GRC
HR
SCM
CRM
BI


Article

 

SAP NetWeaver Magazine Supplement: SAP NetWeaver BI Reporting

by SAP and Partners: DataFlux

August 11, 2009

by SAP and Partners: DataFlux, Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperion, Citrix Systems, and Information Builders SAP NetWeaver Magazine - Volume 2, Issue 2
 

SAP Analytics and BI Reporting


Roman Bukary
Vice President Solution Marketing SAP xApps and Analytics
SAP

>>INSIDE<<

The following solution providers are highlighted in this supplement:

S-3 DataFlux
Migrate Data — and Maintain High-Quality Information — Within Your SAP System

S-4 Business Objects
Reporting for SAP Made Easy

S-6 Cognos
No Limitations, Perfect-World Reporting

S-8 Hyperion
Information Democracy: Actionable Business Performance Information for Everyone

S-10 Citrix Systems
An Access Infrastructure Lowers the Cost of Crunching Numbers

S-12 Information Builders
WebFOCUS for SAP: Right Information, Right People, Right Now!

SAP’s Roman Bukary spoke with SAP NetWeaver Magazine about the future of reporting and analytics at SAP. This is what he had to say.

What is driving demand for reporting analytics today? Is it competitive pressure, improved technology, both?

Not so long ago companies could release a product, and in their market the number of competitors was pretty limited and their products had a reasonable shelf life. Today, the competitive pressure in the market is such that a business, no matter which industry, needs to grow, innovate, respond to changing market conditions, and do it profitably — all while making sure no one goes to jail for non-compliance.

Businesses accomplish these things by saying, “I need to see the state of my business right now. I need to know what kind of objectives to establish in order to measure our progress against our next goal and to make the right choices.” That’s key performance indicators (KPIs), that’s analytics, that’s reporting.

How has SAP’s commitment to ESA changed the way it is delivering analytics?

Enterprise services architecture (ESA) is helping to revolutionize how we deliver analytics and reporting, and our customers are reaping the benefits. ESA makes it possible to deliver reports and analysis (analytics) embedded in applications. It has redefined our traditional reporting environment from after-the-fact, to a solution that delivers in-context insights allowing us to build new classes of applications.

SAP Analytics are model-driven, composite applications made possible by ESA and its ability to assemble components. Project Mendocino, which incorporates analysis, reports, and analytics into the Microsoft environment, relies on SAP NetWeaver and the design approaches of ESA.

What do you see as the key challenges faced by a business that wants to improve its reporting capabilities by implementing Web services?

I’m afraid of any company that says, “Our mission is to become Web-service-enabled and deliver better reports and analytics.” I want to hear that a company wants to enable more of its business people with relevant information, that it wants to share, collect, and refine critical information from both inside the organization and its partners, and then deliver it to all relevant business users. That kind of company says, how do I accomplish this? Web services, analytics, embedded analytics, and composite applications are only some of the enabling technologies that make this scenario possible.

Analytics can benefit a wide range of roles within a company. What is SAP’s approach to accommodating the different role-based needs?

Organizational roles are defined to manage access to reports, level of detail, level of granularity to which you can drill down, data “freshness,” and many other industry and role-specific attributes — what you are allowed to access and analyze. Our reports are intelligent enough to allow a CEO to have full access to all details (but probably only showing a core number of metrics); permit the CFO to access all data with much more of its granularity exposed; and let the individual salesperson to see only the elements that person needs (perhaps a certain customer’s revenue, profitability, and proposed items). Because of SAP NetWeaver’s common infrastructure, security, and features, reports and analytic applications are customized so that users in different roles can access different subsets of the same report. SAP delivers a broad range of integrated capabilities such as power tools, formatted reporting design and distribution mechanisms, dashboard creation and alerting, embedded business intelligence (BI) — all designed to make information actionable and easily accessible.

What can you tell us about SAP’s roadmap for SAP Analytics?

