SAP Analytics Cloud
Shocking news this week, as SAP made a major announcement on the SAP BI product strategy, and specifically on SAP Lumira, Discovery edition. In summary, SAP Analytics Cloud will be the primary solution for data discovery from now on. The consequence is that new investments in this area will be focused on SAP Analytics Cloud only, leaving the on-premise SAP Lumira, Discovery edition, released just 6 months ago, behind.
As the co-author of the upcoming SAP Lumira, Discovery Edition – The Comprehensive Guide book for SAP Press, I would be lying if I’d say that I was very happy when I read the announcement blog by Mike Flannagan. Of course there were some rumors going around in the weeks before the announcement, so I wasn’t completely taken by surprise on the news itself, but more on the timing of the announcement.
Let’s decompose the message by SAP a bit. First, SAP Lumira, Discovery edition did not instantly die this week. The tool is supported at least to the end of 2024, which, knowing SAP and its customers, will probably be extended when required. Heck, there are plenty of Web Application Designer apps still running, and the BEx Analyzer is also massively used even SAP Analysis Office has been around for ages. And remember Xcelsius (SAP Dashboards)? Yup, still being used. 2018 will deliver at least versions 2.2 and 2.3 of SAP Lumira, Discovery edition, although these releases won’t include much new real functionality besides performance and quality improvements. So if you are currently using SAP Lumira 1.x or SAP Lumira, Discovery edition 2.x, it makes sense to keep using (and updating) your Lumira installation alongside your SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform. This would also be the case if cloud solutions are no part of your organization’s IT strategy.
If you currently don’t use SAP Lumira, Discovery edition, and you are looking for a data-discovery type of tool, SAP Analytics Cloud would be a logical product to consider (over SAP Lumira, Discovery edition). Here we also get to why I’m surprised at the timing of the announcement. Since October 2017 I’ve been heavily involved in several large-scale SAP Analytics Cloud projects, and my initial skepticism has been substituted with more and more enthusiasm (check my 2016 blog about my first encounter with SAP Analytics Cloud). A lot of necessary features to make this an enterprise-ready BI solution have been added of the past 18 months, for example the live SAP BW and SAP HANA connectivity options, which are key in a SAP BI landscape. Still, there is a lot of catching up to do to get SAP Analytics Cloud at the feature and integration level of the on-premise solutions. There are still lots of limitations when using the live connections for example, and especially platform features that we know from the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform and SAP BW, like object, authorization and user management, or scheduling, are years behind or not even available. The positive news is that things get better with each release (last year they did 24 of these release waves!) and that there is full commitment to get things right.
In the below video I give a quick run-through of how the use SAP Analysis Office in combination with SAP Analytics Cloud. Not only can we use SAP Analytics Cloud models as a data source in SAP Analysis Office, we can also store the workbooks on SAP Analytics Cloud. Even better, we can open them from there, and make SAP Analysis Office refresh them for us without having to enter user credentials again! As you’ll see, the current integration is still very basic, but hey, we’re getting there. In the video I’m using SAP Analysis Office 2.6, but it should also work with version 2.5.
- Create Analysis Office Workbook with SAP Analytics Cloud Model as a data source.
- Store Analysis Office Workbook on SAP Analytics Cloud.
- Open Analysis Office Workbook from SAP Analytics Cloud.
A lot is happening in the SAP BI spectrum: new versions of Design Studio, Lumira, BI4.2 just went General Available, the acquisition of Roambi. You would almost forget that SAP is working on a completely new front-end platform called SAP Cloud for Analytics (C4A).
Since the TechEd 2015 in Las Vegas, it was possible to register for demo access to this platform. But, almost nobody got an actual login for this. Fortunately I was able to participate in a 3-day SAP Partner Test on C4A at SAP headquarters in Waldorf earlier this month. This gave me the opportunity to work hands-on with the system and to provide direct feedback to the development team.
The idea behind C4A is that SAP wants to create a platform that will contain at least all existing analytical capabilities, which we know from all the other SAP front-end BI tools. The C4A environment is built from scratch and runs completely – and only – in the cloud (unlike old on-premise cloud solutions as CrystalReports.com for example). This also means that no migration will be possible from existing tools. By the way, the development capacity for the on-premise tools remains on the same level, so no need to panic. For C4A mostly new developers are recruited.
C4A has two strategies on using data from data sources: Import and Online. The import option is very similar to the Lumira scenarios in which the data has to be imported first, and then can be fully customized and used for visualization and analysis. In the online option the data replication is not needed, so the data can be used instantly.