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Virtualizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4

June 18th, 2013 1 comment

Last year I wrote a quick article about Virtualization support for BusinessObjects.

Since that time, SAP has been doing a lot of testing and refinement to guidelines regarding virtualizing your BI 4 environment.

Originally only advertised to a handful of attendees at Sapphire the www.sap.com/bivirtualization link has had over 1,000 views per month.

This is the official guidance you should be pointing all customers, partners and employees to when it comes to BI 4 virtualization.  This document can be used by your BI team to make sure and negotiate the right sized infrastructure from your IT team for a large scale move to BI 4.  Don’t get caught short.

Ashish Morzaria has done a great job and putting everything together in one place.   He’s collected feedback from actual customers together with performance tests that have been run internally at SAP.  All this information is put together in a 42 page everything-you-need-to-know whitepaper on VMWare ESXi 5:
http://www.sap.com/bivirtualization

Check it out!

«Good BI»

Antivia Adds Xcelsius on the iPad

January 16th, 2012 4 comments

Are you ready to move your Xcelsius (SAP Dashboards) to the iPad yet?

There’s nothing stopping you!

No, not even the fact that iOS doesn’t support flash.

Antivia’s new XWIS Anywhere bring a new product to their already popular suite of BusinessObjects extensions.

Antivia XWIS Anywhere

Antivia’s XWIS Anywhere is going to overcome a technology hurdle that SAP has been unable or unwilling to clear — Xcelsius (aka SAP Dashboards) on the iPad.

Antivia provided an in depth 55 minute presentation about Antivia XWIS Anywhere.  They are committed to:

  • Mobilizing Any Xcelsius Dashboard
  • Providing a Native iPad Experience
  • Full Catalog and Management inside SAP BusinessObjects
  • Additional iPad Security (for locally cached content)
  • Quick Deployment (hours instead of days or weeks)
  • Allow Offline Slideshows  (Screenshots of Xcelsius dashboards)
  • Access to WebIntelligence and Crystal Reports

Notables

It is important to note that because XWIS Anywhere is leveraging the SAP BusinessObjects repository, if the dashboard does not exist in the repository then it will not be available for the iPad.  A perfect example of this is the Xcelsius BICS connectivity for Netweaver.  These dashboards must be published to SAP BW and run from within the context of the Netweaver application server.  However, this is only a short term limitation.  SAP does plan to support BICS  connectivity for Dashboards saved into the SAP BusinessObjects repository with the next release, SAP BusinessObjects v4.0 SP3.

One glaring feature that seemed to be missing over the similar solution from Exxova is the zoom in/zoom out capability.  With Exxova, it works very much like the native iPad browser.  Users can use two fingers to zoom in and zoom out of their Dashboards.  This is great when viewing dashboards which might be hard to read – or helpful for executives who have difficulty with small print.

UPDATE:  XWIS Anywhere does support pinch and zoom (using native iPad gestures)

Here is a sample dashboard view:

Hospice Dashboard - Standard View

By placing two fingers on the screen and pulling them apart, Exxova allows you to zoom into a specific area of the dashboard and at the same time a small thumbnail (indicated by the red arrow) shows you a small red box indicating where you are on within the context of the dashboard:

Same Hospice Dashboard - Zoomed In

Future of SAP Dashboards

Donald MacCormick indicated during the webinar that Xcelsius/SAP Dashboards will be move to HTML5 in 2012.  That means he expects some subset of functionality available by the end of 2012.  What does that mean for you?   It means you can invest in Antivia today, move your dashboards to the iPad today, and when SAP eventually provides full Xcelsius HTML5 functionality (that could be some time), you can move ahead at your own convenience.

You will be prepared for change before it happens.  Because the XWIS Anywhere application is a native iPad application with a “screen emulation” technology in the middle, when HTML5 becomes available, Antivia will simply replace the existing “screen emulation” technology with the HTML5 SAP Dashboards output.

Keep your users happy.  Make dashboards available on the iPad today.

You won’t regret it…

«Good BI»

 

Xcelsius for the iPad – Today!

September 19th, 2011 5 comments

If you’re like the other thousands of SAP BusinessObjects customers, you would love to move your Xcelsius dashboards to the iPad.  Right?

The problem is flash.  Steve Jobs hates flash and steadfastly refuses to support flash on the iPad.  Even on tablet devices that do support flash such as the Samsung Galaxy, some people complain that flash applications are too sluggish.

So What’s the Solution?

I discovered a very special app on iTunes called iSwifter .  iSwifter allows flash to run on the iPad… so to speak.  Actually flash does not run on the device at all but it is streamed to the tablet.  I have visions of thousands of computers with Internet Explorer sessions running.

Within a few minutes and $4.99 later, I was up and running.  I was able to connect to an instance of SAP BusinessObjects that was accessible over the Internet.  There are however multiple problems with this app.  I found that iSwifter:

  • Only connects to publicly available websites.  The URL you are connecting to must be a publicly accessible site
  • Requires a WiFi connection
  • Isn’t completely secure.  Your connection with the iSwifter server doesn’t appear to be secure.

Apparently there is a large demand for this type of technology because the company recently reported revenue to exceed $10M and they have moved from a one-time fee to a monthly subscription service.

Enter Exxova

Exxova is a subsidiary of Bartronics India Ltd.  Their US Headquarters is located in Alpharetta, GA and Mark Hillam, who used to work at BusinessObjects, is the president of their BI practice.  I saw Mark at Sapphire after his team made quite a splash showing Xcelsius dashboards on the iPad using their app MyBI.  More recently Mark invited me to their offices to spend more time with the solution and I was very impressed.  Although it is still relatively early days for this solution, it holds a lot of promise.
Today with Exxova,  you can deploy ALL your existing BI content to the iPad without any modifications.

