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SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

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Explorer connected to HANA is fast becoming a very popular platform for deploying an accelerated data discovery solution. There is still a great deal of power harnessed with BWA, a stable and mature solution accelerating BW models and agnostic data for Explorer, but the newest in-memory solution with HANA is where most of the attention is given. For this reason I wanted to address some common issues with this setup that I have seen and hopefully answers some questions. I will try to update this blog if I come across new items.

 

1.Making consistent HANA connections.

In the past, the way connections were specified is via CMC parameters, in CMC -> Applications -> Explorer. This is an older way of specifying connections ( Explorer 4.0 SP02 and older) but still valid. My recommendation is, do not use this method, the preferred way is to specify JDBC HANA connections via Information Design Tool (IDT). One major advantage is that these connections can survive migration to other environments using Promotion Management.

 

2. Connections show broken (invalid) under Manage Spaces.

There are many reasons for this. The Explorer master server is responsible in generating the data source list which includes HANA connections. When using Internet Explorer if you hover the mouse over the connection sometimes it will specify the reason. Normally a message as such “NewDB server does not respond” is one example. Some things to check for:

  1. The HANA host is not accessible from the Explorer host. Check network connectivity and port blockage. You may have to add the IP, short name and long name of the HANA server in the hosts file. Try using HANA IP instead of hostname in the connection.
  2. The user specified in the connection may not have rights to access any of the Analytic or Calculation Views. To test this, use HANA Studio and with the same account right click on the View then select Data Preview to see if you are able to see the data.
  3. Delete any HANA connections, that are invalid and not needed. If they are needed validate them against a) and b) above to make them valid. I have seen many instances where the master server will flag good connections broken if there are others which are not valid.

Note: To save time in checking connection validity in Explorer,  you don’t have to log off and log back in,  just close Manage Spaces tab and re-open it, master server will auto rescan the data sources list for changes.

 

3. It takes a long time for Manage Spaces list to show up.

I have added this section because invalid HANA connections will cause considerable delay in the Manage Spaces list display. By delay meaning over one minute. In reality this should normally take only a few seconds. Invalid HANA connections is one cause for this delay because master server is waiting for the invalid connection to time out. I can say that there is a code change coming in Explorer 4.1 SP03 to handle this specific timeout differently. One exception to the statement that it should take seconds, is that there will be additional delay introduced in instances where there is a really large number of folders in the system (>50K). Master server scans each one looking for Excel files this being another data source option in the list.

 

4. How to check the list of views that should appear under a connection.

The master server sends out the query below in order to get the list of views available for a specific connection and visible to the user used in the connection. This can be ran in HANA Studio to cross check using same user then check the list generated:

mdx select "COLUMN_OBJECT", "CATALOG_NAME", "CUBE_NAME", "DESCRIPTION" from BIMC_CUBES

 

5. Query performance checks.

When exploring (loading) an information space there are two queries dispatched to HANA. One for the facets (top section) and one for the visualization (Chart and table section). The facets query will take the most time because it has to aggregate the measure for each facet. To capture the queries, in CMC enable logging to High for the Exploration server and load the information space. In the log file “~\logging\explorerExploration…log” search for string “Execute SQL” and the line will show the select statement dispatched to HANA. The longer query is the one for the facets. Run this query directly in HANA Studio to get an idea of running time and what to expect. Explorer will add a bit of overhead but it should not take much longer than what it takes in Studio. One feature was added to bypass running the facets query till later as far back as Explorer 4. SP06. The option to not load the facets, was introduced specifically for this purpose, a selection available when creating the information space.

do not load facet.png

I decided to write something on this topic long time ago but no time.

 

Fortunately, I got some time to say something on this recently

 

This blog is not only used for sharing what I understand on this topic also a good chance

to look back what I know for the BEx query connection.

 

As the title already mentions, .UNX and HANA is not in the scope

 

We all know that SBO Explorer could connect with BEx query

 

There are two main selections we could use. One is BWA and another is Universe.

 

Considering cost for BWA, Universe (.UNV) will be 1st option for some companies.

 

Suppose you are in the company which could use two options, which one will be your 1st option.

 

I will compare these two connections via below 5 factors

 

  1. Data Volume
  2. Index speed
  3. Front-end response time
  4. Flexibility
  5. Security

 

- Data Volume

 

This is very obvious and no doubt. BWA wins.

