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.
With the new Hybrid Solution strategy, which is a mixture of the on-premise and cloud BI solutions, the SAP Analytics Hub will take an important position, as it will act as a single entry point for the end-user. For the Hub the same comments can be made as for SAP Analytics Cloud: it is not fully there yet. Check my article on the Hub from May 2017. Since then, not much has happened on the integration with SAP Analytics Cloud and the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform. Also the announced “hybrid license program” is not available at the moment and can be expected only in the second half of 2018.
What I absolutely like in this announcement is the honest and transparant way of communicating. It is clear what the direction is going to be for the coming years. In my opinion it is a logical change: instead of trying to keep up with a tool that is still behind competitors like Tableau and Qlikview, why not focus and go all-in on a solution that is probably already ahead of the competition and has way more potential in the long run.
For me, this change of direction is only the beginning, as I expect the other tools to follow in the coming years. SAP Lumira, Designer edition will at least get feature updates in 2018 and 2019, but I think even that could change as soon as the SAP Analytics Cloud gets a comparable “application design (scripting)” functionality. All signs point to an endgame that has SAP Analytics Cloud as the single, dominant BI solution, with a completely integrated SAP Analytics Hub, for all enterprise reporting, dashboarding, ad-hoc data analysis, planning, and predictive requirements, making the classic on-premise tools obsolete. The question is not if, but when this will happen…