WEBI on HANA: Ad-Hoc Reporting at the Speed of Business

What is WEBI?

WEBI, or Web Intelligence, is the SAP BusinessObjects tool most optimally suited for Ad-Hoc and Parameterized Reporting.  It is a great reporting tool for Non-Technical users as it has a very intuitive and visual interface.  If you can drag and drop objects, then you can build a WEBI report.  However, it also scales very well with complex features for the more advanced users.

For more information about SAP BusinessObjects WEBI, click here

What is HANA?

HANA, or High Performance ANalytic Appliance, is the SAP in-memory, columnar database platform.  Essentially, it is a database juiced up on performance enhancers, but in a 100% legal way.  In-Memory and Columnar technologies aren’t new, neither is the combination of them, but SAP has taken them to the next level of performance with their Engines or “accelerators”.  These include SQL, MDX, and Calculation Engines which are all meant to significantly improve the performance of your data inserts/extracts.  I have modeled information in SAP HANA that returns well over 100 Million records in fractions of a second.  There is so much more to HANA than this, but it is certainly a game changer.

For more information about SAP HANA, click here

SAP BusinessObjects Connectivity Options to SAP HANA

There are a number of connection styles between BusinessObjects and HANA, but for WEBI all connections will be routed through a Semantic Layer/Universe.  Allowing Analytic & Calculation Views to be modeled/linked together, similar to a Stored Procedure Universe (but allowing joins).  It is ill-advised to build the semantic layer/universe straight off the base tables as you lose all the “accelerating” power of the HANA Engines instantiated via the Views.


Tip #1 – It’s not a Bad Practice Panacea!

HANA & WEBI can do a lot of things very well, but they will never be a panacea for your bad practices.  It is still important to design and develop these structures with proper architecture and reporting steps in mind.  Bad Practices will always be costly to performance.  HANA & WEBI will obfuscate these with their efficiencies, but you’re still leaving performance on the table.  Garbage in, garbage out!

Tip #2 – HANA Variables are NOT supported in WEBI

HANA Variables are used to limit the results of your HANA Views.  It is essentially a WHERE clause.  Unfortunately, they are not supported when the HANA View is then used in WEBI.  There are ways to work around this through the use of Derived Tables and/or custom SQL, but this should be considered a work-around.

Tip #3 – Multi-Dimensional Reporting Check

If you’re planning on using your HANA model in the WEBI reports, then you need to be sure that you’re checking the “Multidimensional Reporting” checkbox.  This checkbox tells the HANA system to expose that view to the reporting tools (WEBI, Explorer, etc.) allowing it to be used to create visualizations and content.

What next?

Let Axian come to the rescue and help define your BI strategy, develop a roadmap, work with your business community to identify the next project, and provide clarity and direction to a daunting task.  For more details about Axian, Inc. and the Business Intelligence practice click here to view our portfolio or email us directly to setup a meeting.

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