 

Just comparing the same simple structure BEx query, BWA could reach around 7 million

records which universe cannot.

 

If you are talking about connection about BW single cube, BWA will be your ONLY option.

 

We have try to run one InfoSpace on around 80 million records.

 

The performance gives us a very deep impression.

 

69 secs loading whole data in InfoSpace and navigation speed is quick.

 

So when someone told you that he wants to see BIG DATA in Explorer, BWA is your 1st option

 

- Index Speed

 

Still BWA wins. For data size around 1 million data within 8 mins and Query structure

is around 8 Rows and 8 columns.

 

I cannot image how long universe will need to index this kind of data.

Generally, for large data volume situation, you will see index failure only.

 

For small data size which is around 10 thousand, there is not too much gap between these two.

 

But one thing you need to note is that in current SBO Explorer, you only could schedule time

for Index which means if you have a BEx query and there is data loading delay in system,

the universe based Infospace result might be wrong

 

- Front-end response time

 

I cannot see too much difference. But we noted that for BWA based InfoSpace,

it encounters some performance issues for multi-dimension chart or multi-line chart

like taking 5 mins to generate chart. We do not see similar situation in universe based.

 

So I cast a vote for Universe

 

- Flexibility

 

This is very large a topic. There is lots of area which could be included in flexibility.

 

So I change my mind to think which could support more functionality in SAP BEx query.

 

When you create Infospace on Bex query, you will hop it could bring new inside-value
So you do not want lose any information during this creation.

 

There are some issue which already known for BEx query

 

  1. Display attribute
  2. Complex mathematics
  3. Exception aggregation
  4. Different aggregation behavior for measure
  5. Data format
  6. Text description change

 

I would like to say except issue 2, most of them could be done in universe in a very simple way.

 

So this time, Universe wins. From my perspective, it is acceptable that some mathematics

like multiple/division cannot be used for BWA due to its index method.

 

But we still hope SAP could improve this kind of situation. We fully understand that

this is not an easy way but this is the behavior we want SAP’s product to do

 

- Security

 

Except the personalization, BWA and Universe has its own control as well.

 

For Universe, you could design the security directly.

 

For BWA, it might be more flexible. SAP provide user group and BW authorization objects to control.

 

In other words, if the user is not in the group, they cannot access the data which assigned to that group only.

 

Even the user is in the group, they could only access the data which assigned to authorization object.


Considered the personalization, I think BWA has more strong security design than Universe.

 

As conclusion, below is the final result

 

  1. Data Volume (BWA)
  2. Index speed (BWA)
  3. Front-end response time (Universe)
  4. Flexibility (Universe)
  5. Security (BWA)

 

So does this mean, we only use BWA is enough?


I should say No. because in your daily working, user will not touch very large data.

 

So if you want to keep more function from BEx query, Universe will still be a good choice.

 

As I said in the beginning, I have no  chance to touch Explorer on HANA.

 

So I am not sure how these situations are going on HANA.

 

It would be perfect if someone could tell us the situation on HANA

 

Best regards

 

Alex yang

I remembered that there is one discussion here one month ago regarding to cannot find city in SBO Explorer geography chart

 

At that time my suggestion is to add one new city in SBO Explorer follow the admin guide from SAP

 

Now I got same request from my user and I tried to do this in my side

 

At first, I treat this will be a very simple action. Unfortunately, I spent almost 2 weeks to do this and made a mistake on it

 

So here I write down this blog to share with you on this process (You also could refer to SAP Explorer Admin guide)

 

Before you want to do this action, please ensure below three points

 

1. You have authorization to upload .xml file into your SBO Explorer folder

 

2. You have authorization to your Explorer Server to get file: name.csv (For the detail file, location, please refer to Admin guide)

 

3. You have authorization to add command for your SBO Explorer in CMC and restart the Explorer Servers.

 

if all above answer is yes, let's begin now

 

Step-1, Create one .xml file which contains the city information you want to add

 

I have uploaded one example file for you to refer and the format like this

 

<locations>

<location id="100" parent="20002126" name="Levallois-Perret" type="OFFICIAL" lang="fra"
exonym="false" transliteration="false" latitude="48.89829696596768" longitude="2.278434634208679" />

</locations>

 

* Please be noted that for location id, if you have assigned 100 in your system already, please change it into other value

