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Q&A on SAP BI 4.2: What’s Happening with SAP’s BI Products, and What Does It Mean for You?

May 04, 2016

During this live Q&A session, Jayne, Ty Miller, Olivier Duvelleroy, and several other key product leaders from the BI product groups at SAP, including SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, SAP Lumira, SAP Design Studio, SAP Analysis for Office, and SAP BusinessObjects Crystal Reports, gathered to answer readers' questions on the road ahead for SAP’s BI products, how BI 4.2 can deliver on your needs, and any questions in light of Gartner's recent Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms. Questions were asked such as:

  • What advancements does BI 4.2 bring?
  • What are the Design Studio release cycle patterns and what are some of the key product enhancement topics?
  • We are running our business on BI 4.1 SP5 and planning to upgrade to 4.2 this year. Which service pack do you suggest we go with?
  • What changes will there be in Lumira with BI 4.2?
  • What are the most interesting Lumira capabilities that have been released recently, or will be released soon?

We've provided a transcript below, which includes the questions grouped under the following headings:

  • New Features in SAP BI 4.2
  • Strategies for Upgrading
  • General Platform Information
  • SAP Lumira
  • SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio
  • SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence
  • SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Microsoft Office
  • Mobile Strategies
Live Blog SAP BI 4.2, what’s happening with SAP’s BI products, and what it means for you
 

Transcript:

Editor's note: For the transcript, you'll find the questions grouped under the following headings:


Natalie Miller, SAPinsider: Hello and welcome to today’s live Q&A on SAP BI 4.2. I’m Natalie Miller, features editor of SAPinsider and insiderPROFILES, and I’m thrilled to introduce the members of today’s expert panel! Joined with us today is Jayne Landry, Global VP & GM of Business Intelligence at SAP; Ty Miller, Vice President of Product Management for SAP Cloud for Analytics; Olivier Duvelleroy, General Manager of Enterprise Business Intelligence at SAP; Adrian Westmoreland, an SAP Product Manager; Grégory Botticchio, a Product Manager for Web Intelligence at SAP; Alexander Peter, Director of Product Management at SAP; and finally, David Stocker, Senior Product Manager at SAP.

I’d also like to introduce Allan Pym of APOS, who will help facilitate the Q&A today. 

Jayne Landry, SAP: Hello, everyone. I’m joining you today from Germany!

Allan Pym, APOS: Hello, everyone.

Ty Miller, SAP: Hello from groovy Vancouver!

Adrian Westmoreland, SAP: Hello all. I’m looking forward to today’s session.

Olivier Duvelleroy: SAP: Hello, everyone; Olivier joining from France.

Alex Peter, SAP: Hello, from Walldorf!

Gregory Botticchio, SAP: Hello everyone from Paris!

David Stocker, SAP: Hello again, from Walldorf!

Natalie Miller: Hi, everyone, thank you all so much for being here today! There are already many questions from readers coming in, but I know Allan has some questions for the panelists to kick things off, so Allan, I will pass things over to you.

Allan Pym: APOS is very pleased to be part of today’s session, and we are thrilled to have such a high-caliber and well-rounded expert panel today. APOS is a long-standing and well established SAP partner, with a very tight focus on helping customers make the most of their SAP BI deployments. We recognize the importance of SAP BI 4.2 and hope that today’s session is helpful in building up customer knowledge for their deployment planning. Let’s get to it!

Jayne, it has been almost two years since you wrote your well-known blog post, which outlined plans for convergence of SAP BI products. That piece caused quite a stir at the time, and it has been an important reference point for the SAP BI community to look to for guidance on SAP BI product direction and for customers to chart their SAP BI course.

How has the product convergence process been going since that time?

Jayne Landry: I can't believe it’s been two years! Our goal with convergence was to help customers run simple. We laid down some ground rules: 1. Make it easy to move or don’t make users move at all. 2. Prioritize the features that will help users to move sooner. 3. Never expire content. We’ve stayed true to those rules and made significant progress on convergence and interop. And in addition to simplifying the product line, we’ve also simplified pricing.

Allan Pym: Jayne, have the end objectives of the convergence process changed from what you outlined back then?

Jayne Landry: No, our objectives remain the same: converge the portfolio, improve interoperability between the clients, and ultimately simplify the customer landscape.

Allan Pym: Ty and Olivier, how has the convergence process been most evident within the products you work most closely with?

Ty Miller: Lumira has benefitted significantly from our convergence strategy. Of note, it can now completely replace SAP BusinessObjects Explorer due to its capabilities around facets, automatic Viz recommendations, stories, direct connectivity to HANA, etc.

Convergence is also evident through the fact that Lumira is now a first-class citizen on the BI platform through our Lumira Server for BI Platform (LS4BIP) release, rich support of BW meta data, a full .unx query panel, and the ability to launch a Lumira document directly from Design Studio that is pre-populated with the Design Studio data.

Olivier Duvelleroy: It’s the same for SAP Design Studio, which now integrates well with the BI platform.

We’re also integrating all the Excel plug-ins into Analysis for Office - first we’re integrating EPM with AO 2.1, and in the next 12 months we’re looking to add Live Office to AO.

Finally, on the reporting side, most Deski features are now in WebI 4.2. We’re also looking to close gaps between Crystal for Enterprise and CR Classic.

New Features in SAP BI 4.2

Allan Pym: OK, great. Thanks. Let’s turn our focus to the recent release of SAP BI version 4.2 and some of the key advancements with that version. Let’s start with the BI platform.

Jayne, can you give us your thoughts on the top three or four new features of the BI platform in 4.2?

Jayne Landry: There’s so much in the 4.2 release it’s hard to only pick three! If I have to pick, here’s my favorites:

  1. Management: BI 4.2 is an update, not an upgrade, and IT admins will love the new admin cockpit
  2. Performance: It includes parallel queries, platform performance optimizations, and HANA online for WebI, CR, DS, and Lumira
  3. Commentary: WebI is the first client tool to use it, but we’ve implemented it as a platform service, so it can ultimately be consumed by all the clients

Comment from Guest: Does SAP BI 4.2 support responsive design: build once, use in any device?

