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Live from SAPinsider Studio: Details on SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2

March 9, 2016

Sathish Rajagopal, SAP, Director, Solution Management, BI Solutions, GTM, joins SAPinsider Studio at the 2016 BI-HANA event in Las Vegas to discuss SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2, which is on track for release at the end of Q1. Topics of this discussion include:

  •  New features and functionality centered on the three themes of simplification, innovation, and enhancement
  •  How BI 4.2 delivers on the trusted data delivery concept
  •  Considerations for existing BI customers on how to move to the new release

This is an edited version of the transcript:

Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider, and I’m at the SAPinsider BI-HANA-IoT event in Las Vegas. I’m pleased to be joined Sathish Rajagopal, who is with SAP. He is the director, BI Solutions, Go-To-Market (GTM). And he is here today to talk to us about SAP Business Objects Business Intelligence (SAP BI) 4.2. Sathish, thanks for being with us.

Sathish Rajagopal, SAP: Good to see you Ken. Thanks for having me.

Ken: I’d like to start with the basics. When can we expect the release of BI 4.2, and just take us through some key new features and functionality?

Sathish: Absolutely. We are targeting to release in Q1, that is probably next month. Things are on track. There are 50+ customers taking part in ramp-up, there are 150 partners who are part of the early adopter program. So things are progressing well on-track and we expect to release the product sometime next month, March of this year.

And in terms of your second part of your question, about the key features in the BI 4.2 release, interestingly we had close to 200+ requirements, so we have to consolidate, prioritize and plan out of these 200+ requirements. So the first thing we did was to come up with three themes for the release: simplify, innovate, and enhance. When I say simplify, like what can we do to simplify the installation process which is one of the major elements when you talk about total cost of ownership (TCO). It takes time, so downtime is longer, so how can we reduce the downtime? So we came up with some requirements that will support reducing the downtime. And then we also focused on the simplification theme to improve the overall installation process and remove the upgrade barriers. In terms of the innovation theme, what can we do to support new platforms, operating systems, or how to best integrate with new data sources, cloud. And then in terms of enhancing, what can we do to enhance the integration experience or how to help customers who are using Web Intelligence to take them to the next level. And these were in the final details under three major themes, but the important aspect of this is that we had the important prerequisite to not compromise quality. We’ll provide the features under these three themes, but the quality is the No. 1 feature in 4.2 and so far the feedback has been great, the quality has been well-received, and we expect adoption in 2016 to be great.

Ken: Simplify, innovation, and enhancement. Of those themes, is there a common, underlying purpose that ties those together, kind of the end game of 4.2? Is it to drive self-service, or different front-end tools?

Sathish: So you might have even heard that in the keynote address from Jayne Landry. For our team the focus for 2016 and beyond is going to be continue to innovate the core, the on-prem application, and then build for the future, that is cloud. So when we talk about our core innovation, the strongest point for us is this trusted enterprise platform. So when we talk about self-service, you have to make sure that the data flies through securely, the users can access them in an easier way, so the trusted data discovery is a main advantage of having SAP BusinessObjects be a platform. So to answer your question, these are some of the end goals what we want to help our customers achieve with BI 4.2.

Ken: Can you provide one or two specific examples of how BI 4.2 delivers on that promise of getting to the state of trusted data discovery?

Sathish: Last year we introduced the Lumira server for the BI platform for example; we have a number of customers on Lumira and then put together a story, a visualization. How do they distribute it? And we have this powerful BI platform so we introduced an add-on component which you can install on top of BusinessObjects to take all your Lumira visualization stories into the main portal called BI Launchpad, so users don’t have to go across different places to access the information; it’s all there in one central place called BI Launchpad that is part of the BI platform. Now, the other aspects that are coming improvements in 4.2 is to improve this overall experience, the workflow in terms of performance. So all these are getting improved in 4.2.

Ken: Can you address the upgrade path for an existing customer who might be on Enterprise 3.1 or BI 4.0?

Sathish: Critical question, because in my role as a Director, Solutions for the GTM team one of the areas I focus heavily is helping customers moving to the new release. So when you talk about 4.2, yes it’s a new release and there are customers who are on BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1, there are customers on BI 4.0, we have thousands of customers on BI 4.1, so imagine this as a track like 1,2, and for all those customers on 3.1 they can bring up a new 4.2 system and they can move their objects from 3.1 to 4.2 fully supported, no issues. And we have also improved this workflow significantly compared to our earlier releases in 4.2. For example, the tool that is called Upgrade Management Tool that helps move the objects from 3.1 to 4.2 now has more features to help the workflow. And then there are customers who are on 4.0, 4.1, they simply update their environment using 4.2 binaries. When I say update binaries, they just download the 4.2 software package and they update their 4.0 system or 4.1 system and that becomes their 4.2 system. There is no migration or upgrade involved, it’s that easy. Again, we’ve improved that workflow as well. These are the options in terms of the old releases with respect to 4.2, how they can come to 4.2 in actual workflow.

Ken: For the enterprise today struggling with the increase of data volume and complexity in terms of addressing why should an organization that is facing that challenge upgrade, how does 4.2 address that and help solve that problem?

Sathish: Big data is a reality and we all use social media - I’ve tweeted about this interview – and social media is one of the things that produces mass volume of data whether you like it or not most corporations have to deal with high-volume of data. So in 4.2 we’ve introduced more data sourcing support, big data like Hadoop –  and of course HANA native integration – but if you look beyond SAP solutions like Hadoop and Impala and other big data sources, you have now drivers that you can connect for example from Web Intelligence to all this big data resources. So those are all added and certified in BI 4.2. So big data is one of the main focus areas for us, not just in 4.2 but beyond 4.2 so we’re already working on our next set of releases so we’ll be focusing heavily on big data related innovations.

Ken: Sathish thanks for joining us to bring us up to speed on BI 4.2.

Sathish: Thanks Ken for having me, and see you again.

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