The SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector

I feel like I rubbed a magic bottle and got my first wish.  Yes, perhaps I aimed too low, but in February, I wrote about my desire to see the SAP BusinessObjects Universe exposed as a service.  To my surprise, that announcement about the SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector was apparently around the corner.  I promise you…short of having asked for this last year, I had no knowledge that it was there.  In any case, WOW!  For the traditional SAP BusinessObjects customer, this *might* not matter all that much.  But let’s dissect some opportunity here not previously explored before that I can think of.

Before the leap, check out the technical guide over on the SCN here: scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-52477

Other BI Tools

Somehow, the Earth is a giant world and at the same time, it’s so very very small thanks to technology.  Customers in the large to medium enterprise don’t historically own just one BI tool in the toolbox.  I deal with customers that literally own some foot print of any that I could name that have a place in that market.  Some of them have their own semantic layers, others may go direct to data or flat files.

The massive opportunity this presents is that other BI vendors should take notice.  They have the ability to add the Universe as a connectivity type.  The customer, specifically with a history with SAP BusinessObjects, is the real winner here.  Enterprise data, big or small, exposed through the Universe, creates a ubiquitous way for users to access data.   Did Microsoft already take advantage of this with their announcement of Power BI for Office 365?  Cheaters!  Kidding.  Good on them.  Andrew Fox already jumped on an initial impressions blog to share.

Application Developers Galore

I cannot tell you as an SAP BusinessObjects BI Practitioner and Application Developer, how many times I’ve been asked to expose data from SAP BusinessObjects.  Customers use reports for ETL.  Bad.  Next, we wanted to hope that Query as a Web Service/BI Web Services create a services-based approach to exposing data via HTTP.   Exposing the Universe as a Service creates the opportunity for Application Developer to not only be the master of his/her domain of creating a query, but in also consuming the resultant data.

The SAP BusinessObjects Architect and Admin cannot go dark on this, however.  Application controls are still important.  Being aware of runtimes, data volumes, data security, and the impacts that are implied here to both the SAP BI web tier for the potential increase in HTTP traffic as well as the processing tier that has to do this additional query work are important.

Wrap Up

There are probably other practical uses of this new service that aren’t at the top of my mind.  I think for the ecosystem to find success with these Services, documented use cases will be a nice addition, and further development of their capabilities to include other Universe features, and possibly even a straight-forward invocation of a *light* web app for authoring queries is needed.  I’d really love to see innovative ways to render the Universe Query panel, without obliterating it in its current form, to see if there is room to rethink it.  Fun stuff.

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