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Reporting and Analytics 2013 Preview: Podcast with Tony Guetersloh on SAP HANA, mobile BI

by Dave Hannon

August 12, 2013


In this podcast, Tony Guetersloh of TekLink Intl explains the benefits of the "mixed scenario" for SAP HANA and NetWeaver BW on HANA and provides his insights into the current state and future roadmap for mobile BI. Guetersloh will be a speaker at the upcoming Reporting and Analytics 2013 conference in Orlando Nov. 20-22. Go to Reporting2013.com for details.

You can listen to my conversation with Tony or read a transcript of our discussion, below.

 

Dave Hannon, SAPinsider:  Hello and welcome. This is Dave Hannon with SAPinsider. I’m joined today by Tony Guetersloh, a principal consultant at TekLink International. Tony’s also a presenter at our upcoming Reporting and Analytics conference in Orlando that is taking place November 20-22 in Orlando.

Welcome, Tony.

Tony Guetersloh, TekLink International: Hi, Dave. Thanks for having me.

Dave: Tony, one of the topics you’re presenting on at the conference is the mixed-scenario of SAP HANA and SAP NetWeaver BW on HANA.

I wanted to ask you first to explain what that is and how prevalent it is today among SAP customers.

Tony: Sure. The mixed scenario is an instance where a customer will have enterprise HANA installed and be using it to replicate data via SOP and building views and analytics on top of it using the HANA modeling studio. And then, alongside that, BW is running on top of HANA.

And when you implement that scenario, it gives you a lot of flexibility to expose views that you’ve created in the HANA Studio directly into BW, and consume them as data sources. It also allows you to expose some of your BW-constructed objects, such as your HANA-optimized cubes and DSOs, as views into your HANA Studio.

So it lets you get the best of both worlds, mixing and matching the capabilities of the tools together.

As far as its prevalence, we’ve seen it with a handful of customers, but it seems to be more with customers who took the early plunge into HANA, and had already installed and are running enterprise HANA over a year ago. And then with the advent of BW on HANA in the last year, they’ve added onto that and now are running kind of both together.

One thing I plan to cover in my session is for the customers that have not taken plunge yet, that are on the sidelines still, but want to get into HANA this year. They are trying to figure out what the best approach to take is — whether they go enterprise or BW on HANA. 

Hopefully from my session they’ll get some ideas of how they can maybe still go to a mixed scenario or evaluate which of the different scenarios work best for their current situation.

Dave:  Where does this all fit into the overall SAP HANA roadmap? Is this mix-and-match approach an intermediate step for customers coming at HANA from a few different approaches? Or is this a logical progression, as far you can see?

Tony: Well that’s a great question. And I do see this as sort of the next intermediary step in the roadmap.

There have been a lot of questions, I think, about whether or not HANA will truly replace BW --  if in the future BW goes away and BI just goes to HANA. And SAP has been very clear and adamant in saying no - there is still a definite need for an architected data warehouse, and BW will be that platform for SAP going forward.

So, the good news is that customers that already have BW, which a lot of SAP customers have, that investment is safe, they continue to invest in it, continue to innovate in it. And moving it to the HANA platform just gets them to that next step.

Where the mixed scenarios come in is that on the other side - by putting in Enterprise HANA and start doing stuff with that now - you can already gain a lot of benefits from that as far as getting toward real-time reporting or operational reporting, speeding up your transaction systems.

For the HANA roadmap, there’s just more and more coming on that side. Now there are new capabilities to run Business Suite on HANA and then also with HANA Live, which is kind of the analytical side.  That’s all happening on the enterprise HANA box.

But aside from that you still want your BW data warehouse in place, too.

So, to me it is a logical step to have that mixed scenario, and then as the new innovations are coming down the pipeline from SAP you can just continue to enhance on your Enterprise box and all the while your investment on BW is safe and continues to grow and innovate in the space of BI.

Dave: I know you’re also presenting at the Reporting and Analytics conference about evaluating the business case for taking BI mobile. I know mobile BI is a pretty hot topic these days. So I wanted to ask you, is there a most-common mistake you see companies make when they’re deciding which reports or dashboards to mobilize?

Tony: Well, yes and no. I see several mistakes.

Probably the one that’s the most common - and the easiest to make - is to rush into mobile without really using any criteria or deciding factors to decide what you want to mobilize.

Mobile reporting obviously is very exciting. It’s kind of a hot area right now and when companies start to see it, once they implement the tools that allow them to do that, they just want to throw everything and the kitchen onto the mobile platform.

And sometimes that’s OK, but really, it might not make sense for some things to go mobile.

That’s one of the things I’ll cover in my session -- really helping clients identify the criteria and go through to really evaluate what reports will provide the most value by putting them onto the mobile platform.

Dave:  Is there a particular example you can point to when mobilizing just didn’t bring as much value as expected?

Tony: Yes. There was one client I worked with a while back; they were so eager to put a lot of their reports on the mobile platform, they did it without working through some of the security and network issues ahead of time with their security team.

So, what they ended up with was that they could see their reports on their mobile devices, on their iPads or iPhones -- but it only worked when they were on their company network.

So they could look at it if they were in the office, but as soon as they stepped out and got on a public internet, they couldn’t access it because they couldn’t get through the firewall on their device. It was kind of a novelty that they could get to the access while they were in the office, but the whole point of mobility is being able to access it from anywhere and convenience — they didn’t really get that out of it since they had to come into the office anyway to use it.

I think that was an example where they probably didn’t get everything they were expecting off the bat.

Dave:  Last,  wanted to ask you  about what you see as the next logical step in SAP’s mobile BI strategy. I know a lot of folks are looking to see what’s going to come next, and I was wondering if there’s anything you’re expecting or hoping to see when it comes to mobile BI.

Tony: Well, what I would hope to see -  and expect the next step would be - is to be able to do more   building and editing of reports and dashboards directly on the device.

Currently, the way SAP’s mobile app works - at least for BI - is that you still have to build all the content in BusinessObjects, whether it’s Webi or dashboards or Crystal Reports. You still need to build those on your PC tools, and then you can view and navigate those reports on the mobile platform.

But when you look at what some of the other non-SAP third-party tools are doing on the mobile space, a lot of that now is giving people the ability to build and create their dashboards directly on their tablet or phone device without even needing the PC at all. And so I see that as probably the next logical step in SAP’s platform is to give actual edit and creation capabilities directly on the mobile device.

Dave: Great. Thanks, Tony.

To find out more about Tony’s sessions at the upcoming Reporting and Analytics conference in Orlando, November 20-22, you can go to reporting2013.com.

Tony Guetersloh, principal consultant at TekLink International, thank you for joining us today.

Tony: Well thank you, Dave, for having me. This has been fun.

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