Panorama & SAP

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Content Copyright © 2006 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Panorama has just announced NovaView 5 Release 2.0. The big deal
about this is that it works with (and has been certified for) SAP
data warehouses.

Now, you might think this was actually not a big deal at all:
after all, Business Objects works with SAP, so does Cognos and so
does more or less everybody else. But there is a big difference
between what Panorama does and what these more traditional
suppliers do. In order to appreciate this you need to understand a
little about the SAP BW environment.

Without going into too much detail, basically SAP BW is
complicated. Boy is it complicated! When you implement, say,
Business Objects on top of SAP BW, what happens is that you add an
extra layer of complexity: instead of just having SAP infoCubes,
for example, you now have Business Objects Universes built on top
of InfoCubes! It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that a
significant portion of SAP BW users do not deploy anything more
than SAP’s BEx for business intelligence purposes, even though that
tool is not the easiest to use in the world.

Panorama takes a different approach, running directly against
the existing SAP infrastructure so that there is no need to extract
metadata, for example. NovaView even uses the SAP security model.
So, the environment may still be complicated but it is no more
complicated than it was before. In addition, NovaView can run
alongside BEx if you need it to.

This, of course, leaves the question of why you might want to
use Panorama in the first place. Well, it’s easier to use than BEx,
richer in terms of its functionality and should out-perform it
thanks to NovaView’s connection pooling and smart caching
technologies, which allow much greater user scalability.

From a different standpoint, this partnership with SAP is
interesting, as it marks the second major non-Microsoft partnership
that the company has announced recently. The other such partnership
is with Cartesis, which I believe to be a strong move on the part
of Cartesis, whose performance management software has always been
market leading in terms of budgeting, planning and so forth but
which has lagged behind somewhat in terms of the business
intelligence capability it could offer, so this should be an
advantageous move by both companies.

As far as Microsoft is concerned, historically Panorama has been
dedicated to SQL Server Analysis Services (Panorama built the
technology originally before selling it to Microsoft) and it
remains close to Microsoft. However, it is no bad thing that
Panorama is now moving out from under this umbrella, particularly
with its SAP partnership. Note that it does not matter whether SAP
BW is implemented on top of SQL Server, Oracle or DB2. Of course,
it remains to be seen how successful this initiative will be but it
shows significant promise.