SAP Unveils On-Demand Business Intelligence Toolset

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SAP, which acquired Business Objects in early 2008, already offers hosted versions of its business intelligence tools. But the new software is SAP's first real multi-tenant, Software-as-a-Service business intelligence application, said James Thomas, vice president of product management for SAP business intelligence tools.

SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand ties together the vendor's business intelligence software portfolio into a SaaS package using the BusinessObjects Explorer tool for searching and visualizing large data sets. Thomas said companies that deploy the service could expand the number of employees, particularly those in customer-facing jobs, who use business intelligence.

The new software provides opportunities for SAP channel partners as well. Solution providers can expand their sales to existing customers, as well as use the product to attract new customers -- especially SMBs, said Anil Chitkara, senior vice president of market development at Oco, an SAP channel partner.

"The sweet spot for on-demand business intelligence is really in the midmarket and upper-midmarket," he said. Oco will combine its pre-built industry and line-of-business analytic applications with SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand.

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Chitkara called the new SAP software the first "enterprise-quality SaaS" product from a leading business intelligence vendor and said it provides channel partners more opportunities to develop value-added services. One example: Helping clients connect on-premise and cloud-based systems. "Customers have more power to integrate the data," he said.

SAP is "really making VARs the primary sales channel for this product," Thomas said, noting that all SAP PartnerEdge program members are eligible to sell the new on-demand product.

A free version of the on-demand software, with limited scalability, is available from SAP today, Thomas said. Later this quarter an Essential Edition that works with on-premise data will be available followed by an Advanced Edition that works with both on-premise and on-demand data.