BI 4.0 New Features and Changes
There are many articles posted and available about BI 4.0 on SDN. In this Wiki, I would like to share some brief knowledge about the various new features available in BI 4.0.
SAP Business Objects Enterprise 3.1 is changed to SAP Business Objects Business Intelligence platform 4.0.
SAP Business Objects Enterprise XI4.0, is the Business Intelligence platform that supports the entire range of Performance Management, Reporting, Querying, and Analysis Applications. It has proven architecture and platform support for Semantic Layers, Data Integration, and Security. SAP Business Objects Enterprise XI4.0 provides full web-based administration and configuration of the entire system.
Software Development Kit (SDK)
The software development kit included in the new version has many new features, such as support for security, support for alerting, support for role based authentication.
- 64-bit Architecture.
- Native support for 64-bit Operating System for BI 4.0 server side components.
- Allows handling large reports: no more 2 GB memory limitation.
- 64-bit database middle-ware support.
- Java Application server utilizing 64-bit JDK’s (Java Development Kit).
- Desktop products and client tools support Windows 32-bit and 64-bit OS platforms.
There are few nomenclature changes made in the new version of BI 4.0 which are shown in the comparison table below.
Business Objects Enterprise
Business Objects Business Intelligence Platform
BI Launch Pad
Business Objects Xcelsius Platform
SAP Business Objects Dashboard Design
Information Design Tools and Universe Design Tool
Crystal Reports 2008
Crystal Reports for Enterprise, Crystal Reports 2011
Business Objects Voyager
Business Objects Analysis, Edition for OLAP
SAP Business Objects Interactive Analysis
Translation Management Tool
What’s New in BI 4.0
In the latest BI 4.0, many changes have been made to the existing tools and few new tools have been introduced.
- Common query interface across all reporting tools built in the Information Design Tool.
- Many new features here including multiple data connection.
- Data Federation included.
- New abstraction layer for multi-dimensional data sources.
- Native multi-source support.
- Performance enhancements with engine update.
- Crystal Reports Enterprise – online report development based on universes built /converted in Information Design Tool.
- Installs many ERP and Portal integrations by default – recommended to only install what you need.
- Alert information through SAP Solution Manager support which can connect to products like Tivoli.
- CMC monitoring of servers and thresholds related to their performance.
- New Search Engine.
- LCM (Life Cycle Management) installed by default.
BI 4.0 Platform.png
SOURCE: SAP BUSINESS OBJECTS
Some of the improvements made in BI 4.0 are mentioned below.
- Universe can now be sourced from multiple datasources.
- Universe can access from MOLAP (cubes from Microsoft Analysis Services, Essbase, Mandroin etc.) datasources directly via MDX without having to flatten them out. Prior version, Universe can access only SQL source.
- More common look and feel to understand BI products, including Crystal, WebI, Explorer and BEx.
- Universe can now be directly accessed by the Dashboards 4.0.
- There is a tighter integration with BW via direct exposure of BW metadata (BW query and Infoprovider) to all BO tools.
- Four times better performance in BI/BW in terms of API’s (which means BW can access BO in a much faster way).
- Enhanced virtualization support.
- Additional monitoring.
- A re-written auditing back-end.
The previous version’s major limitation is, many components needed a separate installation. But in the new version of BI 4.0, the components don’t need separate installations and these components are directly integrated with SAP BI 4.0. The components are mention below.
- Enterprise Resource Planning.
- Lifecycle Management.
- SAP Solution Manager support.
- Data Federation.
- Mobile server support.
- SAP Business Objects Dashboard Design (formerly Xcelsius) server support.
- Language support.
- SAP BW publishing servers.
- WDeploy Graphical User Interface (GUI).
- Web application consolidation.
BI Launch Pad
BI Launch pad provides an interface to the SAP Business Objects Business Intelligence platform repository that enables us to navigate to view and manage our business intelligence documents. It is a web based application from which we can access Crystal reports, Web Intelligence documents, and other objects, and organize them to suit our preferences. Some of the features in the BI launch pad are mentioned below.