Ty Miller: It does not - yet. We are looking into this. Currently, we have our full browser interface for the desktop/laptop experience and native iOS and Android apps for mobile.

Olivier Duvelleroy: We have plans to introduce a new HTML5 viewer in the BI Launchpad, for all BI content, that will provide a responsive way of consuming the content. This will start early next year and will progress towards this goal of responsive design.

Comment from Guest: Does SAP BI 4.2 support self-service and embedded analytics? Does it support R models to predict and prescribe SCM, Finance, and Procurement?

Ty Miller: Yes. BI 4.2 supports self-service through the Lumira Server for BI platform integration. It also has a very rich SDK for embedded analytics. Our predictive analytics solution, as well as HANA, supports R.

Comment from Jason Friederich: I read a comment on forumtopics that indicated Data Services is included with the platform license now. Can you confirm this? Which versions does this include?

Olivier Duvelleroy: It’s actually Data Integrator, not the full Data Services. And it is included in the BI Suite license, not the BI Platform license. If you are licensed for the BI Suite (which has existed since 2011), you will now have access to SAP IQ and Data Integrator (up to 8 cores) and one copy of Power Designer.

One of the advantages of being licensed for the BI Suite is you get access to new software as we make it available, such as Lumira Server for BIP.

Comment from Bob Bentley: Does 4.2 now support selective LCMBIAR import using promotion management? This was mentioned during upgrade seminar I attended last fall.

Adrian Westmoreland: Yes. With promotion manager, selective retrieval of objects from an LCMBIAR file in 4.2 is available. A new job will be initiated based on selection, secured via the ‘Edit LCMBIAR’ function right in CMC, and available in both the GUI and Command Line.

Comment from Venkat: What are the new features in BI 4.2 when compared to BI 4.1?

Olivier Duvelleroy: We have many “What's New” presentations  for  4.2:  http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-68331 

Comment from Phanisekhar Gorti: What are the new additions, and how can we take it our customers?

Ty Miller: Hi Gorti. You can find information on what's new here:

BI 4.2:  http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-68333

Lumira:  http://scn.sap.com/community/lumira/blog/2015/11/21/whats-new-in-sap-lumira-129-summary and  http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-71547 

Comment from Phanisekhar Gorti: What are the new features in 4.2? With day-to-day technology changing, is 4.2 building any connections with the Big Data space? How do you want to take this into the market in the near future?

Gregory Botticchio: New BI4.2 features are available here : http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC...

Regarding Big Data, the BI4.2 is already capable to supporting all of these scenarios. You have to leverage the semantic layer to achieve this.

Comment From Véronique: Will there be easier ways to connect to BW in BO 4.2 (connect to the InfoCube and not to queries)?

Gregory Botticchio: There has been no change to the WebI BEx Direct Access, but in BI4.2, we have added the BEx Authored Universe in order to help business users to give a business meaning to their BEx queries.

Comment from Jana: Hi. Focusing on compelling data visualizations and analytics (with possible R integration), what's SAP’s roadmap for beating competitors? Thanks.

Ty Miller: Jana, see these links: https://service.sap.com/~sapidb/011000358700000212382013E.pdf  and https://service.sap.com/~sapidb/011000358700000390622012D.pdf

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Strategies for Upgrading

Comment from Neelima: Hello, all. We are running our business on BI4.1 SP5 and planning to upgrade to 4.2 this year. Which service pack you suggest?

Olivier Duvelleroy: 4.2 SP2 is currently available, and 33 of the 56 customers who participated in Ramp-Up are already in production with this SP.

The next support pack, SP3, is due this summer and will have additional enhancements that may be interesting to you on the comments (comments on charts or at the cell level), but SP2 already has many new features compared to 4.1 SP5. One of the nice ones is the global input control that was released with 4.1 SP6.

Comment from Whinny: Our team is preparing to upgrade from BI 4.0 by starting fresh with a new install of 4.2. Can you highlight any challenges we might encounter by skipping over 4.1 and any specific issues we may encounter with the new install?

Adrian Westmoreland: You should not encounter any specific issues moving from 4.0 to 4.2 with a fresh install. Plan your content movement and testing across the two environments and then there will be a lot of new functionality in 4.2 to take advantage of.

Comment from Tom Ashley: Please, can you confirm if moving from SAP BusinessObjects BI, Edge edition 4.0 to 4.1, and then 4.2, is possible? And if so, will it require any license changes? Is there an Edge 4.1 / Edge 4.2 edition?

Olivier Duvelleroy: No need for a license change. You can upgrade to all new versions of the products that you are licensed for; therefore, you can go for 4.1 or 4.2.

Comment from Tom Ashley: Similar to Neelima, we are running our business on BI 4.1 SP6 and planning to upgrade to 4.2 this year. Which service pack do you suggest we go with?

Adrian Westmoreland: The latest available. At the end of this year, we should be at 4.2 SP3.

Olivier Duvelleroy: You can go now with 4.2 SP2.

Comment from Bob Bentley: Can we upgrade from any SP of 4.1 to 4.2?

Olivier Duvelleroy: Yes.

Adrian Westmoreland: Yes, it is an update from 4.1 to 4.2.

Comment from Phanisekhar Gorti: Please explain the upgrade strategy for BI 4.2. One of my customers is in the XIR2 world and wants to upgrade to the latest.

Jayne Landry: There’s a ton of resources on how to upgrade to BI 4.2 at www.sapbi.com, including an event/Webinar series.

Comment from Syed Amin: We have recently upgraded to 4.1 SP6 FP3 form SP2. How soon should we upgrade to 4.2?

Ty Miller: 4.2 has a lot of great new features. I would recommend that you upgrade to it now!

