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Posts Tagged ‘Connectivity’

No Better Time to Upgrade to BI 4.2

February 13th, 2017 1 comment

If you are one of the SAP customers who is still running BusinessObjects XI 3.1, I would urge you to add an upgrade to BusinessObjects 4.2 into your immediate plans for 2017.  Although SAP has extended priority one support until Dec 2018, this should not mean upgrading your BI environment should be delayed.  As the software that supports your BI platform reaches end of life, you are putting your system at unnecessary risk.  In addition, understand that Priority One support is limited.  SAP will only develop XI 3.1 software for true production outages.  Specifically, this means there will be no bug fixes or new functionality developed for the platform (including possible issues with hardware).

What’s Stopping You?

If there is a reason why you cannot upgrade to BusinessObjects 4.1 or 4.2, SAP wants to hear from you.  Contact SAP or your SAP sales representative asap.  They can put you in contact with someone who can help you.

Need more help on how to prepare for an upgrade?  There are excellent resources available online as well such as the SAP BI Pattern Book – Upgrading from BOE XI 3.1 to SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2.  It’s a one stop shop guide of everything you need to know about upgrading your BI environment… check it out.

Is There Any Other Reason to Upgrade?

Yes.  There are a number of very important reasons for you to move to BI 4.2.   Aside from the additional business value you will undoubtedly realize due to the increased power of the BI Suite, you should consider the following:

  1. Connectivity: While I don’t understand your complete landscape, connectivity to new applications (BW/4HANA, S/4HANA, etc) and databases (upgrades) will likely cause you significant challenges.  The BI 4.2 is highly integrated to all SAP platforms and supports all modern databases.  If you check the BusinessObjects XI 3.1 Product Availability Matrix, you will see it does not support current databases or applications.
  2. 32 bit vs 64 bit code line: Is 32 bit really getting it done for you these days?  If your reports get too large, it’s possible for your reporting processes to crash because they run out of memory.  Administrators often have to optimize system loads to overcome this issue.  If you move to BI 4.x, you can take advantage of the 64 bit architecture, which allows you to use modern database drivers the best possible performance.  As your needs for Analytics continue to grow, so will the amounts of data you need to process through your BI system.
  3. Operating System Support:    I’ve been supporting BusinessObjects environments for many, many years.  Over and over again I have seen the operating system present a significant challenges to the administrator when their BusinessObjects system gets too old.  I remember when organizations did wholesale retirements of Windows Server 2000 and Windows XP.  Customers were stuck on BusinessObjects XIR2 and couldn’t get client tools to run on the Windows Vista or Windows 7.  Suddenly the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude became a huge fire drill as administrators were forced to draw up emergency plans to tackle these incompatibilities.

And Then There’s Java

How much longer is your IT department going to allow you to run software with a Java Plug-in?  If you using all the features of WebIntelligence then it’s also likely that you are familiar with the need to use the Java Plug-in to leverage some of the capabilities that WebIntelligence offers.  Two years ago you may have seen this security article discussing the challenges that come with Java.  There were several security breaches associated with Oracle’s JAVA plug-in and fake installation websites.  With BusinessObjects 4.2 SP4, organizations can be completely free from the Java Plug-in.

Don’t wait!

There are more resources than ever to simplify the process.

These pattern books are a great start.  You can begin planning immediately for your system upgrade so you can begin taking advantage of the latest innovations from SAP while making sure you are not taking unnecessary security and reliability risks with some of your companies most important assets — the system that provides the critical insights they need to make decisions everyday.

Did I mention all the new capabilities in BI 4.2?  How much time have you got?  😉

«Good BI»

Common Questions about Connectivity with SAP

July 23rd, 2008 18 comments

Now that SAP has clearly and unambiguously stated that BusinessObjects is the new face of BI for SAP, we have many customers who want more information about connectivity with SAP and are surprised when we recommend that they connect to an existing BW Query instead of to the entire Infocube.

Why is connecting to SAP BI/BW Queries a best practice?

