SAP BI running embedded into SalesForce

I come across a lot of situations where customers run SalesForce and ask me whether they can combine their SalesForce data with other corporate data. A most recent request was to combine SAP BW Copa data (profitability analysis) with SalesForce data on clients with payment risks. Today this can easily be done using data blending techniques of the SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite. More in particular, I used the SAP Lumira salesforce JDBC connector to connect to the customer’s SalesForce data and blend it with their SAP BW data.

But customers these days require more than just combining their SalesForce data with other data. They require to have the full SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite running embedded into their SalesForce environment. With the use of Protiviti SalesForce Connect for SAP Analytics, this can be done.

Why embedding a Business Intelligence suite into SalesForce

First, why would anyone wanting to embed a full Business Intelligence suite into their SalesForce application? Well, their are various good reasons for doing so:

  1. No more toggling around: if - like in the example above - you need to constantly compare two data sources, embedding the BI suite in SalesForce prevents from constantly toggling between two applications. Not necessary anymore when SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite runs embedded into SalesForce.

  2. Leverage your BI capabilities: dedicated business intelligence suites are there for a reason. They offer very specific visualization and data-interpretation techniques other applications (like SalesForce) lack. If you can leverage the power of both worlds, why not do it.

  3. Of the shelf SalesForce analytics are limited: though SalesForce is a very capable application, it's embedded analytics are relatively limited. Adding a business intelligence suite to the pack, will enlarge the analytics capabilities dramatically

  4. Create aggregated views around your SalesForce data: embedding business intelligence allows to build aggregated 360° views around the SalesForce data. One could for example build full customer insights view within SalesForce

  5. Leverage the BI Suite and embed third party data too: give the embedded business intelligence suite has access to any data using its normal connectivity options (i.e. semantic layer), it is relatively easy to bring in any other data into the Salesforce application

  6. No more uploading data into the Cloud: opposite to for example Tableau who first need to upload all heir data into a separate Cloud, the SAP BusinessObjects suite seamlessly embeds into SalesForce without the time consuming and costly Cloud upload.

See it working

How does it work

In conjunction with Decision First, Protiviti developed a custom integration between a,d the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform using a combination of the SalesForce Canvas Application API and the SAP Business Objects Enterprise API. The integration allows for seamless passing of Session Identity from SalesForce into SAP BusinessObjects. This allows users to access BusinessObjects content from within the SalesForce user interface without having to re-enter their credentials. In addition, the solution also provides an ready-to-use Universe that leverages the SAP provided OEM database driver for accessing SalesForce data into BusinessObjects. In concrete wording this means that one can build reports, dashboards storyboards on SalesForce data using the embedded SAP BusinessObjects Suite. All components are supported like WebIntelligence, DesignStudio, Lumira or Crystal Reports. As such the interchange between BusinessObjects and SalesForce is bi-directional! The data blending and mashup capabilities of BusinessObjects can be fully leveraged by embedding other on-premise data sources like SAP BW, data warehouses or others.

What does it bring for us

Embedding SAP BusinessObjects with SalesForce brings a wealth of capabilities. Just the bi-directional traffic impresses me the most:

  1. Use SAP BusinessObjects to run analytics on SalesForce data

  2. Use SalesForce to leverage SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite and create a 360° customer view in your SalesForce application

What is the system like

To get everything working, following are the most important components

  • SalesForce Canvas API

  • SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise SDK

  • SAP BusinessObjects Salesforce database driver and the Protivity Universe

  • Protivity SalesForce Connect for SAP Analytics

To implement everything, your environment needs following:

  • BusinessObjects Application Server exposed with a public DNS Name

  • SSL Protection for the Domain hosting BusinessObjects

  • The Protivity First Custom Webapplication "SFDCBOBJ" deployed on the BusinessObjects Web Tier

  • Configuration of the Canvas application in your SalesForce environment

SalesForce Canvas API

The Canvas API is the integration point to SalesForce's development environment. A key element for using the Canvas API is that only (!) the user interface of SAP BusinessObjects BI suite is integrated into SalesForce. A very important point since it means that all SAP BusinessObjects content that one uses embedded into SalesForce stays where it is (and belongs). No transferring of content required; no replication of data! The primary function of the Canvas API is to pass an authenticated SalesForce session along with information about the currently logged-in user to the third-party application. This information is secured by several mechanisms (i.e. SSL/TLS and more). By the way, the full solution works seamlessly together with SAP SSO.

SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise SDK

The SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise SDK is leveraged by establishing an authenticated session with the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise server environment. By default the solution is deployed on the same web application server as the standard BusinessObjects Web Tier. This ensures everything communicates on the same IP's and ports thus minimizing additional network configuration.

Authentication into the BusinessObjects backend is done via the SDK feature known as Trusted Authentication, allowing to authenticate a session with just a User Name as long as the application can prove it is trusted by also providing a Secret Key.

SAP BusinessObjects Salesforce database driver and the Protivity Universe

This driver is being provided by SAP and OEM'd from Simba Technologies. Stand-alone this driver already allows for accessing SalesForce data, but of course the driver on it's own cannot bring the embedded SAP BusinessObjects suite running into SalesForce.

Protivity SalesForce Connect for SAP Analytics

Salesforce Connect for SAP Analytics acts as a mediator between the Canvas API and the BusinessObjects Enterprise SDK. It is deployed in the form of a JAVA J2EE Web Application Archive (WAR) file to a supported Java Web Application Container. If required the application can also enable access to the SAP BI Mobile platform ensuring all content can be displayed on a mobile device. Protiviti offers various deployment models (i.e. reverse proxy) for optimized use of the application.

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