Olivier Duvelleroy: Many of our customers upgrade every 6 months.

Comment from Tom Ashley: Just to be clear, can BI Edge 4.0 be upgraded to BI 4.1? We are in the process of doing this upgrade in a development area and want to be 100% sure that the license will be fine.

Jayne Landry: Yes, any customers that are using Edge BI 4.0 and are on maintenance can upgrade to Edge BI 4.1 or 4.2.

Comment from Jason Friederich: We are looking to move from 3.1 platform to 4.x, but are leery of moving to 4.2 because it is newer than 4.1. We're interested in knowing what compelling reasons for going with 4.2 over 4.1 are. (Our environment is primarily Crystal-based with some WebI from an acquisition). We’re exploring Lumira vs. Tableau as well for visualization/discovery, and we’re considering OFA as a BEx replacement.

Gregory Botticchio: Please have a look at the doc here: http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC... for good reasons to upgrade to BI4.2.

My additional point is that the BI4.2 has been built on top of the BI4.1 SP06 and contains all the cumulative enhancements and performance works done up until this release.

Comment from Peter: Hello, experts. Shall we wait for 4.2 to release more service packs based on the assumption that the higher the version, the more stable the product is? We are planning to upgrade from 4.0 to 4.1 or 4.2, and any input would be helpful. Our environment is a medium scale one with around 1100 production users and 9 systems (DEV, UAT, Production etc.).

Gregory Botticchio: You can go with the BI4.2 SP02 patch 1.

Comment from Phanisekhar Gorti: Please give some bullet points for the go-to-market point of view so that we can enable our customers with the new features.

Gregory Botticchio: They are here.

Comment from Tom Ashley: Is there a 4.1 Edge Addition? Or should I use 4.1? Is "Edge 4.1" the name of the product? I can't find this in the download section of the SAP site; has the "Edge" been dropped?

Olivier Duvelleroy: The product is the same,. The “Edge” qualifier indicates that it is a different license (limited to one server and a number of users). So you can download SBOP BI PLATFORM 4.1 or 4.2 in the SMP Download section.

Comment from Jason Friederich: Is there a place to check the updates/fixes planned for 4.2 SP3? That's near our rollout schedule timeframe, and we would be interested to know whether to hold off or move forward with an earlier version.

Olivier Duvelleroy: Not yet. In the next few weeks, there will be some updates to the roadmaps on SMP that will provide a preview of 4.2 SP3 features.

Comment from bob.bentley: Currently using 4.1 SP7, will we lose any fixes going to 4.2 SP2?

Olivier Duvelleroy: The forward fit page has the details.

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General Platform Information

Comment from Afarooqui: What are the auditing enhancements in SAP BI 4.2?

Adrian Westmoreland: There is added auditing for:

  • BI Commentary
  • Web services clients, e.g., Analysis Office and dashboards
  • Plus improved scalability, especially when all events are turned on and a large number of users are accessing the repository

Comment from S Gordon: Are there any plans to change the role of BEx Analyzer in connecting BO Tools with SAP BW?

Alex Peter: BEx Analyzer is in pure maintenance mode and will work on BW 7.x as long as BW 7.x is supported. Note that BEx tools are not supported anymore for BW, edition for HANA. Analysis Office will surely provide added value over BEx Analyzer.

Comment from Durga Mishra: How does Cloud for Analytics fit in the broader BI 4.2 platform?

Ty Miller: Cloud for Analytics is complementary to BI 4.2. It is focused on smaller lines of business that want to get running very quickly with a cloud-based data discovery and/or planning solution that can also connect to their BI 4.2 data sources, including Universes, BW BEx queries, and HANA.

Comment from BMS: Are there any changes to the security, for instance, the introduction/retirement of rights?

Gregory Botticchio: No retirement, but we have added new rights for the new features: Commentaries and Shared Elements.

Comment from Walt: Is the ‘BusinessObjects’ brand getting replaced or removed?

Jayne Landry: The BusinessObjects brand is not going anywhere.

Comment from A.Bujedo: Are you planning to add parallel queries for BICS connections? I think don’t thinks it’s supported in version 4.2.

Ty Miller: Hi, A.Bujedo. Can you confirm which BI tool you are looking to support for this? We support this now with Design Studio and we plan to add for WebI soon.

Comment from Rudy Stroobants: An ‘undelete’ functionality to recover lost documents is available in 4.2. Will it be a functionality only available for BO admins or will it also be available for end-users? Will it function on private folders (my favorites) or only on public folders?

Gregory Botticchio: For the next BI4.2 SP03 (August 2016), this functionality will support MyFavorites but will remain an admin feature.

Comment from Guest: Does SAP BI 4.2 support narration of the dimensions to measure which are viewed?

Gregory Botticchio: In WebI BI4.2, we added Commentaries at the report level. It works like a Post-It note in the report canvas that end-users can comment and reply on. What’s planned for BI4.2 SP03 is to support comments in a WebI table cell, like in Excel.

Comment from Luc V: We don't use BO currently. BW basic BEx reports BPC & EPM. Is going first to HANA (BW on HANA) before implementing BO enterprise the right path? Should we use HANA to create a semantic layer in place of BO Universes?

Jayne Landry: No need to wait! We have many customers driving business insights and business value from BOBJ analytics directly on top of BW.

And when you move to BW on HANA, the analytics you've built can still be leveraged and they'll be even faster!

Comment from Guest: Will Free-Hand SQL be available in the HTML editor?

Olivier Duvelleroy: Yes, but in 4.2 SP4, which will be available in early 2017.

Comment from Karen: Is there a way to set a limit on the number of objects in an inbox, or an easy way to remove objects from an inbox after certain number has been reached or a specific date has passed, such as deleting all objects older than 6 months?

Olivier Duvelleroy: Hi Karen. We're receiving a lot of feedback on this and are currently investigating the best way to move forward to improve the scalability for lifecycle management.

