Accelerate migration of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports to SAP Analytics Cloud stories with NDC Converter
While SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) is our strategic analytics offering, thousands of companies have relied on SAP BusinessObjects BI (BOBJ) to manage enterprise reporting use cases at scale for decades. As a result, many customers are in the middle of a transition phase and seek solutions to accelerate the migration of their assets, and ideally automate part of it.
In this blog post, we will introduce NDC Converter for BusinessObjects, a solution from our partner NDC Group Swiss AG which accelerates the migration of Web Intelligence reports to SAC stories.
When automation becomes a necessity
Large organizations running BOBJ typically manage 10K+ Web Intelligence reports. When planning to move to SAC, relevant questions are:
- How long will it take to migrate these reports?
- How to staff the project?
Depending on their complexity, we can realistically assume that manual migration effort would range from 0.5 to 4 man-days per report. With 10K reports, the total effort for the migration project would be around 20K man days, i.e. several M€. Another challenge with manual migration is that it can soon become tedious – especially for less complex reports.
For all those reasons, partially automating migration is a game changer. In the following section we will outline the NDC Converter concept overview, target architectures and what influences the cost of migration.
Converter for Web Intelligence reports
To address these challenges, NDC Group is developing an innovative solution which simplifies and automates the migration process from Web Intelligence reports to SAC stories.
The core of the automation is realized by a combination of REST API and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) engine. The migration process works through the following 3 steps:
- read report structures via the Web Intelligence reports public Rest API,
- transform metadata into format readable by RPA engine and SAC supported elements,
- execute RPA bot to recreate reports leveraging in-browser calls.
The Converter itself can run on BTP or on a consultant laptop. The only requirement is direct network access to the Web Intelligence on-premises server.
The process is not 100% automatic, and there will always be a migration consultant involved to resolve complex scenarios and fine-tune reports. However, customers can expect reduction of manual effort, leading to shorter migration project and cost savings.
After working with one of their first prospects, Vladislav Štefaňák, CEO of NDC Group was sharing with me:
“With the use of NDC Converter for BusinessObjects, we were able to reduce the expected effort for full landscape migration by 65% (from 9000 MDs to 3200 MDs).”
While the concept is valid for all customers’ data landscape, we can distinguish three main architectures reflecting customer needs and cloud adoption maturity
Full cloud strategy: customers want to go full speed ahead with cloud adoption and leverage the benefits of Datasphere for semantic layer modeling. This is the most complex case as, on top of reports migration, this requires remodeling the business layer as well. So far, the Converter only covers simple cases, but we will continue to partner with NDC Group to increase use case coverage over time.
Web Intelligence SAP BW direct connection: this set-up does not include the Universes layer as Web Intelligence reports are directly connected to SAP BW. In this case, the migration path is easier with no or minimal remodeling needed. The plan is to automatically connect migrated SAC stories to SAP BW queries via live connection.
Keep BOBJ and migrate only Web Intelligence reports: this scenario is relevant for customers planning to keep BOBJ universe layer. Here, SAP Analytics Cloud models must be created to map with universe queries, and we can envision automatically connecting migrated SAC stories through Live Data Connect for BOBJ.
Migration is a complex project
Moving a complex landscape from BOBJ to SAC cannot be done overnight, and needs to be managed as a project, which complexity will increase with the number of reports, their complexity, the data landscape change (cf. previous section), the number of users, stakeholders, etc. Additionally, there is no one to one feature parity between BOBJ and SAC, and in some cases, some consulting is helpful to define migration strategies, from using a workaround to re-thinking a use case.
Beyond the Converter which is used as a tool to automate part of the migration, NDC offers an end-to-end service ensuring reports are correctly migrated and there is minimal disruption for the end business users. Their framework is based on a 3-step approach:
- Discovery pre-pilot analysis: the goal of this phase is to map the BOBJ landscape and its usage and propose a target architecture. Another outcome is BOBJ metadata (e.g. # of reports per complexity buckets) for business and technical users to make scoping and planning decisions. A first assessment of the total migration cost and a draft project plan are also provided.
- Depending on the selected scope (# of reports & complexity), they propose a 4–8-week pilot phase during which they migrate some reports end to end so that business users can start using new SAC stories right away.
- Based on the pilot results, they can improve the process/tooling, fine-tune the project plan and budget the full migration.
With their Web Intelligence reports to SAP Analytics Cloud stories Converter, NDC Group can streamline on premise to cloud BI transition projects. Along with the tool, they propose an end-to-end methodology which takes care of all aspects of the migration – including models – and can adapt to different architectures and migration strategies.