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Will Your Web Intelligence Journey Lead You into Lumira? Q&A with SAP’s Ty Miller & Frank Prabel

April 22, 2015

Review the replay of this Q&A with our panelists, SAP's Ty Miller, Vice President, Lumira Product Management and Frank Prabel, Senior Director of Product Management at SAP, along with their colleagues and fellow product experts Gregory Botticchio, Sylvain Riboud, and Ian Booth.

Review the overview slides on Lumira and WebI, and all the questions from readers on the latest capabilities and upcoming product direction for Web Intelligence and Lumira and beyond. 

Live Blog Q&A on Web Intelligence and SAP Lumira | Live April 22 11:30amET


Bridget Kotelly, SAPinsider BI 2015: Welcome to today’s reader chat on SAP Lumira and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, current and future updates, and their place among SAP BI analytics solutions.

 Thanks to everyone who already posted questions.  

A big thanks, too, to Allan Pym of APOS for bringing together this expert panel from SAP. Allan, thank you for joining us today! 

Allan Pym, APOS:
Thanks to everyone for joining today’s session.

APOS is pleased to sponsor today’s event. We often hear customers asking about where both Lumira and Web Intelligence fit best in meeting distinct BI needs, so we are excited to be having this session to allow you to get answers directly from key members of these SAP product teams.

We have a terrific panel of experts today, so I encourage you to get your questions into the queue, and make the most of today’s unique session!


Bridget Kotelly: Now to introduce our panel: Taking your questions today are SAP's Ty Miller, Vice President, Lumira Product Management, and Frank Prabel, Senior Director of Product Management at SAP. They will be joined by their colleagues, all product experts from SAP, Gregory Botticchio, Sylvain Riboud, and Ian Booth. Thank you all for joining us! 

Before we get started with reader questions, just some broad strokes for you, Ty and Frank, on WebI and Lumira and their places among the current SAP BI tool offerings: 

 SAP BI Solutions Overview

Bridget Kotelly: Frank, what do you see as the future direction for WebI? What are some key changes that are planned now?

Frank: SAP has a very large installed base of Web Intelligence customers and is committed to investing in the WebI future.

The investment will be partly incremental innovations such as those planned for BI 4.1 SP06 (global input controls, freehand SQL, etc.), but we are also working on key new innovations (commentary, parallel queries, or HANA direct access). Please refer to this Web Intelligence roadmap slide for additional details:

Web Intelligence Overview 


Bridget Kotelly: And Ty, could you share a few highlights of what's new with Lumira - and what customers can expect down the road for data discovery/visualization? 

Ty Miller: We are very excited about what we have already released with Lumira, what we plan to release next week with 1.25, and our future strategy for Lumira throughout the year and beyond.
Today with Lumira, business analysts can connect to multiple data sources, mash the data together, massage and manipulate it, and create beautiful visualizations and stories that they can then share either on-premise or cloud-based platforms.
Thanks to our recent introduction of a new, embedded columnar in-memory engine with Lumira 1.23, you also now have the ability to provide web-based access to and interactivity with Lumira with existing low-cost hardware that is suitable for teams of users. We call this version of Lumira the Lumira Server for Teams.

And next week, with the planned release of Lumira 1.25 you'll be able to leverage your existing investments with the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform by installing a new Lumira Server add-on to the BI Platform, which will let business users take advantage of the fun, intuitive, and innovative capabilities of Lumira while providing IT with the security and governance needed in an enterprise deployment of data discovery. We call this Trusted Data Discovery.
Along with this new deployment option, you can also expect to see new features like a new universe query panel for .unx universes, a new cross-table for OLAP-like data analysis, new interaction capabilities with infographics, and updates to the ways that you can use our integrated ESRI geospatial capabilities.

Lumira Overview

Bridget Kotelly: I’m sure we’ll have more discussion of all this during the hour! For now, though, we’ll let you get to the questions that have already been posted by readers.

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

  • Future Direction and Roadmap
  • WebI, Lumira, and BI Tools Selection
  • Tool Features and Performance
  • Requirements and Training

And of course, any forward-looking statements are subject to change.

Future Direction and Roadmap for Lumira and Web Intelligence

Comment From guest

There is a notion with some of our clients that Lumira will replace WebI in future? How true is that?

Frank: Not true :-) Web Intelligence and Lumira serve different needs. Web Intelligence addresses the reporting market while Lumira covers the agile visualization and data discovery markets. We expect both products to continue to play a leading role on the SAP BI roadmap.

Ty Miller: Absolutely right on, Frank. Fully agree.


