JAN 10, 2011 10:38am ET

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To BW or Not To BW


I get lots of questions from clients on whether they should consider (or continue to rely on) SAP BW for their DW and BI platform, tools and applications. It’s a multi dimensional (forgive the pun) decision.

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Comments (11)
SAP BW is generally being presented with a negative rather than positive point of view with regards to agile BI. But, I fully agree with your POV, agility is definitively a key strength: it provides a very solid and mature metadata driven information layer that enables enterprise level agile scenario. One other underestimated strength that you are eluding, also important for agile BI scenarios, is the openness to third party BI platform/tools, including MS Sharepoint/MS BI, but also in memory data discovery platforms like Qliktech to empower lines of business with prototyping or self service scenarios. Regarding the capabilities with data volume, my feeling is that, although BW would struggle with multi-terabyte warehouse, it can handle reasonable data volume (by that, I mean, not high end, but upper middle end rather that low end) : many BI surveys have shown that current BW customers handle, in average, bigger data volumes than the users of most other BI platforms. And BW provides some scenarios like near line storage or in memory that not all BI platform can propose today. Lastly, with some customers, we've been looking at the new release of BO (4.0) and I feel it worth a deep dive to address some of the challenges you are referring to : first, integration of non SAP sources is better now that a data federation layer is fully integrated in the solution, so that you can mix and match SAP sources with others at different levels. Integration between the front-end tools is now much better too, at many levels (meta-data, "info objects" such as query or OLAP views, presentation layer). Although far from being perfect, I feel this is a game changer for BO customers, because they won't have any more to opt for an option (eg : OLAP versus ad hoc query) against another on a project by project basis, but rather mix those in a same project.
Posted by Jean-Michel F | Tuesday, January 11 2011 at 2:11AM ET
Boris, your advice has been pretty consistent on this topic for quite some time, but the fact remains that customer environments have changed dramatically, relying less on ERP level transaction data and more on 3rd party market data for decision making and in many cases to provide the master data for transaction systems. We have two customers who persist NO data in SAP by centrally authoring their master data prior and outputting to a Kalido data warehouse, keeping bad data from ever infecting their system. The result? 75% less data to manage and the highest quality data we've ever seen- so high quality in fact that finance uses the BI created data as the single version of the truth to close the books.

Data needs to take on a life of it's own- governed, managed and consumed independently of the underlying transaction systems.

Posted by Bill H | Wednesday, January 12 2011 at 10:47AM ET
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