What SAP Lumira Means for BI Data: Q&A with Dr. Berg on SAP HANA, Mobility & Data Integration with Self-Service Visualization

August 21, 2014

Thanks to all who joined our Q&A on SAP Lumira.  Dr. Bjarne Berg and his Comerit Labs colleagues Michael Basta and Rob Frye took reader questions on the SAP Lumira toolset, data flows for Lumira visualizations, as well as the Lumira Server and Lumira Cloud.

Readers posted questions including: 

  • Is SAP Lumira able to combine data from BW and local data (i.e. flat files, excel data) in one analysis overview?
  • What is the difference between Lumira vs Visual Intelligence vs Explorer vs Design Studio?
  • Is it possible to export Lumira data to Excel?
  • Is there any functionality that we can find in Lumira that other vendors can´t offer?
  • Where do the results of the data mashups get stored?
  • Is Lumira intended to augment or replace reporting tools such as WebI or Analysis for OLAP?
  • When will Lumira support BICS?
  • What are scenarios for combining SAP BusinessObjects BI with Lumira?

For the full discussion, review the chat replay or read the edited transcript below.


Live Blog Q&A with Dr. Berg, Michael Basta & Rob Frye on SAP Lumira

SAPinsider: Welcome to the live chat with BI experts Dr. Bjarne Berg, Michael Basta, and Rob Frey on SAP Lumira.

Looking forward to a great discussion on Lumira tools as well as managing the data flows for Lumira self-services, and integration with other BI tools, mobile devices and SAP HANA.

Bridget Kotelly, Reporting & Analytics 2014: Thank you for joining us for our latest BI Q&A! We’re pleased to have Dr. Berg and his colleagues Michael Basta and Rob Frye of Comerit Labs here with us. The topic today is SAP Lumira – looking at the tool, but also the data flows for the visualizations that are created with the tool.   

Welcome, Dr. Berg, Michael, and Rob! Always great to have you join us again! 

Rob Frye, Comerit: Hi Bridget! It's great to be here. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to discuss Lumira with the participants.

Mike Basta, Comerit: Hello, everyone. Thank you for the event!

Dr. Berg, Comerit: Hi, and welcome to this event. We will start with answering the questions that were posted earlier.

Comment From Anthony

There are rumors that Lumira will replace (or is replacing?) Analysis for OLAP. What's your vision?            

Dr. Berg: Hi Anthony,

This is not the first time we have heard of this rumor. As with most rumors, until you hear it officially from SAP it is just that, a rumor. I can say that SAP has announced that SAP BusinessObjects Explorer functionality will be merged with, and the bulk of the development resources devoted to, SAP Lumira over time. While it may be a possibility at some point in the future that Lumira could replace Analysis for OLAP, we have not received anything official from SAP regarding this rumor.

In our opinion, we highly doubt that Lumira will replace Analysis for OLAP, as they are tools that are very different.

Comment From shiva

How does Lumira compare with other products in the space (Tableau, Spotfire)?

Rob Frye: That's a great question.

Lumira is more similar to Spotfire than to Tableau. Tableau offers a different set of features and is geared towards more technically inclined users. Lumira’s interface is rather simple and does not require a super-technical understanding of the data. However in Lumira, you can create and utilize custom calculated variables and measures in a more simple way when compared to something like Tableau.

Comment From Guest

Is Lumira intended to augment or replace reporting tools such as WebI?

Dr. Berg: Lumira does not replace any BOBJ BI tools as of yet. It simply fills a void in SAP's portfolio for data visualization with a cool and simple to use tool. Over time it may evolve to something else as new features are added, but for now, it does not remove any of the other tools.         

Comment From shiva

What are the design/architecture/deployment considerations when choosing a tech platform?

Dr. Berg: Hi Shiva,

Lumira requires UNX universes currently and BEx functionality is extremely limited. On the server side installation, Lumira requires a plug-in to be installed to integrate with the BI platform. Lumira reports can only be shared to the BI platform if the plug-in is installed. Other options for sharing include sharing via Lumira Cloud. SAP HANA is the recommended platform for utilizing Lumira.

Comment From Grant

Wondering when (or if) Lumira will support BICS.

Dr. Berg: Hi Grant,

While Lumira is technically capable of connecting to data through a BEx query, the advanced options for consuming that data within Lumira are somewhat curtailed. At this time, SAP has not released any further information about when/if BEx query integration via BICS will be fully implemented.

Comment From Guest

What are scenarios for combining SAP BusinessObjects BI with Lumira?

