Optimize Your BusinessObjects BI4.2 Upgrade


The 4.2 release of SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence (BI) solutions is now available. This will lead more and more customers to invest time, resources, and money in migrating to this latest major release. Migrations are generally the occasion to deploy new solutions available for SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions suite; to seize new opportunities and/or serve previously under-served users in the business. Doing a Migration right the first time is the key to optimizing time, costs, and ultimately deliver more value to the organization. I have personally been working in the BOBJ world for the last 20 years. During that time, I have run dozens of migrations from BO3 to BO4, BO4 to BO5 or BO6 and then, from legacy versions to XIR2, XI3 and finally XI3 to BI4, and have been involved in several beta programs. In a nutshell, migration projects, and more specifically related challenges, remain the same and have even become harder to overcome, making it difficult to continue adopting BI in the organization.We, at GB&SMITH, as SAP technology partners, have built expertise and developed technologies that have proved to be useful when engaging in migration projects. Hundreds of clients managing 1 million users have been using our solutions for the last 8 years. Our applications make their migration projects easier, faster, safer, and most importantly, cheaper!

Let’s have a look – basically, we can find ten major steps in a migration project.

Sap Businessobjects Migration

Step 1: Preparing your migration


This preparation step consists in documenting your existing deployment (could be several deployments to merge into BI4.2, for instance). This will allow you to get a big picture of the source platform and start evaluating the scope of the migration itself. 360Eyes will provide a snapshot of your current deployment (in-depth analysis of any universes, CMS info, or more generally metadata, e.g.: starting with webi reports and going down to variables, functions whatever the data source may be; unv, unx, BEX query, SQL script, etc.).

Step 2: Cleaning and tracking inactivity


This preparation is amongst the most important steps. It consists in optimizing the content to be migrated. At this point, the following questions should be considered (beware: this list is not exhaustive):

  • Do I need to migrate documents that have not been read and/or used for months?
  • Do I need to keep all the instances stored on my system? Is there any option to remove the oldest and/or unused ones?
  • Do I have any duplicate reports (different names and/or different locations) on my system? Can I migrate or test only one of these?
  • Do I need to migrate the in-boxes of all users? What about unread documents?
  • Can I document all my current authorization settings, security and scheduling jobs?

The less content you migrate, the easier, faster and cheaper the migration will be, ultimately making your target SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 system easier to maintain and faster to back-up. All those valuable insights are provided by the canned 360Eyes webi reports. More details can be found in this blog post. 360View will help you bulk-delete unused or deprecated content. Before starting a full clean-up, do not forget to back everything up, if ever a single-object rollback were needed. 360Plus allows performing this backup operation as well as restoring selectively, fetching a deleted object from the recycle bin and also performing rollbacks.

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Step 3: Optimizing


A migration project is also the best moment to optimize your deployment. Consider the following:

  1. Can I optimize SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports using hundreds of report variables and numerous data providers?
  2. Can I fast-track SAP BusinessObjects Desktop Intelligence conversion to SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence or list any incomplete report conversion?
  3. For instance, the query-stripping feature allows you to detect useless variables and universe objects in your documents. This then allows removing them, thus making conversion from SAP BusinessObjects Desktop Intelligence to SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence smoother while ensuring a higher success rate. These insights are provided by the canned 360Eyes webi reports. 360View then allows bulk-converting webis from unv to unx.

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Step 4: Defining your license pool


When migrating to BI4.2 you may reconsider your license pool, switching from a CPU-based one (or other) to CSBL. Having some hindsight on the actual session usage over the last few years may be valuable to determine the most suitable amount of required licenses (mixing named and CSBL).

BI Platform Licensing Basics: CSBLs and Named Users

All this essential information is provided by the canned 360Eyes webi reports.

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Step 5: Impact analysis of a calculation engine change


Every now and then, SAP releases updates of the Webi calculation engine.

I have been involved in several worldwide corporate migration projects at the occasion of which such calculation engine updates could become blocking issues. Indeed, having an accurate overview of how many Webis are going to be impacted is very valuable. With 360Eyes this can be taken up a notch! The unique 360Eyes query stripping functionality allows detecting useless variables in documents. This effectively highlights all the Webi documents impacted by the engine change just by using a filter! This also reduces the actual number of webis impacted by this change. E.g.: let’s say that, in the first place, 360Eyes detects 1000 impacted reports. Going deeper allows highlighting that 30% of these reports make use of the modified calculation engine function in useless variables or formulas. Eventually, only 700 of those reports need to be checked (instead of 1000). These insights are provided by default in the canned 360Eyes webi reports, no matter the datasource: unv, unx or even a BEX query!

