SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, R.I.P.

Is this the end of the line for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer?

SAP BusinessObjects Explorer Tombstone

BusinessObjects tool selection, circa 2004.

Desktop Intelligence is like smoking. If you’re not presently using Desktop Intelligence, don’t start.

SAP BusinessObjects tool selection, circa October 2012

If you’re not presently using SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius, don’t start using it.

Yours truly in Between an Xcelsius Rock and Dashboard Hard Place

SAP BusinessObjects tool selection, circa September 2014

If you’re not presently using SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, don’t start using it.

As part of the simplification of its analytics portfolio, SAP has decided to fold Explorer functionality into Lumira.

SAP BI Simplified Portfolio

 

Lumira Server uses the SAP HANA platform, so it’s not going to be immediately attractive to every customer- especially one that doesn’t use the SAP Business Suite. For customers that won’t adopt Lumira Server and SAP HANA, SAP plans to support Explorer “as-is”.

In these situations, like with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, we won’t make you move your existing content. We’ll respect that existing investment, allow you to continue with what you have today, and at the same time start to bring ‘Explorer-like’ capabilities into the converged BI experience (in this case, SAP Lumira).

Jayne Landry, Run Simple: Convergence of the SAP BusinessObjects BI Product Portfolio

After the recent #askSAP webcast, I still had my doubts, which I voiced on Twitter.

Explorer as-is for customers on the XI 3.1 platform is a product that SAP stopped developing in 2012 for a platform that won’t officially be retired until the end of 2015. Customers currently patching XI 3.1 to the latest SP6 or SP7 have to cross their fingers and pray that SAP BusinessObjects Explorer XI 3.2 SP4 will still work properly.

Explorer-32-No-Longer-In-Maintenance-01A

Explorer-32-No-Longer-In-Maintenance-02A

Explorer as-is for customers using the BI 4 platform is a product that hasn’t seen a significant update since the addition of exploration views in BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3. Explorer has some clearly unique and attractive features in the larger SAP BI portfolio but is in need of modernization and refinement (see my wish list in related article, Family Planning or listen to the Diversified Semantic Layer podcast, Explorer Gets No Love).

SAP recently announced a HANA-free edition of Lumira Server, to be named Lumira, Edge Edition (see SAP Community Network Article, SAP Lumira, Edge edition: What Is It?). But it remains unclear if Lumira, Edge Edition will provide a HANA-free migration path for existing Explorer customers or merely a server back-end to support SAP Lumira Desktop. Perhaps we’ll learn more about Explorer’s future during tomorrow’s #askSAP community call, How SAP Lumira stacks up against the competition.

Customers already meeting business challenges with Explorer should continue to do so. But I’m still unsure that adopting Explorer is wise for customers who haven’t yet begun to use it, without a clear migration path that doesn’t require SAP HANA. Perhaps “don’t start using it” is too strong advice. But like smoking or using Desktop Intelligence, SAP analytics customers should carefully weigh the risks before starting what could turn into a nasty habit.

What are your thoughts on the roadmap for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer? Would you still recommend it’s first-time use in 2014?

Author: Dallas Marks

I am a business intelligence architect, author, and trainer. I help organizations harness the power of analytics, primarily with SAP BusinessObjects products. An active blogger, SAP Mentor and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting about business intelligence.

10 thoughts on “SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, R.I.P.”

  1. Explorer is one true tablet native guided data discovery everyone is seeking so badly. And when a SAP customer looks at their BWA driven data in such a bueatiful app, in less than 5 days, its love at first sight!

    I don’t mind sipping on the lumira cool aid – but I want matching functionality BEFORE sap announces end of life for explorer.

    1. Dhaval,

      Thanks for writing. I agree that Explorer looks fantastic on a tablet and am excited to hear that somebody is using it with BW data. Any plans to update BWA to BW on HANA?

      Dallas

  2. Seems a bit tough. I think Explorer will be a part of a lot of landscapes (like Xcelsius will) for a while yet. I do wish SAP had a done a little more to “put a bow” on them before rationalizing them, but the tools are still perfectly adequate as they stand.

    1. Jamie,

      I think customers that are already using Explorer should continue to use it without question. But as with Xcelsius/Dashboards, I’m still on the fence if a customer should begin using those tools for the first time in 2015. Maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow after seeing how Lumira stacks up against the competition?

      Dallas

    1. Mark,

      Tomorrow we will see how SAP Lumira beats the competition.

      WIth regard to Xcelsius/Dashboards, I’m starting to see the vision that Lumira will allow a business user or IT person to prototype a visualization, either with Excel or live data. Then they can pass off to a developer (and yes, the coding requirement is MUCH higher) for hot rod modifications in Design Studio. Still unsure how much of that vision is achievable today versus what will be possible in 6-12 months.

      All the best,
      Dallas

  3. Still showing it, in fact on a plane now for demo mañana. It shows well, and has functionality I have not seen in any other product. BI has become a Las Vegas buffet not a steak at Pappas.

  4. Dallas,

    It’s not often we disagree but on this occasion I’m not so sure.

    I think I I see your central point of raising caution in adopting technology that has a limited life in its current form. However, I feel that as long as companies are aware of the future intentions for the products they are adopting and make an educated decision, then why not.

    I am still seeing cases where companies are implementing Explorer, Xcelsius and even Live Office to meet their business requirements today. However, on the flip side to that position I met a friend over lunch and they explained that they had been told (by a Snr Mgr within their organisation) not to use Explorer at all from this point on stating the reason that “it’s dead”. As you may well expect, I disagreed citing the reasons above.

    You could be forgiven of thinking of the well publicised SAP analytics tools consolidation roadmap as an intended route for a journey yet to be taken, there may well be the odd missed junction, false turn and even the odd U-turn along the way. But the destination is clear “Simplification”. We all need to keep updated on the developments along that roadmap but businesses can’t just wait untill the future arrives, they need to deliver value from BI investments now to drive their business forward throughout 2015 and beyond.

    I’m sure there will be many lively debates in 2015 about which tool to adopt to deliver a projects requirements not only inside a company but also within the SCN ecosystem and between different VAR’s / System Integrators.

    In short I think there will be no “right” answer during 2015 when choosing the correct tool for a job as we are all trying to hit a moving target.

    1. Andrew,

      Thanks for writing. I’m glad I wrote the article, because I’ve learned in the past few days of quite a few customers that reached similar conclusions on their own. I hope SAP, at least in private, has a clear understanding on how their messaging is influencing customer behavior.

      I firmly believe that customers already using Explorer and Dashboards should continue to do so (but always asking whether brand new requirements should be handled with other tools, etc.). I’ve mostly questioned whether it makes sense in 2015 to begin using these tools for the first time. However, last week I violated my own advice and helped a customer set their Explorer heap space for the first time because I’ve always been a big fan of the tool. I just have that nagging feeling that a year or two down the road the same customer may question why I talked them into it.

      Dallas

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