Mike Basta: The upcoming combined functionality with Design Studio and the ability to publish to Explorer are good reasons to integrate with BusinessObjects

Comment From shiva

What is the commercial model for Lumira and the approximate license & service cost?

Dr. Berg: Hi Shiva,

Lots of good questions here. This one requires a lot of details. So this answer is going to be somewhat long.

SAP Lumira software is designed to let you pull data directly from enterprise and ad hoc sources and bring them together in a repeatable way without having to ask for an IT organization’s help. Point-and-click data manipulation lets you organize and consolidate data quickly and without a single line of code or an additional modeling layer.  With the software's ability to connect to the SAP HANA platform, businesses get access to real-time answers buried in massive amounts of data.

With SAP Lumira, you can:

  • Pull, prep and visualize data without a single line of code
    • Combine, organize and enrich enterprise and ad-hoc data sources to find new ways of looking at your business
    • Consume data the way you process thoughts: fast, interactive, and visual
    • Get real-time answers on any volume of data
    • View the big picture and drill down to details

The SAP Lumira Standard Edition is currently priced at $995.00. The requirements and specifications are the following:

• Operating systems: Windows 8 64-bit, Windows 7 SP1 64-bit; Windows 7 SP1 32-bit, Windows Server 2008/x 64-bit

• Memory: 4 GB

• Disk space: 20 GB

• Data sources: JDBC data sources with access to GreenPlum 4, IBM DB2 v9 and 10, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and 2012, MySQL 5, Netezza Server 4, 5 and 6, Oracle 10 and 11, Oracle Exadata, PosgresSQL 9,, Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise 15.5, Sybase IQ 15, Sybase SQL Anywhere 12, Teradata 12, 13, and 14; SAP HANA; Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013; OData 2.0

Comment From Martin

Question about sizing published data sets for HANA Lumira Server…

Dr. Berg: Hi Martin,

The number of users, types of users, usage patterns, number of BI tools included in the Lumira family, kinds of data set supported by HANA as well as the deployment options supported by the suite all factor into a series of variables that affect the successful deployment of Lumira. No configuration fits all customers.

Sizing HANA services is very different compared to sizing of other types of enterprise software. BI is a very resource intensive task. In addition, BI can be very erratic, since the load relies a lot on the interaction of users. The act of extracting information from a potentially large amount of data requires adequate amounts of processing power and exercises all the subsystems of a HANA system. Having the right amount of capacity in your system is key to success.

More information can be found here.

Comment From Babak Shafiei

Publishing user datasets to SAP HANA is a great feature. What are the security design considerations, or best practices around managing various schemas to secure data models without complicating the security design?

Rob Frye: Hi Babak,

This is going to be kind of a lengthy response since this is a deep question.

The best practices for managing these schemas will follow the same basic principles which are applied in allowing/restricting access to any schema in HANA. The views which you’ll build on top of the datasets should be created with analytical privileges. The analytical privileges will restrict user access to only the data which is commonly available for the user role which is connected to the view.

Not to turn this into a discussion of HANA security, but let me expand on this a bit. In SAP HANA Studio, a user can only see a schema if one of the following conditions applies:

1. The user has privileges for at least one object in the schema

2. The user owns at least one object in the schema

This schema filtering only applies when the schema filter option is activated within the security landscape of your HANA environment. And when privileges are checked for users, the user will have all privileges granted specifically to his user ID as well as all privileges granted to his user role.

Comment From Siraj

How do you publish Lumira documents on SharePoint to be displayed on the company's portal and have the data refreshed after every few hours or each day?

Rob Frye: Hi Siraj,

That's a great question!

As of the current release of Lumira you can publish and share visualizations using SAP Lumira Cloud. There are discussions around planned innovations which will allow for embedded visualization within a website, including MS SharePoint, in future updates of this product.

Comment From Venkat

What is the difference between Lumira vs Visual Intelligence vs Explorer vs Design Studio?

Mike Basta: Hello, Venkat. In 2013, SAP Visual Intelligence was renamed to SAP Lumira. With this change SAP Lumira also marked a new chapter for SAP’s Enterprise Self Service BI solutions and will offer tight integration with SAP’s next-generation cloud BI platform, SAP Lumira Cloud. SAP Lumira (like Visual Intelligence) is geared around quick discovery and analysis of a dataset. SAP Lumira and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer are both complementary and integrated to each other. SAP Lumira allows analysts to load, mash-up and manipulate data and then share their results back into SAP BusinessObjects Explorer for distribution over the web and onto mobile devices. SAP Design Studio is a BI tool geared around developing dashboards and applications.             

