SAP Lumira Essentials

Until Lumira has its own movie, at least we have books to appreciate.

Dmitry Anoshin has the distinction of being the author of one of just two books about SAP Lumira. SAP Lumira Essentials (ISBN 978-1785281815) is offered by Packt Publishing and provides comprehensive coverage of the key features of SAP’s data discovery product.

The book was written using SAP Lumira version 1.21. Version 1.31 is the most current release, and will remain so for several months until SAP Lumira 2.0 makes its debut sometime in early 2017. SAP Lumira has been a difficult product to keep up with, having agile product updates roughly every six weeks, and Dmitry is to be commended for hitting a moving target.

While there have been changes to both the SAP Lumira product and its roadmap since version 1.21 was introduced, there’s some great things to love here. The book comes with a substantial amount of sample content, including some spreadsheets, a mySQL database and a universe. There’s an entire chapter on preparing data that shows how to perform data cleanup, enriching, and merging. There’s also a chapter on working with visualization extensions. This material translates well to the most current version of SAP Lumira.

Some of the topics covered have changed since this book’s publication. SAP has abandoned SAP Lumira Cloud in favor of SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, a completely different offering. SAP Lumira is now fully integrated with the SAP BusinessObjects platform. And the universe and BW connectivity is substantially improved.

That said, some people prefer having a book that they can make notes in instead of just online documentation. And this book is one that can answer a lot of questions about SAP Lumira.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Road Unexplored: Alternatives to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

Gartner believes search-based data discovery is a cool idea. Without continued interest from SAP, will fans of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer have to turn to alternate vendors?

I recently received a TDWI webinar invitation with a catchy subject line.

Want Faster BI? How Search Makes Your Analytics More Accessible

I immediately thought of my previous article (see related article, The Road Unexplored: A Future for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer) and continued to read.

Search-driven BI solutions can make finding and querying data a faster and easier experience. Most users are only familiar with search through the use of commercial search engines. However, search can help users quickly locate data and analyze it, and it can also help the entire organization by building a reusable knowledge base about the data and how it is used.

Intrigued, I signed up for the August 4 webinar which began with some market insights from David Stodder, Senior Director of Research for Business Intelligence at TDWI. It then transitioned into a sponsored presentation from ThoughtSpot. I was not familiar with ThoughtSpot but learned from their web site that they were identified by Gartner, a leading research firm, as one of the “Cool Vendors in Analytics” in 2016. Cool like Arthur Fonzarelli.

And in their Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics, Gartner identified ThoughtSpot along with Attivio, Connexica, Incorta, and Zoomdata as providers of “Search-Based Data Discovery”.

Based on SAP’s BI roadmap, it might seem that Qlik and Tableau are the only other vendors in the analytics market. But vendors like ThoughtSpot continue to demonstrate that the idea of search-powered analytics we first saw nine years ago as BusinessObjects Polestar remains a powerful one.

Gartner thinks search-based analytics is a cool idea. Let’s hope that somebody at SAP still does, too.

Explorer makes us sad

Read Part One of this article, The Road Unexplored: A Future for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.

Search-Based Data Discovery Vendors

Search-based Data Discovery in the Press

Thoughtspot’s Search for Data Analytics Finds Results Fast by Phil Wainewright, published by Diginomica August 16, 2016

Links for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

The Road Unexplored: A Future for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

Four years is an eternity in enterprise software development. Is it time to bring Explorer’s mojo back with a revised product roadmap?

Pity poor SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. Born as a poster child for innovation in business intelligence, it became a foster child- passed from product owner to product owner without a devoted and loving parent. Customers had their own reasons for not adopting Explorer, the most significant reason being- at least historically- licensing costs. I’ve been a passionate advocate of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, giving many presentations to BI administrators over the years beginning with “Deploying BI to the Masses using SAP BusinessObjects Explorer” at the 2009 Global BusinessObjects Network (GBN) conference in Dallas, Texas. In my experience, most SAP BI customers have stuck largely with Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports, with a smattering of Xcelsius dashboards. But customers who have adopted Explorer really love the tool and have made significant investments in it.

