Business Objects or HANA? A guide to SAP analytics environments
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The new financial mobile apps available in SAP Enterprise Performance Management OnDemand (EPMOD) offer a number of advantages for both on-premises and cloud computing. For one, these options offer a scalable solution for smaller firms and subsidiaries, as well as those not ready to devote the necessary time and resources to the HANA in-memory platform. Fortunately, these organizations can still enjoy the benefits of in-memory computing by controling the cloud from the new SAP EPMOD mobile apps.
EPMOD offers data availability in a consistent SAP EPM environment regardless of the topology chosen, and a consistent computing experience when users move from on-premesis EPM10 applications to their EPMOD counterparts.
For adequate performance and consistency with traditional analytics environments, mobile applications require that a parsed subset of relevant data be available for them to consume. In a baseline mobile environment, Mobile Business Objects (MBO) act as these sub-cubes, providing pre-aggregation and dissection and allowing the right data to be consumed by the right app. However, MBOs are not necessary for using the existing in-memory potential of HANA for financial information. EPMOD mobile applications can consume the entire data universe themselves in a HANA-based environment.
No heavy lifting on HANA
"For HANA there are no restrictions," said Dave Williams, head of EPM marketing for SAP. "There is no need to aggregate or dissect data since all of the heavy lifting of data consumption can be avoided by making all of the data available and consumable on HANA. This allows some of the traditional mobile analytics' pre-work [of parsing and segmenting the data for use] to be avoided."
According to Williams, under this new approach, some past BI performance issues such as time-outs and data reloads can also be avoided, since the structure in either MBO or HANA environments maintains greater data integrity than previous mobile-enabled approaches from SAP.
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In addition to the data integrity advantages, HANA gives EPMOD applications three cloud options. The first is to subscribe natively to the HANA SAP Cloud inside SAP to run EPM OnDemand application services. This option is currently available to all three of the initial EPM OnDemand apps. The second option is to leverage HANA on-premises to create a private cloud, but this requires the organization to purchase the infrastructure to support and manage its own HANA environment. The third option is to lease the EPMOD app from HANA One, a service that powers some SAP applications running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2. This "consumption-based model" is only available for Expense Insight. According to Williams, the AWS option comes with limits on the number of registered users and data consumption volume based on the number of transactions and mobile inquiries.
On cloud, on-premises SAP EPM
Some companies that want to use HANA in their financial operations face what is known as a two-tier scenario. In this kind of setup, part of the applications used in financial operations runs in the cloud, with others running on-premises, but both have the same user-facing applications and overall user experience. The power and speed of HANA make this connectivity and interoperability a reality with no noticeable performance degradation.
Portability is another benefit of SAP EPMOD, particularly when leveraging the Apple iOS or Windows 8 operating system, which can run the same business processes seamlessly between on-premises EPM10 and its EPMOD mobile counterparts.
"One part of the organization could monitor capital expenditures using EPM OnDemand with SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation (BPC) today, then extend [the application] to a new group or region," observed Bryan Katis, an SAP group vice president. "A ramp-up via EPM using HANA allows users to start a project in the office, and they take that same project on the go via mobile EPM OnDemand apps" supported by the SAP HANA or a private HANA cloud, Katis said.
Performance and completeness of data is what EPM OnDemand gains from running on HANA. Users have more choices and don't need to compromise, no matter their HANA roadmap or their financial application needs. "Users can run what they want," said Williams. "And they don't need to worry about performance or the lights flickering."
About the author:
William Newman is managing principal of Newport Consulting Group, an independent management and technology consulting firm based in Clarkston, Mich. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org follow him on Twitter (@william_newman).