Comment From Marcelo

Is there any functionality that we can find just in Lumira that any other vendors can´t offer?

Dr. Berg: Hi Marcelo. The graphs are a bit more complex and the integration with SAP HANA and SAP Security is simple and easier to manage with need for AD and LDAP (also supported). But beyond this there are also tools from SAS, Cognos and others that are cool, but require more 'custom' installs and multiple tool management.

Comment From Carlos Machorro

Is it possible to export the data to Excel?

Rob Frye: Hi Carlos,

Yes, it is possible to export the data to Excel as with many of the other SAP BusinessObjects tools. Great question!

Comment From Carlos Machorro

Is it possible to export a visualization to PDF?

Mike Basta: Carlos, yes, under "Share". You have the option to highlight a visualization and click "Print Visualization" which allows saving to PDF. You may also send a visualization via email as a PNG file through Lumira.

Comment From shiva

Does it support geospatial analytics with GIS integration?

Rob Frye: Hi shiva,

Thanks for the question.

The SDK can be used to integrate GIS mapping. Here is a blog that walks you through integrating ESRI ArcGIS mapping into Lumira:             

Comment From Sankar

What is required for installing Lumira on both server side and client side. We are in the process of migrating our BW to SAP HANA and want to install Lumira, too.

Dr. Berg: Hi Sankar,

This is rather simple. You install Lumira on its own server, connect it to SAP BW and pass security parameters (all this is explained step-by-step in the install guide on SAP Marketplace). After that you can look in the PAM (product availability matrix to see what browser, add-on software releases are supported depending on the version of Lumira you are installing. This is subject to changes, so always refer to the install guide and the PAM when installing the software.

There are also a few other cool features you want to consider. For Example, to publish Lumira files and datasets to BI, the Lumira add-on must be installed to the BI platform, which in turn needs to have a secure connection to an SAP HANA database. This requires BI 4.1 SP03 or higher, with RESTful web services installed and configured. A Server Intelligence Agent (SIA) must be running. On the HANA side, HANA SP08, Revision 80 or higher is required, with Lumira server version 1.17 or higher installed, and a HANA Technical user created with the correct roles. Once these requirements are met, the user (using Lumira Standard Edition, version 1.17+) uses Lumira's built-in publishing capabilities.

Comment From Martin

When will Lumira Server be generally available? Can we download the BI add-on component for BusinessObjects?

Rob Frye: Hi Martin, Lumira Server has been generally available for licensed customers since the spring of 2014. So you should have access to it now, as long as you’re licensed for it.    

Comment From Tjwan

Hello, I am not familiar what Lumira can/cannot do and was hoping to get more insight in this session

Mike Basta: Hi, Tjwan. In addition to this session, you can experience Lumira first-hand by installing the free Personal Edition:

You can also set up a free user account in Lumira Cloud.

Comment From Guest

I visited the SAP BO Labs in Paris a few months ago and there it is confirmed that it will take at least 1 year before Explorer functionalities will be available in Lumira

Rob Frye: Yes, although we haven't seen an official timeline for this unification of Explorer functionality with Lumira, about 1 year seems like a pretty solid guesstimate for when some of the Explorer functions such as facets will be available. Thanks for the confirmation!

Comment From Guest

Is Lumira able to combine data from BW and local data (i.e. flat files, excel data) in one analysis overview?

Mike Basta: Yes, Lumira has the capability to combine many different data sources into a single overview, including BW and flat files. Please check this link for more information about the Lumira toolset.

Comment From Becca

What are the licensing paths for enterprise BOBJ customers?

Dr. Berg: Hi Becca,

For most enterprise customers with a large user base, it is advisable to contact your account executive directly. You may already have negotiated discounts and pre-arranged enterprise access to tools (i.e. comprehensive site licenses), so it is always best to get a quote from your account exec instead of relying on the $995 general full-price license.                        

Comment From Jeff

Regarding scenarios for combining SAP BusinessObjects BI with Lumira, could you please give more details?

Dr. Berg: Hi Jeff,

You can see a demo of this here. 

Comment From shiva

What is the current customer base on Lumira?

Rob Frye: Lumira is being used by many companies such as the NFL and Hospitals. Lumira is still relatively new, so adaptation is just beginning, but it’s happening fast. (More information here)

Comment From Marcelo

About the combination of data sources: Is there any substantial new feature to the new version?

