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SAP S/4HANA on premise: Integration of SAP Analytics Cloud optimizes business user experience

Dear Reader,

The integration of SAP S/4HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud continues to be an exciting topic!

I am thrilled to open a new chapter today: With the release 2020, SAP S/4HANA on premise integrates SAP Analytics Cloud for an embedded experience for business users.

In ever more changing and challenging times, decisions have to be taken faster and they have to be based on up-to-date information. Real-time analytics that tap into the operational data has become indispensable. In addition, business users expect to find the relevant reports and dashboards next to their operational tasks on the same launchpad without the need to log on to other systems. Seamless UI-integration and shared UI paradigms such as intent-based navigation optimize the experience for SAP S/4HANA business users.

Let’s get started! The following video demos the integration capabilities from a business user perspective:

In a hurry?
System demo starts at 3:48 with SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP S/4HANA on premise starts at 5:10.

If you would like to try out the new experience, this blog will list the necessary prerequisites and help you to set the scenario up in your landscape.
I assume that the reader is familiar with SAP S/4HANA on premise as well as SAP Analytics Cloud.

 

Q: Which product versions do I need for the integration to work?

A: The integration scenario combines an Enterprise or “stand-alone” SAP Analytics Cloud with SAP S/4HANA on premise. The minimum SAP S/4HANA on premise release is 2020.

The same goes for the so-called single-tenant edition or “private” cloud of S/4HANA.
In this blog, I will keep it short and simply talk about S/4HANA on premise only.

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Q: How do the two systems have to be connected?

A: SAP Analytics Cloud needs a live data connection to SAP S/4HANA on premise.
Please refer to chapter Live Data Connection to SAP S/4HANA On-Premise Using a Direct Connection and SSO in the SAP Analytics Cloud documentation to set up the connection.

Likewise, SAP S/4HANA on premise needs a connection to SAP Analytics Cloud.
Please refer to chapter Maintain SAP Analytics Cloud Connections in SAP S/4HANA in the SAP S/4HANA documentation to set up the connection.

Hint: You will have to provide a system alias. This alias should be the same in all SAP S/4HANA on premise instances to facilitate the handling in a multi-system landscape (e.g. development, test and production).

For a seamless experience, consider using the same identity provider (IDP) for SAP S/4HANA on premise and SAP Analytics Cloud to enable single-sign-on.

Setting up the system connection is a one-time effort.

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Q: Which stories can be integrated? Can custom stories be used as well?

A: Every story that is based on a live data connection to SAP S/4HANA on premise can be integrated.

So, customers may use pre-configured business content offered by SAP and Partners or build their own custom stories.

Please remark: The live data connection does not support certain use cases such as planning or prediction. Details here.

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Q: How does the integration work?

A: The integration is based on two important product capabilities:

First, the live data connection between SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP S/4HANA ensures the real-time access to the operational data of SAP S/4HANA on premise – exposed through analytical ABAP Core Data Services (CDS) Views. An important aspect of this is, that the SAP S/4HANA on premise authorizations are applied to ensure data access security. Single-sign-on is recommended to provide a seamless workflow without the need to log on separately.
So far, this is the standard reporting scenario that has attracted customers since years.

Secondly, S/4HANA on premise uses a “wrapper” to open the SAP Analytics Cloud story in an iFrame in the user’s Fiori shell. The iFrame ensures that the capabilities offered by the embedded SAP Analytics Cloud story run as they would in a comparable stand-alone scenario with live data access, such as slice-and-dice, page-switching or filtering.

Figure 1: Integration Scenario Overview

 

This “wrapper” is a piece of software delivered as part of the SAP S/4HANA on premise installation. The wrapper and the SAP Analytics Cloud story can exchange information during run-time. This works in two directions:

  • Screen-Variants:
    The embedding Fiori application can push information to the SAP Analytics Cloud story. Fiori screen variants may be used to store a specific navigation state and this information can be pushed to the SAP Analytics Cloud story – thus opening it in a user specific, pre-set navigation state.
  • Intent-based navigation:
    Using the right-mouse menu for a freely selectable data point in the story, a list of pre-configured jump-to targets can be called. This list is derived from the so-called semantic objects. For details about the concept of Intent-based navigation and semantic objects, please check Jocelyn Dart’s blog. The semantics objects are selected when defining the Fiori application.
    When one of the jump-to targets gets selected, the context information – story navigation state and filters, but also the information specific to the chosen data point – is used to automatically fill the input parameters of the target application.
    This requires information to be exchanged between the story and the wrapper: In a first logic step, the SAP Analytics Cloud story requests the list of the pre-configured jump-to targets from SAP S/4HANA on premise. In a second step, SAP Analytics Cloud calls the target application, passing on the current navigation state and selected data point information to automatically fill the input parameters of the target application.
    Please check Answer 5 for details about the configuration of the semantic objects.

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Q: How does the creation of the Fiori tiles work? What can be expected in the upcoming feature packs?

A: With the first scope delivered in release 2020, you need to use the Fiori Launchpad Designer to the create the Fiori tile as described in this documentation.

A few hints for this step:

  • The StoryID is a GUID. Simply open the story in your Enterprise SAP Analytics Cloud. Check the URL in your browser. It contains the StoryID. See below.
    Be careful, the URL may look differently, there could be additional parameters after the story ID, so make sure to select the GUID only.