Comment From Monty

When is the planned native Lumira integration (SAP Lumira Server for BI platform) into BI platform scheduled to be released (i.e., GA date)?

Ian: We are currently expecting to finalize and GA Lumira Server for BI Platform 1.25 at the end of April/early May (in other words, ASAP).  


Comment From Jozsef

Will it become possible in Lumira to use multiple HANA Information Views within one storyboard?

Ty Miller: In short: yes that is planned for 1.27 in June.


Comment From Sutapa Mitra

Lumira has fewer components for creating a storyboard compared to other visualization tools.  What's the plan for SAP to add more components?

Ian: Improved input controls (for dimensions) are currently planned for infographics in the Q2/1.26 timeframe. Additional input controls (better supporting time/ranges) are planned for H2.


Comment From Guest

Like WebI, Lumira can't use Excel saved in the BI platform. Which future version has the plan to support that?

Sylvain Riboud: It is possible to create reports on Excel documents stored in the BI Platform with the Web Intelligence Applet or Rich Client (since BI 4.1 SP2).


Comment From Sutapa Mitra

In which version of Lumira will we be able to create visualization on Excel spreadsheets saved in the BI platform, like Web Intelligence can do now in BI 4.1?

Ian: The ability to create a visualization from Excel data then publish to the BI Platform will be available with 1.25 Lumira Desktop & Lumira Server for BI Platform. The ability to create a new Lumira story from XLS directly from Lumira Server for BIP using a browser is currently a planned innovation for 2016.


Comment From Guest

My question is on Lumira: Can we create a storyboard using Lumira based on an Excel spreadsheet saved in the BI platform, not in the client's machine?

Ian: The ability to create a visualization from Excel data then publish to the BI Platform will be available with 1.25 Lumira Desktop & Lumira Server for BI Platform. The ability to create a new Lumira story from XLS stored in BIP (using Lumira Server for BIP) is currently a planned innovation for 2016.


Comment From phil

In the future, will WebI be integrated with ESRI geomaps?

Frank: Right now (XI 3.1 or BI 4.x), you can use Galigeo's solution that integrates ESRI geomaps with Web Intelligence. In BI 4.2, Web Intelligence will have a new extension mechanism that will facilitate the ESRI integration even more.

Allan Pym: Galigeo solution information is available here.


Comment From Guest

WebI doesn't have any map components right now. Is there any plan to introduce that in near future?

Sylvain Riboud: Several partners are currently providing geospatial capabilities integrated in Web Intelligence. And yes, in a near future, default mapping capabilities will be added to Web Intelligence while providing also new ways to extend Web Intelligence reports with external visualizations.


Comment From Andrew Valenzano

Are there any updates planned for Lumira's native geo maps?

Ian: Yes. We have many planned improvements to the Lumira Geo experience planned for H2 2015. The biggest areas that we want to address are better support for geocoding, support for basic layers, and different basemap options.


Comment From Jozsef

Thanks for offering this opportunity to ask question. Could you please tell me if going forward Lumira will support/recognize geo-hierarchies created in HANA? Currently they have to be converted in Lumira manually and then only one level is recognized per hierarchy.

Ty Miller: Yes, we recognize this need and we are looking at options.


Comment From Guest

When we expect WebI to have direct HANA connectivity?

Frank: Soon! We are working on direct access from Web Intelligence to HANA right now and the plan is to deliver that capability in BI 4.2. With that new feature, users will be able to access HANA views directly, without creating a universe.


Comment From Elizabeth

Is there a plan to integrate Lumira to Predictive Analysis + Infinite Insight as a one tool?

Ty Miller: Already started. It’s called Predictive Analytics 2.1. Available now. More integration coming.


Comment From Jon Starkey

Beyond data discovery, practical analysis is about testing a hypothesis with data - generally requiring user-defined formulas and multi-dimension aware expressions. Are there plans for Lumira to make this easier for the typical user than present-day BusinessObjects?

Ian: It is our goal to be able to make working with expressions/formulas as easy as possible. As an example, starting in 1.26/1.27, you will start to see some of the more frequently used expressions (e.g., difference from YOY, QOQ) from the toolbar in the viz room.


Comment From Linda

Are there plans for "what if" functionality in Lumira?

Ian: "What if" capabilities in Lumira are definitely desirable by many customers. Unfortunately we will not be able to get to this in the 2015 timeframe as other items take higher priority.


Comment From Anjana

Can the visualization that is pushed to BI Launchpad be scheduled in BI Launchpad?

Ty Miller: Scheduling for Universe-based Lumira Stories is planned for 1.25 with the Lumira Server for BI Platform. We don't currently have plans to schedule individual visualizations.