SAP Analytics is now in the pilot phase with two live customers, one of which is Whirlpool. What is really remarkable is that while SAP was able to define and build the product in less than nine months, Whirlpool was able to go-live with SAP Analytics in less than four weeks. SAP Analytics enters Ramp-Up and general availability later this year. Our focus is to make SAP Analytics part and parcel of our overall solution portfolio, to embed analytics in every application. We don’t sell analytics, but we do enable and enhance SAP solutions by our analytic functionality.

SAP Analytics are powered by SAP NetWeaver, enhancing and building on our customers’ past investments in SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (SAP NetWeaver BI). As the proven and robust information-management capabilities of the platform are being further enhanced (for example, by adding more event-driven services, or by adding enterprise search capabilities), SAP Analytics will allow you to immediately leverage those capabilities via industry-specific applications, relevant for the business audience.

A final point: This is not an “SAP wins, everybody else loses” approach. It’s about sharing our approaches and technologies with our systems-integrator and software partners; it’s about enabling our partners and leveraging their domain expertise, competencies, and experience to deliver best possible solutions for our mutual customers.

The world is moving toward a very diverse set of informational needs; you can’t afford to deploy one monster database for integration. You need master data management, business intelligence, portal, and mobile functionality, and you need to combine data from partners, suppliers, and customer systems. No matter how good-looking your report is, it’s only as useful as the data on which it is built; it is only as scalable as the platform that enabled it; and it is only as actionable as the applications that access, leverage, and expose these reports.

SAP Analytics and BI Reporting are enabled with sophisticated tools, as part of SAP NetWeaver.

back to top


Migrate Data — and Maintain High-Quality Information — Within Your SAP System


Scott Gidley
Co-founder and CTO
DataFlux

Each year, companies across the globe implement large-scale enterprise applications, only to have these projects under-perform — or completely fail — due to inconsistent, inaccurate, or unreliable data. Without a strategy to recognize and address data quality, most enterprise applications exhibit a “garbage in, garbage out” scenario. Put simply, poor-quality information can sabotage all efforts to improve internal efficiencies and enhance business decisions.

Since 1997, DataFlux has helped companies improve the quality of their data — and create a unified, consistent view of the enterprise. DataFlux technology helps companies analyze, improve and control the quality of their mission-critical data. With a certified interface to SAP NetWeaver, DataFlux allows companies to make high-quality data within SAP a critical part of the implementation project.

With DataFlux solutions, you can address issues of data quality and data integration as you migrate information from legacy systems to the new application. An easy-to-use interface allows business analysts and data stewards — those who know how the data should look in SAP — to build rules to standardize, verify, de-duplicate, and correct problematic data before it enters the new SAP application.

DataFlux also provides real-time or on-demand processing of records within the SAP environment. So, if an SAP user adds a new record that is a potential duplicate of an existing record, DataFlux matching technology helps uncover and flag that duplicate — allowing the user to append an existing record rather than create a new, redundant record. Or, if inaccurate data enters the system (such as a bad address or an invalid product number), DataFlux standardization and correction features can identify and address those issues before they become problems.

DataFlux solutions allow you to conduct critical data analysis, data quality, and data integration processes during the initial migration of data to SAP. You can then reuse those business rules in real-time via Web services to ensure that the data remains consistent, accurate, and reliable.

Build a Single, Unified View of the Enterprise

To help resolve data quality issues and build a solid data integration program, DataFlux provides the industry’s first platform that allows business users to design complex data improvement and integration rules — and immediately apply and expose those rules via a service-oriented architecture (SOA) throughout the enterprise. With this groundbreaking platform, organizations can finally load consistent, accurate, and reliable information into SAP — and manage the quality of new information in real-time. The DataFlux Data Quality Integration Solution turns your information into a strategic corporate asset. To learn more about DataFlux, visit www.dataflux.com.

back to top


Reporting for SAP Made Easy


Gord Breese
Vice President,
Global Alliances
Business Objects

It’s one of the most significant business challenges you face: leveraging your information assets to improve business performance. Reporting solutions from Business Objects, including the industry-standard Crystal Reports product line, can help you do just that. Chosen by SAP as a Global Software Partner, Business Objects offers operational reporting technology that is endorsed by and aligned with the SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (SAP NetWeaver BI) product strategy.

