SAP ERP as data source for Microsoft BI (Part 6)
Microsoft BI and/or SAP BI?
The previous posts in this small series have been very technical and showed, that there are proven ways to integrate data from SAP Systems into the Microsoft BI world. SAP and Microsoft work on these scenarios as partners, so that a best-of-both-worlds strategy is a valid and sustainable one.
As a conclusion I'd like to share some thoughts on the reasons for running Microsoft BI on top of an ERP-System from SAP. I'd like to create two basic scenarios that are likely to be relevant for this decision and point out pros and cons.
Scenario 1: Integrating and persisting SAP-Data into an Microsoft Data Warehouse
If you are running several SAP-Systems in your company or there are various other data sources that have to be integrated into one common data model, the Single Point of Truth (SPoT), the SQL Server Data Platform is a great option. An Integration in SAP can lead to a lot of effort and customizing work. For this scenario it could be very benificial to keep your standard reporting as is in BW and offer your Data Analysts and Data Scientists an integrated platform, where they can get data consolidated from different source systems. With SQL Server 2014 you'd get a proven, high performing Data Warehouse Platform and tools from ETL up to multidimensional cubes and end user friendly ad hoc analysis included nearly for free.
Scenario 2: Agile Visualisation and Analysis
Suppose you have on single SAP Installation and you're mainly content with reporting capabilities you get through SAP BW. Would it still be worth thinking about a complementary use of Microsoft BI? Yes, definitely. Most likely you already have Microsoft Office products in place for your business users, with Excel beeing the most widely adopted BI-Tool. So, your users will love to analyse data from SAP directly in a tool, they're most familiar with. And with Power BI on top of this they'll be excited about a whole bunch of extended functionality and fast in-memory analysis. As seen in the previous post it is possible to use these tools without having to invest in additional expensive licenses.
So, thats it for now. As you can see, the decision isn't either to use it or not, but more about finding a way to combine best-of-both-worlds to maximise your benefit.