The current state of affairs is unfortunate, because if you’ve seen a SAP HANA demo (and who hasn’t?), you’ve most likely seen a demonstration of Explorer and how briskly it interacts with large volumes of data in the SAP HANA platform. SAP’s most unloved BI tool demonstrates how lovely SAP HANA can be.

It’s been four years since SAP released a significant update to Explorer. SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 Feature Pack 3 was released on June 15, 2012 and brought many new features to the BI4 platform that missed the original GA date, including Explorer Exploration Views. At the time, Exploration Views was one of the key benefits SAP touted as part of Feature Pack 3. But four years without innovation is an eternity in enterprise software years.

The SAP Digital Board Room is the spiritual successor to Explorer, not because of its feature set (although it does offer some of Explorer’s faceted navigation capabilities), but because of who its target user is (see my recent SAP Community Network article, Thoughts on the SAP Digital Boardroom). But the SAP Digital Board Room was not designed to provide a home for legacy on-premise Explorer information spaces.

As SAP focuses on bringing the second generation of Lumira and Design Studio to life, it seems likely that another year or possibly two will pass before Explorer’s search and exploration capabilities are fully incorporated into Lumira. But what will the delay mean for current Explorer customers, whose pain in dealing with Adobe Flash is second only to Web Intelligence customers dealing with Oracle Java? How should we reconcile SAP’s commitment to not expire BI content with the marketplace’s rejection of legacy technology like Adobe Flash? And if not from Explorer, where will the next business intelligence breakthrough for casual business users come from?

Read Part Two of this article: The Road Unexplored: Alternatives to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.

Is there a better path forward for Explorer than the current roadmap allows? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or on a related Explorer thread on SAP Community Network, How and when will Explorer functionality migrate to Lumira?

Major Milestones for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

  • October 2005, BusinessObjects releases Intelligent Question XI Release 2, Explorer’s spiritual ancestor
  • October 2007, Debuted as Polestar on XI R2 for Microsoft Windows
  • July 2009, Polestar rebranded as Explorer for XI 3.1 SP1 release
  • July 2010, Explorer XI 3.2 added support for IBM AIX, SUSE Linux, and Edge BI platform
  • September 2011, Explorer 4.0 goes GA, integrated into BI Launchpad 4.0, removes UNV support and adds UNX support, introduces direct connectivity to SAP HANA with 4.0 SP2 FP11
  • June 2012, Exploration Views introduced in BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3 September 2013: SAP restores UNV support with BI 4.1
  • June 2014, SAP announces plans to not expire content, fold Explorer use cases into future version of SAP Lumira as part of a convergence of the SAP BI tool portfolio

Recommended Reading

When I’m Sixty-Four (Bit)

SAP Lumira wonders “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four (bit)”?

Lumira Splash Screen

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four (bit)?

Lennon–McCartney from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

New 64-bit engine leads SAP to sunset 32-bit Lumira Desktop

In a SAP Community Network article entitled 32-bit Lumira Desktop: Direction and Support Going Forward, SAP reveals that Lumira 1.25 (not yet released) will be the last edition of Lumira with 32-bit support.

SAP Visual Intelligence 1.0 (the original product name for what we now know as Lumira) was originally released as 64-bit. SAP Visual Intelligence 1.07 added 32-bit support based on customer feedback. I’m not surprised that SAP acted to meet customers wishes, but I was surprised that giving users, especially power users, a 64-bit operating system was such a large obstacle for SAP customers. Most of these same customers were deploying 32-bit Windows 7 on 64-bit hardware. Starting with the iPhone 5S and iOS 7, even pocket-sized smartphones sport 64-bit processors and operating systems.

SAP introduced its new “in-memory database engine”, formerly known as the much hipper “velocity engine”, in the latest 64-bit edition of Lumira Desktop, version 1.23 (see related SAP Community Network article, What’s New in SAP Lumira 1.23). The 32-bit edition of Lumira Desktop will move into its impending retirement with the older IQ-based database engine. However, Lumira has reached a point in its development where new features (on the Lumira 1.26 desktop and soon to be on the BI 4.1 server) will require this new engine.