The creation of the BusinessObjects XI Built for SAP solution suite, containing Crystal Reports and Crystal Enterprise’s information infrastructure, along with other business intelligence essentials, represents the sixth generation of Business Objects products tightly integrated with SAP solutions, and a proven eleventh-generation platform for enterprise reporting.

Codevelopment with SAP

Since 2001, Business Objects has partnered with SAP to extend SAP BW’s reporting suite in the area of formatted reporting. The result is seamless integration with SAP NetWeaver BI and tight alignment with the SAP NetWeaver platform. Building on five years of successful codevelopment, SAP continues to OEM and resell Crystal reporting technology in the form of Crystal Enterprise — Enhanced SAP Edition — as an important component for formatted reporting provided out of the box within SAP solutions.

Business Objects XI Built for SAP provides presentation-quality reporting accessible from within SAP NetWeaver Portal

An Integrated Reporting Solution for SAP BW

Integrated with SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) as part of SAP NetWeaver BI, Crystal Enterprise — Enhanced SAP Edition — enables you to immediately choose from more than 100 customizable report templates and distribute up to 10 custom or preconfigured reports at no extra charge.

In addition to delivering the reports you need via the Web in an easy-to-use, printable format that can be modified as needed, a BAPI interface to SAP BW scales to support the largest SAP deployments. SAP R/3 customers not currently using SAP BW can also easily access and view data from SAP and non-SAP sources to get a complete view of the business.

Reporting from SAP R/3, SAP BW, and More

For those seeking to create custom reports using all their enterprise information, including accessing SAP R/3 and SAP BW data sources from within mySAP ERP and SAP BW, as well as non-SAP data, an enterprise license allows users to create and customize presentation-quality reports on their own, without relying on the specialized skills of programmers in IT.

Business Objects enables SAP customers to:

  • Get the information they need when they need it, and in an easy-to-use format to make better business decisions

  • Gain full access to all SAP and non-SAP data to better track, understand, and manage business performance

  • Empower people to easily create and securely deliver their own presentation-quality reports via the Web

A Complete Business Intelligence Solution for SAP Customers

Organizations invest heavily in SAP solutions to optimize their business processes. These companies also make critical business decisions using data from a variety of non-SAP applications. With 14 million licenses of our reporting technology shipped, Business Objects provides a choice reporting solution for organizations using SAP, as well as other business applications and data sources.

In addition, Business Objects provides a complete suite of business intelligence and analytics offerings for SAP customers — including reporting, query and analysis, performance management, data integration, and budgeting and planning — on a single, scalable platform that seamlessly integrates with the SAP solution-based environment.

Empowering employees with the information they need and in a format they require to quickly make better decisions is a primary goal for both SAP and Business Objects. With the introduction of BusinessObjects XI Built for SAP solutions, Business Objects enables organizations to provide every employee with timely information from SAP R/3, SAP BW, and non-SAP data sources, providing a single version of the truth across their business.

With BusinessObjects XI Built for SAP solutions, your organization can:

  • Gain analytic visibility into your business, leveraging SAP applications and non-SAP data

  • Address the needs of all employees — from information consumers, to analysts, to executives

  • Minimize IT expenditures, report development time, and end-user training

  • Improve financial and operational performance with real-time information

  • Reduce deployment and maintenance costs by centralizing information management, delivery, and security

Data Integration with SAP NetWeaver

Many organizations need to access heterogeneous data sources to get a complete view of their businesses. Within the BusinessObjects XI Built for SAP solutions suite, BusinessObjects Data Integrator gives organizations the flexibility of an enterprise-class data integration platform. Data Integrator accelerates the implementation of SAP BW data sources from within mySAP ERP and SAP NetWeaver BI by simplifying access to various disparate data sources for integration with your SAP NetWeaver environment.