See below a concrete use case involving a corporate deployment (60 000 active BOBJ users around the globe): 360Eyes was used to apply a BusinessObjects Service Pack and ensure no side effect would occur!

How to find the documents impacted by calculation engine changes

See below a concrete use case involving a corporate deployment (60 000 active BOBJ users around the globe): 360Eyes was used to apply a BusinessObjects Service Pack and ensure no side effect would occur!

Step 6: Comparing source and target


Coping with the classic migration challenge: Should you freeze your source production environment during the migration process?

Imagine your migration project was launched three months ago, and you are now planning on going live for the entire organization in just a few weeks. But wait a minute… what about your source SAP BusinessObjects XI environment?

What about the new content created or modified in the course of the migration process (instances, security, users, variables in webis, etc.)? Should you, and could you, freeze the source environment during the migration project? Or even better, how could you synchronize your XI source with your SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 target in that interval?

What about keeping snapshots of your deployment, restoring any of them and performing a rollback if needed? Imagine you launched your migration project on September 1st, after cleaning and auditing everything by running Steps 2 and 3 (as previously explained here). Now it is October 1st and the right moment to take a first snapshot of the source XI environment, deploy BI 4.2 to a few pilot users, perform technical tests, convert some reports, and collect feedback from these key users.

Everything looks good and you decide to deploy SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 to everyone on December 1st as planned. Before doing so, though, just take a new snapshot of the source system, compare it with the snapshot taken on October 1st, and highlight changes, like a new alerter in a SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence report, a new publication, a modified universe object, or security settings.

You can then replicate all these changes to the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 target system and go live without missing all the changes applied to your XI source when performing the previous migration step! The ability to compare target and source at different times is a standard feature of 360Eyes. 360Plus can help you promote modified content or new versions from the target to the source.

Step 7: Automating Regression Testing


This is the most time-consuming part of the project. It is probably the least valued part BUT also the most important one, since end users must rely on new outputs. Plus, Business Objects can be used for sensitive data (Financial communication, Healthcare Data …). Depending on circumstances, such as regulation considerations, you may need to ensure that there is no regression. Regression testing is definitely tricky and risky if handled manually! Being able to automate wide-scale regression testing is a no brainer! 360Bind allows you to automate this for safer and faster migration to BI4.2. It enables comparing output report data (tabs, charts but also images, colors, fonts, going down to pixel scale!). If, in parallel of your migration project, bulk-switching webis unv to unx using 360View is also performed (Step 3), regression testing is a clear necessity!

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I witnessed frozen migration projects because of this very sensitive step! Everything was perfectly fine from a pure technical perspective, but not enough time had been given to end users in order to run all those tests. Using 360Bind assists in keeping track of the migration process and, above all, makes it safe!

In other scenarios, there is no way to outsource this project step, since data is too sensitive to be processed externally!

Mitigate risks linked to conformity in SAP BusinessObjects

Step 8: Going live: flexible promotion strategy


Moving to BI4 can become challenging depending on the promotion strategy. Import wizards or LCM in some scenarios can be limited. I remember, when I started almost 20 years ago, that my client was using Control-M as their Enterprise Job Scheduler. It consists in a conductor allowing linking different IT workflows (loading from the data-warehouse and running scheduled Business Objects jobs). A part of the IT team was very frustrated with our platforms since there was no way of linking Control-M to BOBJ scheduling nor to backup processes. No professional way to deal with exit codes, logs, etc. We all knew we could use the Document Agent Server file watcher tool, but it was just a TOP, and then Control-M would lose control over BOBJ scheduling. Another scenario would be unrestricted content bulk-promotion across platforms. These scenarios can be carried out by using the 360Plus promotion features: via a simple and user-friendly drag and drop promotion operation, or by using the scheduled promotion feature. We, at GB&SMITH, bridge the gap between any Enterprise Job Scheduler (like CTRLM, $U or $Universe, UC4, TWS, etc.) and Business Objects (for backup, promotion, bursting, etc.) from XIR2 onwards!

Step 9: Going live setup: compliant security


Back in 2005, security was a banned word @BOBJ. Everybody can remember that migrating to XIR2 required another step: redefining security from scratch and switching from a user-centric implementation (by formerly using Supervisor) to an object-centric approach within the CMC. That was a big bang! Actually, it was such an important move that I toured worldwide @BOUG or conferences from down under to the US west coast in order to present the new Business Objects Xir2 security concepts as well as security migration challenges.

