How Automation Enhances
the Management of
IT departments are frequently asked to boost efficiency while cutting costs to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of technical resources. 360Suite automation provides a way for business intelligence professionals to do more with less.
Since 2007, GB and Smith has helped hundreds of public and private sector organizations — from the U.S. Government to Fortune 500 companies — maximize the power and value of SAP BusinessObjects. Its flagship product, 360Suite, is a set of software solutions that makes it easier, safer, cheaper, and faster for customers to realize the full potential of SAP BusinessObjects by increasing user adoption, enhancing performance, and improving security.
The purpose of this booklet is to highlight the many ways that 360Suite solutions power automation to save time, save money, and improve outcomes.
Table of Contents
- How Automation Helps Maintain SAP BusinessObjects
- How Automation Helps with Report Scheduling
- How Automation Supports Governance, Risk Management and Compliance Initiatives
- How Automation Facilitates Upgrades and Migrations
- How Automation Empowers Business Users
- How Automation Assures Quality
- How Automation Enhances Monitoring
Deployments must be maintained throughout the life cycle of an environment to remain stable and perform well. Time-consuming administrative maintenance tasks include:
- Cleaning inboxes
- Purging documents
- Cleaning environments
- Archiving instances
- Updating passwords, report fields, and database connections
- Backing up objects and supporting disaster readiness
By automating many administrative tasks, 360Suite reduces administrative time by up to 80%, freeing up IT specialists to focus on other priorities.
Inboxes fill up quickly and users often fail to remove old documents. 360Suite makes it easy to report on the size of user inboxes and to purge content automatically based on established criteria (e.g., age, actions).
Documents grow in size with every instance and report creators/IT administrators often fail to purge them. 360Suite makes it easy to purge old instances from documents automatically based on established criteria (e.g., age, actions, document name).
After cleaning user inboxes and purging documents, set an instance limit within SAP BusinessObjects. This optional feature can be used to establish a maximum number of allowed instances and/or automatically delete old instances for specific users or groups.
Environments grow with the addition of new users and the creation of new content. 360Suite makes it easy to clean environments by finding and flagging inactive users and unused documents, and then purging users and archiving documents automatically based on flags. (Note: Documents may be archived on the SAP BusinessObjects platform.)
Instances grow in number over time, which adds to the cost of storage. 360Suite makes it easy to automate the archiving of instances to a specified location off the SAP BusinessObjects platform, with the added bonus of being able to add titles, dates, identification numbers, and owners. This is particularly useful when SAP BusinessObjects is used primarily for scheduling documents, either for self-service or as a service to a network of external users.
Update Passwords, Report Fields, and Database Connections
Passwords change, and when those passwords are for the database connections used by Crystal reports, the changes impact documents and their recurring instances. Other times, users make conscious decisions to change Crystal report fields, including connection type, server, database, and user. In addition, Crystal reports may point to different databases and database connections throughout their life cycles. 360Suite makes it easy to bulk-update passwords, report fields, and database connections in Crystal reports and automate the process via scheduling.
Back Up Objects and Be Disaster Ready
Mistakes and disasters happen, and out-of-the box SAP BusinessObjects backups aren’t suitable for restoring individual objects or addressing corrupted environments. 360Suite automatic incremental backups make it easy to roll back to any version of any object (personal documents, security settings, users, universe connections, etc.) at any time. In addition, 360Suite backups support disaster recovery (DR) by making it possible to restore entire environments in hours.
2. How Automation Helps with Report Scheduling
SAP BusinessObjects doesn’t support external schedulers, which makes it challenging to schedule tasks based on events. 360Suite helps with automation of scheduling based on:
|SAP BusinessObjects Calendars||Example: Leveraging calendars by including rules that account for weekend deadlines|
|SAP BusinessObjects Events||Example: Defining events and parameters that trigger report bursting|
|Synchronous Scheduling Workflows||Example: Using specific return codes when creating external tasks|
|Asynchronous Scheduling Workflows||Example: Using a notification file generated on demand when creating external tasks|
Unique benefits of 360Suite scheduling include the ability to:
- Seamlessly integrate with enterprise job schedulers, including Control-M, Dollar Universe, VTom, SMA, UC4, TWS, etc.
- Select several SAP BusinessObjects documents at a time and schedule them dynamically in various formats, as often as desired.
- Create destination lists from a SQL script, or from an XLS or CSV file.
- Use dynamic prompts and filters to burst documents. Learn more here.
360Suite can update recurring schedules in a single operation to reflect new owners or new email destinations, or to pause for maintenance of an SAP BusinessObjects platform.
3. How Automation Supports Governance, Risk Management and Compliance Initiatives
In Business Objects, it can be hard to determine:
- Who can access what?
- Who uses what?
- What has changed?
- What is sensitive?
- What needs to be documented?
360Suite make it possible to answer these questions and automate actions in a variety of ways.
Recertify User Accounts
360Suite can automatically extract security settings, track what content people actually use, monitor changes to security, and display results in schedulable pre-canned documents.
Remove or Disable Inactive Users
360Suite reporting can identify users who have not logged in for a defined period of time. This makes it possible to prune the SAP BusinessObjects user list by automatically disabling or deleting obsolete accounts in bulk.