If not, you will not see this node

 

Step-2, upload .xml file into the folder in your SBO Explorer (See step2.png)

 

* Please also pay attention to the folder you use. If your user does not have access to the folder you upload, I think they

might not see the new city in their side

 

Step-3, add below command in Explorer properpty

custom.geo.repository.explorer.file.cuid=AfCodeKq5GJBkGFd4qFkTeY

 

*"custom.geo.repository.explorer.file.cuid=" this is only for new added city command. Please use this one

I made mistake on that point

 

AfCodeKq5GJBkGFd4qFkTeY is the CUID for your file which uploaded in step 2

 

For adding command, please go to CMC->Application->Explorer->Property

 

Step-4, restart all your SBO Explorer Servers

In admin guide, SAP suggest only restart Explorer Index and Master servers. I think restart all severs should be ok as well

 

After you finished above 4 steps, you could upload one excel file to check whether new city has been added

 

That's all the steps and I have to admit this is not very complex process

 

At last, thanks for the support from SAP on this

 

Best regards

Alex yang

We are using Explorer for our business users and they are all interesting in this reporting tool

 

For the connection type in SBO

Explorer, we are using:

 

1. BWA

2. UNX (connected with relational DataBase)

3. Excel on launch pad

4. Excel on the fly (Ad-hoc loading in home-page)

       

So the security control will be the 1st priority for us to implement the SBO Explorer, due to below two reasons:

 

1. Explorer belongs to self-reporting service. We cannot implement same security strategy as Dashboard,

Crystal Report, Webi, etc

 

2. There are several connection for Explorer and we hope that we could use same principle to control these
connections

   

At that time, the challenge is large to us because I cannot find any best practice for SBO Explorer security
control to reference

 

So I change my mind and back to look at what SAP provides to us. We have below tools to do some security
control

1. User group in RSDDTPS. This is BWA used only. We could assign different user to different group and for
different group to do some control whether we want user to see these data

 

2. Authorization Object. This is also for BWA used only. We could assign different authorization object for
different user/group to control the row data in BWA level

 

3. Personalization. This could be used for almost all case but will conflict with the no.4 method and you must
manually turn on this (In other words, if user has some IT knowledge, they could turn off as well)

 

4. Folder control. This is also could be used for all case and this is part of concept for BIP. For different
folder, using different group to control this. This method may conflict with Personalization because you need to ensure user has right access to the Infospace which control the personalization

 

5. Universe control. This could be used for universe connection. Honestly, I never use this. From my perspective,
this is not good for SBO Explorer. Basically for non-real time data, we will do the index for user in advance instead of using refresh button to get new data

        

Now, you could see it might be difficult to use the same methodology to do the security control.

 

From my perspective, my recommendation sequence will be

1. Folder Control

2. Personalization

3. User group

4. Authorization object

5. Universe control

         

Folder control could be fetched for all scenarios and user may has strong desire to show their InfoSpace / E-view under fixed group which means other user cannot SEE these objects (not equal to access)

 

Personalization will be currently the best method to control data under row level but two points need to be noted: The field must exist in the dataset and user has access to the control InfoSpace (I really hope SAP could allow us to hide the control field and set control on turn-on/off the Personalization)

 

User group/Authorization object, these are only for BWA usage. I think no much difference just depends on your system design

 

Universe control is not good for Explorer I think. You might let me know your comment on this

 

All above is my understanding on the SBO Explorer Security control and please feel free to let me know your comment
At last thanks for those who help and support me on Explorer

 

Alex yang

This week I attended BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1 Rampup Expert Knowledge session with Tomasz Zima  of SAP. 

 

I had previously written this back in March What is New in BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1– ASUG Webcast

 

The webcast this week focused solely on BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1 so it had more details about the BI4.1 features with Explorer BI4.1.

 

1fig.png

Figure 1: Source: SAP

 

Figure 1 shows “planned innovations” which include features in BI4.1.  One of the features is direct access to BW through BW on HANA, another is change data source, and Free Facet optimization.

 

Explorer is included in the new  Mobile BI Platform

 

2fig.png

Figure 2: Source: SAP

 

BI 4.1 supports both UNV and UNX files.

 

UNV is the older OLAP universe and could have connected to BEx Queries using MDX OLAP driver.

