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NOTE: this blog posting is republished from Antonio Soto’s education platinum journal written in 2009.

 

Learn how to strategically design an incremental migration strategy from legacy Business Objects 5.x\6.x to SAP Business Objects XI 3.1.   Take advantage of the new powerful features in our Enterprise Suite as well as the various Enterprise Reporting applications that include: Web Intelligence Rich Client, Crystal Reports, Voyager and Xcelsius 2008.

 

By:  Antonio Soto, Platinum Education Consultant

 

The new and improved SAP Business Objects XI 3.1 Enterprise suite brings numerous benefits to customers that are still using our legacy Business Objects 5.x\6.x software.  Here are some highlights:

  • Flexible Object Oriented Security Model
  • Built in Scheduling of Documents
  • SAP Business Objects Publishing Services replaces legacy BCAP (Broadcast Agent Publisher)
  • Industry recognized scalable SOA (Service Oriented Architecture)
  • LCM (Life Cycle Manager) application for managing version control and deployment life cycle management.
  • Query as a Web Service with Xcelsius 2008 and Live Office XI 3.1 with Web 2.0 compatibility
  • RCT (Report Conversion Tool) used to convert Full Client \Desktop Intelligence documents to Web Intelligence Documents.
  • Report Comparison Tool allows administrators to manage comparisons of document calculation engines before and after migration process to ensure successful migration.
  • Import Wizard allows administrators to utilize a comprehensive Windows based migration tool to manage migration and\or upgrading of SAP Business Objects software.
  • Repository Diagnostic Tool assists administrators by repairing inconsistencies in the SAP Business Objects file repository and system database.
  • SAP Business Objects Federation services provide great flexibility in managing distinct regional deployments by configuring push and pull object replication between distinct regional sites.
  • CAPS (Client Auditing Proxy Services) for client\machine specific auditable actions
  • WDEPLOY.EXE offers the opportunity to efficiently manage your Web Services tier by defining static and dynamic content Web Application Services strategies.

 

In this article, we will focus on the SDLC (Systems Development Life Cycle) process for managing an incremental migration from legacy Business Objects Enterprise 5.x\6.x to SAP Business Objects XI 3.1 using the Import Wizard and the Report Comparison tool:

  • SDLC- (Systems Development Life Cycle)- 5 step process (Planning, Analysis, Design & Test, Implementation and Maintenance) that serves as an industry standard managed process control strategy for deployment and management of systems\software.
  • Import WizardWindows application that allows administrators to migrate content and security environment from cluster to cluster. i.e. migrate from development to test and ultimately, production environments. As well, the Import Wizard serves as our sole Business Objects migration tool.
  • Report Comparison ToolAllows administrators to compare and contrast report calculation engines in both BOE 5.x\6.x version and XI 3.1 version and provide an automated system to determine if any reports’ aggregate output have changed.
  • Report Conversion Tool (Post- Migration) A Java based application that allows administrators to convert Desktop Intelligence documents to Web Intelligence in a simple and intuitive wizard driven process.
  • Incremental Migration- Managing the Migration from Business Objects 5.x\6.x to SAP Business Objects XI3.1 over a long term period in batch cycles. Rather than take all users, universes and documents and migrate them in a single batch, it is recommended if you manage a large Business Objects deployment to divide the process into segments. i.e. Migrate the Finance team and all required Universes and documents to XI 3.1 first, then after successful testing, proceed to migrating the Sales department, their utilized documents and universes.

 

Managing the Incremental Migration

 

1.  Planning

 

Planning Security Migrating from legacy BOE 5.x\6.x to BOE XI 3.1 provides an excellent opportunity for an administrator team to consider redesigning the existing security model.  Business Objects Supervisor 5.x\6.x lent itself to create a functionally organized security model based on the way Broadcast Agent users needed to be configured for document scheduling management.  The new BOE XI 3.1 security model is an object oriented incredibly flexible security model allowing you to design departmental and functional folder and group structures as well as a mixture of both.  You can effectively manage security by defining roles using Custom Access Levels (CAL).  Custom Access levels are customized groups of rights (universe, connection, content, application, and user delegation rights) that can be configured and managed as part of a role based security approach.  For example, rather than use predefined access levels View, Schedule, View on Demand and Full Control, you can create a CAL that includes all necessary object oriented rights for a Web Intelligence Report developer’s role.