We're also looking to allow the administrators to set limits for the favorites folder and the inbox for 4.2 SP4, to be released in early 2017.

Comment from Bala: Does BI4.2 run natively on HANA? Can you truly run BI on HANA when using it as a CMS DB?

Olivier Duvelleroy: With 4.2 SP2, Hana is supported as a CMS DB. Be aware that in the next 6 to 12 months, we will add support for a graph database that will provide a great performance boost over any relational storage of the CMS (which HANA does).

Comment from Jayme: I’ve seen that Crystal Reports 2016 is part of 4.2. I thought Crystal Reports 2013 was going to be the last version as it’s expected that Crystal Reports Enterprise should be used. We have not switched over, and I'm not seeing any advantage to use Enterprise. Will there ultimately be just one version?

Olivier Duvelleroy: We are currently looking at how to converge CR classic (CR 2016) and Crystal Reports for Enterprise. We will provide an update in the next version of the roadmap.

Comment From Koffi Sokoty: What is the roadmap for the Universe Design tool, and will it remain in 4.2?

Gregory Botticchio: Yes, it will remain supported and is still there. The way forward is the IDT, though; it will receive most of the enhancements. For example, SETS features in IDT are planned for BI4.2 SP03 (August 2016)

Comment from Phanisekhar Gorti: Is there any new addition to row level security and report bursting?

Olivier Duvelleroy: No.

Comment from Phanisekhar Gorti: Are there any new features that involve Information Steward and BODS?

Olivier Duvelleroy: No.

Comment from Srinivas: Will BI4.2 support JRE 1.7_14? In our company, this is the standard JRE.

Olivier Duvelleroy: BI 4.2 supports jre 1.7.0_25.

Comment from Bala: SAP needs to focus on Single-Source (SS) and Multi-Source (MS) UNX issues. SSUNX is much more stable than MSUNX and they are not interchangeable (this is really two different products under one IDT). MSUNX generates code that has performance issues and also support struggles to troubleshoot and fix any issues with MSUNX. As an example: Salesforce integration works in SSUNX and not in MSUNX because of the way it generates code (using full qualified constructs).... also what works in one SP fails after an upgrade and it seems regression testing is not that great from the SAP side.

Gregory Botticchio: You’re right. SSU has taken the priority over the MSU. But this reflects what we hear from our customers. We would more than happy to hear about your MSU scenario and collaborate on improving it.

Comment from Bala: One area that SAP must focus on is in the area of regression testing. With 4.1, and especially, in WebI reporting using multi-source universe and reports using complex functions, what works with one support pack fails in subsequent SPs and support is not up to speed with MS-UNX at all and also newer connectivity like Salesforce. It takes a long time to make support understand the issue and puts business projects in jeopardy (we follow the OSS process); and there is a great variability in support by region — APJ (China) is better than India, etc. Support has to improve to get up the Gartner matrix as well.

Gregory Botticchio: We understand the pain faced by our customers; SAP, and the WebI team in particular, has put in place better and intensive regression tests since BI 4.0. In fact, we test materials that some customers decided to share with us. This way we test real scenarios and we can test in advance releases that these customers might choose to upgrade to. We would be happy to collaborate on your scenario involving these areas of the product.

Comment from Pradeep: Any plans for SAML authentication for the SAP BI platform? Currently SAML authentication is only supported with HANA. Can we have SAML authentication with identity providers like OKTA? Tableau has an in-built service provider and they can easily integrate with any identity providers like OKTA.

Olivier Duvelleroy: It is a backlog item.

Comment from Srinivas: Are we getting good support for .NET SDK in BI 4.2 compared to BI 4.1? We had challenges when we migrate from 3.1 to BI 4.1.

Olivier Duvelleroy: No change in .NET SDK. We plan to enhance our Rest API in future releases.

Comment from Saad: Do you have any guidelines on recommended team structures for running and maintaining a BO platform, including roles and responsibilities ranging from architects to developers? Any guidelines on the organization structure to establish a BO team would be good to know.

Olivier Duvelleroy: There is no standard guideline.

Comment from Tom D.: Are there any enhancements in Promotion Mgr's error handling and its vague error messages — for example, messages such as "Failed to promote object." or "Check log for detail".

Olivier Duvelleroy: Some error message improvements are planned.

Comment From Ajay Kotha: Are there any plans to include impact analysis features in the future versions? Not sure if this is already included in 4.2!

Olivier Duvelleroy: It is a backlog item.

Comment from Jana: Hi, can you please position/give guidance on NW Portal vs BOBJ/BI Platform. We migrated from the BI platform back to NW because of better integration with SAP Enterprise Portal on NW; managed to publish WAD and WebI reports there but struggling how to publish.

Olivier Duvelleroy: We are working on streamlining the integration of the BI Platform content into the Portal, focusing on the Portal solution. We don't have concrete timelines yet, but this scenario is in high priority.

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SAP Lumira

Allan Pym: Ty, the Lumira development cycle is different from the BI Platform and Web Intelligence teams’ release cycles. Please describe for us the pattern of the Lumira release cycle, what the current version is, and the coming version release timelines.

Ty Miller: The Lumira release cycle started with a six week cadence. While customers appreciated the rapid innovation cycle, it was often too hard to update even though the BI platform itself could be one of multiple versions. For example, Lumira 1.30 supports BIP 4.2 SP2, 4.1 SP6, and 4.1 SP7 now. In addition, Lumira has matured significantly. So since Lumira 1.28, we have moved to a quarterly release cycle. We are now on Lumira 1.30 and working towards a release of Lumira 1.31 in Q2. We will be skipping a release in Q3 to focus on a major release that we plan to RTC in Q4 with an Early Adopter Program, which is SAP’s replacement for the Ramp-Up Program, to start in Q1 2017.

Allan Pym: What are the most interesting Lumira capabilities that have been released recently, or will be released soon?