The new in-memory database engine will soon come to the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 platform as an add-on, allowing visualizations created with SAP Lumira Desktop to be viewed and refreshed in the BI Launch Pad (see related SAP Community Network article, Planned Native Integration of Lumira into BI Platform Details).

Will SAP BI 4.2 Client Tools Go 64-bit?

With SAP Lumira, SAP Design Studio, and even SAP Data Services Designer already available in 64-bit editions, will SAP BI 4.2 introduce 64-bit editions of “go-forward” client tools like Crystal Reports for Enterprise, Information Design Tool, and Web Intelligence Rich Client? Or does “interoperability” in the SAP BI tool simplification diagram mean that future versions of Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence will receive an adrenaline boost and also take advantage of the in-memory database engine?

SAP BI Simplified Portfolio

At this point, nobody outside of SAP knows but I’m sure we’ll hear more details in the latter half of 2015.

Is Your Organization Ready for 64-bits?

One thing is clear. Now is the time to install 64-bit Windows on the workstations of your Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC) team and the power users you support. Let your SAP Lumira Desktop pilot act as a catalyst in discussions with your enterprise desktop support organization. And while Microsoft is planning a 32-bit edition of its upcoming Windows 10, offer to be guinea pigs for your organization’s Windows 10 pilot, insuring that 64-bit Windows 10 will be the operating system deployed to your core constituencies.


Are you ready to go 64-bit?

SAP to Rebrand Lumira as Desktop Intelligence at SAPPHIRE

Desktop Intelligence is back!

In its continuing effort to gain traction in the crowded data discovery market, SAP is enlisting the help of a trusted brand name: Desktop Intelligence. The change is expected to be announced next month at its annual SAPPHIRE NOW user conference in Orlando, Florida. SAP analytics users have been down the rebranding road before. “Project Hilo” was launched at SAPPHIRE NOW 2012 as SAP Visual Intelligence (see related SCN article) then rebranded as SAP Lumira just one year later at SAPPHIRE NOW 2013 (see related SCN article).

According to SAP spokesperson April Erste, yet another re-brand was warranted because “highly-respected industry analysts made fun of Lumira’s seemingly pharmaceutical-inspired name.”

In addition, SAP’s corporate clientele mistakenly believed that increasing the number of “Lumira users” in their organizations would lead to skyrocketing prescription drug costs, often resulting in a buying decision for rival data discovery tools such as Tableau or Qlik.

The new branding will be applied to what was previously known internally as SAP Lumira version 1.26 and will introduce bold new features like a redesigned “slice-and-dice” panel, the ability to import queries from “classic” Desktop Intelligence (see related article, True Desktop Intelligence with SAP Lumira) and a new splash screen that incorporates nostalgic cues from the original BusinessObjects product SAP acquired in 2007. Continuing to integrate technology from SAP’s KXEN acquisition, the new release includes an automated (and animated) assistant to help casual users who are not trained statisticians add predictive capabilities to their visualizations. The animated Deski the Dachshund™ provides a light-hearted interface to business users who fondly remember Clippy, the animated assistant from Microsoft Office. “It’s like Apple Siri for analytics,” says Ms. Erste, clearly beaming with pride.

This isn’t the first time SAP has tried to resurrect the Desktop Intelligence brand name, but SAP is hopeful their second attempt will have better success. “We introduced a brand-new Desktop Intelligence product in 2012,” continues Ms. Erste, “but initial reaction from ramp-up customers was chilly and we ended up scrapping the effort” (see related article, Hell Freezes Over). The upcoming Desktop Intelligence rebrand will be supported with a global multimedia campaign featuring Jennifer Lopez, who co-wrote the campaign song, “Don’t Diss Deski,” with long-time collaborator Cory Rooney and Alan Wilkis (Big Data). Ms. Lopez will first perform “Don’t Diss Deski” publicly during her concert appearance at the SAP SAPPHIRE event. Its accompanying music video, directed by James Frost (OK GO, Radiohead), will be promoted on SAP’s social media channels with a special #DontDissDeski hashtag.