Query and Analysis

The BusinessObjects XI Built for SAP solutions suite also delivers functionality that extends powerful query and analysis capabilities, like those provided by SAP’s Business Explorer (BEx), to business users throughout the organization. An intuitive interface empowers individuals to quickly and easily answer their own business questions without costly dependence on IT. Employees can interact with and share information inside SAP NetWeaver BI or a custom data warehouse, all within an intuitive self-service environment.

For More Information

To learn more, contact your Business Objects representative at +1 800 877-2340 or +1 604 681-3435, or visit www.businessobjects.com/solutions/sap.

Customer Adoption

Some of the world’s most successful enterprises have embraced business intelligence solutions from Business Objects to extract value from data in their SAP solutions, including: Airbus, Italtel, Total, Clariant International, Cutter & Buck, DVB Bank, Ferrovie dello Stato, British Standards Institution, Gefco, PolyOne, NVIDIA, and FirstEnergy Corp. Business Objects solutions are a business intelligence standard for SAP systems.

back to top


No Limitations, Perfect-World Reporting


Scott Lawrence
Director,
Product Marketing
Cognos

In a single product, Cognos 8 Business Intelligence on SAP NetWeaver meets all reporting needs, with business alerts, dashboards, scorecards, production and ad hoc reporting, and interactive analysis.

Business users of all kinds, at every level of the enterprise, depend on reporting for the information they need to make better decisions to drive corporate performance. In a perfect world, they would be able to focus on their reporting goals without worrying about where the data comes from or whether it’s all there. They would never need to think about which tool to use for the type of reporting they want to do. And they wouldn’t be limited by the types of information available or the ways they could use it.

In a perfect world, a single product would provide all users with the information they need, when they need it, in the ways they need it. Among other things, it would feature:

  • Personalized scorecards that would show at a glance where they stand relative to plan, and make it easy to drill down to the details that explain why

  • Customized dashboards that communicate complex information from across the company quickly and graphically, and that guide further exploration

  • Ad hoc queries or sophisticated business reports they could produce without help from IT

  • Flexible, wide-ranging analysis they could use to dig as deep and wide as they needed to truly understand and act on critical issues

  • Scheduled business or production reports delivered via email in the language of their choice

  • Business event management that would notify them of changes to significant business events that need attention

If SAP were a component of their infrastructure, the perfect-world reporting solution would be Powered by SAP NetWeaver. It would access multiple instances of SAP Business Information Warehouse (formerly called SAP BW, now part of SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, or SAP NetWeaver BI) for historical data and SAP R/3 for real-time operational data, as well as a multitude of non-SAP sources — both OLAP and relational. It would work with multiple versions of SAP, so that they could use it now and in the future without having to wait for upgrades to their R/3 or SAP NetWeaver BI systems to be completed. And, of course, it would be Web-based and Web-deployable.

Cognos 8 BI — Simple, Complete, Proven Reporting

This sort of no-limitations reporting has long been a promise of business intelligence. With Cognos 8 Business Intelligence (Cognos 8 BI) it is a reality. Cognos 8 BI meets all of these perfect-world criteria and more, in a single product that is simple, complete, and proven.

Simple Reporting

Cognos 8 BI provides all reporting capabilities in a single, Web-based product. Its intuitive, customizable interface integrates into an SAP NetWeaver Portal and other portals to provide personalized iViews with access to the widest possible range of reporting capabilities. It eliminates the need for business users to master different tools and techniques for different reporting tasks. Navigation is easy, and report and analysis authoring and consumption are drag-and-drop simple — right from your browser.

The simplicity of Cognos 8 BI is a boon to business users. But IT also benefits from the fact it is built on a single, Web-services-based, services-oriented architecture. As a zero-footprint, Web-based solution, Cognos 8 BI requires no desktop installs, plug-ins, or applets. It can be administered centrally and remotely. There is a single point of update. And business user self-service means that IT resources that might otherwise be tied up with report creation and maintenance are free for other projects.