 

Now, can build Information Space on type of UNV using an OLAP but it is not a live connection to the BEx – it is still a universe.

 

You still need to run index that creates a snapshot of the data

 

3fig.png

Figure 3: Source: SAP

 

Figure 3 shows you can hide the facet and it is faster to load the information space

 

4fig.png

Figure 4: Source: SAP

 

Administrators imported models as calculated views, which Explorer can connect to.  This allows analysis of BW data through HANA engine.  Figure 4 covers other ways you can access BW using HANA as a database.

 

5fig.png

Figure 5: Source: SAP

 

Figure 5 shows the ability to change the datasource for and Information Space

 

You need to remap fields from old data source to new data source.

 

This is helpful when migrating Information Spaces from test to production, says Tomasz

 

6fig.png

Figure 6: Source: SAP

 

Figure 6 shows how the Free Facet helps gaining performance.  The first row shows 4.1 with Free Facets – opens in 4 seconds

 

7fig.png

Figure 7: Source: SAP

 

Tomasz said that you can still click on Split option but don’t need to as you have filter – filter, chance to show which dimension/facet to filter on

 

8fig.png

Figure 8: Source: SAP

 

Figure 8 covers Free Facets in Exploration Views.

9fig.png

Figure 9: Source: SAP

 

Figure 9 covers the use cases for the Change DataSource feature

 

10fig.png

Figure 10: Source: SAP

 

Tomasz said the UNV not shown but is it is possible to change the pointer for the UNV as well.

Through BI platform you have ability to replace third party documents such as Excel – this is how you refresh Excel data source- reindex

 

11fig.png

Figure 11: Source: SAP

 

Figure 11 shows the steps to change the data source.

 

12fig.png

Figure 12: Source: SAP

 

Figure 12 provides some optimization advice regarding refreshing the data source.

 

13fig.png

Figure 13: Source: SAP

 

Figure 13 shows when facet panel was refreshed.  This is only available for a real time data source like HANA

 

 

Question & Answer

Q: What about Android support?

A: Right now no, encourage voting Idea Place

 

Q: Does it support for BICS?

A: Explorer cannot use BICS connectivity

 


SAP’s Mani Srinivasan and Paul Ekeland provided this ASUG webcast, reviewing the new functionalities that come with BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1.  Please note that the usual disclaimers apply that presentations based on future functionality are subject to change.

 

Agenda:

  • Explorer 4.1 What’s New
  • Explorer Mobile Updates
  • Question & Answer
  • Hands-on Opportunity with Explorer 4.1

 

New Features in Explorer 4.1

Mani reviewed three main features:

  • Free Facets – Improve Performance
  • Change Data source (for Explorer Information Spaces)

 

Free Facets

1figfreefacet.png

Figure 1: Source: SAP

 

Mani said SAP asked customers and partners what to improve.  They said they would like to customize the look and feel of Information Spaces and have the ability to control what end users see at a higher level.

 

Facet loading takes a while for Information spaces to be loaded

 

With new BI4.1 functionality, Free facet loading (shown in Figure 1) allows administrator to control what end users sees

 

On the left of the screen you see the new look and feel – facets are not loaded – hidden from users

 

The right of figure 1 shows the load time of the information spaces for 1 billion records – there is a significant performance improvement

 

2figfreefacet.png

 

Figure 2: Source: SAP

 

Figure 2 shows you open an Information Space and you get the new look and feel of the 4.1 space – select facet to filter and the values to filter for exploration filters

 

It will allow you to control what the user sees.

 

3figchangedatasource.png

Figure 3: Change Data Source

 

Figure 3 shows the ability to change the data source

 

You have an information space but the data sources change

 

If you have created an information space against a universe you will be able to change the information space.

 

Restrictions are on the right of Figure 3.

 

Excel is supported but there are some restrictions

 

4figureunv.png

Figure 4: Source: SAP

 

One of the most requested features is the .UNV support for Explorer

 

BI4 removed .UNV support as SAP assumed customers would move to .UNX – however customers are still using .UNV

 

Figure 4 shows on the right support for both universe types.

 

 

Explorer Mobile Updates for 4.1

 

5figmobi.png

Figure 5: Source: SAP

 

Today SAP has Mobile BI app and Explorer Mobile app in the apps store

 

SAP is working on an integrated version of both into a single application, and this will be done in the second half of the year

 

It will be one “MobI” app (see Figure 5) and they will migrate Explorer to this app– first reason is to have only one application from Mobile BI

 

From a deployment standpoint it will be one application to configure inside “MobI”.