Comment From Elizabeth: 
If I need to have cascaded input controls in a report based on different universes (from .unx, .unv, and Excel), is there a way to do this in a short period, any plan to cover this?
Assuming this question is for Web Intelligence, cascading input controls are planned for Web Intelligence in BI 4.2. Cascading input controls will work across multiple sources in a document as in your example. (For BI 4.2, the legal disclaimer applies; plans are subjects to change.)


Comment From Sutapa Mitra

We're working in BI 4.1 SP4 patch4. There are still many components in Web Intelligence that are not mobile-compatible, like three-dimensional graphs, input controls on custom-made dimensions. Which BI 4.1 will support all the WebI functionalities of the desktop on mobile devices?

Gregory Botticchio: Hello. Thanks for your question. As of today, three-dimension charts are in the BI Mobile backlog, but with no delivery date. If you're looking for a solution today, you could use the BI Mobile SDK to build the requested chart type you would like to get in BI Mobile.
Regarding input controls on custom variables: We support Input controls defined on variables that have custom LOV defined. It is supported starting with BI Mobile 6.1, with a dependency on BOE 4.1 SP05 (Mobile server).


Comment From Ken

Where does Lumira Edge fit into this? Is there a use for WebI reporting with Lumira Edge?

Ian: No. Lumira Server for Teams does not support WebI reports and we do not have any plans to do so. If you are looking for WebI & Lumira together the option starting in 1.25 is Lumira Server for BI Platform (requires BI 4.1 SP3).

WebI, Lumira, and BI Tool Selection

Comment From Guest

What is the difference between Lumira and Design Studio when delivering data from universes?

Ty Miller: I'll respond to this question in the context of our expected 1.25 release of Lumira next week. Both Lumira and Design Studio will effectively be using the same Universe Query Panel to choose your universe objects. At this point Design Studio supports a subset of database platforms for those Universes. But with the 1.5 release expected in by SAPPHIRE, we plan to add all current .unx supported relational databases.


Comment From Satya Kandregula

Client is asking, Should I go with SAP Design Studio or SAP Lumira? What are the decision points regarding SAP Design Studio vs. Lumira?

Ty Miller: SAP Design Studio is for professionally authored (as in someone from IT usually) dashboards and applications that provide a very guided and structured data analysis experience.
SAP Lumira is for a self-service oriented trusted data discovery experience where a business user can connect to data themselves, create their own visualizations, and then create their own "dashboards," which in Lumira we call Stories.
These Stories are not as sophisticated as Design Studio dashboards, however, which is why we almost always see the use case for both.

Comment From Ed Sammons

Thank you for the invitation to the chat. I will try and find out about Design Studio from our ISD. 


Comment From Carlos

Why should we try to figure out which one is the right BOBJ tool for our BI projects among way too many of them available, each of them with their own limitations, while other vendors like Tableau are offering a single-tool approach that simplifies data exploring and visualizations?

Ty Miller: This is a fair question. We indeed have more BI tools than is necessary to adequately meet the needs of most BI requirements. It is for this reason that one of the core pillars of our BI simplification strategy is to converge our BI tools. This blog describes that mission.
That being said, as a BI company we have a BI Suite that meets the needs of the full spectrum of BI which includes reporting, dashboarding, and data exploration and visualization. I would argue that if you try to create one tool that meets all of those requirements you will create a Frankenstein.
Now, your question was specific to "data exploring and visualizations." Lumira is THE tool that you should be using for TRUSTED data exploration and visualization. WebI and Crystal Reports are the tools that you should use for reporting. And Design Studio is the tool that you should use for dashboarding.


Comment From Lisa

How do you position and compare Lumira with other BI visual intelligence tools such as Tableau, Qlikview, etc.?

Ty Miller: The most important distinction between Lumira and other data discovery solutions is the fact that Lumira is recognized as a TRUSTED data discovery solution because of 1) its ability to connect to trusted sources like Universes, HANA views, and BEx queries (coming soon) and 2) its ability to be integrated with the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform, enabling IT to govern and manage Lumira where appropriate, while at the same time allowing business users to take advantage of the easy access to data and intuitive data discovery and visualization creation capabilities.


Comment From Guest

What is the SAP dashboard tool that we can use to deliver the larger data set that SAP Dashboards does not perform well with?

Ty Miller: Design Studio is the professionally authored dashboarding and application building tool that you should be using for all of these types of projects. It has its own server-side processing engine and all of its output is HTML5, which means it is automatically mobile ready.
Additionally, APOS has a Data Gateway that allows you to connect to additional data sources with added data volume potential.
And finally, with the imminent release of Design Studio 1.5 we also plan to add parallel query processing. 

