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Posts Tagged ‘upgrade’

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»

Does BusinessObjects Support That?

March 17th, 2010 3 comments

I recently received an urgent email from a customer who was days from going live with their new SAP BusinessObjects environment.  After checking the supported platforms guide, they suddenly realized that their combination of products wasn’t listed in the document.  They said:

According to the BO website Product 5.x will not be certified
until BusinessObjects XI 3.1 SP3.  We need Product 5.x to be
certified on BusinessObjects XI 3.1 SP2 ASAP.

How Do I Know If I Am Supported?

You need a copy of the Supported Platforms Guide for your product.  This guide contains the list of our supported product combinations.  That means this combination of those product versions together with BusinessObjects have been tested to work together prior to the release.  Should problems arise with your configuration, our product team will escalate the issue in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Where is the Supported Platforms Guide?

The first thing I discovered after doing some research is that it has been moved.  The guides are still accessible from SDN but they may not be the most up to date.  Unfortunately you’d never know it.  I downloaded the latest guide from SDN for Windows dated March 2, 2010 and it looked good.  It was only after talking to a colleague that I discovered a more recent version (with an updated SAP layout).  This is where you can find the latest information:

https://service.sap.com/pam

Historically these guides have been called a number of things:  Supported Platforms Guide, BusinessObjects PAR (Product Availability Report).   Now I introduce you to PAM –  The Product Availability Matrix.

Navigating the Product Availability Matrix (PAM)

You will need to navigate the PAM to find your supported platforms guide.  I suggest the following step-by-step navigation.

1.  From within the search box, search for: XI 3.1

2.  Next scroll down the list until you see SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.1

3.  Next, click on the product you are looking for.  In this case SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.1.

Notice you can see all the supported platform guides for all the releases and Service Paks.  This is where you will always find the LATEST supported platform guides which outline what versions of what supplementary products we support with SAP products.

So What If My Product Version isn’t Listed?

Just because your combination of product isn’t listed doesn’t mean it won’t work.  Unfortunately, there isn’t time or resources to test every possible combination of products, so we choose a few to test prior to each release.

Vendors are constantly fixing bugs and providing incremental enhancements to their software solutions, which means the target is always changing.

So what about incremental releases?  Our general policy around “Incremental Release Support” is mentioned under the sections for Application Servers and Portal Servers.  Here is the text:

Application Server Incremental Release Support Policy

Specified application servers versions have been successfully tested by
Business Objects. Incremental releases of the specified versions defined
by the last number in the application server name will be supported as they
are made available, but may not have been tested by Business Objects.
Exceptions in support will be documented.

In general, this policy is also true for device drivers and other integration points.  The first thing to do is to check the vendor’s website and see what statements they make about compatibility.

The main question for the vendor is whether the new product release just a cumulative set of bug fixes and performance enhancements, or if new functionality was introduced which might affect backward compatibility.

  • For example,  if the BusinessObjects product guide refers to Netezza ODBC v4.0 and Netezza ODBC is currently v4.6, and v4.6 comes from the within the v4.0 product umbrella with cumulative bug fixes, etc, then SAP BusinessObjects will support you.

In the past BusinessObjects has recommended that customers with legacy databases get supported by upgrading their database drivers.  For example, after Oracle 9 went out of support within the BusinessObjects Platform Guide, customers were able to access their Oracle 9 data through their “supported” Oracle 10g database drivers.  This was supported because ORACLE provided 100% compatibility of Oracle 10g drivers against Oracle 9 databases… and BusinessObjects Platform Guide supported Oracle 10g drivers.

  • Using the Netezza example again, since Netezza says their v4.6 driver is compatible with v5.0 and THEY guarantee compatibility, then you can infer that BusinessObjects can also run the v4.6 driver against the Netezza v5.0.x Appliance Software.

Just Checking

In the case of SAP BusinessObjects, if the technical support team suspects that another vendors software might be causing an issue and the version of the software is not on our recommended product list, then the SAP team may ask you to move the software onto a “certified” release.

  • Let’s say I decided to roll out Netezza ODBC v5.0 and I called technical support with an issue.  If we troubleshoot the issue and determine that the issue could be driver related, you may be asked to install Netezza ODBC v4.5.  If after doing this, if the test still fails, the issue can be escalated.  If the test is successful and it points to the vendor’s software, you may be asked to move to a supported version, e.g. Netezza ODBC v4.5.

When Things Don’t Work Out

Although it is rare, occasionally an incremental release by a database vendor introduces new bugs or functionality that renders the software incompatible with BusinessObjects.  One case in recent memory was Oracle v9.0.21.  The release was so buggy that customer EITHER had to downgrade to an earlier supported Oracle release or wait for the next Oracle release.  After tech support looked into the issues, it was clear that the problem was related to this release of Oracle.  In such cases, BusinessObjects would not escalate the issue to product team.  Additional support would have to come from the database vendor.  In such cases we provide a “best effort” to support the configuration.

Another example was the release of Sun’s JVM 1.6 client-side with BusinessObjects XIr2.  BusinessObjects only supported 1.5.2+ and this was an issue for many customers– compounded namely by the fact that may customers had their Java Client software using default settings which automatically installed updates.  This was fine until the first release of 1.6 came out.  We recommended firstly that customers return to Sun JVM 1.5.2+.  However, due to the pervasive nature of the problem, the issue was escalated to product support anyway and BusinessObjects did provide additional fixes to address the issue .

UPDATE!  Typical Support Workflows

After some additional questions about the process I thought it would be good to include the following two workflows.

This first workflow is a typical one.  We have a customer who is on an “unsupported” platform but technical support is still able to reproduce the problem.  At the end of the workflow we are still able to escalate the issue to our product team.


This second workflow is the situation whereby the problem becomes more difficult to reproduce and there is some difficulty in determining what is causing the problem.  In this case, are ability to escalate the issue is determined by our ability to reproduce the problem on the support, “reference” software version.

 


Hopefully that will bring additional clarity to any questions you might have.

 

Conclusion

SAP BusinessObjects is committed to the  success of your BI deployment.  They also provides guidance to help ensure that best possible change for success.  Because they cannot test and support every possible combination of every vendor’s product release, SAP BusinessObjects provides the supported platforms document for guidance.

You should make every effort to say within the same product release “umbrella” as what you find in the platforms guide.  Make sure that if you use an incremental release, that it is not a new code base and includes only bug fixes and performance enhancements.  Know Your Software = No Problems.  You can’t just look at the version number to see if there were significant changes.  You need to check the release notes:

  • Tomcat 4.1 vs. 5.5 – Significant
  • Netezza v4.0 to v4.6 – Insignificant
  • Windows Server SP2 to SP3 – Significant (Yes, even SP’s can be significant)
  • Teradata V2R5 to V2R6 – Significant
  • Hyperion Essbase Client 9.2.1 to 9.2.5 – Insignificant

In all cases, you should rigorously test your BusinessObjects environment before going live on a new release.

«Good BI»