Book review: SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP BusinessObjects – The Comprehensive Guide

Posted by Xavier Hacking

Let’s have a look at another SAP BI book that SAP Press released this year: SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP BusinessObjects – The Comprehensive Guide. SAP Press is on a great streak and later this year we can expect even more releases from them on HANA, Web Intelligence, ABAP for BW, SAP BusinessObjects Administration and Security.

But, let’s go back to the SAP BW/BO Comprehensive Guide. My first thought when I unwrapped this book was: “Wow, this one is FAT!” Look at it; almost 800 pages! Like most of the SAP Press books this one text-intensive with a 75/25 text to picture ratio so this would take some time to go cover to cover.

I got a bit worried when I scanned the topic list. This book discusses the whole (!) SAP Business Intelligence spectrum. This is SAP BW en SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform (including Data Services) for the backend, and for the frontend the BEx tools (Query Designer, Analyzer, Web Analyzer, Web Application Designer) and the complete SAP BusinessObjects portfolio (Web Intelligence, Crystal Reports, Analysis, Dashboards, Explorer). Even BW Integrated Planning and SAP SEM-BCS have their own chapter. This is a whole lot of content to cover, even in a 800 pager.

They left the horrible BEx Report Designer (yes it still exists somewhere!) out of scope and at the time of writing Visual Intelligence and SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio weren’t that far in development. HANA and SAP Mobile are mentioned a few times but not really discussed in detail. By the way this book is updated up to SAP BW 7.3 and SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0.

After reading it I feel a bit confused. It is not clear what the real purpose of this book is and what should be the right audience for this publication? Let me take you through it.

It starts of in the first part with an introduction to the business intelligence and its concepts (“What is BI, what is a Data Warehouse etc.) and introduces the BW and BI4.0 platforms and their features. This ‘overview’ part is written on a level that is understandable for newbies or managers without any knowledge of the SAP BI world they might be entering.

The second section dives for the most part (225 pages) into data modeling and data extraction with the SAP BW backend. It talks about the BW objects like InfoObjects, InfoCubes, InfoSets etc. in quite a detailed way, going through most of the available options and settings. I really enjoyed the parts on the new BW 7.3 features which I haven’t worked with before and are explained very clearly here. The chapter on authorizations is good, but only focusses on BW and doesn’t cover authorization and user management in the BI4.0 platform. The section ends with a chapter on the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 platform. With only 33 pages this chapter only gives an overview of the platform and its toolset.

Part three covers the frontend tools and I’m surprised by the detail in which the ‘old’ BEx tooling is presented here. The BEx Query Designer is getting a different role as dataprovider to the SAP BusinessObjects frontend tooling, so I like the attention it gets here. This also counts for the BEx and Web Analyzer, which are probably here to stay for a while; At least as tools in which we can test our BEx Queries output before using them SAP BusinessObjects frontend tools.

These SAP BusinessObjects frontend tools are all discussed in about 100 pages. This is not enough to really show what the tools are capable of instead of just going through the main features and basic menu options. So again, this would be a good chapter for the newbies, but if you’ve worked with one of the tools for a few days there is little new information here.

Part four goes through BW Integrated Planning and SAP SEM-BCS. Just an introduction, little detail.

The book ends with some very handful appendices: Abbreviations, a glossary, and lists of the most important BW tables, transaction codes and SAP notes. Very useful stuff!

The question now is who should pick up this book and read it? I don’t know and I’m still confused! The problem is that the book is not consistent in the level of detail that is provided throughout the book. This might be the result of writing a book with five authors. Another problem is that there are already other books available on almost all of the topics that are discussed in SAP BW/BO Comprehensive Guide. Not only the very tool specific books like SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, but also the more ‘softer’ books that provide an overview and a first introduction to the toolset, like for example Reporting and Analysis with SAP BusinessObjects. Even on BW data modeling, which is discussed in great detail, I would advice to get a book that has a more step-by-step approach, like A Practical Guide to SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse 7.0.

So I guess if you are just starting in SAP BI, and your company/project is using SAP BW plus the BEx tools at the moment, and will maybe deploy a SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 platform somewhere in the future, this book can be really helpful for you. But, if you’re already working with some of the tools and you want to take a step further I’d suggest you to have a look at the other books that are available.

SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP BusinessObjects – The Comprehensive Guide by Heilig, Kessler, Knötzele, John, Thaler-Mieslinger, ISBN 978-1592293841. - Sep 15, 2012 | Books, SAP BusinessObjects, SAP BW
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  1. Pete Moxon
    September 15, 2012

    Thanks for the book review Xavier. Some of these books on SAP BI do seem to repeat what has already been covered in other SAP Press books. Trying to cover the whole BI toolset in one book is quite a big task and like you said, this book is ‘FAT’, but to cover all the BI tools in one go it probably needs to be a Sumo!


  2. J
    November 13, 2014

    Great review. Thanks.


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