10 Steps to SAP BusinessObjects BI4 – Know Your Universe

I’m back! My pals here at EV Technologies have been kind enough to take the reigns over the past few steps to get to BI4. I have the honor of wrapping up our list and I’ll kick that off today with an effort to Know Your Universe.

Know Your Universe

For the first time in many years, the universe has become a variable. If you look at the path to get us here, the classic universe, or the UNV, has provided a fairly significant degree of stability to the agnostic customer over the last…well…10 years or more even. The SAP BW customers have been fighting with it, more recently, to get access to their data through our universe and quite frankly, hated it.

The new universe, or the UNX, has been the subject of much discussion here on our blog, over on the SCN, and even on the Diversified Semantic Layer podcast.  We’ve talked about its new capabilities, the improvements to SAP BW customers, multi-source capabilities, conversions, and much more.  With all of that stuff, I personally think you have much to think about before you go all Rambo and convert existing universes from UNV to UNX, or before you start creating UNX based universes at all. Let’s talk about it.

Do you know why you need a UNX universe?

I can tell you that on more than a few occasions, I’ve been in conversations with customers that were eagerly awaiting the conversion to the new UNX but couldn’t really say why.  Whether you have 10 universes or 100 or 1,000, like any coding project, it’s important to understand why you want to touch your code before you touch it. We’re going to go through some of those reasons, but be sure that for each one of them, you can comprehend the value and convey that value in migration before you begin to.

To Federate, or Not to Federate….

The multi-source capabilities in the UNX are quite powerful. They must also be used wisely.  You really must make an educated decision on whether the multi-source universe is the right move compared to using equivalent ETL processes (and you know…ETL developers, ETL servers, ETL jobs, etc.) to get your data from point A to point B.  This has implications on your BI4 servers and how you size them, query runtimes, and then ultimately the user experience.  So as you start to crack open the Information Design Tool (IDT) and are creating your Data Foundation, choose Single Source vs. Multi-Source…wisely…

SAP BW Customers Should Care (Still)

I’ve already told you what I think about the universe and why it is still relevant to SAP BW customers. At the same time, optimizations to BICS make analytical usage of SAP BW via SAP BusinessObjects BI tools the most SAP BW friendly tool choice. But yet, the universe can still serve as a relational view of that same data, suitable for integration via our pal, the multi-source universe. Do you need it?  Dive deep here because the question and the following implications are important. Analyst-types, or those that like tools like Analysis for OLAP, want analytical features. They might resent you for taking them away.  Stripping those capabilities away to just make them flat again won’t cater to all your user’s needs.  Yet as we talk about BI for the masses (again), perhaps the ability to relate that flat data to other enterprise sources is just what you need. Think about it carefully.

Tool Selection is Everything

Oh, so many reporting tools. I think I got this matrix right. It can change on a release by release notice.  However, knowing the delivery mechanism you need to use may dictate the universe type choice here.  Enough said.


Mass Report Conversions

So you have converted your UNV universe to a UNX universe. Now what? Do you deprecate the old UNV?  Do you support changes in parallel while you migrate the reports using it to the new UNX version? Yuck. I’m a fan of using Sherlock® here for some more informed migrations (obviously). First, know what needs to be migrated and how relevant it is to your business. From there, you can assess the level of effort required to complete this migration.

Wrapping it Up

Don’t get me wrong in all of this.  I dig the new UNX. I think that much should hopefully be clear. I simply want to make sure that when making that move, the needed efforts are recognized and you avoid the fools-rush-in approach by planning carefully.

Next up, our final step to get to BI4, in just about one week’s time.

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