shows an overall timeline. SAP is interested 3.x and 4.x customers welcomed to join customer validation. SAP wants customers to test the upgrade experience to identify critical issues before releasing software.
First phase is stability and upgrade experience.
Phase 2 is called final validation to address critical issues.
Geoff mentioned they would be supporting English only in the first phase. Second phase would include full language support.
Figure 4: Source: SAP
Figure 4 shows the overall 4.1 key areas. Quality improvements to bring into 4.1 including upgrade management tool and BW support.
It includes improvements on Semantic Layer SDK.
Some customer validation selection considerations:
1) In-house experience
2) Looking to upgrade within 6 months
3) Complete online scoping questionnaire to filter
What is new in 4.1 (Delta from BI4 SP4)
Figure 5: Source: SAP
Figure 5 shows updates from BI4 SP4 that are in BI 4.1 including multi-tenancy, upgrade management tool enhancements
The self-service side of BI Launchpad (next generation info view) includes the ability to replace existing document when uploading a third party document. Streamwork integration enhancements include the ability to collaborate on while viewing the BI document in the viewer and security to manage who can collaborate on BI content.
Semantic Layer Improvements in 4.1:
Information Design Tool improvements will support .UNX/.UNV
It can format multiple objects as once
Data Federator Designer is integrated in IDT
SAP ERP access will have support for optional input columns and HANA variables support for universes on HANA.
Figure 6: Source: SAP
Figure 6 covers the Semantic Layer SDK which Geoff said is more for partners. Partners use SDK’s a lot to create new universes, conversions, or an impact analysis.
Figure 7: Source: SAP
Freehand SQL objects and will allow you connect to HANA data sources.
You can also use the verify the database option
Figure 8: Source: SAP
Figure 8 shows Web Intelligence improvements
You can freeze headers, similar to Excel
Custom palettes are supported
Figure 9: Source: SAP
Figure 9 deals with customization – if you want to disable or hide functionality from users.
Figure 10: Source: SAP
Figure 10 shows you can read content out of Web Intelligence document and use it in another application
You can schedule reports programmatically
The difference now is they are not using Java or .NET but now using RESTful web servers
Figure 11: Source: SAP
Figure 11 shows the improvements from BI4 SP4 which will be available to test in BI4.1 for Dashboards
Figure 12: Source: SAP
Figure 12 shows offline abilities are available but data not refreshed
Figure 13: Source: SAP
Figure 13 shows Analysis OLAP 4.1 improvements including SAP Variants, RRI, and more
Question & Answer
Q: Are you interested in customers upgrading directly from XI3.1 to BI4.1 ? or are you just looking for BI40 to BI41?
A: Interested in both, XI3.1 and BI 4.0‑
Q: Assume the BW minimum is 7.3, right?
A: Minimum is BW 70
Q: I am an EDGE customer. Can I participate in this? EDGE is typically released after the Enterprise version.
A: Geoff says yes to Edge as well as Crystal Server customers
Q: When is BI 4.1 slated for RTM? Is this coming out after BI 4.0 SP6 or SP7.
A: The anticipated Release-to-Customer (RTC) is scheduled for Mid May 2013. This will kick-off the Ramp-up phase which typically is lasting about 6 month, depending on the achievement of certain KPIs.I don’t know when exactly BI4.0 SP6 or SP7 are scheduled. But we will support both releases in parallel.
SP dates may be found here : https://service.sap.com/bosap-maintenance-schedule
Q: What about broadcasting like we have in Bex? Burst by email
A: Please see Analysis Roadmap at https://websmp207.sap-ag.de/~sapidb/011000358700000395262012D.pdf (SMP logon required) – it is a planned innovation
Q: Is there anything in 4.1 that would further the move towards client self service reporting / ad hoc?
A: Web Intelligence improvements; also have Visual Intelligence (not part of BI4.1)
Q: Will there ever be a feature to schedule Dashboard Design objects? My understanding is that it is currently unavailable in 4.0. Is this ever in the plans?
A: Please check service.sap.com/roadmap for Dashboard Roadmap
Q: Is explorer part of the CUV?
A: Yes it will be; Analysis Office / Visi, Design Studio are not part of CuV
Q: How do you suggest we justify the constant patching of newer 4.1 as oppose to installing stable 4.0sp5, we have May 2013 go live date
A: 4.1 is intended to be a stable release with quality
Thanks to Stefan Kneis and Geoff Bazira of SAP for bringing this information to ASUG