 

6figmobi.png

Figure 6: Source: SAP

 

Figure 6 shows the continuation of the migration path.

 

You start with the Explorer app, you find that a new update is coming (see steps 5 and 6) – it will migrate the Explorer applications into the new MobI app.

7figmobi.png

Figure 7: Source: SAP

Figure 7 shows the rest of the migration from Explorer Mobile to the new MobI application.

 

Subset of Question & Answer

Q:  Will Explorer 4.1 support UNV.

  A:  Yes

________________________________________________________________

Q:  I may be behind on release notes, but are OLAP (MS SSAS) sourced universes supported yet?

  A:  OLAP UNVs will be supported

________________________________________________________________

Q:  Will UNV support also be added to 4.0 SP6 (in addition to 4.1)?

  A:  Will be backported to SP6

________________________________________________________________

 

ASUG Annual Conference BI4.1 Hands-on Preconference Session

2013 ASUG Annual Pre-Conference BI 4.1 Hands-on Tools in a Day

Date: Monday, May 13, 2013
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Full-Day Seminar
Cost: $595.00 ASUG Member/$695.00 Non-Member

 

Join SAP Mentor and SCN Top Contributor Ingo Hilgefort for this this hands-on pre-conference session. SAP® BusinessObjects™ 4.1 is the latest BI suite release from SAP and offers a broad set of BI tools to choose from. Each tool has its own special focus in the area of reporting and analytics.


Attendees will learn to use the different products from the SAP BusinessObjects BI suite 4.1 in combination with SAP data. Participants will also learn how to use a set of common criteria to select the right tool for the right job.

 

The seminar will provide you with a hands-on experience for the following products:

Registration is limited so reserve your seat today.

SAP NetWeaver BW on HANA is the first existing SAP solution completely enhanced to take advantage of SAP HANA In-Memory technology. SAP NetWeaver BW Powered by SAP HANA enables SAP customers to leverage their existing SAP NetWeaver BW investments by using the SAP HANA in-memory database. SAP NetWeaver BW customers continue to run the BW application on the App server, but the data base server will run the SAP HANA database leading to unprecedented BW performance, a dramatically simplified IT landscape, and a business community able to make faster decisions.

 

 

The information in this document elaborates the capabilities provided for SAP Visual Intelligence & SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on SAP for BW powered by SAP HANA. It also elaborates the scope of features of SAP Visual Intelligence & SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP HANA.

 

 

For more details, please refer to the following attachements in the post: Link: http://www.saphana.com/docs/DOC-2943

or

https://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-34961


Are you using SAP BusinessObjects Explorer to analyze your business? Check out and download the latest update for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer now on iTunes. Connect to sample data sets and analyze real-time data in SAP HANA for Telco, Retail, and Banking.

 

What's new in this version?

• Support of iOS 6
• Support of iPhone 5
• iPhone can now connect to SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence suite 4.0, support pack 3 and greater

Watch this quick video demo:

 

 

If you like Explorer, also check out SAP BusinessObjects Mobile for iOS. This app allows you to extend your Crystal Reports, Web Intelligence Reports, and soon SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards to the device.

During SAP TechEd session AP160, SAP’s Ingo Hilgefort said some customers had built an Information Space in Explorer against ECC.  I thought I would try it, simply to see if it worked. 

 

First, the ECC universe must be created and published to the BusinessObjects repository.  Then launch Explorer (from the Launchpad if you use BI4 SP04)

 

1fig.png

 

The complete the properties portion

 

2fig.png

 

Then add facets and measures

 

3fig.png

 

Then I will select Index Now

 

4fig.png

 

Then I can start “exploring” the Universe

 

5fig.png

 

What are the benefits?  This is real-time data against your SAP ECC/ERP system, so you want to be sure to limit it to 1-2 million records, for performance reasons.  I didn't need to load it to another system, but simply create the ECC universe in the Information Design Tool.

 

I hope others will share what they learned at SAP TechEd.

Migration from Explorer 3.1 to BI 4.0 with BW on HANA HDB is not easy task to do.

 

Explorer 4.0 for BW on HANA is yet to be mature, especially when we compare to older version of Explorer on BW with non-HANA DB.