For more videos click go here:  http://www.youtube.com/user/ExxovaWorldwideCorp

I recommend that you download it and play around with it.  It’s free.

There are several really nice features.   I found that MyBI:

  • Can be implemented within your corporate firewall.
  • Does NOT requires a WiFi connection (although 3G is pretty slow).
  • Provides special gestures to simulate right-click, scroll, pan, zoom in and out.

Here are some screenshots from MyBI

Exxova Help Screen

Exxova Home Screen

Xcelsius Dashboard

WebIntelligence on the iPad

What Approach Will Your Company Take?

We seem to be at one of those paradigm shifts where organizations need to make a decision.  There is no doubt that companies are adopting the iPad device in ever growing numbers.  The $million$ dollar question is:

Do we create custom interfaces for the iPad or simply make our existing content available there?

Are you prepared to invest heavily in the iPad and build your own apps or purchase additional apps that require additional development and redesign efforts  or are you going to wait and see how the tablet market plays out.  The iPad is the predominate player today, but who’s to say that this dominance will remain?  And besides, the iOS platform only supports Apple devices.  Oh what I would give for a crystal ball.

The choice is yours, but today, I see MyBI from Exxova as a good alternative to redevelopment.  (and just in case you are curious — no, I did not get paid to write this article nor have I ever received any compensation from Exxova, but I’ve seen the solution, played with it and think that it’s worth considering.)

I am curious to hear from you.  What do you think?  Is a custom iPad interface worth the redevelopment?

«Good BI»

Cool Dashboards from ProMorphics

May 31st, 2010 No comments

Although I’ve worked in a number of different industry verticals, I’m currently focused on the Utilities vertical.  I’m always on the look out for great dashboards and I found some!  I want dashboards that combine the best features of Xcelsius together with amazing usability and depth of function.  My latest discovery is from ProMorphicsProMorphics is a services organization and they have been a member of the SAP Ecosystem for a number of years.   I recently got a chance to view the results of some of their compelling dashboards  and the results speak for themselves.

When I spoke with ProMorphics they talked about their commitment to listen to the customer and to go the extra mile.  They’ve been extremely successful at using Xcelsius as a prototyping/rapid development tool so that they can get feedback and turn the results around extremely quickly.

Their sample dashboards focus on these three areas:

  • Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)
  • Field Operations
  • Sales and Financial Performance (Peek Performance)

If you work in a utility related industry, you may want to engage ProMorphics and leverage their expertise.  It’s not surprising that 70% of their business comes from repeat customers.

ProMorphics Operations Dashboard with Custom Xcelsius Controls

Interactive Demos

Although ProMorphics does not allow you to download their .xlf files, you can view the dashboards via the following website:
http://www.promorphics1.us/22/interactivedemos/demos

Here is a 10 minute video walk-through of their Peak Performance dashboard with Kasia Szewczyk
http://www.promorphics1.us/29/audiovideo/recording

Conclusion

It’s always good to see partners who exploit all the features within a solution.  In the screenshot above, you can see how they have built Google Map integration as well as a custom calendar control.  These are examples of custom Xcelsius controls written in Flex.  I saw example after example of custom controls, developed to make sure they gave the customer exactly what they wanted.  If you engage ProMorphics in a project, they will also make these custom Xcelsius controls available to you.  Some partners like Centigon Solutions do allow you to buy their Xcelsius controls separately but ProMorphics currently does not.

«Good BI»

Categories: Dashboards, Partners Tags: , ,

SapphireNOW: Mobile Computing

May 26th, 2010 No comments

With the acquisition of Sybase, SAP moved strongly into the mobile applications market and is now positioned in the leadership quadrant according to Gartner.  As a result, SAP has a number of mobile applications that have robust functionality and integration with SAP CRM,  SAP Business Suite and more.  That said, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the wow-factor of Mellmo, the makers of RoamBI (pronounced Roam-Bee).

RoamBI Wows At Sapphire

I’ve blogged about RoamBI before, but at SapphireNOW, they were definitely creating a buzz.  I had the chance to work at the Executive Meeting Center.  There I had to opportunity to see first hand the reaction of corporate CIOs and VIPs to their software the iPhone and iPad devices.  They love them!  At first I was extremely skeptical that the iPhone/iPad devices will be able to  break into the corporate software market considering the pervasive presence of Blackberry devices.  Now I’m not so sure.  Users love the intuitive interface of the RoamBI application and several people made the comment that finally they had a device that senior executives can use.  Even Hasso Plattner, SAP’s cofounder demoed during his keynote using an iPad!

During his keynote at SapphireNOW, Hasso Plattner demos from an iPad

Clearly touchscreen devices are here to stay and Business Intelligence is a logical fit for getting tremendous insight and value at the speed of business.

RoamBI Demo

At SapphireNOW, RoamBI was using giant iPhones and iPads to demo their solutions.  They provide tremendous integration into SAP BusinessObjects, allowing customers to easily distribute reports, provide real-time updates and utilize an interface that is stunning in it’s function and simplicity.  Here is an iPhone demo from the floor of Sapphire.  It’s worth a look:

David Bercerra, co-founder of Mellmo, and Richard Reynolds, explaining how RoamBI works and how it connects to SAP BusinessObjects data sources.

They’ve also done an amazing job tailoring the interface for the iPad, but don’t take my word for it.  Here’s a demo from InformationWeek:

http://www.informationweek.com/video/mastermix/77584599001

iPad Killer App

Partners like Mellmo mean that Business Intelligence never gets boring!  Most pundits still consider the iPad little more than a large iPhone, but it’s not about the device, it’s about the applications for the device and RoamBI is an iPad killer app.

«Good BI»

Categories: BI Platform, Partners Tags: , ,