Summary:

The software giant’s “project Photon” seems to be materializing in the form of Lumira, which promises self-service data visualization in the cloud. It remains to be seen how this can co-exist with SAP’s BI OnDemand, though.

SAP Lumira

SAP really is pushing hard on this cloud thing. Days after the German business software giant announced plans to put its HANA in-memory database into the cloud, it has done the same with its Visual Intelligence product, now renamed “Lumira” (SAP dearly loves renaming its products, and this time it’s gone for “a more human-friendly yet Google-ready name”).

Lumira Cloud supposedly gives SAP an answer to the recent explosion in the cloud-based, self-service data visualization offerings. The HTML5-built BI service comes with a “monthly” subscription fee (albeit one that can only be ordered in annual chunks) and lets its users publish and share data visualizations with one another for viewing or editing on desktop or mobile devices.

SAP Lumira Cloud appears to be more an Dropbox-ish add-on for the desktop version of Lumira than a cloud-based replacement, but it does also allow the creation of datasets from Excel documents. The service, which integrates with on-premise data and naturally supports HANA, can also be used to share SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio files and SAP Crystal Reports documents.

This release appears to be the culmination of what SAP has been previously referring to as “project Photon” – supposedly the company’s “true departmental self-service BI offering.” The issue here, of course, is the monumental and somewhat confusing nature of the company’s portfolio. After all, doesn’t SAP already do this SME-courting, departmental analytics stuff through its BusinessObjects BI OnDemand product?

Try visiting at least one of the BI OnDemand product pages and you’ll be taken through to the Lumira page. Look at the Lumira Cloud FAQs and you’ll be told that BI OnDemand will continue to run “in parallel” to Lumira Cloud, but also that OnDemand customers can contact their account representative “to discuss the best timing and strategy” for migrating to the new service.

Perhaps this less-than-clear situation presages a simplification of SAP’s portfolio – no doubt more will be revealed at the company’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference this week. If it doesn’t, customers in search of next-generation data visualization tools have many far more straightforward options to check out.

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