One of the first major decisions you will face when starting to design your SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius dashboard is which connectivity option to choose. Xcelsius supports a myriad of connectivity options, and two of the most popular connections for BusinessObjects are Query as a web service (known for short as QaaWS) and Live Office (LO for short). Both of those relay on your centralized BusinessObjects semantic layer, the universe, and from that perspective, they are equally good. They differ greatly though in how they connect to Xcelsius, and can serve different purposes.
QaaWS provides you with essentially the Webi query panel interface and is able to convert queries against the universe into web services. These web services can be consumed by any application that can communicate with these web services, Xcelsius included.
QaaWS connections are reliable and have been around for a few years, since their inception as a BusinessObjects labs offering through their full integration into the main stream product. They are fast, leverage the power of the universe and are an excellent choice for connecting Xcelsius dashboard to your live data.
QaaWS falls short however in its ability to handle more complex data structures, or its ability to provide a “staging” platform for Xcelsius. It will return, in essence, a two dimensional record set, a simple table.
Live Office has also been around the block for several years and has stabilized to become a good choice as well. It provides connectivity to a web intelligence report block, rather than to a universe query. As such, it allows you to stage data in various ways (cross tabs, complex multi row/column tables with various levels of aggregation, highly formatted data, using variables, calculations, etc). All this power though comes at a price. The integration of LO into Xcelsius is much more cumbersome and its performance is slightly inferior to QaaWS because it has additional overhead.
In general, you won’t really go wrong if you choose either one. What you should consider as you make your selection are:
QaaWS will most likely put your development effort for the dashboard data entirely in the hands of your database developers and somewhat in the universe developers. Any calculations, data combinations and complexity in staging data for your dashboard will need to be handled in the database layer, since you will not have a platform to do these, unless you want to use Xcelsius itself, which may provide impossible or drag down your performance to an unacceptable level.
LO will provide your dashboard developers with more flexibility by allowing them to stage data in powerful ways for Xcelsius consumption, but because of the complexity of integrating these connections into Xcelsius you will pay the price in maintenance, and flexibility in making changes to your underlying data model that require changes in your report blocks.
The future looks a lot more promising though. BI Services are now available to publish webi blocks as web services. This approach is rather new and is still maturing, but the direction of combining the benefits of both QaaWS and LO seems like a winning proposition.
Furthermore, the next major release of Xcelsius will contain a native query panel, right inside Xcelsius, which promises to deliver additional benefits and capabilities in terms of data integration. So, lots of exciting developments and opportunities to improve Xcelsius data connectivity are in the pipeline. Stay tuned…