Unfortunately, I won’t be attending SAPPHIRE this year but it’s shaping up to be a great event. What are your thoughts on SAP’s plans for Lumira?

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Lumira (Governance)?

Governing seven children might be easier than governing Lumira users that wanted to buy Tableau instead.

How do you solve a problem like Lumira?

In the classic 1965 film The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews plays Maria, who according to Wikipedia is “a young woman who leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the seven children of a naval officer widower.” Governing seven children is no easy task, but it’s made easier when you have a guitar and basic sewing skills.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find the word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!

Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay and listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

But enough about the governess. Let’s talk about governance, looking closer at the new governance features introduced in SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence BI 4.1 Support Pack 5. These features allow a SAP BI administrator to pin users to a specific CMS cluster and control which features of the product are enabled. The administrator can also direct the auto-update feature to an internal site, keeping the organization on a consistent version of SAP Lumira desktop.

To enable governance, a file named must be deployed in each user’s C:Users\.sapvi directory. How is this accomplished? According to Greg Wcislo’s SCN post,

To make the feature effective, you do need a centralized software distribution system, and one that will set this file to read only.

A New Approach to Client Tool Governance

Lumira’s approach to governance is unique among the current SAP analytics tools. Whether it’s an end-user tool like Web Intelligence or a developer tool like the Universe Design Tool or Information Design Tool, traditional client tools become governed automatically as soon as a user connects to a CMS. In contrast, Lumira requires the BI administrator to distribute a governance file to each users desktop, without any assistance from the BI platform. So while the governance feature exists on a product comparison chart, actually using the feature will require time and effort from BI administrators that is often in short supply.

But Who Wants to Be Governed Anyway?

I predict that application governance is going to be a slippery slope for SAP. On one hand, IT wants to hear that they can control rogue users. On the other hand, a large part of Tableau’s current appeal is that it can be purchased and deployed without IT. SAP hasn’t introduced anything new here to help improve often frayed relationships between business users and their IT departments.

What About Software Distribution?

Something else missing from the first release of Lumira governance is automated software distribution. Long time BusinessObjects users will fondly remember ZABO, or Zero-Administration Business Objects. Not only did ZABO automate software distribution, it eliminated the need to configure database middleware on client PCs, typically a cumbersome process. Despite the (not very well-known) fact that Web Intelligence Rich Client can be installed from the BI Launch Pad, BI administrators are reluctant to deploy and manage client software. Or IT policies make it difficult to leverage those features. Live Office, although it cannot be installed from the BI Launch Pad, is another example of a client BI tool whose adoption has suffered due to the installation hurdle.

The Bottom Line

The marketplace has spoken. Users want powerful visualization software on their desktops, unconstrained by grumpy administrators who turn off desired features or by flaky, underperforming web applications. SAP- with its historic ability to automatically deploy client software combined with an awareness of IT’s reluctance to do so- has an opportunity here.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.

Let’s see how these governance features mature over the next few months.


What are your thoughts on SAP Lumira’s new governance features? Would Captain Von Trapp approve?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this web site above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Also, some of the books I review were received as review copies and I’ve given my best effort to accurately disclose that information as part of the review. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

SAP Analytics Partner Test for Lumira Edge

I had a valuable experience seeing the future of SAP Lumira during a partner test at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, California.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the SAP Analytics partner test at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, California for SAP Lumira for Teams (see related article, It’s here! SAP Lumira Edge Server) and the forthcoming SAP Lumira add-on for the SAP BI 4.1 platform (see related article, Planned Native Integration of Lumira into BI Platform Details). What I saw was covered by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA- shhh!) and may or may not end up in future releases of the software.

It was professionally gratifying to me to take part in the partner test, as I’m not normally the person on the team who gets to attend such events. The partner test opportunity is free, but be advised that SAP does not pay for travel expenses. If your organization is an SAP partner, these partner tests are a great way for your entire organization to stay ahead of the game. In addition to you and your organization getting an official participation letter (see below), these partner tests are an opportunity to have valuable face-time with the SAP product managers, who you may or may not also get to see at a user conference. Several partners at the event I attended sent multiple employees. Be sure to spend some structured time debriefing your management team on what you learned, plus some brainstorming time about aligning your organization’s sales and marketing efforts to the new information.

