SAP BusinessObjects Explorer Offers Better Search, User Interface

SAP will release a new version of its SAP BusinessObjects Explorer platform in November, allowing for accelerated enterprise search and what it says is an improved user interface. The updated version of BusinessObjects Explorer will allow enterprise data sets besides those warehoused by SAP to be ported into the platform for analysis. SAP has launched a number of enterprise platforms and applications in 2009, frequently in collaboration with companies such as Cisco and Hewlett-Packard.

SAP announced Oct. 27 during its SAP TechEd conference in Vienna, Austria, that it would roll out a new version of its SAP BusinessObjects Explorer in November. The new version will bring enhancements to the user interface as well as the ability to search through any data source in order to parse out information relevant to business needs, SAP said.

Allowing companies to use data sources outside of SAP NetWeaver BW (SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse) potentially gives SAP a more competitive profile in the areas of business intelligence and enterprise search, as it expands the market for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer beyond those companies already running SAP applications.

The ability of BusinessObjects Explorer to take information from any existing layer of data within the enterprise-whether it be housed by SAP, Oracle, IBM DB2 or another source-was not present in what SAP executives referred to as the "first wave" of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, originally announced on May 12 during SAP's annual Sapphire conference in Orlando, Fla.

As with the new version, the original iteration of BusinessObjects Explorer was designed to give workers near-instant access to data via a convenient dashboard. At the time, SAP claimed that the software was capable of searching through 900 million records in under 2.5 seconds.

SAP introduced BusinessObjects Explorer in two iterations: a "standard" edition and an accelerated version for sorting through massive amounts of enterprise data. Intel partnered with SAP to co-engineer the in-memory processing abilities of SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator to optimize it to work with the Intel Xeon processor 5500 series.

For the new version-the "second wave"-of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, SAP announced that it would collaborate with Cisco Systems to port the system onto more platforms. The Cisco Unified Computing System, which combines Intel processors with 10 Gigabit Ethernet unified fabrics and expanded memory capability, is being touted by both companies as offering "stronger scalability" for SAP applications.

In addition, BusinessObjects Explorer now features a number of UI improvements, including buttons on the dashboard that allow for more granular navigation through data. After searching through a database of millions of records for, say, the term "BMW," a car manufacturer can then select various buttons to view city sales, sales by vehicle model and so on. The data can also be displayed graphically in a pie or bar chart.

A further iteration of BusinessObjects Explorer is due in the first half of 2010.

In addition to BusinessObjects Explorer, other large-scale SAP releases in 2009 include SAP Business Suite 7-a platform that can be deployed either in its entirety or in specific modules-and applications designed to aid enterprise compliance with government regulations, including SAP BusinessObjects Risk Management and SAP BusinessObjects Process Control.

SAP has announced collaborations with a variety of companies, including Novell and Hewlett-Packard, to push out its platforms and functionality. The SAP and HP collaboration allowed the SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP's BI-oriented analytical applications to be deployed on the HP Neoview platform, resulting in speeded-up management and sorting of large amounts of database information via parallel processing and shared-nothing architecture.