October was quite the busy month in the Cloud BI and Analytics space with two major announcements: Amazon QuickSights and SAP Cloud for Analytics.
We posted a note on QuickSights based on initial demonstrations. A few of us have signed up for access to the preview, but we are still awaiting access to that. Stay tuned!
SAP Cloud Analytics was unveiled at TechEd a few weeks ago as a combination BI, visual data discovery, predictive, and planning solution running entirely on SAP HANA Cloud Platform. SAP Planning was first released in February 2015 and becomes part of the new Cloud for Analytics. SAP Cloud for Analytics is now GA as of last week.
There are several compelling features to this new product:
- End-to-end, including planning: There was a time in circa 2007 when it seemed performance management and business intelligence were converging. There were a number of industry consolidation (SAP acquired OutlookSoft, Oracle acquired Hyperion, Cognos acquired Adaytum). Microsoft released Performance Point, and later dropped it. And yet, the tasks—and purchasing— of planning and BI have remained largely separate. There are a few BI and analytics vendors that provide an integrated BI and planning solution (BOARD, Adaptive Insights, for example). Might this be convergence, part two? For sure, my colleague John Van Decker has seen convergence with Planning and Advanced Analytics (see this note). In the core BI space, convergence of BI with planning remains an exception.
- Built for Cloud: SAP’s cloud story in the BI space has been mixed, mainly start and stop approaches, going back to CrystalReports.com, then Lumira Cloud. SAP BusinessObjects in the cloud has been mainly a do-it-yourself, bring-your-own license approach. SAP Cloud for Analytics addresses this hole and has been built from the ground up. It’s good that hybrid connectivity to on-premises data source is supported. This hybrid cloud approach is critical and a scoring criteria for a modern BI platform (see our just published, fully updated RFP toolkit here). While data can reside on premises, the rest of the capabilities are cloud only.
- Appealing user interface: The user interface is great! Clean UI, modern, HTML5.
- Collaboration: Collaboration and threaded discussions are baked right into the work flow. In an on-premises BI world, collaboration required integration of Streamwork.
- Alerting: Alerting when a KPI is trending negatively is currently lacking in the on-premises BI product and is fully supported in Cloud for Analytics.
- Runs on SAP HANA – for customers who have wanted to leverage SAP HANA for in-memory processing, buying that appliance on premises could be cost prohibitive. Here, Cloud for Analytics runs on the HANA Cloud Platform in SAP’s own data centers.
SAP is saying Cloud for Analytics is generally available, but I find it odd that the “free trial” for people like me will only be available in Q1. That seems backwards. Doesn’t everyone want to try before they buy?
So as a totally new product, my first impression is positive. Starter pricing at $25 a month per user (or $300 a year) is attractive. It’s lower-priced than most cloud BI solutions, although not as low as Microsoft Power BI.
However, it’s a new product from an existing vendor that competes in the on-premises BI and analytics world. There is currently no integration with SAP BusinessObjects, although integration with universes is planned. In this regard, SAP really has two separate BI product lines, one for on premises— with a huge installed base —and one for cloud. Questions in my mind are:
- Is this only relevant for net new BI and planning customers?
- Does this mainly serve customers who have predominantly cloud-based systems, such as Ariba or SuccessFactors?
- Is the end-to-end plan-analyze-predict so compelling that even on-premises data customers would take a look?
For now, I have no idea the answers to these. I can only say I look forward to test driving the product when that becomes available!
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