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On an ASUG webcast today SAP reviewed scenarios covered by BEx, and now covered by other products.

BEx development has been ramped down.

If look at BEx scenarios, recommend invest in two product areas to replace BEx: one is Analysis Office and OLAP and Design Studio.

Please note that future items are subject to change and any forward looking statements are subject to the disclaimer (no commitment).

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Figure 1: Source: SAP

BEx came with the idea of IT providing workbooks and analytics, and not so much self-service or agile visualization.

Suggested customer recommendations for SAP BW customers is to lead with Analysis.  For others, look at Lumira and BusinessObjects Explorer

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Figure 2: Source: SAP

As Figure 2 shows, Web Intelligence has some limitations for BW as it was built for relational data sources and not BW. It does not rely on underlying OLAP engine but the Web Intelligence microcube.  Do not expect more improvements for Web Intelligence on BW.

Customer recommendations:

  • SAP BW customers: Depends on use case, but Analysis Office is optimized for BW.
  • BusinessObjects customers or those with any data source: Use Web Intelligence
  • Reporting / OEM – use Crystal Reports

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Figure 3: Source: SAP

Analysis OLAP and Design Studio – looking for functionality from A-OLAP into Design Studio

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Figure 4: Source: SAP

BEx analyzer and the suite of SAP BEx tools are in maintenance mode

They will still be delivered with the next releases of SAP NetWeaver BW

They follow the same life cycle and release strategy as BW – for example, BEx analyzer is shipped with BW 7.3 will be supported for the next 7+2 years

BEx queries are consumed directly by BI4 front-ends

BEx Query Designer remains in place to create and maintain BEx queries (common question)

Analysis, edition for MS Office is the alternative to BEx analyzer with enhanced premium functionality

For customer-specific maintenance of Bex 3.5: See Note 1767068

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Figure 5: Source: SAP

Figure 5 shows what is supported today including full support of BEx queries.  Also see what is planned in the future (subject to change)

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Figure 6: Source: SAP

SAP wants Analysis Office to be more usable and be close to Excel and they wanted to focus on business user (see Figure 6).

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Figure 7: Source: SAP

Figure 7 shows the Design Panel usability – like pivot tables

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Figure 8: Source: SAP

Only local comments now; planning more global in the future

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Figure 9: Source: SAP

Scheduling (which requires the BI platform) was recently released.

Subset of Question & Answer

We had 57 questions in total, and I will try to include most of them in the upcoming blogs.

Q:  Will Analysis have scheduling ability in the future

A:  We have added it to Analysis Office recently – and it is planned for Design Studio in a future release.

A:  Analysis Office has scheduling capability now with a service pack that was released a few weeks ago – 1.4

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Q:  when does SAP support end on BW querries(Bex) 3.5 & 7.0 ?

A:  See http://scn.sap.com/community/business-explorer for BEx maintenance – note that BEx 3.5 is no longer shipped with the SAP Gui any more 

A:  Eric will talk briefly about it. Bex 3.5 extended support has ended in Q2 2013, BE 7 will definitely be supported as long as BW 7.x, i.e. at least until 2020

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Q:  We still need to use BEx queries to act as a semantic  layer with Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports, correct?

A:  Yes, the BEx query is the semantic layer for Web Intelligence and Crystal.

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Q:  Does that include support for 3rd party OLAP?

A:  Analysis OLAP supports 3rd party OLAP sources such as SSAS, ORACLE OLAP, Essbase, Teradata ..

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Q:  What SAP product will have the ability to let users enter data into a BW cube similar to capability that currently exists with BEx Planning?

A:  Analysis Office already supports BW-IP/PAK as of today, Design Studio plans to support it with the next release in Q2 2014

Q:  For the new recommended options, is Business Objects or HANA required?  What version of BW is recommended for these?

A:  BW or HANA can be used as data sources – please check the PAM for versions – service.sap.com/PAM

A:  Analysis Office and Design Studio can be deployed on BusinessObjects BI platform – but can also be deployed without it

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Q:  Can you tell us what SAP Gui release the 3.5 tools are no longer shipped? 7.3?

A:  BEx 3.5 query / analyzer is not shipped with SAP Gui 730

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Q:  What is the future of BEx Query Designer?

A:  Will stay the main tool for defining semantic models on BW

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Q:  If we want to switch Bex to any BO Tools, Is there aternative solutions on using Bookmarks, RRI(report to report Interfact) and BAPI’s in new BO tools ?

