A little more than 20 years ago when I first started using Business Objects products, the original Business Objects Classic 4.1 version was the best of breed for all things BI. Back then in 1998 we created most of our reports using the full client tool, Webi was still in it's infancy, so we only used it if you didn't want anything too fancy.
I remember a discussion I had at the Business Objects office in Bilthoven in The Netherlands on the future of Webi. It was suggested that the full client, later known as Deski, would finally be replaced by Webi moving client installations to be a thing of the past. The general reaction from me and all in the room was "Never, you'll never get the same functionality with just a web browser".
Since then Webi has evolved enormously; with modern browsers Java is also a thing of the past. With just a browser and the latest Webi we have more functionality than we've ever had available.
Leading to discussions in recent years, 'will there be a need for the server-side installation and maintenance?' 'Will everything move to cloud?' Maybe… but it is important to note that SAP is committed to continue to invest into the on-premise BI Suite for many years to come.
SAP have taken a huge step in the Cloud direction with SAP Analytics cloud(SAC) over the past 2 years and now to bring the two worlds together in a full solution. We have the eagerly awaited SAP Business Objects 4.3. The release of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.3 will deliver major innovations in three areas:
Time to Upgrade!
Reasons to upgrade will of course differ from person to person, company to company depending on situations. Upgrading to 4.3 carries with it many benefits, especially coming from older version of the product. I'm not going to try comment on all the value outcomes, however in particular, I believe, 4.3 can bring analytics levels within an organisation to a whole new level. It may even ensure that business stakeholders realise a better return on their investment.
A stepping stone to the cloud.
There may still be some organisations out there thinking they will never go to the cloud but I think those numbers are dwindling fast, especially with the COVID-19 situation we have today.
SAP Business Objects Hybrid approach of on-premise and cloud seamlessly integrated is a perfect stepping stone to experiencing the benefits of cloud in my opinion. For organisation with a plan to move to cloud, as well as organisations that have not yet considered the cloud; this is a great way to try out cloud without a large investment while leveraging the benefits of on-premise investments.
The cloud setup being done for you, there no servers options to choose from, there are no servers to maintain, and there is no need to worry about capacity. You get all the benefits of SAP Analytics Cloud such as: Smart insights, Predictive analysis, Machine learning and Planning, all in one place, through your Business Objects 4.3 environment. As a result you will experience an increased level of analytics throughout the organisation.
Leveraging Universe and Webi investments with cloud functionality.
One of the major exciting innovations is the ability to use the functionality provided by SAP Analytics Cloud with your on-premise universes, and the best part, the data never leaves your network. Over the years, organisations have invested a huge amount of time and money in the development of Business Objects Universes. The better the universe, the easier it is to allow self-service BI throughout the organization. Now this can be extended to the cloud and made available on any device.
Expose Webi reports with combined data sources and calculations as data models.
Similar to universe investment, organizations have also invested a lot of time and money on Webi reports often with a lot of complexity. These could be anything from management reporting to regulatory reporting to critical operational reporting, normally all tested to death for correctness… at least they should be. With Business objects 4.3 you can expose the output of Webi reports as data models for further analysis.
This new Webi data model concept re-uses components from already existing documents, where several queries from several data sources can be used, merged and enriched with variables. This creates a new set of data that can be used as a source in the cloud by SAC (SAP Analytics Cloud) or by on-premise. Feeding new Webi documents, or even in Dashboards or in Live.
Migration Path to 4.3?
If you are already on SAP Business Objects 4.x, the migration is straight forward, there is no content upgrade required up to version 4.2. Content upgrades are required from versions prior to 4.0 using the Upgrade Manager Tool (UMT).
**Note on the Upgrade Manager Tool (UMT)***
According to current available documentation the UMT will not be shipped with the new 4.3 version.
For anyone on a version prior to 4.0, you will need to upgrade to a version 4 of SAP Business Objects prior to Updating the environment to 4.3.
Some changes going forward?
I believe it is also worth noting the changes going forward for existing Business Objects users. Some of the products we have known for years will be replaced and will no longer be shipped with version 4.3.
In my opinion this is a good thing, for too long there were too many products for the same thing. By removing it allows more investment in the core products we use.
In addition the Classic BI Launchpad will also not be shipped with version 4.3. Another good thing as now we have one modern interface across all products including SAC going forward. For someone like myself that has been using the products for 2 decades, it may take some getting used to but I like it. I am actually looking forward to the new interface.
To be honest, I'm looking forward to the release of SAP Business Objects 4.3 and the seamless introduction of hybrid on-premise and cloud environments.
It's time for change!