SAP focuses on stability, data source support with Business Objects update

SAP has unveiled a new version of its Business Objects BI (business intelligence) software suite that features support for more than 140 data sources and the promise of more stable deployments.

Business Objects 4.1, which was announced Monday, follows the 2011 release of version 4.0. That product slipped well past its original release date, but even with the additional time, many users reported stability issues.

“It wasn’t where we wanted it to be,” said Jason Rose, vice president of BI product marketing, in an interview. But in the intervening period, SAP made “some significant changes” in the Business Objects development organization with a focus on improving quality and stability, he said.

Along with a number of feature packs, those changes have helped increase customer satisfaction, Rose said.

Now SAP is hoping that with the arrival of 4.1, customers still running version 3.1 will make the leap and upgrade. Most of Business Objects’ customers remain on earlier versions, with some 6,500 on 4.0, according to Rose.

New features in 4.1 include support for more than 140 data sources, including Amazon Web Services’ Elastic MapReduce and Hadoop Hive. “We’re really making the platform big data-ready,” Rose said.

The release also brings new SDK (software development kits) and APIs (application programming interfaces) for partners, including one that allows them to create more advanced visualizations. “It’s going to be huge for the partner community,” Rose said.

Adoption of 4.1 may also be helped by a feature that supports the use of Desktop Intelligence, or DeskI, a popular tool among some users, but for which SAP is no longer providing new updates. While that policy remains in effect, release 4.1 of the Business Objects suite includes a Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack that allows users to view DeskI documents.

The update also features a range of improvements for viewing reports and dashboards on mobile devices; connectivity with SAP’s HANA in-memory database; and integration with Jam, SAP’s social collaboration software.

SAP is expected to discuss the Business Objects release further during the ASUG SAP Business Objects User conference this week in Anaheim, California.

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