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SAP Analytics Cloud and Power BI – A comparison

There is a strong demand for data visualization tools now these days and a wide number of tools available in market to solve this purpose. I got a chance to compare Power BI and SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC).

Here is the detailed analysis:

Feature SAC Power BI
Tool Type Available on web. All operations (create, modify, share stories) are done on web Development is primarily done using Power BI Desktop which is a free tool. Post development users can share stories by publishing stories on app.powerbi.com. For sharing stories, users will need license.
Connection to data sources Live and acquire data options are available Direct query as well as import data options are available
Live Connection/Direct query (no data storage) Out of the box connections available for SAP specific source systems only. Out of the box connections available for wide range of data sources
Live Connection/Direct query – Authorization It will maintain authorization/roles of source systems. It will maintain authorization/roles of source systems (Checked specifically for SAP BW)
SSO Connection Available Not available. But Windows authentication option is available
Live Connection/Direct Query (out of the box integrations with SAP Sources)

Available SAP Sources:

– SAP BW

– SAP HANA

– SAP S/4 HANA

– SAP Universe

– SAP BPC

Available SAP Sources:

– SAP BW

– SAP HANA

Acquire Data/Import (out of the box integrations with SAP Sources) Available for wide range of SAP applications

Available SAP Sources:

– SAP BW

– SAP HANA

Acquire Data/Import from excel/csv files

Bit difficult

– No option to exclude Top N rows.

– Does not record transformations like data type changes while modeling in SAC

– Bit complex to reload data

You may exclude Top N rows

– Records all modifications done in Power BI

 

Following table describes comparison of Power BI and SAP analytics cloud considering SAP BW as source (mainly Bex Queries):

Feature SAC Power BI
Bex Query Access Available Available
Bex Query Access Search is not available using Bex description. Search can be done only through technical name Search is available using Bex description. At first it shows Composite provider name. But user can type some key words and it will show correct results
Bex Query Authorization It will maintain authorization/roles It will maintain authorization/roles
Prompt Screen/Selection Screen Difficulty in using select all or Not equal to option Select all option is available
Hierarchies Supported Not supported. All hierarchy needs to be built again in Power BI
Characteristics Structures Supported Supported
Local and Global Query Elements Supported Not sure
Variables and Variants Supported KPI names with date ranges are not supported
Smart Insights and Smart discovery Not available with Live connections to SAP BW. Works well with offline excels Available once data is published on app.powerbi.com

Forecast in line Charts

 

Not available with Live connections to SAP BW. Works well with offline excels Not sure
New calculations With live connection new calculations can be created while creating charts. It is not available at modeling level Not available in modeling with direct query. You may create calculations while creating charts.
Drill Down Supported Supported
Linked Analysis Supported Supported
Geo Maps Supported Supported
R Visuals/Python Scripts Supported Supported

 

Conclusion in my opinion:

SAP Analytics cloud can be a good choice if primary data sources are SAP applications. It provides out of the box integrations with most of the SAP applications and then it inherits many attributes from source applications so you may get a benefit from existing investments done in applications like SAP BW, SAP HANA etc.

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