Rob Frye: Hi Marcelo,

There are several new features in the latest release:

1. Better use of extensions

2. Optimized exploration options for mobile applications

3. Improved SAP BW support

4. Drivers for big data

5. Enhanced chart customizations

6. Better sharing and exporting options for stories

7. Smart searches based on popularity and usage                         

Comment From Özay Gül

Bit of side step to Design Studio as this is mentioned a few times. Do you know when the parallel processing of BEx Queries will be supported? Currently it is very bad user experience if we see that queries are being executed sequentially...

Dr. Berg: Hi Ozay,

You are right, while the BW server processes queries in parallel, the front-end show the execution in step-by-step (non-parallel) calls. A simple way to take care of this is to use BWA for older systems, or simply bite the bullet and go to HANA.

When I demo BI and Lumira, I show 3 dashboards, Lumira, WebI and Analysis with 1.2 billion rows at the same time, and it takes about 12 seconds on slow wi-fi. So HANA makes it more tolerable (and cool!)

Comment From Ciaran

Is this a tool you see business users using or IT delivering to the business?

Comment From dan

Can you comment on WebI vs. Lumira in terms of functionality or target user groups?   

Dr. Berg: Hi Ciaran, Dan,

Rob is pulling together a great overview slide that answer this and all other BOBJ tools.

Rob Frye: Here's a handy breakdown of each BOBJ tool and their intended audiences. Just click on the chart to expand the image. [See post at 1:02 in the chat replay, above, and click on the image to enlarge]

Comment From Martin

Where do the results of the data mashups get stored?

Rob Frye: Hi Martin,

Those mashups are stored under Documents > SAP Lumira documents. Good question!

Comment From Özay Gül

Hello, a couple of weeks ago, we created a heatmap in Lumira cloud, where we could see Sales value per site and product range, and the colors of the heatmap were defined by another measure (variance). But, we noticed a few weeks ago, that Lumira cloud got updated to a newer version, and since then the functionality changed for the chart type! We can no longer define the heatmap colors based on the variance. And, if we use the variance as measure, we cannot see the sales amount when he hovers over the box. How is this possible?

Dr. Berg: Hi Ozay,

We noticed the same and it is irritating that control changes on existing objects, instead of making a new object. We assume that this is an error, or simply an oversight from SAP (could be intentional). I recommend opening a dialog on SCN in the forum and ask why this occurred. But for now, we have not seen any way around this.

Comment From Saubhagya

Hi, two questions here 1) what about Lumira licensing cost? 2) What is the future road map for Lumira?

Mike Basta: 1) SAP Lumira Server is currently licensed under the SAP BusinessObjects BI license model.

2) Further information about the roadmap can be found here.  

Comment From Keerthi

What is the advantage of having Lumira vs. BOBJ tools?

Rob Frye: Hi Keerthi,

It's really not a question of picking one tool over the others in this case. Instead, Lumira is meant to augment the existing tools that are already available. Lumira is meant to be flexible and streamlined, so users can focus on quickly getting an answer to their reporting questions. Other tools like WebI and Analysis also have their roles to fulfill. WebI is powerful for ad hoc reporting, and Analysis is meant for...well...deeper analysis of your data. :)

Comment From Martin

The integration of Lumira and Explorer: Is there now a delivery/implementation dependency in that published story boards require Explorer for end user consumption?

Dr. Berg: Hi Martin,

Yes somewhat... The simple fact is that Lumira and BO Explorer shares the same platform components, so you cannot really 'untangle' these products from each other. But for the developers and end users, they look, feel and act as two separate products (for now...) :-)

Comment From Martin

Can the Lumira server be installed stand alone? We have been led to believe that it requires a HANA server to be installed to host it?

Rob Frye: Hi Martin,

Excellent question. The good news is that a HANA server is not required to use Lumira. What is true is that HANA will be required if you want to publish datasets created through Lumira, but almost all the other Lumira functions do not require a HANA server.

However, to install Lumira SERVER, a HANA server is required. Lumira can be used as a tool without Lumira Server, but to install Lumira Server, a HANA server is required.  

Comment From Keerthi

Hi, I would like to know what is the value add to the customer with this tool.

Dr. Berg: Hi Keerthi,

It is basically a data visualization tool that is so easy to use without programming skills that power users, authors and analysts can make powerful interactive graphs without IT involvement.  Think of this as another step in the BI Self-Service evolution.

