Publications with the SAP Analytics Cloud
With the release 2020.03 SAP closes a gap in the functions of the BO platform that is significant for many customers: the option to schedule reports for publication. In this article we will take a closer look at this functionality, identifying the prerequisites that must be met and the remaining limitations.
What do we mean by publication?
You can now send a story or an application to specified recipients by email at recurring time intervals. This entails creating a PDF or PowerPoint and attaching it to the email. The addressees of the reports do not strictly have to have a SAC account and can even receive reports outside of their own organization. This makes it possible to supply all stakeholders of the organization or a project with information from the SAC.
How to schedule the publication of a report
Provided that you have the right privileges, you can flag the report for scheduling using the share button in the particular story. Here you have to open the story in the View Mode. This feature is not available to you in Design Mode.
The following options are available when scheduling publications:
- Setting the start time and repeat frequency
- Configuring the repeat frequency
- Determine subject line and optionally the text of the email.
- Determining the output formats (PDF or PowerPoint)
- Optionally generate the link to the story and attach in the email
Currently there is no option to send data as a flat file or Excel file.
The process of creating publications is very straightforward and thus the group of recipients must be specified. You can use individual users or defined SAC teams as a basis. Here you can also supply recipients outside of your own SAC tenant.
The recipient always receives the same report as the scheduler, and thus it is not currently possible to send the same stories individually based on the recipient authorizations. However, you have the option to define input prompts for a group of users or to use saved bookmarks. In this way the publication of the report can be adapted to the relevant group of addressees. Imagine for example a bookmark that manages the sales figures of the sales executive in the South Germany region and one for North Germany.
Compared to the scheduling process of publications on the BO platform it is not yet possible to run the report in the source system with the authorizations of the individual recipients. If this were currently possible in SAC, then in the example of the sales figures the scheduler would not need any bookmarks for publications.
If the publication is scheduled, you will be able to see this scheduling in the calendar.
The display of the calendar can be adapted individually. You can choose between calendar, Gantt or list display. Only in list display can you query and set additional information and statuses of the individual publication.
The calendar is not just used for display purposes alone. Parameters of the individual publication can be adapted and changed using the context menu.
Requirements for a publication
SAP has generally only activated the functionality for tenants in the Cloud Foundry (AWS) or Alibaba (for China). Tenants on the NEO environment cannot use this feature.
You probably do not want to allow every user to share reports using the scheduling function. This is outsorted with the authorization object “Schedule publications”, which you have to set in your particular role. Select a role and outsort this object based on your authorization concept for SAC. By default, this authorization is only assigned in the admin role.
Because the number of hourly and daily scheduled publications is very limited, dependent on the licenses acquired, it is advisable not to assign the authorization generously, but rather to link them to a central role or responsibility. (See table)
In addition to the authorization object, scheduling of publications must also be activated in the system configuration once. As mentioned at the beginning of the blog article, the SAC has the excellent option to allow non-SAC users to share information from the SAC. But remember that the number of non-SAC users is limited to three recipients per publication.
The number of publications that you can schedule hourly or daily is, as briefly mentioned above, dependent on the acquired licenses of your SAC tenant. Currently there the following limitations:
At least 25 licenses are necessary and the number of publications is limited to 5% of the total acquired licenses per hour. Therefore, you should carefully consider who publishes stories and when, to avoid collisions in the publication. Particularly with an increasing number of users, I recommend a central administration of publications.
Special aspects in distributing stories to live data
Because the scheduling engine is in the SAP Cloud platform (SCP), there are additional requirements that must be met in a live data connection. At this point the data briefly leaves your company network, but is not saved persistently in the cloud.
This requires settings in the communication between SAPCP Cloud Connector (SAPCP), the HANA system and the SAC. The goal here is to establish communication between the systems that is above all secure. This way the user can then be authenticated in the next step via X.509 certificate (ISO/IEC 9594-8). You can activate this feature in the admin area of the SAC.
You also activate the feature in the relevant configuration of your live data connection.
I will not go into the security aspects and considerations in greater detail in this blog article. But we will be happy to assist you in your specific situation.
The publication of reports similar to the BO platform was requested by many customers and SAP has closed a gap here. It rounds out the functionality related to collaboration and even stakeholders without SAC users can be supplied with data from the SAC. Nonetheless, we see the following potential areas of improvement:
- Scheduling based on recipient authorization is urgently necessary so that huge quantities of publications do not have to be scheduled manually. This critical point is already on the roadmap and will make scheduling immensely more valuable in the future.
- The limit on the number of 5% of acquired licenses per hour is a decision that I consider too low.
- Only PDF and PowerPoint are currently available as an output form for publication. In actuality screenshots of story pages are created and sent. In the future I would like to see additional formats and display options adapted to a printable PDF here.