To UNV or to UNX that is the question ….

I’ll start by saying this is my understanding of the current technical connectivity but please leave a comment if this is wrong and I’ll amend accordingly.

The question of exploiting the ease of use provided by Explorer over SAP BW data has been asked of me a number of times of late.   My honest opinion is that most responses that would be given to architecting a solution for this  would be using a SAP BI4 UNX universe created in the Information Design Tool (IDT) connecting directly to an InfoCube.

As the UNX would point directly to an InfoCube, and not a BEx query, there are limitations that are well documented  including:

  • calculated key figures
  • restricted key figures
  • custom structures
  • variables

So after investigating further and working with my Professional Services Team the idea came about that why not use an “Old Skool” UNV universe created in the Universe Designer tool in SAP BI4 that points directly to a SAP BW BEx query. This would mitigate these limitations and exploit the investment many organisations already have in BEx.

Technically this appears this is a viable solution … but…

The UNX style universe is new in SAP BI4 and there is a migration tool to port “Old Skool” UNV universes to this format, and you could say there is encouragement to do so.  So if you were to build out a technical solution using this approach what are the risks ?

  • Is the UNV universe considered a “Legacy” format ?
  • Is there any commitment from SAP to support the UNV universe format going forward in SAP BI 4.x going forward and into 5.x in shall we say a few years from now ?

I have no answers to these questions but hopefully it is food for thought for any Solution Architect.

Finally, to muddy the waters further, in BI4-1 Explorer supports both UNV and UNX universes ( but you can also achieve this in XI3 with a little command line switch).  But Live office still only supports the UNV universe format and I have not seen any product roadmap slides from SAP to say UNX support is on the horizon.

So let’s go back to my initial question, To UNV or to UNX that is the question ….


3 thoughts on “To UNV or to UNX that is the question ….

  1. Here is my 2 cents

    UNV or UNX depends on the use case

    Let us consider the limitations of using the UNX (against Infoprovider)

    1) Restricted key figures. Since these are measures restricted by characteristic value you can still achieve them by drill down and filtering in Explorer

    2) Calculated Key Figures: How complex are these? Do they have user exit with ABAP code behind them? If these are simple math I guess we can replicate them.

    3) BEx variable: I understand we use them to restrict the data that is brought in for analysis. What is the data volume in the cube? If your Infoprovider has several millions of records than it might be a issue.Since explorer is discovery tool my perception of using this tool is to give access to all the data so he can see the trends etc and let user narrow the scope of analysis in explorer by drilling across,filtering etc. I have seen explorer(non accelerated version) handle upto 1 million records without significant performance impact.

    4)Customer structures: I haven’t used these a lot and the only time I have used it to achieve a desired format/presentation in the report. Since explorer is a discovery tool the question would be will it really add value.

    5) If you have multiple BEx queries against the Infoprovider we are looking at creating multiple UNV’s meaning multiple information spaces. Sometimes it might be desired to see all the KPI’s or the measure in a single exploration view.

    I am not sure about the roadmap for UNV either.


  2. First of all OLAP UNV on a BEx query cant be migrated to UNX format. Assuming SAP will keep supporting UNV format, that will be available for only WebI 3.1, 4x & Explorer 4.1 only…!


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