What is our primary use case?
Our primary use for this solution is just, one-hundred percent, ERP purposes. We were typically Business Intelligence guys and we were not focusing on dealing with the data in-house. After the acquisition of this product, we were led to believe that it was a good business development opportunity for us as well and that we could become a candidate for data analysis projects. Because of the fact that we were based in Istanbul, we quickly became number one in the region for data analysis projects. We used this product in the telecom business. A few of these companies we worked with are still using the solution.
How has it helped my organization?
After discovering and deploying this product for our own use in data analysis, we were able to branch out and use it to increase our product line and deploy for other organizations.
What is most valuable?
The solution helps us to collect and analyze data, and this is the most valuable feature for us. When we first used data services right after SAP acquisition (previously Acta), we knew that we could deal with DWH projects much more easier way using the tool. Moreover, we were also sure that strong integration with BusinessObjects BI platform was also going to help us for impack analysis, automatic business layer creation etc.
What needs improvement?
An area that seems to need to be improved in this product is that it isn't completely ready to compete as it should in the market. Because of some more recent acquisitions to enhance functionality, the product parts are not one-hundred percent integrated. Because some of the integration is still missing, it seems incomplete. People with the product should be able to use most features, generally. The main differentiation in the past product from where it is now is that the product feels like it was integrated. After the acquisitions, things became more complicated. In SAP, the added products and features lack better integration and that impacts things like the metadata. So that is why I believe it can be improved. It's a GUI issue, mostly.
I'm sure this next suggestion is already done to some extent in SAP because SAP is already HANA but it seems SAP — as one of the software giants — is not making the most of their advantage to position data services as a stand-alone product. This is a problem in the market for greater acceptance, but maybe it's the strategy that SAP has chosen. But I believe that it could do better that way and increase the speed of performance. For example, some of the functionality might sit in memory. It would be using the HANA advantage, for example, but without the service to HANA. So maybe we limit certain functionality to HANA. I believe that some of the jobs with higher priority can be done in the memory of the data services which could be differentiating the product from the rest of the market more clearly.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've been using this solution since 2007.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The product is quite stable and quite scalable. Because of our market, some companies are not convinced that these features can possibly be so good, and the cost is not helping to market the product. They want to see an example of how it is scalable. We had telecom data in our last project, and we know it works fine and we haven't had any problem. But somehow this kind of negative impression is common in our market. I believe this is just because of a lack of knowledge and not based on reality.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
In the past, we have had about twenty to twenty-five users in the company. We had five to seven developers who were doing our development. On the customer side, we didn't have more than three or four for the development of external projects.
How are customer service and technical support?
I think it may be that SAP can improve in the area of customer support because SAP is historically a data solution company. Unfortunately, they can open themselves up to better or broader product support and that this is not up to a desirable level in the marketplace. I believe the product as a whole should be improved much more to support a wider range of devices and clients.
If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?
Before using SAP, we were using SSIS — the Microsoft product. Of course, the Microsoft product is a simple product. At some point, we realized that it was not powerful enough, and, feeling discouraged, we evolved to using a better product.
How was the initial setup?
Just last week we installed data services to impact data sharing in one of the bigger companies we work for and from an implementation point of view, the ease of setup is okay, I believe.
To be honest, because of the economic situation we are in we always install on-premises. This is because of the Turkish market and some telecom companies aren't quite ready to elect to deploy on the cloud. So the business environment here is not ready yet.
What about the implementation team?
We do our own installations and install for other companies.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I'm not up to date about the pricing for the past three years as it is not my concern in the business, but I can advise users on some things. Since data services are not usually positioned as a stand-alone product in the telecom sector, I believe that it should be. The price should be segmented with attention to the market with some variety in enterprise packages to offer more marketing opportunities. In the past, they had some kind of pricing packaging coming from the distribution center which was definitely an advantage in the market and that's why we were able to get more than twenty projects in the past, including staying within the enterprise market. Then after that time, the pricing changed. Unfortunately, of course, SAP tried to increase revenue and the prices went up. But again, they are losing the market against products like Microsoft SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services). It is integration services, and it's also a good product for a lot of people, but in my opinion, it's not as good as SAP data services. Because of the price, the game now has changed and there is more competition.
What other advice do I have?
On a scale from one to ten, when one is the worst and ten is the best, I think I would rate SAP Data Services BI a nine out of ten. For me, a product needs to be perfect to rate as a ten. I couldn't even give a ten to any product because I haven't seen any product that is perfect. My true feeling is that it is between eight and nine, but if I have to say eight or nine, I choose nine.
I can recommend SAP as a product because the negative side of the product usually comes from different approaches to development. In a way, this is a kind of marketing because some developers prefer to use one type of development where they feel comfortable and think data services can be implemented properly. I believe there are better data services approaches which are much more of an advantage in the long run for projects, but of course, people don't always project the best long-term data approach because they expect short term results.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We were distributor of BusinessObjects as well as SAP after BO acquisition of SAP.