Complete Reporting

Every aspect of reporting is included in Cognos 8 BI. In a single product it delivers all capabilities for all users and all data sources, including:

  • Active scorecarding that enables users to create strategy maps, impact analyses, cause-and-effect diagrams, and other elements of the Balanced Scorecard

  • Customized dashboards that provide immediate understanding of what is happening and what needs attention

  • Business, production, and ad hoc reporting that are self-service and multilingual, encompass multiple formats and pixel-perfect reports, feature flexible distribution methods, and enable reporting against any source — including SAP NetWeaver BI and SAP R/3

  • Robust analysis with guided exploration to lead users to the information they need

  • Business event management to automatically alert personnel when there is a need for action

No matter what their roles, with Cognos 8 BI consumers get clear data when they need it, the way they need it, and self-service capabilities. Executives benefit from at-a-glance dashboards, scorecards, and scheduled reports. Business managers have easy access to drillable information with the detail, context, and “why” behind the numbers. Professional authors can create reports with BI elements, sophisticated formatting, high-volume bursting via email and portals, and access to multiple SAP and non-SAP data sources in a single report.

Cognos 8 BI incorporates all corporate data from all sources. Although it integrates fully with SAP and other infrastructure components, it is version- and platform-independent. It can span multiple versions of SAP NetWeaver and other platforms. It leverages existing investments in security and data sources, including SAP NetWeaver BI, SAP R/3, and others.

Cognos 8 BI integrates into an SAP NetWeaver Portal to provide a single product solution for all reporting needs, including business alerts, dashboards, scorecards, production and ad hoc reports, and analysis.

Proven Reporting

Created and supported by a world leader in business intelligence, reporting, and performance management, Cognos 8 BI is built on the proven architecture introduced with Cognos ReportNet. One of the first products certified as Powered by SAP NetWeaver, ReportNet revolutionized corporate reporting, attracting more than 2,500 customers in just two years.

Simple, complete, and proven, Cognos 8 BI delivers on the promise of no-limitation perfect-world reporting. A single solution for all your business reporting needs, Cognos 8 BI lowers the overall cost of ownership for your enterprise reporting solution and maximizes the return on your investment in SAP. It enhances the ability of all personnel at all levels to make better decisions. And it means you can better manage corporate performance.

About Cognos

Cognos is a world leader in reporting, business intelligence, and enterprise planning software. Industry analysts, customers, and experts recognize Cognos’s leadership in these fields and in the emerging field of corporate performance management. They point to the breadth and excellence of Cognos performance management software as the source of this leadership. Founded in 1969, Cognos today serves more than 23,000 customers in over 135 countries. For more information, please visit http://www.ibm.com/solutions/sap/us/en/index.html.

back to top


Information Democracy:
Actionable Business Performance Information for Everyone


Rich Clayton
Vice President,
Product Marketing
Hyperion

You’ve invested significant resources in your SAP implementations, whether SAP R/3, mySAP Business Suite, SAP Business Information Warehouse (formerly called SAP BW, now part of SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, or SAP NetWeaver BI), and SAP NetWeaver. You are developing your enterprise data warehouse, although you still have data residing in disparate systems. All the data is there, but is it accessible to the decision-makers throughout your organization who need it? Or is it a constant drain on your IT organization to handle requests for reports and analysis?

The way to address the needs of both your business and IT functions is with a business performance management solution that accesses data across SAP and non-SAP systems and provides visibility into your operational and financial performance. The reporting and analysis capabilities of Hyperion System 9 democratize access to data, enabling business users to convert information into actionable insights to make timely business decisions.

In addition, your information needs depend on your role in the organization: Executives require a high-level view, business analysts need to query and analyze the data, financial managers need to consolidate and evaluate performance, and everyone needs production reports for operational snapshots. Hyperion System 9’s reporting capabilities address the needs of this full range of decision-makers in your organization.

Hyperion System 9 is a comprehensive performance-management solution that integrates financial management applications with a business intelligence platform into a modular system adaptable to any business need. Hyperion’s certified products integrate seamlessly and can be delivered through SAP NetWeaver Portal. 