There will be more partner test opportunities at multiple SAP locations around the globe- not only for SAP Lumira but also the Analysis client tools and the BI4.1 platform . Check out the SAP Analytics Partner Test schedule for topics, location, dates, and sign-up.

SAP Partner Test 03 Participation Document

I didn’t think of taking a class photo until partners started disappearing. I’m sorry if I missed getting you into the group photo. But it was great making new friends and LinkedIn connections.

SAP Partner Test 05 Attendees

From left to right, our hosts Adrian Westmoreland, Olivier Duvelleroy, me, Thomas Kuruvilla, and Radim Bacinschi. These guys are really passionate about analytics.

SAP Partner Test 06 SAP Crew with Dallas

The State of California wants you to be safe, if not a bit fearful about their pollution. I generally don’t think about “reproductive toxicity” very often. Sadly, this was my first visit to California that I was not given a Ford Mustang upgrade at the rental car counter.

SAP Partner Test 07 Warning

I got to try wireless device charging at a Palo Alto Starbucks. I can’t wait for Starbucks to roll out Duracell wireless charging to the rest of the country.

SAP Partner Test 01 Starbucks Charging

I tasted my first In-n-Out Burger during the trip. Highly recommended.

SAP Partner Test 02 In-n-Out Burger

The SAP Labs cafeteria had free Pinkberry yogurt. I enjoyed some mango and vanilla swirl on SAP’s outdoor patio before returning to the ice and snow of southwestern Ohio.

SAP Partner Test 04 Pinkberry

 Have you attended a SAP analytics partner test? Share your stories below.

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 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?

SAP Lumira and Eclipse

Is SAP Lumira standing in Tableau’s shadow or merely obscured by an Eclipse?

Is SAP Lumira standing in Tableau’s shadow or merely obscured by an Eclipse? We’ll find out on Thursday, December 11 when Jayne Landry, Ty Miller, and Henry Banks join SAP Mentor John Appleby for a conversation about How SAP Lumira stacks up against the competition (click link to learn more and register).

Lumira Splash ScreenEclipse is an open source integrated development environment and is primarily used to write and debug software in a multitude of programming languages. Eclipse has been adopted by SAP as the foundation behind many of its development tools like SAP HANA Studio, Design Studio, Crystal Reports for Enterprise, and the Information Design Tool. Eclipse is also the foundation for business user tools like SAP Lumira. Eclipse is attractive to SAP because of its broad industry support. Because it’s built with Java-based technology, it provides SAP flexibility in reassigning software developers across multiple projects without the need for retraining.

SAP Lumira and Active Directory

One of the drawbacks of Eclipse is the integration of Microsoft Active Directory. It’s done via Kerberos and requires manual configuration, similar to how BI administrators configure Active Directory on the BI platform. I particularly enjoy the whining from universe developers when they figure out they have to manually set up AD. Every single time they patch the Information Design Tool.

Just like the Information Design Tool, Lumira also requires manual configuration of Active Directory (see SAP KB 1995864Cannot connect to Universe using Windows AD from SAP Lumira desktop). Every time Lumira is updated (which is frequent- Lumira is presently on version 1.20 as of this writing). Annoying IT-savvy developers is one thing, but annoying business users is different altogether, especially since users can outnumber developers by orders of magnitude in a typical organization.

Eclipse vs Native Apps

In addition to the manual AD setup, one of my other concerns about Lumira is the potential overhead that Eclipse adds versus if Lumira was a native bare-metal Windows application. Since there isn’t yet a Mac-native version of SAP Lumira, I currently run it locally on a 4 GB virtual machine or on a hefty Windows Server via Remote Desktop. Neither method is suited to accurately demonstrating how responsive the Lumira user experience is on a high-performance desktop or laptop.

