State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade, June 2014

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Eric Vallo, Greg Myers and I were among the over 20,000 attendees of last week’s combined SAP SAPPHIRE and ASUG Annual Conference meetings last week in Orlando, Florida. The big news from the keynote stage was free Fiori (see related Wall Street Journal article, SAP Makes Fiori Free in Push for ‘Beautiful Business Software’) and SAP’s new relationship with eBay (see related SAP press release, SAP and eBay Join Forces to Deliver Online Integrated Solution for SAP Customers). Although there weren’t any major analytics announcements made during the conference, there were three key messages for SAP analytics customers.

The first message was that “all roads lead to SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1“, given during Sathish Rajagopal’s session Successfully Migrating from SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.x to SAP BI 4.1. There was no mention of a future BI 4.2 or BI 5.0. Heck, there wasn’t even mention of the forthcoming BI 4.1 Support Pack 4, which is expected later this month. SAP is rallying its analytics customers to BI 4.1 similar to the way Microsoft is encouraging its customers to adopt Windows 8.1.

General BI4 Upgrade Path

The second message, given during Ty Miller’s session entitled The Future of Business Intelligence with SAP BusinessObjects, is that SAP is simplifying its analytics portfolio, but with no specific timetable. Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence will continue as classic reporting tools, with the latter receiving some much needed enhancements like free-hand SQL and HTML parity with the Java client. Design Studio will become the successor to Xcelsius/Dashboards (no surprise there— see Chris Greer’s related article, Is Xcelsius the New Desktop Intelligence). SAP Lumira will become the premiere analysis tool, folding in technology from Explorer, Analysis OLAP, and Predictive Analysis. And lastly, Analysis Office, BI Widgets, and Live Office will be combined into a single tool for Microsoft Office integration, although in the near term Live Office will finally receive UNX universe support (see Ahmed Sherif’s related article, Live Office is Dead to Me).

UPDATE (06/25/2014) See also Jayne Landry’s article on the SAP Analytics blog, Run Simple: Convergence of the SAP BusinessObjects BI Product Portfolio

SAP BI Platform Simplification

The SAP demo booths were featuring SAP Lumira 1.17 and its new BEx and infographic capabilities (subject to change). I was thrilled to get a personal demo from none other than Henry Banks, one of the voices of the recent openSAP course for BI 4.1. SAP Lumira 1.17 is set to arrive in a few weeks now that version 1.16 has been reclassified as an internal-only release within SAP. The forthcoming SAP Lumira Server integration kit for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 Support Pack 3 was also on hand, but unfortunately the demo server crashed so I didn’t get to see much. In the excitement I forgot to ask anyone from SAP about Support Pack 4 so I don’t know if it will contain any fun surprises in addition to the usual bug fixes.

The third message from SAP is that development of the BI platform is moving to Bangalore, allowing the development team in Vancouver to focus on Lumira and other innovations. While this makes sense from a business point of view, I am concerned that the transition will slow still-needed innovations to the existing BI 4.1 platform. The improvements already made to Promotion Management with each successive BI 4.1 support pack need to continue. Platform Search still remains a challenge to implement. And BI platform monitoring still maintains dependencies on Apache Derby and Adobe Flash that need to be phased out.

In a private meeting, one SAP executive mentioned the need to “bring the swagger back” to the SAP analytics platform. We wholeheartedly agree and will be keeping a watchful eye on the general availability of SAP Lumira 1.17, the SAP Lumira Server integration kit with the BI 4.1 platform, and BI 4.1 Support Pack 4— all expected in the next few weeks.

More to come.

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