Ad Hoc Queries for Business Analysis

Hyperion provides business analysts with the independence to create their own views of data from SAP and non-SAP solutions, and to explore this data graphically. Point-and-click features allow analysts to spot exceptions, discover trends, perform comparative analysis, and rapidly make informed decisions. When more detail is required, analysts can drill through within SAP NetWeaver BI and to SAP R/3 to access transactional detail data, while maintaining the context through a consistent point of view.

Production Reports for Operational Snapshots

Hyperion allows you to create, schedule, and publish operational reports of virtually unlimited size. Standard reports can be streamlined and customized with user-defined parameters. These presentation-quality reports can include a table of contents with navigation and search capabilities, and can be output in multiple formats, such as PDF, HTML, and Excel. Users can subscribe to reports that are of interest to them, accessed on-demand or delivered by email. Hyperion’s reports can be scheduled to run in limited batch windows, yet support massive data. Accessing large reports is optimized with on-demand paging, so that users can quickly access the information they need.

Financial Reports for Consolidation and Financial Management

Hyperion financial reporting enables business users to create book-quality financial reports directly from SAP NetWeaver BI. Without IT assistance, financial managers can quickly turn SAP NetWeaver BI data into the insights they need to make financial planning, management, and control decisions. A visual interface enables users to create reports that combine data and text, charts, graphs, and images. In addition, Hyperion provides a library of reusable components to streamline the process of building and maintaining complex financial reports. Users have complete control over the way reports look, as well as output options enabling wide distribution via print, PDF, and online viewing.

Analytics for Actionable Insights

Business information becomes actionable through analytics, which provide focused insights into an operational process, and a broader analysis of your organization’s financial and operational performance. Hyperion’s analytic engine delivers actionable insights into a broad range of functions — for all levels of employees — from the most technically astute analyst to the least technically sophisticated manager. This engine includes more than 250 out-of-the-box algorithms, functions, and procedural calculations for fast deployment. Hyperion analytics offer a visual exploration and navigation capability that enables even novice business users to discover trends and patterns rapidly, and to identify exceptions within their data. Hyperion also provides users with the ability to save data for multiple scenarios, so they can perform what-if analysis and scenario planning.

Hyperion delivers personalized interactive dashboards for business decision-making. 

Dashboards for Executive Decision-Making

To be effective, executives need a customized view of the information important to them in running their areas of the business. Hyperion addresses this need with dashboards that executives can personalize to evaluate business conditions visually and highlight issues requiring further investigation or action. With dashboards, executives can analyze information from SAP NetWeaver BI, mySAP Business Suite, and non-SAP sources in a single view. They can view the results of ad hoc queries, and production and financial reports. A wizard-driven interface requiring no programming skills is used to create these dashboards, allowing iterative dashboard development to address each executive’s specific requirements. In addition, mobile users can view and analyze business information through their dashboards even when they are offline. To make dashboards even more accessible, single sign-on is offered to both Hyperion and SAP NetWeaver.

About Hyperion

A member of the SAP NetWeaver Partner Program, Hyperion is a global leader in business performance-management (BPM) software. More than 10,000 companies — including 90 of the Fortune 100 — rely on Hyperion software to translate strategies into plans, monitor execution, and provide the insights to improve financial and operational performance. Hyperion’s analytics and business intelligence solutions are certified for integration with SAP NetWeaver and deliver powerful capabilities to complement and extend your SAP solution implementation. For more information about the benefits of complementing your SAP solutions with Hyperion products, please visit www.hyperion.com/SAP.

back to top


An Access Infrastructure Lowers the Cost of Crunching Numbers


Matt Lull
Relationship Manager
for SAP North America,
Citrix Systems

It may be a cliché, but successful corporations everywhere really do crunch the numbers — unfailingly. The need for accurate, timely data cuts across the spectrum of corporate titles. Sales representatives, CEOs, and vice presidents alike need reliable access to the latest corporate data and to the reporting tools that help them make sound decisions based on this data.

