The Arctic Tern is famous for its long distance migration, flying from its Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back again each year. That's an impressive round trip of 43,000 miles. The benefits of doing so are great; the Artic Tern sees two summers a year and experiences more daylight than any other living being on earth.
Many existing SAP BPC (that's SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation to you) customers will be faced with a similar question this year - reap the benefits of migrating to SAP EPM 10, or not?
There are several complexities involved in migrating from an SAP BPC 7.5 landscape to SAP EPM 10:
You also need to upgrade SAP BW, from version 7.0 to 7.3. As with all significant upgrades, this will necessitate a regression test of your existing SAP BW-based solutions.
You will need to revisit your BW sizing. With the .NET tier of SAP BPC 7.5 being replaced by direct RESTful services provided by the NetWeaver Internet Communication Framework, more load is to be placed on NetWeaver and there is, subsequently, a new SAP BPC sizing guide available (see http://service.sap.com/sizing ) that reflects that.
SAP BPC is a constantly evolving solution and if you have an existing BPC asset then upgrading your existing landscape will mean a period of time during which you cannot fix or extend your SAP BW and SAP BPC solutions. The alternative is to have a parallel landscape, but that comes at cost in terms of hardware to support it, and manual effort to rekey in fixes/ changes made in your production support landscape.
None of these complexities are reasons not to go ahead and the good news is that, whilst EPM10 brings some considerable advantages in terms of new functionality, the migration required to harness them has been made smooth and painless. For example, there is a neat tool to migrate from EvDRE reports to the new SAP EPM 10 reports (plus SAP has just introduced with SP5 the ability to run EvDRE on SAP EPM 10). Again there is another neat tool to migrate from the old Active Directory based user authentication to a standard NetWeaver one. I have also been extremely impressed with how seamlessly the backend configuration (e.g. Application Sets, Applications, Dimensions, BPFs etc.) just seems to work in the new version.
The benefits of SAP EPM 10 are numerous and I'm not the first to blog about these. From a technical standpoint, the solution is streamlined by the removal of the .NET tier (see my blog SAP BPC10 - No .NET server, no cry) and there are inherent benefits of functionality and performance of being based on BW7.3.
More importantly, from the business user's perspective the benefits are stark. Mark Fidler waxes lyrical about the new front end in his blog 'SAP BPC 10.0 in a nutshell' and I concur; both the Excel and web interfaces are vast improvements on SAP BPC 7.5, both in terms of intuitiveness, look and feel, and performance. I cannot overemphasise the importance of these for user adoption.
For companies using BPC for financial consolidation, the addition of the Consolidation Monitor and the possibility to perform incremental consolidation will be very welcome and will both make a significant improvement to the time taken to close books.
The promise of SAP EPM 10 shortly being able to harness HANA is the most exciting - this will mean that being able to scenario plan and perform goal-seeking style planning on granular data sets will be achievable, and I can see this giving those companies that harness it a distinct competitive advantage.
Finally, integration. It is not just the integration with the rest of the SAP EPM suite (FIM, SSM, PCM, InterCompany, Disclosure Management etc.) that has improved in SAP EPM 10, but importantly the integration with the remainder of the SAP landscape - notably both ERP and the SAP BusinessObjects visualisation suite.
What does this mean for Oracle?
None of this bodes well for Oracle and their flagship Hyperion offering. Ten years ago it was quite common to find dedicated SAP customers using Hyperion Enterprise for management and statutory reporting. Now, I am seeing many of those companies realise the huge benefits in terms of integration, reduced TCO and unified interface of extending the reach of SAP in their organisations to these business processes.