Ty Miller: Lumira 1.29 was focused on business user features, such as:

  • Chart reference lines
  • Conditional formatting for more chart types
  • Story page sizing and layout improvements
  • Data blending enhancements
  • Enhanced BW data acquisition support for things like structures, additional types of key figures and dimensions, and hierarchical paging of lists of values as well as performance improvements
  • Esri base maps were added for all users of Lumira, regardless of whether they have an account with Esri or not
  • Support for the OpenDocument protocol to stories and pages of a story
  • Support of Lumira with Mobile BI through LS4BIP
  • Viz and data access extension support on LS4BIP
  • Refresh on open from LS4BIP
  • Save story containing filters as personal or global bookmarks
  • Define bookmark as default view

Lumira 1.30 was focused on Enterprise Readiness features, such as:

  • Platforms: BW 7.5, BIP 4.2, S/4HANA, HANA SPS11, SUSE Linux
  • HANA: HANA MDC, HANA managed connections, HANA offline scheduling
  • Security: Desktop to BIP SSO, Hadoop authentication, .unx credential mapping
  • Data prep in the browser: You can now create a Lumira document directly from HANA and right in your browser in online mode. This is a hidden -d option now, with the plan to GA with 1.31.
  • Embeddability: OpenDoc enhancements for parameter support, open in same window, full/part mode (story, page, bookmark)
  • Ease of Use: Remove Share Room, custom color palettes

Lumira 1.31 will be focused on:

  • HANA Online end-to-end support in browser
  • Connecting to an on-prem ESRI server
  • Offline support of Lumira in Mobi
  • Updated Linux OS and App Servers

Allan Pym: Adrian, can you comment on where you see these new Lumira capabilities being most important?

Adrian Westmoreland: I think the improvements around enterprise readiness are very important. Broader platform support with Linux and more supported app servers will help to enable broader deployments. Also, support for 4.2 is important as we are seeing a lot of customers looking to move to 4.2 as soon as possible.

Comment from Bala: We have lost a significant number of SAP Lumira users to Tableau because of confusion in the user interface with the ‘room’ concept. Share room was recently removed, but the whole concept of ‘rooms’ is not getting great reception. Tableau has a simpler and more minimalistic user interaction. Is any change with Lumira with 4.2?

David Stocker: The dev team is making significant user interface investments right now. I can’t yet say what that interface will look like in a year or two, but it is evolving and the criticism of the room concept has been heard.

Comment from Marty Parshall: I was wondering what your expectations are for the continuing usage of Tomcat and other web servers like WebSphere. I recently saw that WebSphere is now supported for Lumira. Is this expected to continue to be an option with a lag for Lumira, or should we realistically be concentrating on switching to Tomcat so we won’t have to wait longer for ongoing WebSphere support?

Ty Miller: Tomcat will continue to be the app server that we release on first, but we will also continue to release on WebSphere, WebLogic, etc.

Comment from Durga Mishra: Are the new charts and features that are available in Cloud for Analytics going to be available in Lumira anytime soon?

David Stocker: C4A and Lumira use different charting engines, though if a particular chart is popular on one platform but not available on the other, then we'd certainly want to add it. IBCS standard charts are planned to be available both on-prem and in the cloud.

Comment from Joel Serrano: What is the future of BI Explorer? We have read comments saying that it will be replaced by Design Studio. Is that true?

David Stocker: The Explorer use case is migrating to Lumira.

Comment from Harish Madari: In L2, there is some information about deprecated datasources not being supported anymore. Does this mean that we need to upgrade the datasource? And can we use/export DS datasets into Lumira?

Ty Miller: Yes, you need to upgrade the datasource. And yes, you can use/export DS datasets into Lumira.

Comment from Josh: Do you have any plans to give Lumira a facelift to better compete with other tools?

Ty Miller: We are looking at significant UI improvements toward the end of the year.

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SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio

Allan Pym: Dave, can you describe the Design Studio release cycle patterns for us and highlight some of the key product enhancement topics?

David Stocker: Traditionally, we've run on a biannual release cycle with a .x increment twice a year. This year is a bit different. Instead of a 1.7 in the first half of 2016, we are releasing 1.6 SP2 as a feature pack and keeping our powder dry for a bigger release later this year. SP2 will have small feature updates, like calculations in the initial view editor. The following release will enhance interoperability with Lumira.

Comment from Guest: Is it true that Lumira and Design Studio will be merged into one tool in the roadmap? If yes, when? Thanks a lot!

Jayne Landry: Yes, it’s true. We were looking into interop between Design Studio and Lumira and discovered we can go further and converge the code base. There will still be two experiences – one for business analysts and one for designers/developers – but a single code base means full interoperability and the ability for an analyst to hand a story over to a developer, who can polish it up and put it into production at scale.

For anyone attending SAPPHIRE, come by the booth and we’ll have some initial concepts to share!

Comment from Guest: The latest roadmap for Design Studio clearly says that SAP recommends deploying Design Studio dashboards on BI Platform. Is BI Platform also recommended as the primary platform to host all Design Studio developments connected directly on the S/4HANA system? How does it fit into the SAP Enterprise portal strategy? How good is the integration between SAP Enterprise Portal and BI Platform?

David Stocker: Yes, the BIP is the recommended deployment platform for Design Studio. Design Studio can connect to the CDS views on the S/4’s underlying HANA system.

Comment from Syed Amin: What is the future of SAP Dashboard and Dashboard developers?

David Stocker: We have not forgotten them. Their use cases are being worked on and will be covered in Lumira and Design Studio, depending on whether it is more a designer or end user driven scenario.

Comment from Syed Amin: Where can we get the SAP Design Studio training for our developers?

David Stocker: https://training.sap.com/

Comment from Sam: Hello. Are there any enhancements included for Design Studio that can compete against Tableau? Any comparison/fact sheets that can put Design Studio on the upper hand? Thank you.

