Value Proposition for SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator
Value Proposition for SAP BI Accelerator
It is quite evident that companies have started understanding the benefits of SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator these days, however, more often it is still known as a performance booster appliance. So in this blog, I would try to throw some light on the value proposition of SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator, in terms of not only as a performance booster appliance but also as a solution to reduce the TCO of an organization and enhance their return on investment.
With the increase in the responsibilities of people falling under business user community, it has been observed as a general trend that there is a surge in the adoption of analytics. All the BI product companies have been driving the initiative to increase the adoption of analytics by making it more and more convenient for business users to build and deploy various analytical applications based on their requirements. This in turn has also led to an increase in the number of users working on various analytical applications and creating tremendous volume of data which is growing at a very high rate. With any BI or Analytical product it is important to have some technical expertise because there may be a need to create lot of BI objects to cater to ever changing requirements but the observation has been that lot of these BI objects are created, despite having not much knowledge of BI technology among the user groups.
In addition to the challenges thrown by the above trends, there have been the usual bottlenecks of traditional BI platform like unpredictable response times, inability to meet demand for new changes and requirements etc. All these factors prove to be costly as it always requires significant investment for tuning and optimizing the hardware and getting more resources for smooth operations.
Value Proposition for BI Accelerator
To address these trends and challenges, SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator acts as a blessing in disguise. Let us look at the different value propositions for BIA which are explained here.
- Performance and Scalability
- High Data Volume: For mass volume industries such as retail, utilities, banking and telecommunication, storing and reading high data volumes and aggregate it down to any reasonable multi-dimensional result set is the most critical aspect. With BIA in place all these companies can breathe a sigh of relief owing to its capacity to hold data in a highly compressed and indexed form.
- Service Level Agreement: Whenever it comes to challenging service level agreements, the BIA solution helps to minimize response times almost arbitrarily due to its high scalability. The scalable architecture of BIA can be attributed to its foundation on Blade Server platform. This allows e.g. call centers to guarantee response times of 1 second.
- Ad-hoc reporting: This requires highest flexibility to be given to the end users. This flexibility used to contradict the aggregate approach where a fixed navigation path had to be known upfront. BIA enables access to any unexpected detailed data at the speed of thought with predictable response time making the job of end users easy and at the same time reduces the investment to be done on resources for building up the aggregates.
- Cost of Operation
In addition to the performance improvements and scalable architecture, BIA can also be seen as a cost reduction measure for operations. It requires a significant time and investment in the definition, optimization and maintenance of aggregates and caching strategies. With BIA in place aggregates can be made redundant which means:
- Less resource for development, maintenance and administration
- Substantial impact on roll-up and change run times because with BIA, time needed for updating master data or hierarchies gets reduced tremendously.
- Considerable saving in the disc space.
- Keeps the load off the SAP NetWeaver BI hardware. This in turn can help three ways:
Licensing of database – Some database companies put a licensing price depending on the volume of the data in the hardware. So this cost can be reduced with large data volume getting transferred to BIA
Postpone of investments – It has been observed that with BIA in place, customers choose to postpone their decisions of immediate investments which otherwise would have been needed for additional hardware resources to supplement existing BI hardware.
Consolidation – Setting up BIA in conjunction with SAP NetWeaver BI could lead to consolidation of the whole BI landscape for example consolidating from 5 different BI landscapes to say 3 with no reasons to worry for further costs involved for scalability issues.
Time for Development
With effective and successful BIA implementation, the strategic focus can be shifted from building up performance enhancement measures – like building aggregates, caching strategies, database tuning etc. to design and development of new models, queries and reports. This eventually helps in allocating more time and energy for design and development leading to quicker deployment of new scenarios. Effectively if a BIA customer does not need to plan performance optimization measures and time involved in it, all the new initiatives could be released and rolled out much earlier than expected.
- Data Latency
As mentioned above, the roll-up and change run times can be extremely shortened up with BIA in place. In an agile environment it is quite possible that there are more frequent hierarchy changes and master data uploads. This whole process of roll up and change run becomes convenient and faster with BIA, presenting opportunities for frequent data alignments. Also note that highly frequent alignment is difficult with aggregates because aggregates take master data assignments also into consideration. This is not the case with BIA because BIA index keeps the data at the same granularity and it is only that master data or hierarchy needs to be adjusted and this is much faster than aligning aggregates.
Effectively, the overall latency during the data load window is thus reduced.
The blog published by my colleagues from SAP NetWeaver RIG Americas can be referred here to gain further understanding of this point. Here is the link to the blog: BIA BLOG Series, Part I: BIA Changes Everything!
- New Business Scenarios
Leveraging on BIA which makes the data accessible at the speed of thought, organization can focus their resources and energies on building new business scenarios to get more detailed insight into their businesses. To substantiate this point let me put forth an example: In case of assortment planning, a report has been built for a sales manager who wants to get information on articles sold per store. This report can be enriched and extended with the deep information on articles sold per store with POS (point-of-sale) receipts to analyze the duration of the day when the maximum selling happens. To fetch this information a lot of drilldown is required depending on the different parameters involved in the report like product group, product, region, hourly sales etc and in order to retrieve this information quickly, BIA would prove to be a significant enabler for building up these scenarios. Ultimately, this would help in improving the quality of decisions with end users getting exposed to detailed insight into the data.
So in a nutshell, all the points mentioned above can be categorized under two broad segments – value from IT perspective and value from Business perspective.
Factors like reduction in cost of operation and amplification in performance and scalability present the benefits gained from IT standpoint. Some of the costs mentioned above are not so visible and easily calculated (unless companies invest more resources to dig out these kind of information from their systems) but still it could impact a lot (in the absence of BIA) at the end of the year when financial charts are built.
At the same time, factors like reduction in data latency, deeper insight in quick time, evolution of new business scenarios, expanding the content with capability to make better informed decisions present the benefits which can be gained from Business standpoint.
Thus, SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator is not just a performance booster but it can also help organizations in various ways as described above.
The impact of SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator is hugely beneficial when the time to read data from database is low. It has been observed that the performance can be sped up between 10 to 100 times depending upon the complexity of the query or report.
When the time for sophisticated OLAP analytics is quite high then there should be some mechanisms to tackle this situation.
In this context, it makes sense to look what lies ahead as the future of BIA.
- Analytical Capabilities: Leveraging the great synergies between SAP and Business Objects, SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator will evolve in the future as a stand alone accelerator engine with inbuilt OLAP capabilities. So enhancing the calculation capabilities in BIA like top n/ bottom n, count distinct, multiprovider aggregation etc will be a part of the BIA box.
- Open Connectivity: BIA will also evolve into a source agnostic, “Universal” accelerator which means that it can be plugged with any system be it ERP or Data warehouse or any 3rd party data sources.
- Agile BI: The next version of BIA code named as ‘Newton’ is going to be the new generation server appliance with immense capabilities embedded in it.
This new BI server appliance will allow for easy access to data models from productive BI implementation. There will be central maintenance and governance possible with local innovation spaces for departments. It will be a safe, reliable and scalable environment for rapid business insight and innovation.
The above blog is more focused towards the value proposition for SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator with providing some highlights on roadmap. We will come out with various blogs in the future covering different aspects of BIA as and when we bring more and more innovation to it.