 

Business Objects XI 3.a provides great flexibility for utilizing third party authentication agents such as Active Directory and LDAP.  You might consider this an opportunity for you to leverage your existing LDAP\AD user and group security structures.  Finally, although the Import Wizard provides the ability to migrate security, we advise that you do not proceed in that manner.  Rather, we recommend you redesign your object centric security model in BOEXI 3.1 before proceeding with the migration.  Once you have designed your security model, simply migrate content and proceed to move content to their respective BOE XI 3.1 enterprise folders.

 

Planning the Incremental Migration In planning your incremental migration, decide which departments will be migrated first.  Begin designing your XI 3.1 folder structure based on the departments you will select as part of the first migration batch.  Assess where you might run into document overlap and version control problems.  For example, if you decide to migrate the Finance team first, you will have to migrate a sample Sales.unv universe and a sales .rep document.  Meanwhile, the Sales group (whom you have not migrated yet and is currently working off BOE6.x Production) analyses the same sales.rep report based on the sales.unv universe.  We now have a universe and Report overlap problem that may create version control issues for you.   In this case, we recommend you institute system freezes where individuals will not be able to make changes to the overlapping content.

 

Planning System Load Using the Business Objects XI 3.1 Sizing guide, determine your system hardware requirements based on the number of potential users, universes, reports, recurring schedules, on demand viewing requirements etc. to determine the number of SAP BOE XI 3.1 servers that will be required to successfully manage load balancing, scalability, high availability and efficiency of your new BOE XI 3.1 migrated deployment.

 

2. Analysis

 

The most important step in SDLC requires that we institute a strategy that analyses whether the migration strategy will fulfill Business Requirements.  You may have a Business Objects IT dream team with state of the art programmers, DBA’s and Network Engineers.  However, it does not mean that the dream team understands the business process as well as a business analyst and\or personnel and management.  Business users need to be accounted for in the migration process.  Surely, this introduces an added layer of overhead as administrators will have to conduct thorough interviews to understand what the current user process flows are for developing and analyzing Reports.  For example, if you decide to implement Active Directory Single Sign On for your new BOEXI 3.1 migrated deployment, you might opt to implement a .NET web services framework using strictly IIS.  The logical thought process might be that you wish to consolidate everything under one platform for ease of management and maintenance.  Low and behold, you start getting calls from users that were accustomed to drilling on Web Intelligence Documents using Interactive Viewing in Infoview.  Interactive viewing of Web intelligence documents is not supported in a .NET web services deployment.  Interactive Web Intelligence viewing is only supported on a Java based web services framework, i.e.  Apache Tomcat.    As well, if you are planning to take advantage of the new Dashboarding tool named Xcelsius 2008, we do not support Query as a Web Service capabilities in a .NET web services framework.  Understanding Business Requirements is the most critical step in managing an effective migration strategy.

 

Analyze User Application Requirements In migrating to SAP BOE XI 3.1, it is critical for administrators to understand that in this version, we support several new applications.  Aside from Desktop Intelligence (formerly Full Client) and Web Intelligence, we have Crystal Reports, Voyager and Xcelsius.  Migrating to SAP BOE XI 3 .1 provides an opportunity to analyze Enterprise Reporting stakeholder audiences and consider using the new applications available in SAP BOEXI 3.1  This involves having a complete understanding of the BI Solutions product suite from an audience perspective. 

 

Crystal Reports is intended for sophisticated pixel perfect reports with advanced formatting requirements.  Although a Business User can benefit from the power behind this market leading tool, this application is intended for programmers with Database administration familiarity as well as programming skills in Visual Basic.  Crystal Reports uses its own proprietary language named, Crystal Syntax, derived from Microsoft Visual Basic.   

 

Web Intelligence Rich Client   At last!  We have been waiting for this moment for years.  Web Intelligence Rich Client now allows us to query MS Excel spreadsheets, text files, CSV files and .prm files!  Aside from this, we can now work offline managing local versions of Web Intelligence documents without being connected to the SAP BOE XI 3.1 repository.  The windows based Web Intelligence application also reduces the stress from the Web Intelligence Processing servers by localizing some processing to the individual user’s workstation.  We have also introduced more features such as Data tracking and wizard driven hyperlink management to documents and URL’s in Infoview Interactive view mode.  As well, as a post migration option, we provide you the ability to convert some Desktop Intelligence documents to Web Intelligence documents using the Java based Report Conversion Tool.