 

Some things to think about >

 

1. There is no import export option - especially if you are moving from DB2 to HANA DB.

 

2. With current version BW 7.3, HANA DB - Rev 38, you don't have option to do any information space on Multi-providers. This may come in future, may not come.

 

3. Very hard to collect Meta data for all Information Space - Facets and Measure. There is no way to download any definition of any information space. You won't get to see any technical names of object on information space. This is painful experience especially when user can change description on Information space or on Multiprovider or Cube or Bex. And if you have duplicate names then forget about it.

 

4. In current version, BW 7.3, HDB Rev 38, you have to import Info-Cubes in Studio. They will create analytical view, calculation view and analytical privileges. This is good to go, if your earlier information-space was based on cube. If not, then you have to think of workaround.

 

5. Authorization is another thing to consider. If single sign-on works, then you are good. Else you’ll have to create user even on studio and then assigned manually each user a role. Maintenance is again a problem.

 

6. Remember in Explorer 3.1 with BW, you can see dimension while defining information-space. This will be missing with BW on HANA. It is just a flat structure (Calculation View output for Cubes).

 

7. Search – a missing functionality. It was missing in earlier version, even the new one don’t have this option. You cannot search any object using description or tech name while creating information space. Also they are not sorted. How do you find navigation attribute for cost center? Keep scrolling… you may get lucky!!!

 

8.  Technical Name – ON/OFF – Missing. It was missing in earlier version, even the new one don’t have this option.

 

Rest exploration is good and fast on HANA and gives better and improved performance on iPADs.

(part 1: http://scn.sap.com/community/businessobjects-explorer/blog/2012/09/14/explorer-on-realtime-data )

 

After I started looking into visualizations, what sort of charts, colours, flashing & signs, streams can be used to display information, I realized that it very much depends also on the piece of information we want, feedback we are giving or decisions we make based on the real time data. There are a lot of industries already working with realtime data visualizations and we should leverage that experience.

 

I can already distinguish 3 different patterns or interactions with real time data: Closed loop, Decision time, Spikes.

 

A closed loop system can be found in many of today's modern factories, where realtime analysis of sensors measuring packets or produced items is used to fill cartons or discard items. There is a direct effect of the reatime data, sometimes making a product from start to finish fully automated, without human interaction. Adding a human factor into such a closed loop is also possible for example a surgeon manipulating a robot remotely to perform an operation over many thousand kilometers somewhere in Afghanistan or Africa. Video feedback, sensory feedback and robotic movement has to be instant / real time. We don't want patients bleeding to death, no failures allowed and backups need to be in place.

I am calling this closed loop as we have more than realtime data, we have realtime actions, which affect the source of the realtime data and again will feedback more realtime data - effectively a closed loop.

 

 

273193_l_srgb_s_gl.jpg

 

The second sort of realtime is where it is up to the consumer to watch the realtime data and make decisions based on it. For example a train operator, the system is mostly automated, but he can introduce changes and react to new situations, when accidents or faults affect a trainline.

Another very popular example would be brokers who watch the stockmarket screens, candlestick charts, flashing numbers etc and make decisions based on their readings. Again in todays advanced world there are many financial programs which are automated here as well and buy/sell based on very complex decision models.

 

Those first 2 realtime data patterns actually affect the source of the data and because of feedback the data we will receive is changing again.

The last type stands out from the first two. We could be just a person waiting to take a train in Paris, or a plane Heathrow or bus around the corner and we receive real-time information on the position of the transport method or expected arrival/departure times.

 

272514_l_srgb_s_gl.jpg

 

Another key difference to the previous type is that we are waiting for just 1 single bit of information. We are waiting for the boarding gates to open, the bus or train to arrive. The rest of the information which other users are presented with, is irrelevant. The extreme example is Earthquakes. Except for scientists, the regular Joe will not be sitting in front of a seismograph every day from 9 to 5 waiting for the quake to happen, even tough it is realtime data and it might save his/her life. For now lets call it single spikes or single trigger real time data.

 

Based on these 3 types of consumers, what would be the sort of visualizations which we would select for realtime Explorer data.

Is the typical Explorer user closed in a loop with it's data, making decisions & taking action or information only?

Attention all you fantasy sports fans! Check out this demo by Sanjay Poonen of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on some basketball data.