SAP Lumira + Design Studio = Match Made in Heaven

While there are some drawbacks to SAP’s use of Eclipse, there are also benefits. Eclipse provides a common platform to support interoperability across the toolset. SAP’s simplification strategy goes beyond simply narrowing down a sprawling analytics portfolio to two tools- Lumira for business users and Design Studio for developers. It’s about allowing these business users and developers to work together on a common platform for creating analytics. SAP Lumira 1.20 and SAP Design Studio 1.4 are the first releases that begin to fulfill SAP’s vision of interoperability and we’ll see this trend accelerate with the Lumira and Design Studio releases planned for 2015.


SAP BI Simplified PortfolioGiven that Crystal Reports for Enterprise, Lumira, and Design Studio are built on the Eclipse platform, one wonders if the Web Intelligence Rich Client will one day be ported to an Eclipse foundation.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to Thursday’s #askSAP community call.

What are your thoughts about SAP Lumira’s Eclipse foundation?

For Further Reading

  • Follow the #askSAP conversation on Twitter
  • Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) on Wikipedia
  • The official Eclipse Foundation web site
  • SAP KB 1621106 – How to configure Information Design Tool (IDT) for with Microsoft Windows Active Directory (AD)
  • SAP KB 1765515 – I do not want to configure each Information Design Tool (IDT) client with AD configuration files
  • SAP KB 1995864 – How to configure SAP Lumira Desktop with Microsoft Windows Active Directory (AD)

Squeezing the Entire Universe Into SAP Lumira

Possible to squeeze the entire universe into SAP’s desktop data discovery tool?

When SAP Visual Intelligence was introduced in 2012, it could visualize data from any data source as long as it was SAP HANA. Thankfully, universe support came just a few short months later in version 1.03, opening up a wealth of data sources and allowing customers to leverage their existing investments in SAP’s “agnostic” semantic layer. Universe support in Lumira is interesting because the front-end doesn’t give the full BusinessObjects query panel experience that experienced universe consumers expect. But it’s also interesting because of how data gets from the data source, through the universe, and into Lumira. It uses a Web Intelligence mechanism originally designed to allow Web Intelligence documents to be exported from the browser in Microsoft Excel and text formats.

The SAP Lumira universe query panel

First, let’s take a look at the query panel experience. First, here’s the Web Intelligence Java-based universe query panel (from BI 4.1 SP3).

Universe Query Panel Web Intelligence 4.1

And here’s the Lumira universe query panel (from version 1.19).

Universe Query Panel Lumira SP19

At first glance I assumed that Lumira was offering some kind of reimagined query panel of the future. But upon closer inspection it’s a query panel that’s missing quite a few features from Web Intelligence panel, similar to Explorer (see related article, Family Planning), Live Office, and Query as a Web Service (see related article, What I miss in the Query as a Web Service (QaaWS) and Live Office query panels). Even Design Studio has more query panel functionality (although still a subset of the gold standard Web Intelligence panel). It’s possible that the Lumira product team assumed that its users would want something easier to use. But consider that SAP Lumira already has a free-hand SQL capability that’s still lacking from Web Intelligence. Free-hand SQL provides many things, but “easy business user interface” doesn’t immediately spring to mind (see related article, Free-Hand SQL Isn’t Free).

There definitely is an opportunity here to extend the functionality of the Lumira universe query panel.

UPDATE: Lumira v1.24 will integrate the Information Design Tool’s Query Panel, but only for UNX universes.

Consuming Existing Universe Queries

I’ve already made the unsuccessful pitch that Lumira should be able to extract queries from Desktop Intelligence documents (see related article, True Desktop Intelligence with SAP Lumira). And the longer I work with Lumira, it seems obvious that it should be able to consume a query from a Web Intelligence document, too. There are obvious differences in functionality between Web Intelligence and Lumira. Reporting is not data discovery and I’m not proposing to change that. But whether seconds, minutes, hours, or days were required to create a critical Web Intelligence report, it seems logical that a Lumira user might want to consume the same query logic without reinventing the wheel.

UPDATE (June 9, 2015): This idea was intriguing enough to APOS, who has developed the APOS Data Gateway plug-in for SAP Lumira.