 

Voyager SAP BOE XI 3.1 provides the ability to empower your Business Analysts by allowing them to slice and dice OLAP derived data.  By configuring direct Voyager Connections to OLAP data structures such as SAP BW and Microsoft Analytical Services, users can obtain live dimension based calculated figures.  The web based application allows standard reporting features such as filtering, charting and variable management.

 

Xcelsius 2008 is a visualization \ dashboard creation tool.  Xcelsius 2008 offers an intuitive interface that allows dashboard and analytics developers to fulfill macro enterprise reporting requirements by building sophisticated dashboards that can be made portable in any web services processing environment.  Xcelsius is intended for officer level reporting, statistical process control, key point indicators, etc.  Xcelsius Enterprise XI 3.1 provides Dashboard developers the ability to use Web Intelligence universe queries and define them as a web service using SAP BOE XI 3.1 Query as a Web Service (QaaWS).  QaaWS is a client application that allows a developer to define a web service using a Web Intelligence query.  As well, you can publish the Web Intelligence query as a .WSDL to the SAP Business Objects Enterprise or simply export it as a .SWF file that can be processes by any Web Server that processes Web 2.0 compliant content.  SAP Business Objects Live Office XI 3.1 can also be utilized along with Xcelsius Enterprise and QaaS to deliver Adobe Flash content of Universe derived queries to Microsoft Excel, Word and Power Point.

 

 

Web Application Services Analysis – Migrating to SAP Business Objects XI 3.1 will require a serious consideration of which back end Web Application services framework to adopt.  SAP BO XI 3.1 supports either a .NET Web services framework using Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Services) or a Java specific Web Application Server.  We have expanded our Java based support to platforms like IBM Webspehere, Oracle Internet Directory (OID), BEA Web Logic and Apache Tomcat.  Understand that we provide more functionality for Java based WAS platforms from an application functionality perspective.  Java based WAS platforms provide the ability for business users to interact with Web Intelligence documents in Infoview without having to open Web Intelligence Java Report Panel to slice and dice the data.  As well, if you wish to upgrade your existing Application Foundation dashboards and analytics, you must migrate them to a Java based platform as we do not support SAP Business Objects Performance Management applications in a .NET framework.  You can consider configuring a dual WAS platform consisting of IIS and a Java specific platform.  This type of deployment is very common as companies are interested in leveraging MS Active Directory for authentication to SAP BOEXI3.1.  Using IIS and the .NET framework facilitates this process while having a Java WAS platform satisfies the application functionality requirements.  Finally, it is important to understand that we currently do not provide support to Query as a Web Service (QaaWS) processing using a .NET framework.

 

3. Design and Test

 

Incremental migration vs. a “Big Bang” migration

Implementing a successful incremental migration requires efficient life cycle and version control management. The worst migration scenario you can find yourself in is when you simply migrate all content from the original BO5.x\6.x repository (without creating a backup) in one batch to a BOEXI3.1 production environment in an attempt to save time only to experience a migration disaster. You figure, “I only have 150 users, 200 Webi\Full Client documents and 30 Universes. It should be straight forward”.  This kind of mentality can potentially culminate in a disaster.  Migrating content in one pass to the BO5.x\6.x repository is referred to as a “Big Bang” migration strategy.  Although many companies have successfully implemented migrations using this strategy (usually small size deployments), we recommend you proceed with the incremental migration strategy. Although it takes longer, incrementally migrating gives you many benefits:

 

  • Reduces standard deviation in regards to document, universe and user object post migration anomalies.
  • Ensures Enterprise Reporting System high availability. If one increment fails, you still have the legacy system available with the majority of users up and running. It would just be a matter of restoring the failed increment to legacy BO5.x\6.x.
  • Reduces the amount of troubleshooting you might require. If the increment fails, only a small number of users are affected and hence the IT support lines will not be overhauled.
  • To help you manage your incremental migration, SAP BOEXI3.1 offers the opportunity to backup each incremental migration instance in a BIAR (Business Intelligence Archive Resource) file which is simply a portable compressed archive containing your entire incremental migration. In the event that you experience a failed instance of your incremental migration, you can use the BIAR file as a “revert to snap shot” strategy.