  • The system alias is the name you have provided when setting up the connections according to  the chapter Maintain SAP Analytics Cloud Connections in SAP S/4HANA in the SAP S/4HANA documentation.
    The system alias should be the same in all SAP S/4HANA on premise instances to facilitate the handling in a multi-system landscape (e.g. development, test and production).
  • You may enter one or more semantics objects. Seperate the semantic objects by a comma “;” without blanks. Example: Customer,Supplier 

Outlook: According to current planning for the upcoming feature releases, the Fiori tile creation will be made even easier: It should soon be possible to use the Fiori Application “Manage KPIs and Reports” to create a Fiori Tile based on an SAP Analytics Cloud story. Please remark, that all future-related statements in this paragraph reflect the current state of planning, which may change. Please do not take any statement about upcoming scope as a commitment nor base your purchasing decisions on this.

Once the tile has been created, it can be added to a business catalogue and thus be assigned to specific business user groups or individuals.
The new tile may also be added to the start screens of the business users.

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Q: What about the story lifecycle or complex system landscapes?

A: The stories have to be created, edited, enhanced and maintained in the Enterprise SAP Analytics Cloud. SAP S/4HANA on premise integrates the stories as they are but does not add any lifecycle capabilities.

Also, more complex system landscapes have to be managed individually by customers.
Should you for instance run a three system landscape of SAP S/4HANA on premise, consisting of a development, a test and a productive instance, there are multiple options:

  • One shared SAP Analytics Cloud instance:
    In this case, the SAP Analytics Cloud instance will have to be connected to the productive instance. The other instances of SAP S/4HANA on premise can integrate the stories, but the stories will be based on the productive instance and the productive data.
    Suitable authorizations have to be in place to avoid access by unauthorized users.
    In the development and test instances, the operational data will most likely be out of sync with the story visualization. To overcome the drawbacks, one could re-direct the live data connection from SAP Analytics Cloud to the development or test instance of S/4HANA on premise during the development/test phase. This will of course affect every story in SAP Analytics Cloud based on the connection, thus limiting the availability of productive stories.

 

  • One separate SAP Analytics Cloud instance per SAP S/4HANA on premise instance:
    In this case, each SAP S/4HANA on premise instance has its own SAP Analytics Cloud.
    You may consider using test licenses for development and test instances. Use the Analytics Content Network to move stories from the development to the test and productive instances of SAP Analytics Cloud. For this to work, the technical names of the connections to the SAP S/4HANA on premise instances have to be identical all SAP Analytics cloud instances, even though they individually point to different SAP S/4HANA on premise instances, as well as the system alias (see Answer 2 for details).

 

  • A hybrid model
    Cases 1 and 2 can be combined, e.g. by using a separate instance of SAP Analytics Cloud for the productive instance of SAP S/4HANA on premise and one more (test) SAP Analytics Cloud for the rest.

 

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Q: Where can I learn more about the integration?

A: Let me first draw your attention to Katharina Doerr’s video. Katharina shares her insights into the highlights of the integration capabilities.
Next to the video, please check Kefang Wang’s blog: He has described in detail what needs to be done using the Master Data Governance (MDG) Quality Insights story. The blog highlights the use of pre-delivered SAP Analytics Cloud content in SAP S/4HANA on premise and may be used next to the documentation shared above.

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Q: What are the differences of the integration of SAC stories in SAP S/4HANA on premise and the Embedded SAP Analytics Cloud in S/4HANA Cloud?

A: For those of the readers that are familiar with the Embedded SAP Analytics Cloud in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, I will discuss similarities and differences.
This knowledge is not required to successfully integrate SAP Analytics Cloud stories into the SAP S/4HANA on premise solution.

In fact, from a business user perspective, there is not much difference: The integration works in much the same way for SAP S/4HANA on premise and SAP S/4HANA Cloud. In both scenarios, the business user launches the SAP Analytics Cloud story from the personal Fiori Launchpad, it opens in the iFrame and screen variants and intent-based navigation are supported.
The business user experience is therefore similar, except for one aspect: Data Analyzer reports are not offered for SAP S/4HANA on premise users, this feature is available in the cloud only.

The more pronounced difference is that:

SAP S/4HANA Cloud fully embeds SAP Analytics Cloud which becomes an integral part of the solution. The whole process of setting up the system landscape including connections and the user management is all handled by the embedding SAP S/4HANA Cloud. In addition, the lifecycle (transports etc.) of custom content is fully managed by the embedding SAP S/4HANA Cloud.

Actually, even key users do not need direct access to the embedded SAP Analytics Cloud for their administrative tasks: The embedding SAP S/4HANA Cloud re-uses functionalities offered by SAP Analytics Cloud by calling suitable APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and thus “remote-controls” SAP Analytics Cloud, offering specific functionalities like story design and story runtime without additional license fees. Other features like Excel-upload, cross-application analytics or planning are not offered and require an enterprise SAP Analytics Cloud license.

The scenario for SAP S/4HANA on premise is different: An enterprise SAP Analytics Cloud is already in place and its full capabilities are available to customers (depending on their specific license), no matter if an SAP S/4HANA on premise installation is also in place or not.
If it is, however, the stories based on live access to the SAP S/4HANA on premise backend can be seamlessly integrated into the business user experience of SAP S/4HANA on premise as described above.
However, the lifecycle of the stories still has to be managed by the customer, using the available SAP Analytics Cloud tools and functionalities.

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2 Comments
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  • Hi Rolf

    Thanks for a nice post! As I understand this will only work with usage of CDS views. Will we also be able to display other datasources in the Fiori GUI in the future? SAC stories using Live connections to SQL sources or Live connection to Data Warehouse Cloud consuming various source? Will we also be to show this to end-users inside Fiori?

  • Hello Frederik,

    thank you for the kind words. Your understanding is correct: For this integration to work, the SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) stories have to be based on a live data connection to SAP S/4HANA on premise. That means CDS views.
    Other connection types – though they already exist and may be used from the Enterprice SAC – are not supported for the integration scenario described here.

    Best regards,
    Rolf