During SAP TechED 2014 in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, I met with many customers and analysts that were excited about the newest developments in SAP Lumira and how much has changed since TechED 2013. It was a really BIG year: SAP Lumira on the desktop and Lumira Cloud have iterated through NINE releases, SAP Lumira Server on SAP HANA was released as “Generally Available” in May, and our SAP BI 4 integration add-on for Lumira Server is in limited release with select customers right now.
There was also a lot of excitement around “SAP Lumira Edge” (which we first introduced at SBOUC in Dallas last month), or what will be formally called “SAP Lumira, Edge edition” when it is officially released in 2015. This is a new product we are working on that will bring the benefits of SAP Lumira Server to a number of scenarios where a customer has a smaller number of users or more modest data volumes and therefore where the full capabilities and scalability of SAP HANA are not absolutely necessary.
But First, the “Why”
Today, SAP Lumira Server uses SAP HANA as an execution platform and has capabilities not found or even not possible in other “data discovery” products in the market. It also leverages HANA’s computational superpowers to perform operations on exceptionally large datasets extremely quickly. To understand how Lumira is different, you should review the previous articles in this series:
- How SAP Lumira Server Runs on SAP HANA
- How Lumira Storyboards Work on SAP Lumira Server
- Why Do I Need Lumira Server (on HANA) To View Storyboards in SAP BI 4?
- SAP Lumira and (Insert Witty Pun Here) the Universe
We have countless customers that want to deploy Lumira Server today but the need for HANA can be a significant blocker for many of them in the short term due cost or technical reasons. Our customers have told us loud and clear: we need to offer a new deployment option for SAP Lumira Server that can run on small footprint commodity hardware in addition to offering an SAP HANA-powered Lumira Server for those who have bigger needs. This smaller type of solution would obviously not be able to handle as much data as SAP Lumira Server on SAP HANA, nor would it be able to handle as many users, but it would still be a viable option for many customers with smaller BI deployments today.
A Standalone SAP Lumira Server Without Requiring SAP HANA
SAP’s “Edge” brand has always been positioned as a small-to-medium size enterprise (SME) offering that also appeals to lines of
business (LOB) within larger companies by providing significant value for smaller deployments. Therefore “SAP Lumira, Edge edition” is envisioned to be a product with a lower barrier to entry that could later be scaled up as the business needs grow. Note that this is not a functional successor to “BusinessObjects Edge” or any other “Crystal Edge” branded BI product, but a completely new product (with licensing to be announced later).
Initially, SAP Lumira, Edge edition (I’ll refer to it here sometimes as “Edge edition”) will be a standalone server aimed at use cases that require smaller datasets, lower data structure complexity, or limited interactivity and will rely on an new embedded, lightweight in-memory engine instead of SAP HANA. To make it as easy to adopt as possible, it will run on commodity hardware, have lower memory requirements than HANA, and can even be deployed in a virtualized environment. That is not a small feat when you consider how much a native deployment on SAP HANA enables SAP Lumira Server to do what it does today. Note that as a “standalone server”, Edge edition will initially not have integration or connectivity with the SAP BI suite and will likely support a limited number of data sources to start.
You have to understand that it is simply not realistic to expect moving to a smaller footprint platform from SAP HANA can be achieved without giving something up (discussed here: Why Do I Need Lumira Server (on HANA) To View Storyboards in SAP BI 4?). SAP Lumira, Edge edition will have certain limitations on the size/complexity of the data and number of users it can handle concurrently so we are also planning an upgrade path that includes the ability to add an SAP HANA to your existing deployment when your needs grow. Of course if your needs are larger from the start, you will be able to go straight to SAP Lumira Server on SAP HANA without deploying Edge edition first.
Future: Bringing SAP Lumira Server to SAP BI 4
SAP Lumira, Edge edition will be built using an architecture where the Lumira pieces and the in-memory engine can later be brought to the SAP BI Platform so all of our SAP BI 4.1 customers will be able to offer Lumira to their users. Once this functionality is implemented, SAP BI 4 customers will be able to deploy additional services in their landscape to gain Lumira Server functionality without requiring an SAP HANA appliance. We are also looking towards the future when you might want to augment your SAP BI 4 deployment with an SAP HANA system as your needs grow.
It is important to realize that deploying another application that includes an in-memory engine directly on top of the BI Platform will potentially require significant additional CPU and memory resources. Ignoring this (hopefully obvious) fact would lead to a significant impact on your existing deployment’s performance. Remember that without an SAP HANA appliance, you are also without the 10’s of CPU cores and 100’s GB of RAM that typically comes along with it too! So even if you are not using an SAP HANA appliance, you will still need to add additional computing resources (physical or virtual) in any case.