APOS Data Gateway 


Comment From Guest

Could I connect directly to relational data sources from Design Studio? Should we stop using Xcelsius and switch to Design Studio?

Ty Miller: You can connect to relational data sources with Design Studio either via the universe or with the APOS Data Gateway.
And yes, you should absolutely use Design Studio for any new professionally authored dashboarding projects that you have.


Comment From Anjana

Is Lumira a replacement for Xcelsius?

Ty Miller: No. Lumira is a new tool for trusted data discovery. Design Studio is the replacement for Xcelsius.

Tool Features and Performance 

Comment From Rohit

Can you provider a list of data sources that can be utilized by Lumira today?

Ty Miller: You can find all of the supported platforms for Lumira in this document.


Comment From Monty

Does 4.1 SP5 contain the above native integration? Is it fully functional? Or do we have to wait for BI 4.1 SP6?

Ian: BI 4.1 SP3 will support Lumira Server for BI Platforms 1.25. SP5 is fully functional. You do not have to wait until SP6.


Comment From Rohit

Is it possible to add annotations/comments on the slides of the Lumira documents? If so, how easy is it to do this?

Ian: You can easily add annotations as text elements to pages in Lumira stories. It’s as easy as drag to drop & type. You can use the text component to quickly add comments or annotations to a page in a story. It’s as easy as adding a text block in Microsoft PowerPoint.


Comment From Venkat

In WebI, are we able to add annotations/comments (similar to Excel comments)?

Gregory Botticchio: Hello. Thanks your question. As of today (BI 4.1 SP05), you could build an ExtensionPoint that will provide this functionality in WebI for your end users: it is a custom development. You should contact your favorite partner (APOS for instance). In the future, with the next BI 4.2, we will embed a COMMENTARY solution in WebI.


Comment From Twarit

I would like to know if there is any way to connect the Lumira visualization derived out of the universe to WebI reports?

Ian: Lumira can connect to and create visualizations based on universes. There isn't any current/planned ability to promote Lumira stories/visualizations to WebI at the moment. But it’s an interesting idea.


Comment From Venkat

Currently Web Intelligence doesn't support cascading prompts. Any plans to implement the cascading prompt in a future release?

Frank: Cascading prompts defined in the universe are already supported in Web Intelligence. Could you describe your specific scenario?


Comment From Mubeen

Hi, I have been working with BusinessObjects and I am new to Lumira. But when I try to create Lumira dashboards by using the derived table from IDT, it shows that the number of rows displaying limit is exceeded. My question is about where to increase the output limit setting to proceed further. Apart from that, it’s an excellent, user-friendly tool to develop dashboards. Thank you.

Ian: Hi Mubeen. In Lumira 1.25 (GA in April) we are introducing a vastly improved experience when connecting to universes by supporting the same IDT query panel that is used in Crystal Reports & Dashboards. I would strongly suggest trying this, as it provides a much better experience when connecting to/previewing data coming from universes.


Comment From Anjana

Is it possible to merge data from two universes in Lumira?

Ty Miller: Yes.


Comment From Guest

When connecting Lumira directly to a BW Query, will it make full use of the fast BICS connection and the existing BWA In-Memory performance?

Ty Miller: Yes it will, because the BEx query is itself running against BWA. This is all invisible to Lumira. This goes for any of the SAP BI tools that can consume BEx queries, by the way.


Comment From Guest

In 4.1, when we try to create WebI documents on an Excel spreadsheet, there is no option in the edit query panel to add a prompted filter, or any filter, in the filter panel. Which version of 4.1 supports that?

Gregory Botticchio: Hello. Thanks for your question. You're right. This is a functional limitation, and  an enhancement request that we currently have in our backlog. No plan to deliver this one as of today. May I suggest using InputControl to propose a filtering solution to the end user?


Comment From Guest

What are the key benefits of the new UNX universe? Is it difficult to adopt?

Frank: The new UNX universes allow you to build dimensional universes (with hierarchies) as well as multi-source universes on top of relational sources. Overall, they offer a better user experience. While we have no plan to retire the classic UNV universes at this point, most of our investment is going into UNX universes, so they should be the way forward for your new projects.
By the way, please check the APOS Web Intelligence Migrator: this tool can do a bulk conversion of your UNV universes to the UNX format and will automatically repoint your WebI documents to the UNX universes.


Comment From Mubeen

Hi, I have a WebI report already developed. Like Xcelsius, can I import WebI to Lumira as a data source and can I moderate it?

Ty Miller: Great question! APOS has actually just released their Data Gateway for Lumira which is based on the Lumira Data Access Extension Framework. It allows you to leverage the trusted business logic and data connections that exist within your WebI documents. You can find more information on it here.