Your corporation can meet the critical demand for relevant numbers simply by providing access to SAP Business Explorer (BEx) Analyzer or BEx Browser, the reporting tools that leverage your company’s SAP Business Information Warehouse (formerly called SAP BW, now part of SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, or SAP NetWeaver BI). However, providing such access can pose significant economic- and security-related challenges. Determining the best strategy for providing this access requires careful evaluation.

Strategies for Providing Access to BEx Tools

Many users require access to business reporting tools. Their needs vary, as do their computers, operating systems, and network connections. Here are three strategies for giving a large, geographically diverse group of users access to BEx reporting.

Strategy 1 (least desirable): providing the BEx Analyzer client application on every user’s computer. This strategy is the most expensive for meeting users’ reporting needs. Even supposing that every user’s computer is already running the software foundation that BEx Analyzer requires — the Microsoft Windows operating system, SAP GUI, and Microsoft Excel — you can’t guarantee that every user’s version of this software will work equally well with the version of BEx Analyzer you plan to provide. To ensure an optimal reporting experience, your corporation will incur the substantial expense of evaluating and upgrading many users’ operating systems, SAP GUI, and Excel.

Your corporation can also expect to incur significant hardware costs. After all, you are adding functionality, and the more functionality you add, the more hardware resources you need to support this functionality. Because reporting software is arguably resource-intensive, odds are good that adding BEx Analyzer will require hardware upgrades for many users — especially if you must also add the SAP GUI and Excel.

Reporting is inherently bandwidth-intensive. Running reports over WAN connections can consume more than 240 Kbps/user, so you may need to upgrade your WAN infrastructure to support this activity.

Strategy 2 (improved): implementing Web-based access to SAP NetWeaver BI reporting. This strategy can save some of the costs associated with strategy 1 — and it offers greater flexibility. Mobile users can access the data they need from any device that has an Internet connection, as opposed to being tied to corporate computers. Users can view the results of queries and reports that the SAP NetWeaver BI back-end system produces. BEx Browser compresses to decrease the volume of data that passes between SAP NetWeaver BI and users’ workstations, so this strategy doesn’t require as much WAN infrastructure as strategy 1. And BEx Browser requires less local computing power than BEx Analyzer, so it’s less likely to require wholesale hardware upgrades.

However, the Web-based access strategy has some disadvantages: for example, it doesn’t entirely mitigate software costs, and it can exacerbate security challenges.

If users access data through BEx Browser, you don’t need to worry so much about their operating system, but you do need to worry about their browser software. To make Web-based access work, users’ computers must run a compatible, fully patched, and correctly configured browser. Depending on the number of users who need Web-based access to SAP NetWeaver BI reporting, the cost of ensuring that those browsers are optimized can be high, even when browser software is free.

In addition, users are free to reconfigure their browser and even alter its security settings — a capability that can increase the cost of managing access and open your company’s proprietary data store to damaging security breaches.

Strategy 3 (better): implementing a centrally deployed access infrastructure using Citrix products. This strategy saves substantially on the costs associated with implementing either strategy 1 or 2. Citrix is an SAP Global Technology partner and a member of the SAP NetWeaver Partner Initiative, so a Citrix access infrastructure should increase the value of your SAP NetWeaver technology platform. With a Citrix access infrastructure, you can access BEx Analyzer or BEx Browser — or both.

Both applications can run on a central server, and users only need to download a small Citrix client application that runs on most versions of most operating systems. With Citrix’s client software, users can access BEx Analyzer and BEx Browser (through a protected, fully patched, and optimized browser running on the central server). Because SAP NetWeaver BI reports run on a centralized server, high resource consumption on users’ local machines is never an issue. Further, only mouse clicks, keystrokes, and screen changes travel over your corporate WAN or the Internet, virtually eliminating bandwidth concerns.

This strategy also saves ongoing management costs: users cannot change settings that affect applications, and you manage one set of centrally located applications, as opposed to hundreds, or even thousands, of applications in offices all over the world. Further, it lets you cut deployment and upgrade times from months or weeks to hours.

