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Last May I complained that the SAP BusinessObjects Explorer release announced at Sapphire wasn't everything I expected from the big, splashy product launch. As of November, however, the missing ingredients -- namely the combination of system-agnostic data integration and acceleration -- will finally be in place along with interface improvements and new hardware partnerships. Here's the scoop on the second wave on SAP BusinessObjects Explorer announced this week.As Sandy Kemsley explained back in May, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer is essentially the next evolution of BusinessObjects Polestar -- the intuitive, Internet-search-easy querying interface -- married to the accelerated, in-memory query speed of the SAP Business Warehouse Accelerator (BWA). My disappointment with the first-wave release was that the marriage part wasn't quite complete. The accelerated version -- built on HP-, IBM-, Dell- or Fujitsu-hardware based BWA appliances -- could only look at SAP BW as a data source.
With Wave II, integration capabilities have been added to Explorer from BusinessObjects' Data Integrator software. A limited runtime of Data Integrator for Explorer will let you point any data source at the BWA index. This means you can query nearly anything (including cloud and third-party data sources) with the advantages of in-memory acceleration, which pays increasingly large time-saving dividends as you surpass 100 million records.
Whether you need acceleration or not, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer wave II also features a number of important upgrades that should improve the user experience. Since Explorer is aimed at business users, many of whom are untrained, the system set-up routines were improved to allow administrators to add user friendly column labels and metadata to what otherwise might be understandable only to DBAs and data warehouse architects. Additional security provisions have also been added along with the ability to show data hierarchies and lineage. Finally, the interface itself has gained tag cloud visualizations and the ability to create and store facets, so you can retain heavily used drill-throughs on dimensions.
These improvements should addess some of the concerns Explorer customer Vincent Vloemans of Sara Lee expressed in this article concerning the dangers of bad intelligence -- like assuming a cryptic column description means one thing when it actually means something quite different. "That's a BI problem in general, but when you give a powerful tool to more users, you need to be even more mindful about how people will interpret the data," he warned.
On the hardware front, Teradata and Cisco will be added next month as hardware partners on SAP BWA and the accelerated version of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. SAP and Teredata previously announced that they are working on an integration that will enable BW itself to run on the Teradata database -- an effort that is still underway and expected to be completed next year.Last May I complained that the SAP BusinessObjects Explorer release announced at Sapphire wasn't everything I expected from the big, splashy product launch. As of November, however, the missing ingredients -- namely the combination of system-agnostic data integration and acceleration -- will finally be in place. Here's the scoop.