A:  Analysis Office/OLAP support RRI (sender only)

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Q:  Does input ready queries work with Analysis for office?

A:  yes

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Q:  Can you provide a link from where to download the Analysis client that comes with Scheduding features?

A:  Go to service.sap.com/swdc and under “A” Analysis Office – BI platform add-on

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Q:  SAP PBF uses BEx queries for input in forms. Can we continue using BEx for new forms that we build or should we choose between analysis office and design studio?

A:  not sure if I got the question, but Analysis Office already supports planning (i.e. input-ready queries) and Design Studio plans to do it in Q2 2014

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Q:  What is the expected release for use of current BEX reports with 64-bit Excel?

A:  Analysis Office already works in a 64-bit environment

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Q:  Does the 7+2 years start in 2013? What does the +2 mean?

A:  7 years standard maintenance and 2 years extended maintenance

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Q:  What is the semantic layer strategy for BW? As of today we rely on BEX as reporting interface for BOBJ tools.

A:  query designer stays strategic modeling environment on BW

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Q:  Is that 7 years beginning in 2013, so until 2020 for maintenance?

A:  Please check SAP’s maintenance side. Statement is that NetWeaver 7.x is supported until 2020 at least.

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Q:  Can we use the Analysis Office on top of BW with stand alone ( wit out Bw) and how? we are BW 7.0

A:  You can use Analysis Office with BW without the BI Platform (does that answer your question)? It will work with BW 7.0

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Q:  Is Analysis Office available to all current BEx users at no additional cost?

A:  There is a separate license connected to Analysis and Design Studio

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Q:  with out BO

A:  Yes, Analysis Office works without BI platform (but then no scheduling)

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Q:  Plans to add missing BEx Analyzer functionality to Analysis for Office (Excel)?

Specifically:

– Re-ordering of Structure elements (rows/columns) at the workbook level

– Tools – Copy Sheet

– Drill Across Sheets

– Display Scaling Factors correctly

A:  lots of plans … please use Idea Place for voting for missing or new feature requests

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Q:  Which BO tools support RRI(report to report interface) both Sender and receiver ?

A:  Design Studio does not support yet. It’s planned for next releases. AOLAP and AOffice support RSBBS. For other tools in BI Clients please refer to Ingo Hilgefort’s blog and book. He has a very detailed information in his blog.

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Q:  I see that there is a separate license connected to Analysis and Design Studio. Is this part of the BusonessObjects licencing agreement or are they stand-alone licences (similar to Lumira)?

A:  This one you may want to ask SAP Account exec; SAP offers a suite license and a-la-carte

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Q:  Analysis Office is part of BO lincence or standalone product like lumira? to use on top of BW 7.0?

A:  See previous answer to contact your SAP Account Executive – SAP has difference license offerings and some are a la carte

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17 Comments

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  1. Mike Howles

    Good overview, Tammy.

    I asked in the webcast if Drag and Drop was supported in the cross tab item and/or to and from the Filter Panel, similar to BEx 7.0 — The surprising answer I got was ‘Yes’, however I do not believe this is the case.  Maybe he meant in the drag-and-drop in the DS IDE at design time versus runtime?

    Would love clarification if there’s a way to enable run-time drag and drop re-ordering of columns within the cross tab.

    Believe it or not, our users use it a lot.

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    1. Tammy Powlas Post author

      Thanks Michael and thank you for attending

      Was your question related to DS IDE?  I vaguely recall he answered it relating to Analysis Office 🙂

      We’ll have to ask again.  57+ questions in the queue

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        1. Tammy Powlas Post author

          I don’t think this is how SAP responded to this – I think they read you to mean Analysis Office.

          See

          Q:  Any plans for drag-and-drop functionality with the Analysis grid item similar to what is in BEx 7.x?

          A:  drag and drop is possible in Analysis grid, e.g. adding/removing new dimensions/measures, sorting, filtering etc.

          You may want to ask this as a separate thread in the Design Studio area.

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          1. Mike Howles

            Tammy,

            I can see how my question wasn’t clear and that make sense given the discussion context, however I did ask it when they had shifted to DS, but I wasn’t clear.

            Also, you already have a blog entry with regarding DS 1.2 Filter Panel stating that drag-and-drop is not currently possible so I have my current-state clarification that this is not possible yet.

            I will take your advice and post the question in the DS area to see if there are plans to introduce drag-and-drop and see if it’s on the roadmap.