360suite Business Objects Xi3 New Security Concepts

BOE XI 3.x Security Made Easy

From that precise moment, my associate Alexandre Biegala and I decided to found GB&SMITH to provide an alternative to the CMC. We invented the matrix system for implementing and documenting security (we own several US Patents for this technology). Everything started from that specific need, and then evolved by listening to clients’ and prospects’ needs. As a result, we are now offering 7 products covering all the common needs for streamlining Business Objects, focusing on Governance, Risk and Compliance, backup solutions, promotion, migration, metadata, license compliance, bursting and regression testing.

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Because security remains one of the backbones of any deployment, managing sensitive data requires permanent control over security itself.

The Matrix-based solution is the only way to comply with all regulations such as SOX, Basel, FISMA, HIPAA, etc.

Manage Versions: Federal_Mandate_Annual_Account_Recertification_FISMA_within_SAP_BusinessObjects

Loosely implemented security can eventually leave your resources exposed to business users who should normally not have access to them. As I am used to saying (from my 10-year BI admin experience): if someone is able to read the payroll for the entire company staff as result of a security implementation error, they will never inform the administrator. Imagine if they could read your own payroll!

Step 10: Going live: robust backup strategy


Setting up a powerful and reliable Business Objects backup strategy is a tricky task. Implementing a Business Objects disaster and recovery strategy is mandatory (for instance by backing up the whole BOBJ server and CMS database). This can be useful to start over again from scratch (in case of full BO server crash). BUT such a backup strategy is not suitable for selective rollback operations (like restoring a previous version of a given universe), or when restoring deleted objects.

A common situation is as follows: an end-user (Finance VP) accidentally deletes a personal sensitive document. They need it at once for their monthly C-level meeting. So, they contact the BOBJ IT team and request the document to be restored. Two standard answers can be given there: either there is no backup of personal documents, or the IT team needs a few days to use the full backup in order to restore the document. This sad reality is the case for 90% of current BOBJ deployments!

So, performing a full backup is mandatory, however, this is effective for disaster and recovery only, but not for restoring selectively (or if used as a recycle bin). Incidentally, such processes may have a strong impact on the platform availability, especially when running cold backups (for BO disaster and recovery). In the case of worldwide deployments, this may lead to stopping the environment for 2 hours, therefore impacting AsiaPac users, for instance.

360Plus is the professional solution for setting up a very powerful backup strategy. Upon first run, a full backup is performed. Then, every night the tool simply runs delta and dynamic backups.

Thus, there is no impact on the platform itself, allowing high availability (24/7). As a result, you are then able to roll back to any previous version of any object (personal documents, security settings, users, universe connections, etc.). Likewise, you can restore any deleted object thanks to the 360Plus Recycle Bin. BI4.2 is bringing us the recycle bin, but for corporate documents only!

Thus, in the previously evoked scenario, 360Plus is the only option! And what about instances, universes, security, users, etc.? From a strictly technical standpoint, the risk for a user to mistakenly delete a corporate document is very low (close to zero). Indeed, nearly no one has the required delete rights on corporate folders. GB&SMITH has provided a recycle bin for any object type since XIR2 onwards! 360Plus also comes with versioning and Promotion (Step 8)

Backup & Recovery in BO 4.0

Mitigate risks linked to backup, disaster recovery in SAP BusinessObjects

Conclusion


GB&SMITH’s 360Suite is the Swiss army knife solution to help you optimize time and efforts, ultimately ensuring substantial money savings when migrating your SAP BusinessObjects BI deployment from XI or BI4.x to BI 4.2.

We estimate up to 80% time and money savings by using our solutions!

Post-migration assistance is no longer needed thanks to our 360Suite solutions.

Ultimately, keeping control over your platforms on a daily basis is essential in order to avoid going through the aforementioned steps in future migration projects. I can still remember one of my clients talking about how intricate and complex his platform was (fetching new documents, users, instances and thinking about clean-up was an “impenetrable obstacle” for him). You had better check your platform on a daily basis!

All the good practices mentioned above should be applied when migrating to XI3 or BI4.1 as well!

360Suite products, also ensure a better daily experience for your SAP BusinessObjects BI users.

Organizations also need to comply with multiple regulation (FISMA, SOX, HIPAA, etc.) and must know at all times, who has been granted access to given resources, who is enabled to track dormant users, etc.

Companies have hard time monitoring and documenting rights accurately (for instance: inherited and double-inherited rights). As a result, the risk of leaving security breaches open is dramatically high.

360Suite provides you with the ability to secure and control BO deployments more efficiently. Over 1 Million users have chosen our solutions!

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