SAP Cloud for Analytics (aka Project Orca): Is SAP about to deliver true agile BI?
Matt Potts
By Matt Potts

The announcement from SAP about the release of a new cloud-based analytics platform has certainly gained lots of interest. Full details will be revealed later this month, but so far information has been at a premium. What we do know is that it will be built on the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), meaning that it has an in-memory engine at its core allowing a mix of speed and real-time capabilities.


Project Orca will be a new offering from SAP and won’t replace any of SAP's existing analytics tools (either those on-premises or in the Cloud). It will be interesting to see how it aligns against SAP’s current analytics solutions, as well as the software company’s focus on simplification.


A full cloud business intelligence (BI) platform from SAP was always the missing product from their analytics portfolio. It had seemed that SAP Lumira Cloud might be the answer, but it doesn’t look that way now. Maybe this solution will stay as a cloud-share of Lumira-only contents (view and interact)?


Following SAP’s Project Orca announcement, Steve Lucas, President, SAP Platform Solutions Group said, "Business users will be able to easily sample, wrangle, combine and blend data and quickly build and modify plans to take action. All this will be delivered in a fully scalable, multi-tenant environment at a price point that enables any individual or company to sign up and get going quickly."


That ability to be able to get going quickly and deliver value-adding BI content is one of the key elements that all customers need for their analytics. Taking this approach, along with an agile methodology for continuing developments, is something that has been difficult for SAP customers to achieve in the traditional SAP analytics toolsets such as BW and BusinessObjects BI. A cloud system also takes the task of upgrading away (as well as all the costs).


In terms of what we may expect the product to enable and allow customers to achieve, here are a few thoughts:

  • The ability to easily source data from a variety of systems (SAP and non-SAP) including on-premise, cloud, files and social
  • The ability to perform agile data modelling, including the merging and mash-up of the variety of data sources mentioned above (and an unlimited number of them)
  • Integrate models and data definitions from BW where many SAP customers have a large sunk investment and intellectual property (without OpenHub charges) – using the BW model but not changing it
  • Social data feeds
  • Build engaging visualisations and dashboards quickly, easily and iteratively with interactivity and drilldown features without the need for scripting
  • Allow (the right type) of end user to blend off-system data with enterprise feeds
  • Deliver a common experience on browser and mobile

SAP has to come up to the mark from the off with this new platform, as there are already a number of market-leading cloud BI platforms that help companies achieve the benefits just described - along with deployment options using the HANA Cloud Platform.


It’s clear that SAP took inspiration for its Lumira data discover tool from Tableau. From a cloud BI perspective it will have to go some way to beat Birst. ‘Analytics will never be the same’, is the slogan SAP is using on - the Project Orca website. That is certainly a bold claim. We eagerly anticipate further news later this month. . .

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Matt Potts
By Matt Potts

Matt Potts is Solution Principal for Business Insights, specialising in Business Intelligence and Analytics. Matt has worked in the BI domain for over 8 years, helping organisations turn their data into actionable business insights through the use of agile BI platforms and delivery models. He is involved with multiple clients across varying lines of business and industries, working with them to ensure they realise the value from their investment in BI technologies. Outside of work Matt enjoys running, cycling and watching a range of sports and is kept busy by DIY projects at home.

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