            Thanks, Tammy.

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  2. Irshaad Bijan Adatia

    Another great article.
    Many great Q&A’s as well.
    The migration to SAP Lumira (more of a self-serve model), and integration with MS Office is great.

    I may have overlooked it, but is there a road map for the integration portion of it?

    P.S. Thanks for tagging Lumira in it!! *helped catch my eye*

    Sincerely,

    Bijan

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  3. Gregory BOTTICCHIO

    Hi Tammy,

    Thanks for the recap!

    Two small comments regarding the above figure2:

    1. WebI & CR are both recommended for “Reporting” on BW (with some “restrictions”).
      But then, it is a matter of choice. You might want:
      – a “complex/highly-formatted report design for massive publication”  >> CR
      or
      – a “web based solution for ad-hoc interactive reporting” >> WebI
    2. latest updated documents regarding the “Restrictions” on BW for our reporting tools (both CR & WebI) are available here:
      http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-23132
      http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-42435

    Best regards,

    Gregory

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  4. Romaric SOKHAN

    Hi Tammy,

    Thanks for the information. One comment on WebIntelligence though, there are still improvements for BW access (see 4.1 features: measure delegation, auto-refresh, merge hierarchies, member selection improvements…).

    Regards,

    Romaric

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    1. Ingo Hilgefort

      Hello Romaric,

      even though there are some small improvements, it does not change the fundamental part that Web Intelligence is a “reporting” tool and not an “analytical” tool.

      Web Intelligence does not have a true understanding of multi-dimensional data and will always have huge limitations when it comes to multi-dimensional sources such as SAP BW or SAP HANA.

      a perfect example for that is the ranking of data along a hierarchy.

      Web Intelligence will break the hierarchy first and then rank all rows against each other, which is not correct as data a long a hierarchy is ranked differently – leafs against each other inside each node and nodes on each level against each other.

      regards

      Ingo Hilgefort, SAP

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      1. Mike Howles

        This can be a tough pill to swallow for those of us who have Cubes that do not have hierarchy InfoObjects or Exception Aggregation considerations.  We ended up going back to relational DBs to defer ranking back to the DB since we cannot in a cube.  (Again, no hierarchies at play, and just straight summations.)

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        1. Ingo Hilgefort

          Hi Michael,

          I think you are mixing items here. I mentioned clearly ranking along a hierarchy.

          you seem to make the assumption of a BW system without hierarchies and without exception aggregation – which so far I have not seen at customers.

          regards

          Ingo Hilgefort

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            1. Ingo Hilgefort

              Hi Michael,

              sure – that is not unusual – but I assume you do have InfoProviders with hierarchies and with exception aggregation.

              And as I stated above already – Web Intelligence is not a analytical tool – it is a relational reporting product which will always have major limitations when accessing multi-dimensional data / concepts.

              … and ranking information along a true hierarchy (and please note that Country, Region, City is not a true hierarchy) is something that Web Intelligence can not do.

              If BW is your main source, then the Analysis products should be your main BI tools.

              regards

              Ingo Hilgefort, SAP

              (0) 
              1. Mike Howles

                Yes, you are correct – And to be clear, we only went back to relational DBs for certain cases (all thematic of ranking and conditions not carrying over to Webi/CR).  For BEx Queries and Cubes where hierarchies are in use, I 100% agree that rankings and conditions do not make sense.  In every one of our cases where we wish to use rankings or conditions, hierarchies and exception aggregation were not in play.

                Again, this makes it a hard trade-off for me to accept (Analysis because the data is in BW) when we can plainly dump this non-hierarchical data set in a RDBMS and defer this ranking to the DB and get tremendous improvement.  Just letting you know that we want the power that Webi/CR brings (formatting, powerful formula logic, scheduling and publications, input controls, charting, PDF export) without the functionality tradeoff, so that is where we went with that data.

                I appreciate your perspective and the positioning of the tools but again sometimes is a hard pill to swallow 🙂   I know I cannot win this debate! 😀

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                1. Ingo Hilgefort

                  Hello Michael,

                  as I stated before – if BW is your data source then the Analysis products are you best choices.

                  Web Intelligence is a relational client and will always have major limitations when it comes to using multi-dimensional data.

                  and your workarounds show that and I am sure that by using the Analysis tools there is no need to extract the data from BW and place it into a relational source.

                  you simply should us the Analysis tools.

                  regards

                  Ingo Hilgefort, SAP

                  (0) 

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