Comment From Sutapa Mitra

The connectivity of Lumira with SAP BW is very slow. In what client version we can expect some performance improvement?

Ty Miller: You can expect some great improvements in the way Lumira works with BW with our 1.27 release expected in June. With this release you can also expect to be able to connect Lumira directly to your BEx queries to acquire the data.


Comment From Rohit

If we use an Input Control, the filtering is done post-execution, which can be an issue with performance. Hence, a need for prompt filters, which filter data at the time of query execution.

Gregory Botticchio: Effectively, that is a fair comment if the Excel file is really big. Once again, we have this ER in our backlog. We could plan this for a post-BI 4.2 release. Please, if this has not already been done, enter and/or vote for this feature in IDEAS PLACE.


Comment From Elizabeth

Is there any performance evaluating tool that we can use to detect where it is slow (application, network, server, etc.)?

Ty Miller: Fiddler is what we use for debugging via browser. There are similar HTTP debugging proxy tool that records the HTTP/HTTPs traffic and tells you which request takes longer to process. It also has built-in web (e.g. JavaScript) debugging for more in-depth troubleshooting.
For tracking resource utilization, windows’ resource monitor (Task Manager -> Performance) is a good simple tool to start with for tracking memory, disk spaces, network, etc.

Requirements & Training

Comment From Monty

Are there any Lumira integration options for existing BI 4.0 customers?

Ian: As of 1.25, the Lumira Server for BI Platform requires BI 4.1 SP3. We do not have plans for an integration option for customers on BI 4.0.


Comment From Anjana

Will SAP Lumira be part of an enterprise license or should we pay for Lumira's license separately?

Ian: The BI Suite license includes Lumira. Please consult with your account executive to see if you are covered.


Comment From Sutapa Mitra

Which SP level of BI 4.1 supports Lumira BIP add-on? Does this still need a separate Lumira server or is it like the Design Studio add-on, which doesn't need any separate server, just another service in APS?

Ian: Lumira Server for BI Platform 1.25 requires BI 4.1 SP3 or above. A separate server is recommended.


Comment From Linda

Our organization owns 70 licenses for Xcelsius/Dashboards. We plan to replace with Lumira at some point. Rumor has it that if we own Dashboard licenses there is no need to purchase Lumira licenses, as Lumira licenses would effectively replace the Dashboard ones. Is this true?

Ian: Please talk to your account executive. Xcelsius/Dashboard licenses are not directly transferable to Lumira, but they are directly transferable to Design Studio.


Comment From Guest

Is Lumira included with Edge BI Licenses?

Ty Miller: Lumira requires an add-on license for Edge BI. You have two options:
Option 1: You can purchase Lumira Server for Teams which is a very low-maintenance server solution that can literally be deployed on a laptop or desktop. With our planned updated release of Lumira Server for Teams next week, you can connect it to the Universes you have running on your Edge BI deployment.
Option 2: We expect to release next week an add-on that you can deploy to your existing Edge BI server which will give IT the ability to govern a Lumira deployment while giving business users the rich interactivity, data access (again optionally governed by IT), visualization, and story creation capabilities that they want in a trusted data discovery tool.


Comment From Guest

Hello everyone: please recommend documentation or online training for Lumira.  We are upgrading to BI 4.1 SP3. Heavily using WebI, but no Lumira expertise.

Gregory Botticchio: Hello. Please, have a look at specific documentation here

Ian: Lumira User guides are  here on


Bridget Kotelly: As the panelists wrap up a final post or two, I just want to thank everyone for joining today's Q&A. 

Thank you to SAP’s Ty Miller, Frank Prabel, Gregory Botticchio, Sylvain Riboud, and Ian Booth.

And thanks, too, to Allan Pymm of APOS for bringing these experts from SAP together today. 


Allan Pym: A BIG thanks to our panelists today for all their input and feedback, well done!  Thank you very much to all attendees for making today’s session a great event.

APOS is focused on helping you develop a ‘Well Managed BI’ environment, visit us at for more information.   We hope that you have enjoyed today’s session.

Ty Miller: Great session guys. Enjoyed it!
Sylvain Riboud: Thank you everyone. Goodbye.
Frank: Good bye everyone, nice talking to you all.
Ian: Thank you VERY much folks for the great questions. Have a great day.
Gregory Botticchio: Thanks all and good bye!

Bridget Kotelly:  Just a reminder to attendees that you can review the chat replay at any time after the Q&A ends. You can also reach Allan here for more BusinessObjects and BI resources and advice. Thank you again for joining us!

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