David Stocker: We don't have such a sheet, as this is an apples to oranges comparison. Design Studio can best be thought of as a rapid BI application development platform for people who are not hardcore developers. That being said, Design Studio has a powerful scripting engine. It has a large palette of controls for creating deeply dynamic and interactive applications, and its real ace in the hole is its extensions. If it is possible on the web, it is possible in DS. That can't be said of most others.

Comment from Syed Amin: Is Design Studio mature enough for organizations with non-SAP data sources to start building dashboards, especially when there is a limited support of .unx Universes?

David Stocker: That depends on the scenario. With 1.6, we increased the row limit to 20k and enabled multisource .unx data sources. If you have a big data style scenario with 100k rows, or if you are using delegated measures, then Design Studio is still weak. We are improving it, however, in future releases.

Comment from Mogilka: What is the future of support for 'SAP Dashboards'? It was mentioned that it will go out of support because it uses Adobe Flash. Is this still true? If yes, when will support from SAP end?

David Stocker: We've not scheduled EOL support for Xcelcius and don't plan to any time soon.

Comment from Ernie: Could you describe where your visualization strategy is going with Lumira, Dashboards, and mobile? With Xcelsius now dead, I want to be sure I’m not getting left behind.

Ty Miller: Lumira is our business user focused governed data discovery solution. Dashboards, formerly known as Xcelsius, is being replaced by Design Studio as our professionally authored dashboarding and application design environment. However, the content from Xcelsius will not expire. We will still support it. We are simply not adding new features. You should begin using Design Studio. The content from both Lumira and Design Studio can be consumed and interacted with in Mobile BI.

Comment from Ravi: For mobile dashboards, which one would you recommend between SBC

David Stocker: Mobile dashboards are an art form. Honestly, I’d recommend that anyone have a look at Roambi, because it is mobile first. Very often, customers are tempted to build “one dashboard for all.” Keep in mind that Design Studio’s sweet spot is where explanatory analytics can become exploratory analytics. E.g. the crosstab is built exactly for this. The first problem is that the mobile UI and desktop UI lend themselves to different uses and mobile is much, much better at explanatory than exploratory analytics. That being said, you can still build very good explanatory analytics with DS on mobile. Just make sure to keep the focus on scorecards and charts. 

Comment from Guest: The latest roadmap for some Design Studio clearly says that SAP recommends to deploy Design Studio dashboards on the BI platform. Is the BI platform also recommended as a primary platform to host all Design Studio developments connected directly on the S/4HANA system? How does it fit to the SAP Enterprise portal strategy? How good is the integration between SAP Enterprise portal and the BI platform?

David Stocker: I can’t answer the enterprise portal/BIP integration and would have to defer to a colleague there, but the secret sauce of S/4 integration with Design Studio is that CDS views are directly consumable by DS. Design Studio apps on the BIP can connect directly to the data in your S/4 system, without any problem. 

Comment from Rahul: For Design Studio, maximum rows allowed with universe is very less (~20000 in 1.6). Is SAP concentrating Design Studio only for BEx queries (BICS connections)? Will there be any improvement for using non SAP data source for Design Studio?

David Stocker: With 1.x, BICS performs much better with BEx queries and HANA views than with universes. With 2.0, we will be working on removing the technical roadblocks for true large-number-of-cells universe consumption. I can’t put any numbers on it yet though. It is still early days.

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SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence

Allan Pym: Olivier, we’ve been hearing for quite a while about the significance of Web Intelligence enhancements in BI 4.2. What do you see as the key Web Intelligence enhancements that have come in version 4.2?

Olivier Duvelleroy: What’s nice is that for 4.2, the WebI team had more time to work on new features because the 4.1 release already focused on quality and performance improvements. Some notable enhancements are:

  • WebI is now getting new features like commentary, which lets users collaborate and exchange comments inside the document itself. This is something that users have been waiting for for a long time, and it is now a reality.
  • Other visible enhancements for the end users are the geo maps like the ones we have in Lumira and Explorer. Until now, you could have them in the mobile version of the WebI document, but not on the web version.
  • On the visualization side, you can also reuse visualization extensions from Lumira. After you repackage them and configure them in the CMC, they become available in WebI. So you can easily get heatmaps, treemaps, bullet charts, and gauges.
  • And if you have WebI reports with several data providers, WebI will run them in parallel by default n 4.2, so you should observe much better performance.

Then for designers, you have some new capabilities like Shared Elements, which, like its name indicates, allows you to centralize the creation of certain shared elements that can then be reused in multiple reports. This should make it easier to create and maintain your reports.

And for customers who use WebI on top of HANA, we have two new cool features:

  • The HANA Direct option lets you connect to HANA without the need to build a universe on top of the analytic views like before
  • The HANA Online mode allows you to connect directly to HANA views as well. You can start to build your tables and charts, and WebI will issue the right query, bypassing the query panel and the microcube, which is WebI’s local calculation engine. So this is a great way to leverage HANA. WebI calculations are delegated, and you can quickly explore the data and only bring the data you need for your document. If you need to add complex local calculations, you may need the microcube again. In this case you are switched to the HANA Direct mode.

Allan Pym: Gregory, why you think these new capabilities are so important?

Gregory Botticchio: We delivered important features that change the way customers can consume WebI reports. I’m especially thinking of Shared Elements: They can now access the report parts they need for their reporting and use them to build their own documents easily, with practically no training.

They can also better collaborate thanks to commentaries at the document level.

If they are looking for advanced visualizations, they can use a visualization extension to get them into Web Intelligence.

And last but not least, WebI is a recommended reporting tool on top of HANA thanks to the HANA Direct access and the HANA Online mode.

Finally, we have a strong roadmap, and great enhancements are planned for BI4.2 SP03 and other future versions, such as: dHML catch up with the JAVA applet, Cascading Input Control, Table Cell Annotations, SETS in Information Design Tool, and WebI templates. And we are looking at improving the WebI UX for the near future.