 

 

Learn more about the NBA's plans for a statistical fan experience with analytics and SAP HANA. Get the latest version of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on iTunes today.

 

Watch more from the 2012 SAP BusinessObjects User Conference at http://www.sapvirtualevents.com/sapbusinessobjects-user-conference/home.aspx

As we are all getting excited about HANA and realtime business information through replication, a question appears to be appearing more frequently: "I have different data on my screen - are you sure you have the right Information Space showing you stock movement?"

 

The beauty and speed of HANA seems so out of the ordinary compared to other products that people are not used to it. We are used to see consistent figures on a daily basis and in most businesses weekly. Sales pipeline, call centre results and predictions can be discussed in board meetings and everyone looks at the same data. With HANA the game changes, as while you are sitting in the meeting, there is a sale which could go through right at that moment and change figures on the screen. This would cause some headscratching, as the Excel spreadsheets everyone uses don't show the same figures ...

 

Spreadsheet.jpg

 

So the first point will be to move away from Excel spreadsheets, "they are history", we live in the now. The second point in my introduction is about "Who is more up to date?" and when do we know if we need to refresh? I like to go into each of these points a little deeper in this blog.

 

I believe mobile platforms can help us to get used to such speeds and up to date information, everything up to date at a touch of a button. Mobile users are not used to wait minutes for data to appear, they want it under 3 seconds and that is fast - too fast for most databases. Meetings will need to adapt from spreadsheets to iPads, gaining the advantage of the "now" factor. Decisions made with the most up to date data. The data which is "now" is difficult to detect, I suppose we could run into the scenario where a meeting member could keep refeshing the data and eventually interrupt the meeting stating that the numbers have changed and require the revision of our decisions. An extreme example, but possible.

 

Which leads us to the next point of other meeting members challenging these numbers as they have different one's, timestamps will become really important.

A simple solution to this problem is that all members would simply look at the same screen, may it be via projector or sharing updated results via WIFI between apps (great a new idea!). But lets go back to timestamps, as within the same application, we may encounter several queries going to the database at different times and taking also different time to finish executing and delivering results, especially for dashboard like applications which have different components in them pulling data independantly. Going with the simple approach of timestamps will take up space on screen and will probably not look good. We will need a solution for this, but for now it will do.

 

If we go one step further with timestamps, we let the user decide if they like to refresh. As a user, would you know when to refresh data? When do you know it changed. Maybe an indicator or a traffic light would help stating the frequency of updates to the database i.e. it is likely your data is out of date if it's older than 15 minutes (colour orange) and it's very likely that your data is out of date after 30 minutes (colour red). Automatic refresh should be optional.

 

Looking at an aspect of the stockmarket business, it is possible today to get streaming numbers for realtime data. Thanks to Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise clustering, powering 24 of the top 25 global banks and 46 of the top 50 top global banks and securities firms. And this is what I believe will be the direction we will be moving to ultimately: a window onto the realtime data showing in realtime, with all the blinking numbers and flashing charts!

 

Let's learn from an existing industry and apply this to Explorer - make Explorer realtime aware, but in the simple ways which will be user intuitive.

 

All ideas and feedback are welcome

Indexing basics

Explorer is able to Index Information Spaces based on these four types of data sources: Universes, Excel files, BW Accelerator (BWA) Indexes and HANA Views.  In the case of Universe and Excel sourced Information Space that would be considered non-accelerated since they are local to the Explorer servers and are stored on disk. They also contain all the data related to the Information Space object selection. For accelerated source, as in the case with BWA or HANA source, the index local to the Explorer servers only contains the metadata and the actual index data is loaded in-memory in the appropriate connected system. The Explorer indexing process is sequential, meaning that only one job runs at any given time. Staggered scheduling for indexing is recommended if source data changes often and if there are a lot of Information Spaces to be indexed. If some parallel processing is desired then more than one Indexing server can be created providing the host server can accommodate.

