Take Your Solutions to New Heights with SAP BusinessObjects Cloud (BoC) Part Two
This is the part two of my BusinessObjects Cloud introduction. If you haven’t had a chance to read part one, you can click here to view it and if you have had a chance to read it, well I hope you enjoyed it! Let’s go a little deeper into the nuts and bolts of BoC with this one…
Figure 1 above illustrates at a high level, all the different analytical pieces that make up BoC and that can be used to deliver insights on their own or through the Digital Boardroom mentioned above. Users can access their BoC instance through Google Chrome and immediately begin visually exploring their data through numerous visual components including crosstabs and tables, charts, and geo maps based on ESRI. Once user’s find new insights or outliers that they want to share, they have the ability to create stories of their data through a dashboard composition experience where one can add their charts, filters, interactive controls, images, pictorgrams, and even compliment that with live feeds such as stock prices to really tell the full story. Users also have the ability to use SAP Predictive Services which allows for a guided analysis of the users data within BoC. Today the capabilities allow for BoC to perform time based forecasting as well as automatically identify key influencers on data. The underlying predictive engine applies machine learning on the dataset and through visuals and natural language, will reveal to the user what the strongest relationships are within their data. A great way of bringing advanced analytics to the business user! The roadmap for predictive in BoC indicates that this capability will continue to be enhanced to bring additional information to the user and at some point may even allow for the power users within a company to insert custom R based models into BoC for users to take advantage of existing corporate models. Very cool!
And the last thing that you’ll find in BoC today from an end user perspective is for users to be able to perform planning functions say for headcount or budget. BoC provides an Excel like experience for quick and easy calculations and layout of existing data and best of all, it allows the user to quickly add visuals and perform data exploration without losing any of their work in their planning models. This is extremely important. A user can be in the middle of defining a budget and then need to explore their data to understand the impact some area of their business had on sales in order to plan accordingly, with BoC they can do this on the same screen because planning, BI and predictive are integrated into a single user experience. Not separate individual applications as you’ll find with most tools out there and this yet another area that separates BoC from the other cloud analytics solutions out there.
As we look over the details in Figure 1, I would be remised if I didn’t mention the core capabilities that are delivered. BoC offers a wide range of data connectivity options which can be seen in Figure 2 above. Currently it offers SAP Hana as a live connection meaning that if you have HANA in your data center or your data in Hana Coud Platform, BoC can reach in and provide live data refreshes using a reverse proxy that BoC delivers as an installable agent. This is a great option for partners and customers who are concerned about data privacy and security. With a live connection and a reverse proxy, the data never leaves the confines of the on-premise Hana install! Communication takes place between the browser and Hana using the reverse proxy for communication. Very well suited for scenarios where data needs to reside inside the firewall at all times. The other options for data in BoC is a pretty impressive list of non-live sources (sources where the data is scheduled to be ingested into BoC into the underlying Hana database of BoC), it supports BW, BPC, BOE Universes, JDBC/ODBC, oData and Salesforce and once the query has been defined, a schedule can be set up to pick up data changes daily or even intra-day if you have a higher frequency of new data coming in. And yes, I did mention universes as an option! If you’re an existing BusinessObjects partner and you’d like to reuse your investments in the semantic layer, you can absolutely do that allowing you to bring new analytics to your users without disrupting your base. Pretty cool stuff!
I did mention that social is a key piece of a truly native cloud solution and BoC delivers on this front with built in discussions that allow users to comment on content from within the web based interface and from their mobile devices using the BusinessObjects Cloud mobile app which lets you respond to discussions, view events and tasks and receive notifications (see examples of embedded discussion panels in Figure 3). Other notable features underpinning the analytics include comprehensive administrative functions for user/group creation and custom role creation. This will be important for our partners looking to create a single instance and share it among numerous tenants. BoC security is pretty granular and will allow you to segregate your tenants content and data connections.
And last, but not least on the core capabilities is the ability to monitor and audit your instance(s). This is a core need in regulated industries such as healthcare and here BoC not only let’s admins visually and easily understand environment usage, it lets them get down into details of specific user actions, what object it was performed on, status on whether it was a successful action and the time and date it occurred so you can filter and focus down into the details that you’re looking for. HIPAA? PCI? You’recovered with BoC! And one last topic I wanted to cover while discussing compliance and regulation is data location and security. Currently BoC is served through several SAP HCP datacenters including two in the US, Germany, Netherlands and Australia. Further planned sites for the near future include expanding to Japan and other regions currently being planned for include China and Russia. So there are numerous options when it comes to data locality and the gained benefit of performance. (See Figure 5 for current map of DC’s globally).
If data security within a multi-tenant environment is a concern, BoC allows you to select from two different deployment options. First of all, there is a Public model which is based on a shared environment with multiple tenants partitioned to ensure data security. Meaning that you will be on a server with numerous other partners/customers but the data is logically divided and so you would never see each other’s data. In certain situations and in certain industries however, sharing is not an option. And this is where BoC also includes the Private option where each partner or customer gets a dedicated tenant that is not shared with anyone else. This method is slightly more costly but it will allow your chief data officer to sleep more soundly knowing that their data is safe and secure. And to complete the picture, Hybrid Cloud is something I’ve mentioned previously and refers to utilizing your on-premise datasources while marrying that to the either of the BoC analytics license types to get a mixed approach with added flexibility around where your data resides, etc.
As this blog is turning into a novel, I will wrap up here otherwise I may just hit the character limit allowed on a single post! This was intended to be a high level intro into some of the great things that SAP is doing around cloud analytics and to bring into focus some of the things that makes SAP unique among the other cloud solutions in this space. BoC provides a cost effective and flexible deployment model for partners who are looking to complement their existing solutions or develop new ones that include embedded BI capabilities. And this extends to cloud based solutions as well as on-premise systems. BoC delivers a rich set of capabilities from business intelligence and planning to advanced analytics through predictive services and each of these can be purchased a bundle or individually based on the needs of your end user. So if you’d like to learn more about BoC or arrange for a demo, contact the SAP OEM team today to arrange for a deeper dive into any of the areas of the product. And if you’d like me to go into a specific area of BoC a little more as a blog, please leave me a comment and I’d be happy to continue this series with a part three 🙂