Describing Universes

Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Describe a Universe

Universes Defined

A universe is an organized collection of metadata objects that enable business users to analyze and report on corporate data in a nontechnical language. It provides the business users with an easy way to access and analyze data on their own, without involving IT to extract data for them. The users are free to analyze data and create reports using relevant business language, regardless of the underlying data sources and structures.

A universe can be described as a translator. The assumption is that business users do not know how to write data source code such as SQL or MDX. The universe acts as a translator between the terminology of the business users and the data source language.

Most organizations create and use more than one universe. Another way to describe a universe is as a subset of information. For example, your Human Resources department has different reporting needs than your Operations department. Each department can have their own universe, even if the HR and Operations data is contained in the same data source.

Components of a Universe

Typically, there are 3 components of every universe:

  1. A connection or connection shortcut to the reporting data source.
  2. A data foundation that identifies the tables that contain the data needed for reports and dashboards.
  3. A business layer further identifies the specific columns and facts requires for reports and dashboards.

The process to create a universe is almost the same for both relational and OLAP data sources. The exception is for a universe based on an OLAP source, which does require a data foundation.

Universes and SAP Applications

Universes created using the Information Design Tool (IDT) can be used by the following SAP data analysis and reporting applications:

  • SAP Analytics Cloud
  • SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence

Universe Design Process

Universe development is no different than any other project that follows project management best practices. As with most projects, the planning phase is typically the most important simply because that is where you gather all user requirements and work out the details of the overall design of the universe.

Gathering user requirements and designing the universe based on those requirements are the most important stages in the process. Key business users must be heavily involved in this part of the development process. Their involvement ensures that the universe meets their needs, both with the business language used to name objects, the organization of those objects, and the data that can be accessed.

Remember, the purpose of the universe is to help business users become self-sufficient in their reporting activities, so the focus of a well designed universe is always on the business users. While the task of creating the universe involves knowledge of databases and other data source structures, and appropriate coding languages, the universe itself should be simple enough for the most non-technical user to understand and work with.

Information Design Tool Users

Typically, universe designers are IT or highly technical business users who understand SQL or MDX code. A security administrator also uses the Information Design Tool to define business layer security profiles.

There can be more than one designer in a company. The number of designers depends data requirements of the company. For example, one designer could be appointed for each application, project, department, or functional area. When several people create universes, SAP recommends that you define a set of rules or guidelines for terminology so that objects are represented consistently.

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