 

Location of Indexes

In CMC, when inspecting the Properties of any of the producing servers (Indexing) or consuming (Exploration or Search) the default parent folder for Index location by default:  “%DefaultDataDir%/Polestar/index”

Root.png

The Placeholder for “%DefaultDataDir%” is  by default:

“C:/Program Files (x86)/SAP BusinessObjects/SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0/Data/”

More accurately this information can be obtained from CMC -> Servers –> Nodes ,  right-click on the Node name and select Placeholders. There the default data directory will show the absolute path:

 

data_root.png

 

 

Each of the three Explorer servers (Indexing,Exploration and Search) will have their own subdirectory, named based on their initial names at install time, ex: <SIA_NAME>.ExplorerIndexingServer. If we create a secondary server regardless of the new name, its directory will be given the original server name appended by a number. For example if we create a new Indexing server: <SIA_NAME>. NewIndexingServer the folder will be called <SIA_NAME>.ExplorerIndexingServer1.

 

When the Information Space indexing is kicked off from Explorer manually or via a schedule, the initial index, while in progress, is being built under the “ExplorerIndexing/InProgress/ExplorationIndexes”  sub-directory and when done it will be moved to “ExplorerIndexing/Published/ExplorationIndexes” folder. It will also be automatically copied under the “Published/ExplorationIndexes” subdirectory of the Exploration and Search server for consumption by these servers. In a clustered environment where there exists more than one Indexing server, regardless of which Indexing server has processed an Indexing job, the new index will be replicated to all other nodes and automatically copied to the each Indexing servers’ local folder “ExplorerIndexing/Published/ExplorationIndexes” 

 

Index Information

Furthermore, each Index will be given a specific ID which corresponds to the folder name created under each of the “ExplorationIndexes” directories in a timestamped folder name.  The Information Space details itself are stored in the CMS database and this will have its own Unique Identifier (CUID), as seen from BI Launchpad navigation to the Properties of a specific Information Space. This CUID is not used as folder name where the index is stored on disk. More information can be obtained by viewing the “DataSourceDescriptor” and “ExplorationSpaceDescriptor” files. If the index is based BWA or HANA only the latter of the two files will be generated. To get more detail  about an Information Space and another way to find out which Information Space index corresponds to which folder name on the disk we can use Query Builder to query the CMS database. This is accessible via:  http://<server>:<port>/AdminTools

To find out we can run this query:

SELECT SI_ID, SI_NAME, SI_CONTENT FROM CI_INFOOBJECTS WHERE SI_KIND = 'DataDiscovery'

 

QB.png

 

SI_NAME = contains the name of the Information Space

SI_CONTENT = shows the properties of the Information Space. What we are interested in from this section is the “id” property for example in this case id=" 6a911b29-ac69-4008-a971-780e37222cd2" which will map to the index folder name created for this particular Information Space.

 

output.png

 

LUKE

Since the indexes are based on the Apache Lucene technology,  LUKE is a useful tool that allows more inspection of such indexes.  It is a self-contained jar file and can be downloaded from:

 

http://code.google.com/p/luke/downloads/list

 

If the default installation of JRE 1.6.x exists on your system then this tool can be started by simply double clicking it. You will be prompted to specify the Path to the index directory. You can also specify the Path to the index directory from File->Open Lucene index. After specifying the path we are presented with some information about the index such as number of docs, terms, fields and also some statistics information from the Overview tab.

 

Seen here is an Index loaded by pointing the location to the date stamp directory under the desired Index folder ID discovered from above.

Luke1.png

 

By stepping through various DOC ids in the Documents tab we can obtain more information on the Index:

Luke2.png

 

This tool can also be used to inspect the Platform Search Index created under:

 

%DefaultDataDir%\PlatformSearchData\Lucene Index Engine\index

 

The various actions you can perform with this tool are as outlines.

  • browse by document number, or by term
  • view documents / copy to clipboard
  • retrieve a ranked list of most frequent terms
  • execute a search, and browse the results
  • analyze search results
  • selectively delete documents from the index
  • reconstruct the original document fields, edit them and re-insert to the index
  • optimize indexes

 

More information on this tool can be found at:

http://www.getopt.org/luke/

http://www.ezdia.com/epad/lucene-luke-search-tutorial-indexing/1503/

 

More information on Lucene technology can be found at:

http://lucene.apache.org/

Here's a new solution demo showing some of the new features with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on the iPad. If you have an iPad, you can download SAP BusinessObjects Experience from iTunes and try it out for yourself.

 

 

Watch for more exciting new on Mobile BI at SapphireNOW in Orlando.

 

Follow the word on Twitter www.twitter.com/nicfish

 

Check out other Mobile BI demos

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