SAP BW Open Access Interfaces and Certified Front-end Tools: What IT and Query Designers Need to Know

  • by Claudia Weller, Strategic Product Management for BI, SAP AG
  • Carsten Bange, Managing Director, BARC
  • Jörg Narr, Business Intelligence Analyst, BARC
  • April 1, 2003
SAP has implemented several standards to create open access interfaces to third-party tools from BW. The information in this article will help IT teams plan a strategy for integrating those tools with BW, and it will help query designers understand their interface options in regard to data access.


Business Explorer (BEx), SAP BW's suite of front-end BI tools, supports decision-making for various user types. However, some companies have the need to integrate with other front-end tools, because they want to leverage existing IT investments or because they want to cover specific scenarios.

SAP has implemented several industry standards to create open access interfaces that allow third-party tools to connect to SAP BW, browse metadata and master data, and retrieve data from the underlying data warehouse or ODS. These standards are:

  • OLE DB for OLAP (ODBO)
  • XML for Analysis

These three standards provide third-party vendors different interface options to request and visualize data from BW, processed through the BW OLAP engine.

SAP's open access interfaces are transparent to end users, but two groups on your BW team need to have some knowledge of them: IT and query designers. For the IT team, it is important to know the options, requirements, and limitations of the respective interfaces and certified third-party reporting tools when determining a strategy for integrating a third-party front-end with BW. This helps to shorten the software selection process significantly and to set the appropriate expectations of the tool's capabilities.

Query designers need a good understanding of the SAP BW information architecture and its interface options, as it provides them with additional flexibility for data access. This is important, since the requirements for a reporting solution are diverse and depend on the specific customer situation.

Claudia Weller

Claudia Weller is manager of the Strategic Product Management BI at SAP AG. She worked for four years in product management for SAP Business Intelligence. She has a background as a business economist.

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Carsten Bange

Carsten Bange is the founder and managing director of the Business Application Research Center (BARC) (

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Jörg Narr

Jörg Narr is a business intelligence analyst at BARC.

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