 

Proceeding with an incremental migration requires an efficient version control policy.  Because you are managing a parallel migration (supporting legacy BO5.x\6.x and SAP BOEXI3.1 simultaneously), there is always potential to run into version control problems.  Documents are often used by various departments.  For example, Sales and Finance uses the same SALES.REP document and hence also use the SALES.UNV universe.  If you decide to migrate the Sales department first to BOEXI3.1, you now have to manage 2 versions of the documents and Universes being utilized by Finance and Sales departments.  We refer to this as content overlap.  The best way of managing such scenarios is to have an effective change control policy that prevents modifications of the overlapping content in both the legacy BO5.x/6.x system and the SAP BOEXI3.1 system.  This is accomplished by instituting “system freezes” where no changes to content are allowed during the migration project.

 

System Life Cycle management  It is customary for companies to have at least 2 environments; development and production.  We recommend that you implement the following life cycle flow: Development, Test\QA, Staging and Production.  Certainly, you are restricted by the reality behind available resources. However, if your BI solution is a mission critical Line of Business, this is the best approach.  The staging environment mimics a true PROD environment.  You would use real documents, universes and users.  This reduces the standard deviation as you eventually migrate to production.

 

NOTE: We recommend that you spend 80% of your time in SDLC Planning, Analysis and Design/test stages as they are the pillars that serve as a foundation for the successful execution of the Implementation and Maintenance stages.

 

4. Implementation

 

Backing up your existing BO5x/6.x Repository We recommend you do not perform your incremental migrations on the original BO5.x/6.x repository.  Rather, create a backup of the repository and use the back up as your incremental migration source.  If you are using a distributed repository structure, create a back up of your Universe and document domain databases as well.

 

Performing the Incremental Migrations The implementation is the least time consuming of all 5 SDLC stages.  As long as you have developed a solid foundation by effectively managing stages 1 through 3 of SDLC, the implementation is very much straight forward.  During implementation, you utilize the Import Wizard to manage your increments.  As part of the design stage, you may have decided to move a total of 5 departments: Sales, Finance, Marketing, IT and HR.  That would assume a total of 5 separate increments using the Import Wizard to manage each incremental migration.  It is recommended that you first migrate your savvy user population.  That typically is your IT department.  If you migrate the IT department first, you can utilize their technical expertise as a troubleshooting resource.  You can establish what the upfront potential challenges are and be better prepared to manage your remaining incremental migrations.

 

Post Migration Validation Once you have successfully performed your incremental migration.  It is imperative that you validate the migration.  There is tool available to you named the Report Comparison Tool (RCT).  This tool will allow you to compare and contrast report calculation engines in both BOE 5.x\6.x version and XI 3.1 version and provide an automated process to determine if any reports’ aggregate output has changed.  Specifically, the Local Calculation Engine (LCE) that governs local projection aggregation of your documents may pose a problem.  When you migrate from legacy BO5.x/6.x to BOEXI3.1, the LCE version for every document is also upgraded.  The RCT tool provides an automated way of checking the calculation behavior of documents to ensure successful migration of content. 

 

5. Maintenance

 

Managing Change Control  The last step involved in the SDLC process incorporates the concept of Change Control.  Surely a cliché, however an important part of successful management of the incremental migration is devising an effective change control policy.  As the saying goes; too many cooks in the kitchen, not enough food for everyone.  If you have many individuals involved in the migration project, ensure that you institute common sense project management ground rules. For example, you might want to institute a ground rule that dictates any time content is migrated, do not override (update) the contents of the destination environment.  This ensures effective version control of your content.  Content that has been changed in the BOEXI3.1 environment will remain integral and hence you do not run into parent child relationships between objects being lost.  This could be very devastating should changed content be overwritten by incoming legacy content.  Any time a change request arises, take that request through the entire SDLC process.  Plan, analyze, design\test, implement and maintain the change.  The SDLC process is cyclical in nature.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Many clients find themselves postponing migrations fearing disasters.  Much of the hearsay out in the industry regarding migration disasters can be categorized as BI urban legends.  Most of the difficulty in managing migrations effectively is simply because the migration process was managed inefficiently without an SDLC strategy (or similar strategy) in place.  SAP Business Objects offers a 3 day Migration course (BOE350) that touches on many aspects of this article that will prepare you to efficiently manage a migration from BO5.x/6.x to SAP BOEXI3.1. 

 

Register online today for the course offered by SAP Education – BOE350- Migrating from SAP Business Objects 5.x\6.x to SAP Business Objects XI 3.1 or contact the SAP Education Customer Interaction Center (1-888-777-1727).  You can also submit a course request to SAP Education for the schedule of your requested event.

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