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Mastering the different types of connections in SAP Analytics Cloud

One of the most important topics in SAP analytics Cloud is setting up the connection type.While this is one of the most basic steps when it comes to configuration there are some open questions regarding performance ,fine tuning and sizing.

In this article I will clarify the basic ground rules that distinguish between the different types of connections and elaborate on the use case and some of the sizing aspects.

You will also find in this article a wide range of resources that will help you gain  knowledge and tools regarding the connection setup and capabilities .

Connection types

There are two main connection types in SAP Analytics Cloud  :Live and imported

  1. Live connection – is completely based on the back end (On premise) ,there is no data replication, the data stays in the in the source system while the data model and security profile applies .Another of way to putting it is that a direct secured connection is created between the browser (Chrome & Edge are the strategic browsers SAP are focusing in) to the source system while only metadata is stored in SAP Analytics Cloud.
    Source :
    SAP data insightThe meta data stored is basically anything related to column names ,connection type & name ,calculation or universe name and so forth ,nothing that has to do with the actual data accessed .due to the fact that data isn’t transferred you won’t find any sizing recommendation nor limits that comes with this type of configuration ,the usual rule of thumb will apply here :data volumes accessed in source system , network bandwidth ,type of query ,are we using optimized objects  ,in terms of HANA : did we use best practices when building the calculation view and so on.Any performance issue you suspect is coming from SAP Analytics Cloud side will have to be supported with Google Developer tools for example to analyze the page behavior (rendering time of components for example ,web sniffer tools alike for analyzing get response but again – nothing to to with the data itself.
  2. Import connection – this type of connection connects to the data source and in order to retrieve the data set ,data is actually imported /copied to SAP Analytics Cloud.This type of connection enables us to connect to different type of data sources that for example are nor model ready ,it also enables to enhance specific SAP Analytics Cloud capabilities such as planning and & Smart assist ,the connection can be scheduled so SAC can keep a back to back data refresh with the database timestamp.

Additional configuration is required for this type of connectivity :

  • SAP Cloud Connector -manages a secured tunnel between the SAC instance to the underlying data source
  • SAP Analytics Cloud agent -manages the data retrieval requests ,e.g :connecting to queries 

Source :SAP data insight

In this diagram we can see at the left side that SAC is in the public domain area

in the middle there is the DMZ or the demilitarized zone which basically adds an additional layer of security between the customer network to the external public network and this is a standard network layer.

To the right we can see the customer network area :connections to various data sources are defined and the two configuration components are managing the security tunnel and the data requests.

Depending on the data source you are connecting a standard SQL or an RFC call will be made.

Considerations for choosing a connection type 

There are several factors that can determine what type of data connection should be used:

  • Particular data source

    If you will have a look on the current data connections available in SAC (updated for 09/2019) you will find some differences between live to import ,for example :Google BigQuery is currently only available for import ,Ariba on the other hand is going to be available only for Live ,plan your connection strtegy according to what’s compatible

          Source :SAP SAC roadmap

  • Connection roadmap

    SAP are currently providing lot’s of new connections to their cloud systems such as Ariba ,SuccessFactors and there are lot to come such as Concur,Fieldglass.In general there lot’s of progress and it’s important to follow the roadmap for the connections as well ,again updated per the last roadmap version:

Source :SAP SAC roadmap

In addition to the current connection roadmap SAP are providing SAC light embedded version (no planning or predictive capabilities) for most of their cloud systems and it’s important to have take a look on that roadmap as well as it’s adding more connected systems only through the embedded offering :

Source :SAP SAC roadamap for applications integration with SAC

  • Sizing

    While in Live connections there are no known sizing limits other then the data source platform sizing limits ,when it comes to import connection there are specific sizing limits :

File size limits

Microsoft Excel (XLSX only): Maximum file size: 200 MB. No limit on number of rows.Comma-separated values files (CSV): Maximum file size: 2 GB. No limit on number of rows.

