Live from SAPinsider Studio: Blair Wheadon on SAP Design Studio 1.6

January 6, 2016

Blair Wheadon, General Manager, Data Discovery, SAP, joins SAPinsider Studio during the 2015 SAPinsider Reporting & Analytics event in Las Vegas to discuss SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio 1.6 and SAP Cloud for Analytics.

This is an edited transcript of the discussion:

Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider. I am here at the SAPinsider Reporting & Analytics event 2015. With me is Blair Wheadon, who is the General Manager for Data Discovery for SAP. Blair thanks for being with us.

Blair Wheadon, SAP: Thank you, Ken.

Ken: You’re a speaker here at the event and have quite a few sessions; you’re here today to talk to us a little bit about Design Studio. I was hoping to start off if you could just bring our viewers up to speed on a new release and Design Studio 1.5 vs. 1.6.

Blair: Certainly, thanks Ken. Design Studio 1.6 adds a number of important enhancements over and above 1.5. We continue to improve our geographic mapping capability, it’s easier to configure the context menu. We’re improving the included templates; there’s a number of out-of-the-box templates that ship with Design Studio and also there’s some borrowing of some components going on between Cloud for Analytics and Design Studio, so there’s some components that are borrowed from Cloud for Analytics that are incorporated into Design Studio for planning use cases.

Ken: Can you go into a little more specifics about these key enhancements?

Blair: All told, it adds up to a major enhancement; we’re on a six-month release cycle when it comes to Design Studio and we’ve been doing that for four or five years now, so each enhancement on its own might not qualify as major but when taken together in totality it is a major step forward in terms of Design Studio. I think one of the major improvements that you’ll find is that in the overall usability and usefulness of the included out-of-the-box templates. So these are very important because I think a lot of Design Studio customers feel like they have to start by building their dashboards from scratch and we’re really focusing on making it easy and fast to get started by including some out-of-the-box functionality that can very quickly be deployed, pointed to your data source whether it’s BEx Query, whether it’s HANA view, and then enable data exploration type use cases or generic analysis type use cases.

Ken: So for a customer currently on 1.5 starting a dashboard from scratch might be something they’re doing now but will not have to do it in 1.6?

Blair: We’ve started to deliver these templates in 1.5 so we’ve improved them again in 1.6, but I think since the included templates continue to get better and better and more functional I think it’s real important to remind everyone of those improvements that are included in 1.6.

Ken: Before a customer moves to 1.6, are there any other misconceptions they might have about 1.5 functionality that they need to come up to speed on before moving to 1.6?

Blair: Some of the things I run into when I talk to customers might not be specific to 1.5 as there’s still a misconception that Design Studio cannot talk to universes as a data source, so the perception is among some customers that Design Studio can only connect to HANA or BW, and that’s not the case. It can connect to universes today, and in fact that universe connectivity is getting significantly improved in 1.6 with the ability to support additional data volumes and also multi-source universes.

Ken: For BEx users, is there a recommended path to replace what they currently have?

Blair: Absolutely, so BEx consists of really three products; there’s BEx Analyzer for Excel use, there’s BEx Web Analyzer which is web-based, and then there’s BEx Web Application Designer. And all three of those BEx tools have what we call premium alternatives in the BusinessObjects portfolio. Design Studio is the go-forward solution for BEx Web Application Designer. So we’ve had a number of large customers of ours successfully transition all their BEx Web Application Designer templates over to Design Studio and some of the improvements in Design Studio 1.5 around performance and enabling parallel queries really helped with that because certainly performance is  key requirement when it comes to a dashboarding use case.

Ken: Lastly, where do you see Design Studio fitting in in the context of SAP Cloud for Analytics?

Blair: Design Studio is part of our BusinessObjects BI portfolio, right, and my answer applies generally to the BusinessObjects BI portfolio and how that fits relative to Cloud for Analytics. We position the BI portfolio for on-premise deployment and for deployment to private clouds like HANA Enterprise Cloud, or AWS or Azure. So those are the three main platforms where you’ll see the BusinessObjects BI platform. And our strategy is one of just being where the data lies. And the question of which tool to use is really going to depend on where the majority of your data sits. So if you’re a cloud-centric organization with most of your data in either SAP cloud solutions or non-SAP cloud solutions, then Cloud for Analytics would be the appropriate solution. If most of your data is on-premise; let’s say you’ve got a couple hundred terabyte data warehouse on-premise, then the BusinessObjects BI portfolio would be the appropriate solution there. And what we’re doing is we’re starting to import some of those Cloud for Analytics components and adopt some of that user experience within Design Studio, so Design Studio includes the planning grid that’s found in Cloud for Analytics. So that’s one of the ways that we’re sharing the experience, sharing the user experience to ensure a more seamless experience between both Cloud for Analytics and the on-premise BI tools.

Ken: Blair, thanks for joining us today.

Blair: Thanks a lot, Ken.

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