Security

If your corporation is like most, it considers its data store one of its most valuable assets. Keeping data secure is a particular concern when users have access to SAP NetWeaver BI reporting. You can implement many strategies to secure the corporate data that resides on back-end servers — including SAP’s native role-based access controls. Likewise, you can implement a number of strategies — including Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) — for keeping your data safe as it traverses the Internet.

Unfortunately, many security breaches come from trusted users. Implementing a Citrix access infrastructure enables you to tighten security even for this elite class of users.

For example, BEx enables users to save their workbooks either to their local machines or to an SAP NetWeaver BI server, providing that the users’ roles allow this flexibility. In contrast, before allowing users to save their workbooks locally, a Citrix access infrastructure can determine whether it is safe to do so. It can scan users’ computers to determine whether they are corporate- or home-based. It can also determine whether the machines are running any security software — such as virus-scanning or firewall software — and whether they are connected to the public Internet or a private network.

Based on this information and your corporation’s security rules, the access infrastructure can then prevent users from copying data to their Windows clipboard, saving data locally, or printing to a local printer. In short, based on current security conditions, it can allow all, some, or none of the role-based privileges users normally enjoy — over an SSL-secured connection.

Citrix makes it easy to integrate applications such as Excel with the SAP NetWeaver BI environment.

Conclusion

To increase your corporate bottom line, you must arm users with the timely, accurate data they need to make sound business decisions. If your strategy for providing access to SAP NetWeaver BI data includes a Citrix access infrastructure, you can avoid cutting into these bottom-line gains because Citrix access infrastructures are very simple to deploy and exceptionally cost-effective. Citrix access infrastructures are also easy to manage and use, which decreases management costs and user-training expenses and increases user satisfaction. To learn more about Citrix access solutions for SAP, visit http://www.citrix.com/sap.

back to top


WebFOCUS for SAP: Right Information, Right People, Right Now!


Richard Sitt
Technical Director,
WebFOCUS Product Marketing
Information Builders

Faced with competitive market pressures, organizations are continuing to expand the use of business intelligence across the enterprise. WebFOCUS for SAP delivers operational business intelligence with simple, actionable reporting. The solution gives your organization the ability to access and integrate all enterprise data in real time, turn it into relevant, consistent information, and provide rapid information delivery to users — from executives, business analysts, and customers to all employees.

This includes frontline workers, who are now becoming BI users, required to access critical data to be proficient at their jobs. These users need dynamic reports with calculations, filters, and visualizations even though they may not be connected to the Internet.

Ad hoc query and OLAP analysis tools have found limited success in the power user community but have generally lacked the simplicity to put flexible information in the hands of the common user who may not have access to the network. Information Builder’s WebFOCUS Active Reports employs rich Web technologies and puts “simple” and “flexible” in the same package.

A WebFOCUS iView containing an Active Report within the SAP NetWeaver Portal

Portable BI

WebFOCUS Active Reports is so simple it empowers information consumers with the ability to analyze and customize their report for their specific needs. Users can now add filters, add calculations and visualization to columns, re-sort, and export to different output formats such as Excel. This functionality can be taken anywhere because an Active Report can be delivered through email or saved on any disk storage medium where it can be launched and used standalone.

Financial services organizations can have WebFOCUS Active Reports driving their customer-facing applications. Bank customers are now empowered to get the exact report they want (e.g., re-sorting their transactions by highest charge or adding a column to see percentage of total,) without having to re-run the query against the live system.

Putting the right information into the right hands at the right time is the purpose of WebFOCUS for SAP. And, when WebFOCUS Active Reports is put to work, users at all levels can make business decisions that can optimize the performance of the organization.

Powered by SAP NetWeaver

WebFOCUS for SAP helps organizations leverage and maximize their investment in SAP today. More users can make fast, accurate business decisions based on real-time information from all their data assets, found inside and outside of SAP.

To learn more about Information Builders’ SAP solutions, please visit: http://www.informationbuilders.com/solutions/sap.html.

back to top

An email has been sent to:






More from SAPinsider



COMMENTS

Please log in to post a comment.

No comments have been submitted on this article. Be the first to comment!


SAPinsider
FAQ