Integrate SAP BI into Business Objects OLAP Universes

Originally published 18 May 2009

Challenge

Imagine you are an existing SAP BI customer and in the last few months you have been swamped with mail concerning the new Business Objects tools. The first question that arises is how the different Business Objects tools can improve your current SAP business intelligence landscape and how to integrate this in your existing environment. It is very important to realize that these tools will not replace the data warehouse functionality of your SAP business intelligence landscape. With these BOBJ products, SAP provides SAP BI customers with a broader set of enterprise performance management solutions available on a platform with deep integration to SAP NetWeaver.

Approach

BI Sources and Connection

If you use SAP BI to feed data to Business Objects reporting services, you will use the Business Objects OLAP universe as a semantic layer between the SAP BI system and the other Business Objects analytical reporting tools. An OLAP universe is a Business Objects universe that has been generated from a SAP BI OLAP cube or query. The BOBJ universe is created automatically from a selected connection to an SAP BI OLAP data source. To set up this connection you can use a wizard in which you can easily customize the connection parameters to your SAP BI OLAP data source. The best practice tells us to generate your OLAP universe on top of a query rather than generating it on top of your OLAP cube in order to benefit from reusable elements already created in your SAP BEX query designer (variables, calculated and restricted key figures, structure elements). Nevertheless, it is also not advisable from performance perspective to create one super query that includes all SAP BI InfoCube elements.

Business Objects OLAP Universes

The central tool to create and maintain OLAP universes is the Universe Designer. This tool generates the universe automatically and SAP BI OLAP structures are mapped directly to Business Objects classes, measures, dimensions, details and filters in the universe. After generation of the universe you need to export it in order to make it available for other Business Objects reporting and data consuming services. The exported universes can be used in Web Intelligence, Dashboard and Analytics, Live Office and Query as a web service. Within the universe designer it is also possible to enhance the automatically generated OLAP universe with newly included logic although this can be a time consuming operation. On the other hand, the Update OLAP Universe wizard allows you to manage the life cycle of the OLAP universe. The wizard automatically refreshes the universe structure with changes made in the OLAP data source. The wizard can differentiate generated objects from objects added or modified manually, allowing you to preserve the manual changes made in the Universe Designer.

Practical Use

Most BI elements can be reused in the Business Objects universe, but there are still some technology gaps which will hopefully be filled in the near future. As you evaluate the reporting performance when consuming a BI OLAP data source within BO, experience shows that in comparison to the existing SAP BI reporting you do not lose any performance. All SAP BI specific performance technologies (cache memory, aggregates, BI Accelerator) are still being used when running a Business Objects report on top of SAP BI data sources.

Conclusion

  • Easy integration between SAP BI and Business Objects by using OLAP universes.
  • BI InfoCubes can be used as source for your universe but the best practice is to use queries.
  • You can enhance generated universes but this process can be time-consuming.
  • There is a wizard to manage the life cycle of the OLAP universe when your source structure is changed.
  • Most BI objects are reusable but there are still some technology gaps.
  • No performance loss in comparison to existing SAP BI reporting solutions.
  • Rob RoemersRob Roemers
    Rob Roemers is a Senior Performance Management Expert, Project Manager and a Managing Partner at Taurus-i. He is an SAP BI consultant with a focus on reporting and business intelligence. In addition to being technology focused, he has developed good insight into marketing, information and communication processes. Rob has worked on several large ERP implementations and on international BI projects. His experience covers the entire project spectrum from blueprinting to post-go live. He regularly teaches at SAP Belux and The Netherlands. You may contact him at rob.roemers@taurus-i.com or +32477380134.

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