5 Xcelsius Dashboard questions for SAP
SAP gave a number of product updates this week at BI2014, but I think there are five key questions around the future of SAP Dashboards / Xcelsius which are still unanswered. They don’t seem like hard questions but I think the answers would be incredibly valuable to anyone planning their future SAP-based dashboard initiatives.
Once thing is very clear, SAP’s future for dashboards revolves around DesignStudio, Tammy Powlas quoted SAP in her SCN blog :-
“The future is one tool for building a dashboard but it is not Lumira “ and
“Design Studio is the future of dashboarding for SAP”.
What is much less clear is exactly where that leaves current Xcelsius and SAP Dashboard users. The key questions are :-
1) What does “convergence” really mean?
Since the original Dashboard Statement of Direction, almost two years ago, SAP have talked about “convergence” between Xcelsius and DesignStudio (or Zen as it was back then). However, it has never really been clear what this means.
I think that most people have assumed that DesignStudio will slowly be improved until it is a superset of Xcelsius functionality and at that point there will be some way of moving some or all Xcelsius dashboards to the new tool.
However, this was thrown a bit up in the air recently by tweet from Thierry Audas (the current Product Marketing Manager for Dashboards at SAP) where he wrote :-
“Convergence not migration, no need to recreate.” (my emphasis)
This is consistent with SAP’s promise that “there will be no forced migration” away from Xcelsius / SAP Dashboards, but is a little at odds with the plan for migration / conversion tools (see below).
Therefore, migration takes on a big significance, and so the next three questions deal with this topic.
2) What should we expect of migration tools ?
Migration/conversion tools were first mentioned in the 2012 statement of direction but no specific details have emerged since. The latest from the roadmap is that at some point in the future (probably at the end of 2014 at the earliest) there will be :-
“Migration support for standard BEx Web and (Xcelsius) Dashboards” or
“Migration support for select BEx Web and (Xcelsius) Dashboards”
depending on the version of the roadmap you have.
The big question is what do “standard” and “select” mean?
Obviously the expectation is that some but not all dashboards will migrate across. Even if it is not possible to give complete details of this, an outline of the key features being targeted and those which are unlikely to make the list would be very helpful.This leads to to questions about key specific features :-
3) Will DesignStudio ever support QaaWS, LiveOffice or BI Web Services?
QaaWS, Live Office and to a lesser extend BI Web Services are the most widely used connections for Xcelsius so it would be helpful to know if there are any plans to support them going forward in DesignStudio or provide any sort of migration for them.
4) Will spreadsheet logic ever make it to DesignStudio ?
As all Xcelsius users know, it is pretty much impossible to create a meaningful Xcelsius dashboard without using Excel formulas (except if you use XWIS Advantage, but that is another story) and so knowing if it will be possible to migrate Excel logic to DesignStudio would give a good indication of what we can expect from migration.
5) What is the difference between “no new features” and “maintenance mode” ?
This last question is probably less important but it is something that I am confused about. It is based around two statements from SAP at BI2014 this week (again reported by Tammy Powlas in her blog referenced above) :-
“New functionality and features will only happen in Design Studio”
“No plans to end of life Xcelsius but it will be put into maintenance mode at some point”
It seems to me that if you are not adding features to a product then it is in maintenance mode already, but if SAP have a specific meaning to “maintenance mode” then again I think it would help clarify things to know what the difference is.
If any of these questions have been answered elsewhere then please can someone post links to the answers below, or if someone from SAP wants to post answers (either here or elsewhere) that would be very welcome too. I suspect there are a lot of people in the wider Xcelsius community who would love to know.
By way of full disclosure, I work for Antivia and we produce a dashboarding tool (DecisionPoint) which integrates smoothly with the BOBJ platform (as well as non-SAP data sources) and we believe appeals more to the Xcelsius designer than the DesignStudio developer approach.
These are important questions. The answers will benefit a lot of confused customers. Thanks for asking them.
The biggest question to me is #4, because if I can't convert my existing Dashboards developers into Design Studio developers, I'll have to look for another dashboarding solution.
That is the billion dollar question Jamie. As a customer myself, we are asking the same question, and so are many of the SAP customers out there. SAP has already lost many customers to their competitors because of the uncertainty.
Excellent questions and points Donald.
I think the biggest question for me is "Why?"
Xcelsius Dashboards is probably the most popular and widely-used BI dashboarding tool on the planet. It is embedded in so many applications that even SAP has no idea as to the real number of users out there.
Every day I see new amazing BI applications being developed with it that are making a real difference in people's lives.
With a product at the peak of its popularity, why would SAP even be discussing its convergence, migration or end of life?
Visual Design Studio is still a product in its infancy that has made little impact in the BI Dashboard space. It is not proven, it is nothing like Xcelsius and it is not popular.
This is interesting Donald. Certainly would like to know the answer of these questions
Here is a survey I put together to try and take a pulse of what a small segment of the community is looking at. There is enough responses globally to have a decent sampling, but not enough input to be conclusive.
Survey: What are your dashboard plans?
These are not the final numbers, so i will re-compile my data next week.
I know personally, I am vested in what my 600+ SAP Dashboards customers and Crystal Dashboard customers need to succeed and they are completely divided in their plans right now. A few are excited about design studio, some are at the tipping point of frustration after kicking the tires and looking for the doors, and others said they are sticking with technology that is proven and makes their end users and management happy.
I like the leadership team behind Design Studio but it is a technology that is difficult to get behind right now because the customer base is already fragmented between web application design with BW customers who needing specialized functions. Then on the other side of the spectrum have a huge dashboard customer base with extremely high expectations (especially those who opted to use third party solutions).
There are a few things about Design Studio that just don't scream next generation dashboards.. I don't get the same visceral reaction than I have with Xcelsius and now with DecisionPoint.
Thankfully APOS also has a bridge for us to lean on to get best of both worlds.
Ryan, would you mind if I used that intentions and plans diagram in a internal slideck here at SAP?