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Author's profile photo Mark Cooper

Delivering a Global BI Solution: The Reality on the Ground

This ‘blog post was originally written as an introduction to the session run at TechEd, Vegas which was re-run as an ASUG webinar on November 3rd, 2015.

I was asked to write a short ‘blog post introducing the customer story session to give people an idea of whether it was relevant or of interest (hopefully both).

Short version: The session deals with the many challenges of implementing a global BI4 instance for BW (and preparing for HANA) in a complex integrated global environment.

The presentation starts with a story that involves beer and pizza in a server room. If that isn’t enough reason alone to attend then I will outline the topics I plan to talk about and discuss with people in the room.

The central theme of the presentation is the “IT reality” when trying to rollout global buzzwords. Even when the hype coalesces into a mature product the challenge of implementing it and integrating it a global enterprise is fraught with complexity and challenges.

Management hears “Cloud”. I see “legal”, “data sovereignty” and “integration”.

When I attend any conference I pay attention to all the new buzzwords and associated hype but file them away for future use because my reality is trying to deliver last year’s buzzwords or, in the case of “self-service” and “cloud BI” or even “BusinessObjects BI for SAP BW” I am actually still attempting to deliver buzzwords from several years ago.

I am not alone in this. I have been presenting at TechEd, Sapphire and Gartner events for the last four or five years and find my presentations consistently well received by peer customers and partner organisations facing the same or similar challenges.

For the last five years our organisation has been implementing a single global instance of SAP ERP with an accompanying global BI reporting solution (deploying BusinessObjects BI4 against SAP BW 7.3).

The solution was built “in the cloud” but this did not involve little fluffy things featuring unicorns and rainbows. Deploying in the cloud was tough. This is what deploying in the cloud looked like to me:


The above diagram is just of the BI platform but that was only part of the story. The integration of the BI platform (SAP BI4) with SAP BW (as both reporting source and 3rd party authentication entitlement system) was a challenge in itself but we also had to integrate with NW Portal (for presentation) and with SAP Solution Manager (for CTS+ and monitoring) and with Identity Access Management. Each of those integrations has pains and challenges beyond anything I could have imagined (and I have quite a good imagination).

There is plenty of advice out there about selecting the right products from the BI suite to meet your use case, unfortunately not may of them take “reality” into account. So I cover that as well. For example, two years ago the “right” product “on paper” for our requirement was Design Studio but “in reality” for our requirements, it was not ready. So what did we do in the interim? I’ll talk about that.

Need new features or fixes? Think that “upgrading to the next version” or “applying a service pack” is trouble-free? Nope. I’ll cover that too.


I actually expected the session to then cover integration with Solution Manager at length but a new “reality on the ground” emerged, the migration of BW on Oracle to BW on HANA. I’ll have quite a lot to say on that subject especially around managing BW growth prior to migration. What I will be getting really worked up about though is the way we are having to overthink the HANA architecture to find a compromise between delivering value and high license costs.


You will be pleased to know that, once I have got all that off my chest I will actually be talking about the value we delivered from our reporting capabilities.


The topic I end with is the one I normally get most worked up about, the buzzword that has been the bane of my life for many years, “self-service”. If you were at SAP Insider for my session there then you may already have an idea what happens to that buzzword in my presentation. If not (or if any of the above sounds like it might be useful, insightful or just plain entertaining) you will just have to come along to the session and find out.

Debate, discussions and heckling welcomed before, during and after the presentation. Hopefully see you there. For those who can’t attend I will upload the session slides after the event.

Twitter: @CheOpsLaw

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      Author's profile photo Mark Richardson
      Mark Richardson

      This was one of the BEST sessions that I attended at SAP TechEd 2015 in Las Vegas....!

      Real-World stories and timelines for Real-Solutions...and 100% Free of any "Marketing-Spin" from SAP.

      I would encourage anyone who has to deal with complex BI-4.x deployments to attend the ASUG Webinar.