- Usability and Look & Feel improvements.
- Quick and easy access recently viewed reports, instances, alerts and BI tools.
- Tab based interface for easier navigation.
- Customization and personalization capabilities.
- Role based personalization.
- Simplified deployment with one WAR file.
- Improved user interface and additional options for interface customization.
BI LANUNCH PAD.png
Information Design Tool (IDT)
The new semantic layer introduced in the new BI 4.0 is the largest single change. This semantic layer is called as Information Design Tool (IDT) which is the replacement of Universe Designer of BO 3.x. The new semantic layer includes elements from the old Data Federator product (which presumably no longer exists) and allows a single universe to combine data from multiple sources. However the old Universe Designer is also made available in the installation pack.
The information design tool is the SAP BusinessObjects design environment for creating and publishing new SAP Business Objects universes and connections. IDT is used for new multi-source universes. The information design tool lets you take advantage of these major new universe design features:
- Dimensional universes that support OLAP dimensions and hierarchies.
- Multi-Source universes that federate multiple relational data sources.
- A design environment that facilitates designer teamwork and universe resource sharing.
- A security editor for universe data and metadata.
- Extended connection management.
Web Intelligence 4.0
Using Web Intelligence we can perform interactive analysis with SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence by creating reports based on data we want to analyze. Some of the changes made to the previous version and new features in the current version are mentioned below.
- End to End Self-Service BI tool covering a range of users.
- Interoperability to various products in Business objects suit.
- Combine Data from different sources.
- Significant Productivity & Usability Improvements.
- Best in-class integration with SAP BW re-use report element across documents (Charts, Tables, Queries, Variables).
- Re-purpose Web Intelligence tables as editable office content.
- Copy as a picture option.
- You can create a chart and associate dimensions and measures in Edit mode.
- New chart types such as Scatter Bubble, Polar Bubble, Dual Axes Charts, Tree Maps for Hierarchical Data, Heat Maps, Box Plots, Series Pie Charts, Tag Clouds are available in the new version.
- Semantic Layer in Web Intelligence.
- Deta Federator/SQL Access to DSO's.
- Access Bex Queries via BICS (Business Intelligence Consumer Services) layer.
- Common query experience across all data sources.
- Navigate and report multidimensional data.
- Improved scalability.
SAP Business Objects Dashboard Design
SAP Business Objects Dashboard Design (previously called Xcelsius), contains new features and enhancements that are focused on improving productivity and direct enterprise data connectivity. These features and enhancements include new and updated support for SAP Business Objects Universe queries and integration with SAP Business Objects Enterprise.
Some of the new features are as follows.
- Scalability improvements allow dashboards to reach the masses. Dashboards will now scale in a linear fashion.
- With BI 4.0 large scale, possible enterprise wide dashboard solution for operational employees.
- Dashboard will be multi-lingual, that involves translated static text using translation manager and number formatting.
- Dashboards product has been simplified so that Excel can be bypassed.
- Integrates the next generation universe.
- New universe object browser that will enable to link directly universe query result objects to visualization without the need to use the Excel spreadsheet.
- Query panel in Dashboards Designer.
- Direct binding of Universe objects to visualizations.
- Prompt selector to leverage prompt defined in Universe.
- Separation of roles between data experts and dashboard authors.
- Consistent access to data between clients and across sources.
- One abstraction layer for all data sources.
- Support of BW & third part OLAP-based Universes planned for SBOP 4.1 release.
Two versions of SAP Crystal Reports is available in SAP Business Objects Enterprise XI 4.0
SAP CRYSTAL REPORTS 2011
SAP CRYSTAL REPORTS FOR ENTERPRISE XI 4.0
Incremental update to Crystal Report 2008 with a few new features
Major update & re-design of the Crystal Reports Designer and associated processing servers
Focused on serving the needs of Partners and Volume customers
Focus on the needs of the Large Enterprise & customers with SAP deployments
Provides the foundation for all future releases of Crystal Reports
Some of new features are changes are mentioned below.