There are several reasons for connecting via SAP BW Queries:

  • Performance – The BW OLAP Engine performs its processing against the query cube. In the event, you connect an external analysis tool directly to an InfoCube, a query cube consisting of all the characteristics and key figures in that InfoCube is generated on the fly in order to handle the request processing. This process adds significantly to the processing time of the request made by the end-user when compared to reporting against a pre-defined BW Query.
  • Capabilities – There are several capabilities exposed via the interface to BW Queries that are not exposed when connecting directly to the cube such as calculated and restricted key figures to name a few.
  • Flexibility – The BW Query Designer offers an extension to the data modeling environment in which changes are relatively easy to make as compared to the effort required to change an InfoCube.

Is this required across all the reporting tools? (WebI, Voyager, Crystal Reports)

Its mostly applicable to WebI and Voyager. There’s more flexibility with Crystal since it has more connectivity interfaces to SAP and it is not designed to be an ad-hoc reporting and analysis tool. Xcelsius will typically be built against scheduled content since most dashboard data is usually only updated every 24 hours.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this different approaches to SAP Connectivity?

Advantages of BW Query – The BW Query can take advantage of Query capabilities such as CKF and RKF. The BI Team can also provide better control over how much data user can request.

Advantages of InfoCube – The BI Team can expose entire dataset to user without additional work from BI team

Disadvantages of BW Query – Using BW Queries requires additional work from BI team to setup queries specifically around areas of the business, e.g. marketing, sales, etc. It limits amount of information available to user for a given query. That being said, the adhoc report designer can combine multiple queries within a single report. In addition a well defined BW Query can serve as the data sources for multiple reports. (whereas traditionally in SAP BW, we saw 1 query = 1 report)

Disadvantages of InfoCube -Users can get lost in the large amount of data available to them. There is a lack of CKF and RKF, which will lead to users creating more filters and calculations at the report level. These efforts will likely be duplicated across multiple reports. Duplication leads to duplicate work and the potential for different answers based on different formulas (i.e., no “single source of the truth” for those formulas)

Performance of BW Query – Better. Because of the constraint on information available to the end-user, the query design can test a subset of data and guarantee a certain level of performance.

Performance of InfoCube – Vulnerable. Because the entire cube is visible, there is no what to know what combinations of information the user might pick. Without specific controls over the type and amount of data returned, it is impossible to determine who long the query might run.

Flexibility of BW Query – The BW Query is more flexibility in regards to exposing “processed” data (CKF and RKF). It also provides flexibility when it comes to making changes to underlying data because not every change to the InfoCube will impact a BW Query.

Flexibility of InfoCube – The Infocube is the most flexible with regards to the data exposed.

What data structures in SAP are supported within BusinessObjects?

WebIntelligence/Voyager supports: Standard and Transactional InfoCubes, Remote InfoCube (not recommended due to performance), MultiCube, MultiProvider.

Crystal Reports supports: Standard and Transactional InfoCubes, Remote InfoCube (not recommended due to performance), MultiCube, MultiProvider, ODS, R/3 Infosets, ABAP Queries, ABAP Functions. ABAP Data Clusters, Transparent Tables, Pool Tables, Cluster Tables, zTables, InfoViews

Conclusion

It’s been exciting to see how quickly SAP customers have been able to unlock the data that they have in their Business Warehouse to a whole new groups of users.  Users can now create their own reports from scratch using the WebIntelligence interface.  Executive users and front-line contributors can have their personalized data delivered directly to the desktop.

I can’t wait to see what will unfold within our next generation of tools.

Looking for an Xcelsius 2008 Best Practices Guide?

July 3rd, 2008 1 comment

I think I may have found what you are looking for. This is an excellent guide that you can use to bring best practices to all your Xcelsius work. This 16 page guide is an well thought out guide for using standard around colors, data organization, testing, etc. Implementing these best practices will undoubtedly improve your ability to create world-class Xcelsius models that are easy for others to maintain after the fact.

This guide was written by Matt Lloyd with contributing materials from Ryan Goodman and Richard Reynolds.

Download it today!! You’ll be glad you did.

Xcelsius 2008 General Best Practices Guide