Primum Non Nocere (First Do No Harm):
Helping Customers Avoid Risk
When we claim that putting customers first is one of our core values at 360Suite, we aren’t just referring to supplying products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations. Customers first also means choosing to act in ways that shield our customers from risk.
The Only Way Is SDK
One way we protect our customers from risk is by leveraging SAP BusinessObjects software development kits (SDKs). 360Suite solutions have a single secure address that connects to SAP BusinessObjects via the Handshake application programming interface (API). This arrangement may not be the easiest way for 360Suite to access SAP BusinessObjects data stored in the Central Management Server (CMS), FileStore (FRS), and Auditor, but it’s the only right way. Not only does it ensure a safe and reliable connection between 360Suite and SAP BusinessObjects, it also ensures that our customers remain compliant with the terms of their SAP licenses and eligible for ongoing SAP support.
Another way we protect customers from risk is by staying out of the business of Universe bridges. If you’re reading this, you probably know that a Universe is a semantic layer, unique to SAP BusinessObjects, that makes it possible for end users to query databases and display results in reports (e.g., Webi, Lumira, Crystal). But SAP is no longer the only game in town, and many SAP BusinessObjects customers also want to use competing data visualization products, like Tableau and Power BI. The problem is that the only way to connect these tools to SAP Universes is with a bridge. They aren’t hard to develop but they are in violation of SAP license agreements, which is why we won’t build them and why we encourage our customers not to use them.
Playing with Fire
More than a decade ago, I worked on license compliance activities for Business Objects before the company was acquired by SAP. Let me tell you about a particular customer that thought it could escape the long arm of license. This customer, an insurance company, had a number of SAP BusinessObjects licenses, which they used to extract data in HTML and push to the intranet for the benefit of 400 additional, unlicensed end users. Business Objects caught on and reassessed their license fee to the tune of almost half a million dollars! The insurance company made their BI manager the fall guy and kicked him to the curb.
SAP has only gotten better at license compliance since then. I can say with confidence that if you play with fire, you will get burned. If you bypass SAP SDKs, or enter in an agreement with a third party that does so, you risk losing SAP support. If you or your third party provider builds a Universe bridge, you risk having your SAP BusinessObjects license fees reassessed. The odds are not in your favor; it’s not matter of if it will happen, but when. Some experts argue that SAP should set its users free. But until that happens, given the enormous scale of most SAP BusinessObjects investments and environments, why put your relationship with SAP, your budget, and your data at risk?