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SAP BOC: How to connect to data sources

SAP BusinessObjects Cloud (SAP BOC) is becoming a popular choice for companies that doesn’t want a a SAP BO system on premise. The Cloud systems are more and more popular nowadays and SAP is betting hard for them. If you didn’t see SAP BOC before I recommend watching this video:

I have been working with BOC since it was named SAP Cloud for Analytics and the product itself has changed a lot. One of the most important features are the different types of connections you can created in order to load data into SAP BOC. It started only with a few types SAP HANA, SAP BW, SAP BPC, etc. and right now we have some interesting possibilities such as MS SQL Server, Google BigQuery, Salesforce Connector, etc. I received some questions about how to connect SAP BOC to the different data sources on both Cloud or On-premise architecture so I hope this post clarifies the possible options.

Identifying possibilities and options

The following diagram released by SAP explains clearly the different options we have in order to connect SAP BOC to the possible data sources:

SAP BusinessObjects Cloud Architecture
SAP BusinessObjects Cloud Architecture

The first option is to distinguish between On-premise and Cloud systems:

  • Cloud Systems: Any application or system that is publish on the Internet by a Cloud Provider or Software provider. In this case in the diagram appears some applications as SalesforceSuccessFactors, SAP HCP, etc.  If you have an SAP system running on a Cloud provider such as AWS or Azure it won’t be included on this category. SaaS and PaaS models are here.
  • On-premise Systems: Application or systems running on a private network. With private network I mean from real On-premise systems to the ones that run on Cloud providers as AWS, MS Azure, etc. IaaS is included here.

Just so you understand the difference, SAP HCP is the SAP Cloud solution and it provides an in-memory platform. SAP HCP will be included on the first type (Cloud System) but a S4HANA system running on a Cloud provided will be included on the second type (On-premise Systems). Once we identified the different types of options then we have to find what we need:

  • Cloud Systems: You won’t need additional software or systems in order to connect SAP BOC.
  • On-premise Systems: You will need additional software in order to connect SAP BOC. This software depends on the connection you want to create.

I will focus on the software needed for connecting SAP BOC to On-premise systems.

Choose your favorite flavor

The software needed in order to connect SAP BOC depends on the type of system we are connecting:

Reverse Proxy (Apache or Web Dispatcher):

We will use an Apache or Web Dispatcher working as reverse proxy if we want to connect to create a Live Connection to SAP HANA or SAP BW. The full configuration can be found here but I strongly recommend to check if there is a new update. You will also need a reverse proxy if you want to load a file such as TXT, CSV or XLSX.

SAP HANA Cloud Connector:

It is use in order to connect to SAP BPC NW or SAP BPC on HANA. It is a standalone software that runs on a server on the DMZ that have connection to the SAP BPC NW or SAP BPC HANA. On the Cloud Connector you can define access control rules, check the connection logs, etc. The interface looks like this:

SAP HANA Cloud Connector Interface
SAP HANA Cloud Connector Interface

SAP BusinessObjects Cloud Agent:

It is a web application that runs on an Apache Tomcat on a server in the DMZ. You can connect the SAP HANA Cloud Connect to the Cloud Agent or connect the SAP BOC directly to the Cloud Agent. It is really easy to install and update it once you have the Apache Tomcat running, just download the file from the Support Portal and copy it to the webapps in the Apache Tomcat installation. After that stop and start the Apache Tomcat and the Cloud Agent will be deployed. If you want to configure the SAP BOC for connecting to the Cloud Agent you can do it on System – Administration – Datasouce Configuration:

Configuring SAP BusinessObjects Cloud Agent on SAP BOC
Configuring SAP BusinessObjects Cloud Agent on SAP BOC

Please remember that all three options have to be running on a server in the DMZ so the best option is to install all of them on a standalone server in case you need to create several type of connections. I strongly advise against install the software on a server with a running SAP system and move the server on the DMZ.

Tips and tricks

One thing you should keep in mind is that SAP releases a new version of the SAP BusinessObjects Cloud Agent periodically. This means that it is a really pain in the ass because every time they release a new version the connections stop working until you update the Cloud Agent. When this happens you will get an error message as this one:

Failed to call SAP BusinessObjects Cloud agent. Please contact your administrator to ensure that SAP BusinessObjects Cloud agent is running, is configured correctly, and is reachable from the SAP HANA Cloud Connector. HTTP Status: /service/api/epm/cs
The solution is really easy:
  • Download the new version of the SAP BO Cloud Agent from the Support Portal.  You can download it on Support Packages and Patches – SAP Cloud Solutions – SAP Analytics CLoud Conn – SAP Analytics Cloud Conn 1.0 – SAP Analytics Cloud Agent 1.0.
  • Unpack the file and copy it to the webapps directory on the Apache Tomcat. Stop the Apache Tomcat.
  • Delete the old C4A_AGENT directory on the webapps.
  • Start the Apache Tomcat and wait until it is deployed.
  • Test the connection from SAP BOC again.

I’m trying to find a way to know it advance when they release the new versions so I can download it and update the agent before any error message happens. Unfortunately I didn’t find anything yet so I depend on the end-users complains about connections not working in order to know when I have to update the agent. SAP, if you read this please send us a message in advance before releasing a new version!

 

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