Comment from Bob Bentley: I’m interested to know when the WebI dHTML Editor will reach feature parity with the advanced Java version. It certainly has come a long way since the 3.1 days! I’m looking forward to no more Java plug-in browser nightmares.

Gregory Botticchio: Thanks for the question. The WebI dHTML editor will start to reach parity with the Java Applet starting with the BI4.2 SP03, planned for August 2016. In this release, we will add into the WebI dHTML editor the following capabilities: Save as parity, format number, conditional formatting, support of XLS data provider, query panel for SAP BEx, UNX on SAP BEx data providers, complex filters in the query panel, and change source improvements.

Comment from Pradeep: There are no parallel queries on data providers based on ‘Direct Access to BEx queries’ (BICS). Can we expect this in next SPs?

David Stocker: Hi Pradeep. Can you clarify this? For which BICS-using client are you talking about? Design Studio, for example, has a very sophisticated parallelization concept.

Comment from Pradeep: I am asking about WEBIWebI.

Gregory Botticchio: Hello. Parallel refresh of BEx queries in WebI will be supported into the next BI4.2 SP03 (August 2016). We postponed this feature from 4.2 GA to 4.2 SP03 because we needed more time for the testing.

Comment from Koffi Sokoty: What is the roadmap for Universe Design Tool?

Gregory Botticchio: IDT is the way forward for UDT! UDT remains there and is fully supported, but the innovations will be in IDT. For example, in the next IDT edition, IDT 4.2 SP03 (August 2016), we will add the SETS functionalities to it!

Comment from Rich B: What third-party visualization extensions will WebI support in 4.2?

Gregory Botticchio: All the ones available on the market. With the WebI Viz Extension framework, you can add in any chart from any chart library available in the market. For example, you could get the same Viz in WebI as in Lumira or in DS. You could add the Google Charts in WebI as well! http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC...

Comment from Pradeep: One of the good features from BI 4.2 is WEBIWebI Parallel Refresh. However, it is limited to only 4 queries/data providers in parallel. Are there any plans for increasing it to a greater number of queries/data providers on a single connection?

Gregory Botticchio: "|| refresh" is not limited to 4 queries; it is a parameter into the config file. By default it is up to 64, and you could better control this number depending on your tests against your database.

Comment from Federico: Hello, all. For a while now I've seen now less and less advertising/promoting of Web Intelligence on the SAP's part. Other, newer tools are being promoted more, and the trend is also to go on the cloud, like with C4A. What is the long-term roadmap for Web Intelligence, since no other tools in the market have the extensive library of functions and features that WebI offers? Will there be a cloud version of it, or will C4A inherit WebI's functionality? If we want to stay with the latest and greatest while keeping the functionality that WebI offers, what should our strategy be?

Ty Miller: 42 ;-)

Seriously though, we are both innovating our core, which is the BI Suite (WebI, Lumira, Design Studio, Analysis for Office, and Crystal Reports), and building in the cloud, which is C4A. Because our established BI Suite solutions have a leadership market share and are already well-known by our customers, we need to do a bit more work to evangelize C4A as it is brand new and not well-known. The BI Suite is our full enterprise BI solution that you can deploy either on premise or in the cloud (IaaS) via HEC, AWS, etc. We have no plans to attempt to either replace the extremely rich functionality of WebI in C4A or to add WebI to C4A. If you would like to start to adopt SaaS-based governed data discovery capabilities and/or planning capabilities and, soon, business user predictive capabilities for specific lines of business, like HR, Finance, etc., then you should complement your BI Suite deployment with C4A.

Comment from Phanisekhar Gorti: Is there any chance that you will bring DeskI back?

Adrian Westmoreland: No, DeskI is not coming back, but it is still supported with 4.2 with the DCP until end of 2017.

In 4.2, the final gaps between DeskI and WebI have been addressed, and with Lumira as part of the platform, you should be able to cover use cases for desktop users.

Comment from Lamont Parraway: The Web Intelligence experience in BI4.1 seems to have regressed in some ways due to the continued reliance on the Java platform. Where is SAP on the timeline of making the WebI functionality available in the thin client on par with what is available in the Java applet and rich client?

Gregory Botticchio: We will add the missing functionalities from the WebI Java applet into the dHTML editor starting with the WebI 4.2 SP03, planned for August 2016. In this release, we will add:

  • Save As parity
  • Format Number
  • Conditional Formatting
  • Support of XLS data provider
  • Query Panel for SAP BEx, UNX on SAP Bex data providers
  • Complex filters in Query Panel
  • Change Source improvements

Comment from Jana: What's the roadmap and for WebI on BW? We tested WebI on BW a while back but found quite a number of issues. It wasn’t possible to link multiple objects of the report in filtering (e.g. a table and a chart), we couldn’t merge variables in prompts for multiple queries in a report, the language translations weren’t working, etc. Thanks.

Gregory Botticchio: In BI 4.2, we made additional performance improvements, and we delivered the BEx Authored Universe in order to help business users give a business meaning to the BEx queries.

Comment from Mohsin: We are planning to implement S/4HANA. Currently, we have ECC and BW running on Oracle. Our BW is mainly used to bring in data from ECC system and do reporting on top of it. We also have all the historical data already available in ECC. Is it possible for us to use S/4HANA for all the analytical reporting instead of bringing in the same data from ERP to BW for analytics?

Gregory Botticchio: Starting with BI4.2, WebI supports S/4HANA as a datasource.

Comment from Robin Weitz: Is there a plan to allow you to modify the prompt filter text (so reword the prompt that a user sees) on a WebI report when they originate from a BEx query?

Gregory Botticchio: This is a good suggestion, and would be a good enhancement request for the BEx Authored Universe (new BI 4.2 feature). Would you be inclined to support this idea on ideaplace?