      Row limits

Datasources: 800,000 (when importing from CSV and XLSX files, there is a limit on file size, but not on the number of rows)

General limits

Columns: 100

Dimension members:

Planning models: 1,000,000

Analytic models: if there are more than 1,000,000 unique members, the dimension will be made read-only

Dimension members with Geo enrichment: 200,000

Dimension members with parent/child hierarchy: 150,000 (for other kinds of attributes, the 1,000,000 limit applies)

  • Data model maturity 

    Live connection enables you to connect to an existing data source without moving the data -that scenario works well with a data model which is ready for analysis and doesn’t require further actions ,on the other hand if you need to connect to various data sources and then connect them and create the data model in SAP Analytics the import option might be a better match for that particular scenario.one simple example would be BEX queries that already contain the structure ,key figures and the business logic and we just want to consume those queries as is ,a flat file on the other hand can be loaded and analyzed

  • Use case and scenario

    What kind of use case is required to access the data? combing structured & unstructured data sources? using a DW model with S/4 data Also for some use cases SAP has already recommendations or a set of best practices for example the BW live will enable you among other thing to access BW and HANA features that cannot accessed through standard query interfaces (SQL, MDX).SAC main analytics approach is to enable hybrid scenarios and that should be another consideration as SAC is about bridging cloud and on premise scenarios

 

 

 

 

 

 

         Source :SAP Hybrid approach for analytics

  • Functionality

    in terms of functionality their are differences as well between the connection types and in between -the type of data source as well ,for example having a look on the following matrix will help us realize what kind of data source and connection type compatible for tables:

          Source :SAP Analytics Cloud Support Matrix

that would be another best practice to go through the functionality matrix and check what’s exactly is supported

  • Security approach and data restrictions

    When you use live connection you fully enhance the security model that you implemented in your data source level ,that’s for itself is a major factor as there is no investment in rebuilding the security structure.aside to that we can find the security policy of any organization or a company that restricts secured data movement and drives data compliance.In that sense live connection is the more restrictive due to it’s respective security model and no data movement outside the client domain.still SAP offers a variety of secured solutions for their data centers hosting SAC instances including fully GDPR complaint.Taking the main statement from the Hybrid Implementation Best-Practice Recommendations in page 23 SAP are managing all the security protocols to keep your data safe:

Source:Hybrid implementation best practices recommendations

Resources

There is a tremendous list of resources available in the SAP echo system of websites and blogs ,here are the main ones which is relevant and critical for data connections:

SAP Analytics Cloud Connectivity Guidelines:provides in depth details for all the connection types :

 https://wiki.scn.sap.com/wiki/display/BOC/SAP+Analytics+Cloud+Connectivity+Guidelines

SAP Analytics Cloud Connection Guide:SAP Help guide and configuration for each connection type

https://help.sap.com/viewer/00f68c2e08b941f081002fd3691d86a7/release/en-US/bdf055159cbb4f36b26c93ccb0c56066.html

SAP Analytics Cloud – Live Connection and Security – Best Practices:

https://wiki.scn.sap.com/wiki/display/BOC/SAP+Analytics+Cloud+-+Live+Connection+and+Security+-+Best+Practices

SAP Analytics Cloud Support Matrix –provides a deep dive into the supported functionality per connection type:

https://wiki.scn.sap.com/wiki/display/BOC/SAP+Analytics+Cloud+Support+Matrix

Product roadmap -stay on track regarding new supported connections and new functionality supported per connection type:

https://www.sap.com/products/roadmaps

SAP data centers security capabilities:

https://www.sap.com/uk/about/trust-center.html

Conclusion

In this article we explored the main two connection types ,their basic architecture and what use cases are mostly suited to each one.

In addition we described the main factors that effects the connection type use case and what considerations we require to evaluate when establishing a connection in SAC.

Hope you find this article helpful and I encourage you to leave comments ,ask questions and continue the discussion

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