SAP Lumira and the Web Intelligence processing server character stream size

The other issue Lumira users will encounter while squeezing the entire universe into their visualizations is the Web Intelligence Processing Server maximum character stream size. Experienced SAP BI administrators refer to this as the “10 kilograms of universe, uh, DATA in a 5 kilogram bag” problem. Users will see the following message and probably have their own nickname for it.

Lumira SP19 ERR_WIS_30270
An internal error occurred while calling ‘processDPCommandsEx’ API. (Error: ERR_WIS_30270)

The following verbiage first appeared in the SAP Lumira 1.17 Release Notes. It was removed from the SAP Lumira 1.18 Release Notes but has been fortunately documented by SAP Note 2020352.

The data acquisition of medium-large, large, and very large datasets from UNV or UNX universes is not supported on default installations of both SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platforms 4.0 and 4.1.

It is recommended for customers that want to acquire such datasets to install a SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platform (SAP BIP) server dedicated to SAP Lumira and significantly increase the value of the Maximum Character Stream Size of the Web Intelligence Processing Server on that particular server. Note that increasing this value on a running SAP BIP server can impact the memory consumption and performance of any BI clients tool running on that installation, particularly Web Intelligence. While this practice is not formally discouraged, we advise customers implementing this solution that they might face memory consumption increases and longer document data refreshes so they will need to monitor the SAP BIP server’s behavior adequately to control the impacts.

In an era of “big data” hype, I have no idea what SAP means by the terms medium-large, large, and very large datasets, other than “don’t blame us if you didn’t buy a HANA server”. But as with Mobile BI (see related article, Viewing Large Web Intelligence Documents with Mobile BI), Explorer (see related article, Hacking SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.0) and Live Office, the solution is to increase the Maximum Character Stream Size and to a lesser extent the Binary Stream Maximum Size on the Web Intelligence Processing Server. SAP’s documentation is slightly unclear on this point, but it seems that XML and Microsoft Excel XLSX formats (which are zipped XML files- see related Wikipedia article about Office Open XML) are “character” files affected by the Maximum Character Stream Size setting. Adobe PDF and Microsoft Excel XLS formats are “binary” files affected by the adjacent Binary Stream Maximum Size setting. There isn’t an easy way to determine the optimal stream size, other than “keep increasing the value until the error goes away”. Keep in mind that poorly designed universes will return bloated data sets to any client tool, whether it’s SAP Lumira, Mobile BI, or any edition of Web Intelligence. So a code review of existing universes can be a healthy activity in addition to increasing server settings.

Oddly enough, Web Intelligence and its predecessor Desktop Intelligence contain SAP’s first in-memory database- the microcube. Long before HANA was a gleam in Hasso Plattner’s eye, the microcube facilitated multi-dimensional analysis of large datasets (called slicing-and-dicing back in the day) that may have taken a bit of time to be retrieved from the now-obsolete spinning disks in the database server. The Web Intelligence web application requests data from the microcube one viewable page at a time, but modern apps like Mobile BI and Lumira need the entire microcube before they can visualize data. So these apps are riding the coattails of the mechanism SAP originally created for exporting Web Intelligence data to Adobe PDF and Microsoft Excel files.

In a recent blog, Steve Lucas said

Build on what you already have: With 45,000 customers using SAP BI technology, there’s a pretty good chance you can take advantage of your existing BI investments by connecting directly to Universes and SAP Business Warehouse with SAP Lumira.
Steve Lucas, The Countdown on Data Visualization Has Begun – Top Ten Reasons Why SAP Will Deliver

If building on what we already have is a key selling point, there’s got to be a better, faster and more scalable way to get data from the universe into SAP Lumira.

I eagerly look forward to what is coming next from the SAP Lumira product team.

Is your organization using SAP Lumira with universes?

How these settings affect SAP Lumira

  • SAP KB 1826015– SAP Visual Intelligence 1.0.7 connecting to universe data source
  • SAP Note 2020352– Release restriction note for SAP Lumira 1.17

How these settings affect other SAP BusinessObjects products

Other Resources