Understanding Native MultiDimensional Clients
In the last blog, we reviewed the basics of the SAP BusinessObjects BI portfolio.
In this blog, we will be reviewing the 3 solutions that can be regarded as native, multidimensional tools:
- SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio
- SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Microsoft Office
- SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP
These products are all new to the portfolio starting with BI4. So if you’re on an older solution, you’re probably wondering what these solutions are for.
When BusinessObjects was acquired by SAP in 2007, BusinessObjects inherited the responsibility for renewing the SAP NetWeaver Business Explorer (BEx) product lines.
These included 3 core products:
- BEx Analyzer
- BEx Web Analyzer
- BEx Web Application Designer
There was a fourth BEx tool called BEx Report Designer which was not adopted very widely. Customer of that tool are directed to use SAP Crystal Reports instead.
These BEx solutions are still supported as part of SAP NetWeaver BW 7.0, however SAP is not investing in new features in them. They needed modern replacements that incorporated mobility, the latest in user interface design, and support for SAP HANA.
So starting with SAP BusinessObjects BI4, we included the Analysis products: SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Microsoft Office is an Office addin that extends both Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Powerpoint.
SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP is a web based tool that is part of the BI4 platform.
Then in late in 2012, we released SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio.
Here’s how these solutions relate to the old BEx tools:
SAP BusinessObjects BI Premium Alternative
SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Microsoft Office
BEx Web Analyzer
SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP
BEx Web Application Designer
SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio
What does it mean to be a native, multi-dimensional solution?
Lets compare how these solutions access data with two well known SAP BusinessObjects reporting solutions: Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports.
You can see from this slide that there is no local storage of the data in the Multidimensional analysis tools. They behave as ‘windows’ on to the multidimensional data, with each action such as filtering, drilling down, drilling up, etc triggering a round trip to the OLAP server.
The advantage of this architecture is that it works well with big data, and there’s no need to translate the OLAP server’s representation of the data to a local representation of the data.
The reporting tools like SAP Crystal Reports and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence are not native multidimensional tools. They both operate off their own local copy of the data, in their own proprietary format. This introduces a translation between the OLAP representation of the data and how the solution presents it.
This does not mean that SAP Crystal Reports and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence are ‘bad’ for multi-dimensional data. We have many customers that are successfully using these solutions for reporting of SAP BW and other OLAP sources.
However it does mean that the reporting solutions are not the best if you want to take full advantage of capabilities of the multi-dimensional server.
For example, the reporting solutions can only support a single hierarchy on a given dimension. So you can have the Product hierarchy in the rows of your data, or Geography in the rows of the data, but you cannot combine the Product and Geography hierarchies in your rows. This is possible with the native multidimensional solutions.
If putting the full power of a multi-dimensional database in the hands of your end users, then select the appropriate multi-dimensional client for your use case.
If you want to access multi-dimensional data and format in a report, then a native multi-dimensional client is not necessary and solutions with their own internal data representations like SAP Crystal Reports and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence will meet these requirements.