- The User Interface has been completely re-designed on top of a Java framework with emphasis placed on usability.
- Harmonization across SAP Business Objects clients to reduce time to value..
- Improved Semantic Layer support such that Crystal Reports is not hindered by consuming data from the Semantic Layer.
- Improved SAP BW support such that Crystal Reports can consume both basic and advanced functionality offered by InfoCubes and Info Queries.
- Focus on adding new multi-lingual support for Crystal Reports metadata.
- New alerting mechanism introduced at the platform level for Crystal Reports content.
- New 64-bit native processing servers.
- Interoperability between Crystal Reports and the new SAP Business Objects OLAP Client.
- Support for SAP Standards.
Advanced Analysis, Web Edition (Voyager)
SAP Business Objects Advanced Analysis, Web edition is the successor to SAP Business Objects Voyager and the premium alternative to SAP BEx Analyzer.
- Advanced Analysis is intuitive and easy to use, while providing unique analysis capabilities, including the ability to simultaneously view data from different cubes and providers.
- You do not need to install Advanced Analysis, Web edition on your local machine.
- An edition of SAP Business Objects Advanced Analysis for Microsoft Office is also available.
SAP Business Objects Mobile
SAP Business Objects Mobile displays the home page containing the list of documents that can be opened on your mobile device.
- SAP Business Objects Mobile allows you to search BI documents in the Enterprise Repository. It provides quick and easy access to BI documents.
- You can send the URL of the BI document by email.
- Eliminates the need for setting connection settings manually.
The Dashboard Builder (BO 3.x) which is now BI Workspace has been improved and should result in much faster design-times.
BI workspaces and Modules application helps you manage, understand, monitor, and track your business activities and performance using modules and BI workspaces. Management of corporate BI workspace allows organizations to gain insight from underlying analysis and alter business rules as conditions change. BI workspaces provide consistent, up-to-date means for monitoring business areas. BI Workspaces will allow users to create a personalized view of BI Launchpad by creating a workspace with Web Intelligence, Xcelsius, Crystal Reports that can all interact and set it as a default homepage. It provides the following features mentioned below.:
- Tab based browsing.
- Page creation.
- A page and click application builder.
- Content linking between modules for in-depth data analysis.
- Enhanced viewing experience.
- Inter-portlet communication framework with visual content linking wizard.
- Smaller server footprint-- reduced to only 3 servers.
- Similar deployment topology.
- Native 64bit application. Still able to connect to 32bit data source drivers if needed.
- Default deployment is MS SQL Server 2008 and Tomcat 64bit.
- New Paths for the web applications. The application build is very different. Full SDK not available until 4.1.
- CMC and BI Launch Pad are a single application.
- Wdeploy GUI – to help deployment and removal of web applications
- LifeCycle Manager (LCM) automatically deployed and Import Wizard is no longer available. All report promotion through this tool.
- Upgrade Management Tool – Complete or incremental content move is available.
- Migrate from XIR2, XI3.0 or XI3.1.
- Client tools are separate and are not included in the server installation.
Difference between Multi-Source enabled relational Universe on SAP Netweaver BW Infoproviders and Direct access for SAP BEx queries via BICS?
One main difference is that, direct access for SAP BEx queries via BICS enables the dimensional discovery of metadata. That is, dimensional hierarchies from the cube are maintained; while multi source enabled relational universes do not.
End of Lives in BI 4.0
- Performance Manager
- Desktop Intelligence
- Import Wizard
On the whole the new BI 4.0 release is going to make a lot of difference to the users, who will have the three important things.
- Common User interface
- Ease of Use
All of the tools have a common likeness to the menus, layout and tool use. They all have highly visual interactive controls and visual output.