Organizations handling sensitive content may be required to recertify accounts every three months. 360Suite provides the flexibility to disable or delete user accounts that contain empty personal folders, and to purge related Webi sub-groups.
360Suite can run scheduled tasks to update security, including custom access levels that connect users or groups to folders, inboxes, and categories. This makes it possible to recertify multiple user accounts in a single operation.
Comply with Regulations
360Suite can find and tag universe objects and documents that are subject to regulations (e.g., SOX, GDPR, FISMA, HIPAA), and trigger automated actions based on flags. This makes it possible to identify, govern, and monitor sensitive information in SAP BusinessObjects.
When using 360Suite to schedule reports to an ungoverned format (e.g., PDF, Excel), consider adding watermarks and/or custom metadata. For outputs in PDF, Excel, and ZIP formats, you may also want to apply password-protection, especially if the documents will be shared with outside parties.
Monitor Suspicious Activity
360Suite can tag sensitive objects, report on the use of those objects, and make it possible to set up automatic alerts to security officers if the use exceeds predefined values. 360Suite can also audit sensitive objects and compare activity over time.
4. How Automation Facilitates Upgrades and Migrations
Whether performed on-premise, in the cloud (e.g., HEC, AWS, Azure), or somewhere in between (hybrid architecture), software upgrades and migrations are long and tedious. Based on experience helping hundreds of customers with upgrades and migrations, 360Suite developed a 10-step process to streamline and facilitate automation in upgrades and migrations with a focus on the following:
5. How Automation Empowers Business Users
Increasingly, business users want more agility and less dependence on IT. Especially when reports are developed by business users, it’s important to use automation to empower the right people at the right time. 360Suite does this in several ways.
Report Versioning and Project Management
With 360Suite, business users can automate package promotion, version control, and lifecycle management of documents, universes, and connections. Report developers can roll back documents, universes, and connections to the last known good version. GRC teams can track and audit changes. 360Suite also makes it possible to enforce workflow approval for better self-service, security, and control.
Regression Testing and Validation
360Suite makes it possible for business users to test documents for regressions automatically. Not only does this empower business users, it also minimizes the burden on IT, reduces the possibility of human error, and increases the likelihood that end users will have trust in the final product.
360Suite makes it possible for IT and business users to automatically schedule reports (e.g., chargeback/showback, failed scheduled documents). With 360Suite self-service reporting, information is available when and where it’s needed.
6. How Automation Assures Quality
360Suite makes it possible to automate quality assurance (QA) tasks regardless of who schedules them: IT, QA or GRC teams, report developers, or business users. 360Suite also makes it possible to automate lifecycle management to maintain a proper versioning system in support of QA (see section 5 for more information). Typical QA tasks include:
360Suite makes it possible to automate regression testing to identify changes to data, structure, pixels, etc., following upgrades and migrations. Report owners can establish triggers for regression testing and choose to receive notifications whenever regressions are found at the data or pixel level. 360Suite also makes it possible to automatically record and compare metadata before and after ETL or database changes to identify the impact on security and performance.
360Suite makes it possible to leverage regression testing by using the results to analyze impact. Whenever a regression is found, 360Suite can search the environment for other instances of specific universe objects, SQL expressions, or variables. When regressions are caused by SAP BusinessObjects calculation engine changes, 360Suite can bulk-update variables in a single operation.
7. How Automation Enhances Monitoring
360Suite automates many active and passive monitoring tasks.
Active tasks alert administrators and specified users when documents run for predetermined lengths of time and help pinpoint the users of those documents. 360Suite active monitoring makes it possible for IT to keep tabs on server health by sending email notifications when specific SAP BusinessObjects services exceed predefined thresholds, and triggering actions automatically (e.g., calling a URL, running an executable, stopping, restarting or disabling the server).
In addition, 360Suite can set up monitoring dashboards or watchers to monitor the following key services:
- CMS and auditing databases
- Operating system on which SAP BusinessObjects is installed
- CMS processes
- Input and output FRS
- Processing servers
Historical data stored within watchers makes it possible to analyze trends and troubleshoot faulty workflows.
Passive monitoring avoids putting weight on production environments. 360Suite makes it possible to flag objects/documents in bulk in 360Suite data catalogs in order to generate reports automatically that compare activity over time. This type of in-depth BI-on-BI analysis is a form of passive monitoring that tracks content and user activity. Benefits include:
- Detecting suspicious activity (e.g., exporting a sensitive report to Excel after hours)
- Tracking the IP addresses of clients who connect to the SAP BusinessObjects system
- Gaining insight into user adoption and utilization of applications
- Detecting security anomalies
- Detecting audit and document security changes
By providing many ways to automate actions and tasks within SAP BusinessObjects, 360Suite generates an exceptional return on investment (ROI).
- 360Suite automation reduces the cost of and time required for repetitive and mundane activities by up to 80%, freeing up IT specialists, business users, data stewards, and consultants to focus on other priorities.
- 360Suite automation reduces the likelihood of human errors, which improves accuracy and increases trust.
- 360Suite automation aligns the goals of IT and business.
- 360Suite automation improves customer satisfaction by maintaining server availability.