Comment from Koffi Sokoty: Sometimes modifications in hierarchies in BW are not updated in WebI documents based on these hierarchies. Will this behavior be fixed in 4.2? Mostly when using input control to filter the hierarchy in the report?

Gregory Botticchio: WebI on BW is not online. WebI caches source’s data, including hierarchies.  Change in hierarchy requires to purge and refresh the document to be reflected in input controls. This behavior scenario doesn’t change in BI 4.2.

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SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Microsoft Office

Allan Pym: What are some of the key capabilities that your team has been working on for Analysis for Office?

Alex Peter: We have put some considerable work into the client convergence. There’s a “new” product Analysis Office (since release 2.1) that contains both the “old” Analysis product and the EPM Add-in. The main scenario is to allow parallel usage of both former products in the same workbook and to have a single installer. In addition, we added some important scenarios in the Analysis plug-in (i.e., the Analysis tab), such as Table Design to add new lines and formats in the crosstab, e.g., for defining custom Excel formulas. Other features include support of the BPC embedded model (work status, business process flow). In the future, we are concentrating on providing more flexibility for reporting in order to simplify asymmetric reporting and better enable combining queries on a common axis (e.g. butterfly reports) or grouping.

Allan Pym: Alexander, the Analysis for Office and Design Studio development teams are located close together in Walldorf. How do your release cycle patterns for Analysis for Office compare to those of the Design Studio team?

Alex Peter: We try to have two deliveries per year, one in Q2 and another one at the end of the year (very similar to Design Studio). There was some exception before release 2.0 as it took some more time to re-architecture and be ready for the convergence – it took more than a year, and we had some feature SP in between (similar what Design Studio is currently doing). But as of now, we are planning the next release for this month (May) and the following one in Q4 2016.

Comment from Philipp: Are there plans to add functionalities that enable Design Studio and Analysis for Office to be integrated into publications? Currently, only the standard scheduling is supported for Analysis for Office and planned for Design Studio. I would like to see a better integration of the “old” and “new" tools, e.g., through publication on the BI platform.

Alex Peter: Speaking for Analysis Office, we plan to do the publication integration. We are currently evaluating if we can make it this year or if it slips to 2017.

Comment from Guest: Are there any plans to improve the SAP GetData formula in Analysis for Office?

Alex Peter: Yes, this is certainly a thing we are looking into. The challenge is that the filters are not passed onto the database. We can do it better, but it requires some changes in the backend handling.

Comment from Guest: In the near future, do you plan to implement a parallelization if there are several queries inside the Analysis for Office workbook?

Alex Peter: Yes, we have it on the backlog.

Comment from Alexey Lantsman: Are there any plans from SAP to create one single product from Analysis plug-in and EPM plug-in, or they will always co-exist as 2 separate plug-ins (inside the Analysis for Office product)?

Alexander Peter: EPM and Analysis will continue to be separate plug-ins within Analysis Office product. EPM will focus on BPC standard, while Analysis will focus on BW (including BPC embedded) and HANA. We are enhancing Analysis plug-in to cover key flexible reporting scenarios (asymmetric reporting, axis sharing, grouping etc.). Please see SAP note 2312162 for more information.

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Mobile Strategies

Comment from Matt Hawkins: Can you provide any updates on the Roambi acquisition? Can we expect to see results in 4.2, or will it remain a stand-alone option?

Jayne Landry: Our first priority is to get Roambi onto SAP standards and available on the SAP pricelist. That will happen this quarter for the US and sometime in Q4 for the rest of the world. We will continue to deliver Mobile BI with the BI Suite and Roambi as a premium stand-alone option.

Comment from Guest: Does SAP BI 4.2 support responsive design: build once, use in any device?

Ty Miller: It does not - yet. We are looking into this. Currently, we have our full browser interface for the desktop/laptop experience and native iOS and Android apps for mobile.

Olivier Duvelleroy: We have plans to introduce a new HTML5 viewer in the BI Launchpad, for all BI content, that will provide a responsive way of consuming the content. This will start early next year and will progress towards this goal of responsive design.

Comment from DHack: How does the acquisition of Roambi fit into your BI stack? What features does that bring to the table that aren’t available in Lumira and WebI? What niche do you see it playing?

Jayne Landry: Roambi is a great solution for providing a consistent mobile experience. Unlike Mobile BI where you mobilize existing content, Roambi provides templates where you fit the data to the template. It supports not only BusinessObjects content but also other BI content (Cognos, Reporting Services) and other data.

Comment from Ravi: For mobile dashboards, would you recommend between SBC (Fiori) or Design Studio?

Jayne Landry: The Smart Business Cockpits provide pre-built dashboard content for S/4HANA. It's html5 so it can be viewed on a mobile device, but I'm not aware of a mobile application for this. By contrast, Design Studio works with Mobile BI so you can manage Design Studio dashboards on MobI alongside your other BI content.

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COMMENTS

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harish madari

5/4/2016 10:47:08 AM

In L2, there is some information about Deprecated Data sources not supported anymore. Does this mean that we need to upgrade the datasource? and can we use/export DS datasets into lumira?

Adrian E

5/4/2016 6:41:11 AM

Is it true, that Lumira and Design Studio will be merged in one Tool in the roadmap? If yes when? Thanks a lot!

Alexey Lantsman

5/4/2016 3:59:58 AM

The latest roadmap for some Design Studio clearly says that SAP recommends to deploy Design Studio dashboards on BI platform. Is BI platform also recommended as a primary platform to host all Design Studio developments connected directly on S/4 HANA system? How does it fit to the SAP Enterprise portal strategy? How good is the integration between SAP Enterprise portal and BI platform?

Alexey Lantsman

5/4/2016 3:36:16 AM

Are there any plans from SAP to create one single product from Analysis plug-in and EPM plug-in or they will always co-exist as 2 separate plug-ins (inside Analysis for Office product)?

Rajesh Baddam

5/3/2016 11:05:10 AM

Excited to know about 4.2


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