Is SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 Worth The Wait?

SAP BusinessObjects (BO) 4.0 suite is here. It’s been in the ramp-up phase since last fall; according to our sources, SAP plans to announce its general availability sometime in May, possibly at Sapphire. It’s about a year late (SAP first told Forrester that it planned to roll it out in the spring of 2010, so I wanted to include it in the latest edition of the Forrester Wave™ for enterprise BI platforms but couldn’t), and the big question is: Was it worth the wait? In my humble opinion, yes, it was! Here are seven major reasons to upgrade or to consider SAP BI if you haven’t done so before:

  1. BO Universe (semantic layer) can now be sourced from multiple databases, overcoming a major obstacle of previous versions.
  2. Universe can now access MOLAP (cubes from Microsoft Analysis Services, Essbase, Mondrian, etc.) data sources directly via MDX without having to “flatten them out” first. In prior versions, Universe could only access SQL sources.
  3. There’s now a more common look and feel to individual BI products, including Crystal, WebI, Explorer, and Analysis (former BEx). This is another step in the right direction to unify SAP BI products, but it’s still not a complete solution. It will be a while before all SAP BI products are fully and seamlessly integrated, as well as other BI tools/platforms that grew more organically.
  4. All SAP BI tools, including Xcelsius (Dashboards in 4.0), that did not have access to BO Universe now do.
  5. There’s now a tighter integration with BW via direct exposure of BW metadata (BEx queries and InfoProviders) to all BO tools.
  6. Improved BI/BW performance. This is the one I can’t validate until I talk with some customers. But SAP claims that, starting with 4.0, BW will have a unique set of proprietary SAP APIs that are 4+ times faster than APIs that are available to the other BI tools. I am assuming that what this means is that from now on, BW access by BusinessObjects will be faster than by any other BI tool.
  7. Last but not least, 4.0 is the first version highly optimized for the HANA in-memory appliance. Previous versions and other BI tools will also work with HANA; that should not be the primary factor in your decision whether to upgrade to 4.0 or not, but it’s indeed another variable in the mix. What does “optimized” mean in this case? Remember, all of your BI applications (with the exception of in-memory specific BI apps) were written and optimized for accessing disk-based RDBMSes. Chunks of code that were written specifically for that purpose can now be removed, and that code can be optimized for direct memory data access. That’s indeed what SAP claims they did in version 4.0.

SAP says that upgrading to 4.0 from XI R2 and R3 is as simple as “just opening the old Universe/reports in the new environment,” and that they provide an upgrade management tool to guide users through the process. I can’t confirm or deny this yet, but what I do know is that, according to my estimates, there are about 100 customers in the ramp-up program, and I haven’t heard any complaints so far. But if you are on an earlier version, unfortunately, it has to be a two-step process: using existing conversion wizards to convert to R3 first and then using the new upgrade management tool to go to 4.0.

 If you have a positive or a negative experience with your 4.0 upgrade, please let me know and I’ll update this blog accordingly.

Comments

The statement: "2.Universe

The statement: "2.Universe can now access MOLAP (cubes from Microsoft Analysis Services, Essbase, Mondrian, etc.) data sources directly via MDX without having to “flatten them out” first. In prior versions, Universe could only access SQL sources." from my understanding is not correct.

Universe could access OLAP data sources suchs as SAP BW already with prior version, not as flexible and as good as with SAP BI 4.0 though (see hierarchies or transient universes, etc.)

Your are correct, BW was the

Your are correct, BW was the one exception. Thank you for pointing it out.

2. universe 2t

Do you know if it's possible to combine olap sources and SQL sources in a unisource universe?

Theoretically, yes. Although

Theoretically, yes. Although I think it'd be really tough to do mappings and joins.

No Not possible

No not possible; you can only merge 2 RDBMS based universes & not even 2 OLAP universes means.

Multiple RDBMS access from one universe is possible but RDBMS and OLAP same time not possible. Even access of 2 OLAP sources in 1 universe not possible.

Interesting. Let me check w

Interesting. Let me check w SAP

You are correct. Even with

You are correct. Even with 4.0 BO can only join relational-to-relational, or report off a single OLAP source, or join multiple BWs. So it's still a big advantage for ROLAP vendors like MicroStrategy and Oracle who can join multiple relatoinal and OLAP sources.

Crystal Report Upgrade

I have seen CR 2011 but its seems it will work only with Universe. is it true??

No, just got confirmation

No, just got confirmation from SAP. CR will work with or without Universe.

true :- depend on ur product

CR now come in 3 type
1) CR viewer :- Client where u can only view reports
2) CR enterprise ;- U can only connect to new UNX means new Universe
3) CR Designer :- U can connect to any thing as usual.

HI..Thnak you for giving the

HI..Thnak you for giving the information about SAP business objects 4.0..

BI 7.0 BO 4.0

Is there any problem (at any level) if i want to have SAP BW 7.0 with SAP BO 4.0?

Not as far as I know, but

Not as far as I know, but obviously the later the version of BW, the better it'd work with BO 4.0

For supported platforms,

For supported platforms, please refer to PAM available at: service.SAP.com/PAM

PAM = Product Availability Matrix

Naked SAP BW 7.0, meaning without any further patches is most likely not supported.

According to PAM you do

According to PAM you do require at least SAP BW 7.01 SPS6+ for SAP BI BusObjects 4.0 to access SAP BW data.