Mike Basta: The primary values from Lumira to clients are the ease of use, speed, ease of sharing, and self-service capabilities, requiring little to no use of IT resources.      

Comment From Martin

Specifically around publishing of data sets: Is there a sizing guide for determining volumes of data to reserve storage capacity for? We understand and appreciate the BI sizing in terms of query response and cpu/network, but have not been able to find storage guidelines

Mike Basta: Martin, at this time there appears to be no published information from SAP regarding storage capacity. There is a sizing guide from SAP here:

Comment From Guest

In what situations/circumstances we use BusinessObjects Dashboards or SAP Lumira?

Dr. Berg: Hi Guest,

I would avoid BOBJ Dashboards. For dashboards I would use DesignStudio and for visualizations I would use Lumira.

Comment From Keerthi

What is the advantage of having Lumira over BOBJ tools?            

Dr. Berg: Hi Keerthi,

The major thing is more complex graphs; that it’s simpler to develop, use, and deploy on mobile; and no IT skills (or low IT skills) required. So overall, a great tool to present high-volume data in a visual manner.

Comment From Özay Gül

We'd like to investigate the user administration in Lumira Cloud. Is there a way we can acquire more information on this topic? Maybe some documentation on what exactly we can do with this, or maybe an Enterprise cloud account we can try out?

Rob Frye: Hi Keerthi,

There are a lot of good user guides available from SAP at There are user, security, and developer guides for Lumira Cloud available from that site.

Comment From Sekar Kannaiyan

To create a business case for Lumira, what can you emphasize in Lumira over Tableau? Can you provide an insight on what Lumira can do better than Tableau/Qlickview?

Dr. Berg: The major business case is that it is an integrated SAP tool that lives in the SAP 'universe' of tools and support models. Adding ad hoc competing tools with overlapping functionality from a variety of vendors is a major step backwards to the 1990s when support costs were high, skills were fragmented and business units had a 'wild-west' period with dozens of incompatible tools. That is what we left (let us not go back there)...

Comment From Keerthi

How long does it take to implement this product? is there anything like a Rapid Deployment Solution for this too?

Dr. Berg: Hi Keerthi,

No real RDS here :-); But we are implementing Lumira, Installing server/connection/security and providing admin and developer training in 8-12 weeks as part of BI Self-service projects.

Comment From Sekar Kannaiyan

Are mandatory variables from BEx query supported in Lumira?

Rob Frye: Hi Sekar,

This is a good question. Unfortunately, the support for BEx queries in Lumira is still very limited. What we've found is that connections to BEx queries are available, but the analysis tools that are available once the connection has been established in Lumira are very sparse. Hopefully, SAP will be expanding the integration with BEx queries in future releases, but for now, connecting through a BEx query is not our recommended practice.         

A quick way to use data in BW/HANA is simply to use views and connect to this instead of BEx queries. With BW 7.4 this is very simple.

Comment From shiva

Any further documents/links on the product features and positioning will be really helpful

Dr. Berg: Hi Shiva,

Great product documents and links can be found  in these documents: What's new in 1.18,  the Lumira  Master Guide  and the Lumira Cloud user guide.

Comment From Guest

Sorry, for my question, where can I find documentation regarding the combination of BW and local data?

Mike Basta: Since Lumira is still quite new, there isn't as much documentation available as there surely will be. Our experience is that any data sources Lumira can connect to can be used within any single visualization.

Dr. Berg: Hi all,

Thanks for joining us today, we had about 40 great questions. If you did not get your questions answered today, or need more information, you can meet me and my team at the Reporting and Analytics Interactive conference in Atlanta this fall, and also post questions to this email address:


Rob Frye: I want to personally thank everyone for attending and for all the great questions you've asked. I really enjoyed the conversation and look forward to talking to you all in the future. Have a great day, and let us know if we can help you!  

Mike Basta: Thanks to everyone for the questions. I hope this was informative for everyone.  

Bridget Kotelly: Thanks to everyone for some great questions! And a big thank you to Dr. Berg, Michael and Rob! 

You can review this Q&A at anytime – we’ll post the Q&A replay and the transcript here on the Q&A page.

For more BI tips, I also invite you to view our BI Channel for Dr. Berg’s most recent blogs, including coverage of Lumira, and join us SAPinsider’s Reporting & Analytics 2014 INTERACTIVE October 27-29. Dr. Berg will be presenting a number of sessions and hands-on labs.

Thank you again to Dr. Berg, Rob and Michael and looking forward to seeing you soon, Berg!

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