The SAP Business Objects roadmap is now quite clear. The suite of Business Objects front-end BI tools gradually will replace most of the tools in the current Business Explorer (BEx) BI suite. Crystal Reports is the flagship for highly formatted, interactive, and print-optimized reporting. Web Intelligence fills a gap for self-service reporting and analytics. Xcelsius provides dynamic dashboards and interactive visualizations. A new OLAP tool, Pioneer, will combine the features from Business Objects Voyager, The BEx Excel Analyzer, and the BEx Web Analyzer. Polestar has been renamed Explorer. Explorer provides search engine key word searches of SAP and non-SAP data sources, including direct access to data in the BW Accelerator.
These tools interface with NetWeaver BW through two primary interfaces: The BI Consumer Services, used by the BEx suite, and the MDX-based OLAP BAPI, which is the primary interface for the OLAP universes in the Business Objects Enterprise (BOE) XI system. Crystal Reports includes its own OLAP BAPI provider. Web Intelligence accesses NetWeaver BW InfoCubes or BEx Query Cubes through the OLAP universes and the OLAP BAPI. Xcelsius connects to NetWeaver BW by publishing BOE universes as a Web service, called Query as a Web Service (QaaWS). Pioneer intially will connect via the BI Consumer Services API.
BOE provides a semantic layer called universes on top of SAP and non-SAP data sources. Universes can be designed for relational (SQL) data sources and OLAP (MDX) data sources. The ultimate goal is to have all the Business Objects front-end BI tools interface to NetWeaver BW through the BOE OLAP universes. SAP Business Objects has made significant improvements in the connectivity between the OLAP Data Access (ODA) component in BOE and the NetWeaver BW OLAP BAPI, with query performance gains averaging 30 percent. Queries generated by the OLAP universes are executed in MDX. SAP Business Objects has also enhanced MDX in NetWeaver BW to the point where it's the equivalent of MDX in Microsoft SQL Server 2005. It's clear from the roadmap that MDX is a core element of the SAP Business Objects roadmap.
OLAP universes can include MDX calculated members/measures and named sets. Up to now, MDX expressions have had to be handwritten and enclosed in XML <EXPRESSION></EXPRESSION> tags. There has been no MDX parser so it's been impossible to check the syntax of an MDX expression while desiging the OLAP universe. That will change in a soon-to-be released BOE service pack that will include a robust MDX editor that will provide drag-and-drop access to MDX functions available within NetWeaver BW. The service pack also will include an MDX parser. These are big improvements for the design of OLAP universes.
The prerequisites for enhanced SQL and MDX interoperability between NetWeaver BW and BOE are:
BW 7.01 SP3
BOE XI Fix Pack 1.2 or later
SAP Integration Toolkit XI 3.1
BOE Data Federator XI 3.1