To be clear: we envision two scenarios for SAP BI 4 customers: one using an embedded in-memory engine and one with an off-board SAP HANA system providing additional calculation capabilities and scalability not possible with the first option. We expect SAP Lumira, Edge edition customers to have both options as well.
Limited Runtime License for SAP HANA Included in the BI Suite License
One thing we should not forget in all of this talk about SAP HANA being a barrier for some customers – A “Limited Runtime License” of HANA is already included in certain “BI Suite” licenses right now. This allows you to deploy SAP HANA on certified HANA hardware of any size (CPU cores and RAM) but is restricted to SAP Lumira Server use cases. This license does not enable using SAP HANA as a general purpose database or application platform for any other solution, but does give you enough capability to use it for SAP Lumira Server of any size.
If you think that HANA’s licensing costs are overwhelming, you should look again: the “Limited Runtime License” is already included in qualifying BI Suite licenses and does not restrict how many CPU cores or RAM you need to use. You should consult with your SAP representative on whether your BI license already includes this limited runtime or what the process is to change to the better licensing model.
What Are The Timelines?
SAP does not pre-announce products so there is not an official release date yet. SAP Lumira, Edge edition and the upcoming SAP BI 4 version are “Planned Innovations”. This is roadmap-speak for a time horizon of “up to 3-12 months” and our lawyers tell us that we cannot provide a more specific timeline until certain requirements are met.
Many of our customers are very excited about SAP Lumira, Edge edition and want it as soon as possible so we have an aggressive plan to release this once it is ready. We will likely will want to test with some customers in a limited release first, but this type of program is not for everyone.
Engaging with SAP on Lumira
We have recently announced a “Customer Validation” (CUV) Program to gather some initial feedback. You can find more details about the program here: SAP Lumira, Team Server v1 Customer Validation program
For those of you who want to get more involved, there are many ways: We have a Lumira Design council where participants work directly with our development teams on how some of our new features should be implemented, we have a Lumira ASUG Influence Council where we can focus more on your use cases and feedback to help us prioritize, and for those customers who are ready to deploy, we also have the “GA Care” program which is designed to help initial customers become successful for their production deployments. Lastly, everyone can participate in the Lumira Idea place where you can not only suggest improvements to the product, but you can also join forces with other participants to “vote up” the priority on what we are working on.
These links are invaluable:
- Idea Place: SAP Lumira
- SAP BusinessObjects Lumira Community Network
- Social media:
- ASUG Influence Councils (www.asug.com/influence)
Read the BI Statement of Direction
Bringing new products like SAP Lumira, Edge edition raises the question of “what is the longer term strategy and roadmap for SAP BI?”:. Earlier this year, we posted a “BI Statement of Direction” and this is required reading for anyone who wants to understand what we are doing.
You will find a key message within the Statement of Direction is that we want to ensure it is easy to adopt our new solutions at your own pace. SAP Lumira, Edge edition and the addition of the same technologies into the SAP BI 4 suite will allow all of our customers to adopt Lumira Server sooner without a large upfront cost while still enabling superior scale and performance using SAP HANA when it is required. Note that the BI Statement of Direction covers the entire SAP BI 4 suite, not just Lumira so it is definitely worth a read. The associated AskSAP webinar on our future direction also is well worth the time to watch.
Finally, if you haven’t already read Jayne Landry’s article on our convergence strategy, stop everything and take a few minutes to read it.
SAP Lumira, Edge edition: The Start of a New Journey
You can see we are working hard on getting SAP Lumira to more customers, but this will take some time to do it right. A low-cost option for “small footprint” systems that brings in-memory capabilities to commodity hardware, while still fulfilling the promise of a product that natively leverages SAP HANA is no short order. We are not able to release many technical details at this time, but stay tuned – if you have read my other blog posts or have met me you will likely know I’m pretty insistent on getting the details right and out in the open. In future blog posts I’ll be continuing to dive into more SAP Lumira details and we’ll take this exciting journey together. 😉
(Update 11/12/14: The proper name is “SAP Lumira, Edge edition” – a previous version of this article incorrectly referred to it as “SAP Lumira Server, Edge edition”. Also the name “Team Server” referenced elsewhere is also incorrect)
(Update 11/26/14: The follow-on article to this one is now posted: SAP Lumira Server is Not a Ford Model “T” )