As SAP sells its Big Data in-memory appliance HANA into its installed based, we are starting to hear some interesting implementation stories .
The first version of HANA was aimed at the Analytics market for real-time business intelligence applications with the promise of moving SAP BW and then other SAP ERP applications to HANA in subsequent releases.
SAP’s latest release of its Business Intelligence suite, BI 4.0, brought many new features that would integrate and take advantage of HANA’s in memory capabilities. This included a new semantic layer and the universe designer tool known now as the Information Design Tool (IDT) as well as enhancements to Web Intelligence , Xcelsius dashboards, Crystal Reports and Explorer.
So it came as some surprise to me to hear of two recent HANA implementations where SAP actually advised the customers not to use universes , Webi and other BI 4 tools with HANA even though both the clients involved were existing users of BusinessObjects XI 3.1.
The first client that I shall refer to as the “West Coast HANA”had an implementation of BusinessObjects XI 3.1 using Web Intelligence and Xcelsius dashboards. They wanted to use HANA for more real-time business intelligence against large sets of data derived from three different applications (one in the Cloud and two on-premise). They were told by SAP not to use BusinessObjects universes for fear that too much data would be pulled back that would cause the BusinessObjects server to crash. They were instructed instead to use Explorer without a universe to go directly against the Analytic views of HANA’s in memory database. This required significant data architecture work on the part of the client and since they wanted granularity of the data, SAP recommended creating a materialized view of the data on top of the Analytic view. This has created some performance issues with Explorer.
The second client who I shall call “East Coast HANA”also had an implementation of BusinessObjects XI 3.1 using Web Intelligence, Desktop Intelligence (that they have almost finished converting to Webi) and a few Xcelsius dashboards. They had purchased HANA specifically for Business Intelligence and planned to use Web Intelligence for their first HANA application. They were warned by SAP not to use Universes at BI 4.0 but the client decided this is the reason they bought HANA so they persisted anyway. The East Coast HANA client designed a new set of Analytic views on HANA to create an in-memory database for BI and then used the BI 4 IDT to create relational universe views on top of the Analytic views. The results were impressive running queries against over 300 million rows of data returning results instantly. Since the client was a long time BusinessObjects user they set limits on rows retrieved and CPU time and they have not had any issues on their BusinessObjects server. Needless to say they are very happy with the results.
This week I was in the UK telling this story to another SAP partner who was very surprised saying that they have been involved in successful HANA implementations using BI 4.0 universes and Web Intelligence.
It appears that universes and Web Intelligence are good for HANA. Maybe that message has just not made it to the US yet.