Power BI and SAP – What Works and What Doesn’t

5 comments

I run many workshops focused on integration of Microsoft Analytics and SAP. This is not an easy topic to cover due to complexities of the SAP landscape and also because Microsoft Analytics has many moving parts both with respect to its on premise and cloud components. In this article, I will just focus on Power BI and SAP ECC, Hana and BW.

Functionality

ECC

Hana

BW

Power BI Connector Available

NO

YES

YES

Direct Query Support

NO

YES

NO

ODBC Support

N/a

YES

N/a

Hana Information Models Support

N/a

YES

N/a

SSO (Kerberos)

N/a

NO*

NO*

SSO (SAML)

N/a

NO

NO

Message/Load balancer

N/a

N/a

NO*

Query Parameters

N/a

YES

YES

Infocube support

N/a

N/a

YES

BEx support

N/a

N/a

YES

* – the word on the street is that these NOs are expected to become YES soon

The following is a list of random points that are good to know as you implement a Power BI solution against SAP, in no particular order:

  1. Microsoft covered BW connectivity pretty well here, however, I just want to point out that in order to install the BW client you need to copy the client DLL files into the System32 folder OR you can find the installation folder for the Power BI Desktop (in my case it’s in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Power BI Desktop\bin) and copy the DLL files there
  2. You can connect to Hana using the ODBC connector or the SAP Hana connector, but be aware that the ODBC connector only supports import based models (no direct query support right now). When you use the SAP Hana Connector, it assumes that you are trying to connect to Calculated or Analytic views, so no tables are exposed in the interface by default. You need to write a SQL Select statement to connect to tables (row or column) but you will be able to connect in a direct query mode
  3. The Hana connector does not work well with semi-additive measures
  4. Query parameter support can be finicky, the simpler the query the better
  5. Getting Key Values from BW is possible but not very intuitive, follow this post for details
  6. Business Object universes are Not supported (from what I have heard, killed by SAP)
  7. Power BI connects to SAP S4 HANA and BW interfaces
  8. Many customers are asking about the Direct Query support for BW but I keep wondering why…. The performance of most BW systems is so poor that I would almost never consider opening them up for Direct Query

The SAPPHIRE 2017 is just around the corner; I am looking forward to additional roadmap information becoming available around that time.

5 comments on “Power BI and SAP – What Works and What Doesn’t”

  1. Hi,
    Thank you for sharing the overview between SAP ECC, Hana and BW.

    I’m working on SAP ECC and have been considering using Power BI instead of implementing QlikSense. Is there any workaround to make Power BI work with SAP ECC?

    Does it make it any easier if “direct query” is not required in this case? I’m thinking a daily data refresh from SAP ECC to Power BI would be sufficient.

    Would be glad to hear from you, appreciate your help. Thank you.

  2. A year later and still most things arent available or dont work enough. DirectQuery with SAP BW has its set of advantages – use of SSO to leverage native SAP BW features and data authorization models, access to near real time reporting if the runtimes in your backend SAP BW are managed accordingly, access to native SAP BW features, avoiding incorrect results/reconciliations that come with importing/caching of data out of SAP BW elsewhere thus also protecting data sovereignty.

    -Priya

  3. We use aecorsoft reporting to do self service analysis on ECC, BW, HANA through Excel, and cannot be happier. We further use Power BI to import the SAP data saved in Excel when needed. The best part is that it enables us to reconcile between ECC and BW from within Excel, and then we bring the stable Excel data into Power BI for advanced charting, visualization, and mash-up with other non SAP data sources. It’s all about using the right tool for the right job.

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