Ready or not, here comes SAP BusinessObjects 4.0, or BI 4. It comes to us with the usual buzz and excitement of a new major version release. At both the recent ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference and SAP TechEd 2010, I sat in on the official upgrade presentations. I felt it was important enough a topic to listen to twice. Here are some the highlights and important takeaways
Noteworthy New Features
This is what everyone gets buzzed up about. What can this version do that I’ve been dying for? What is in there that I just can’t live without.
- Better integration with SAP BW
- New dimensional semantic layer
- Multi-source universes
For admin geeks like myself, here are the heavy hitters for BI 4.0
- Integrated platform monitoring
- Advanced auditing
- Supportability and root-cause analysis
- True 64-bit server architecture
The “My Favorite Ice Cream” Upgrade Path (Rocky Road)
Before you start your upgrade, there are some tasks you’ll want to consider first. First of all, you’ll need to consider your security model. Are you going to carry over your existing users, groups, and rights? Or should you take the opportunity to do some redesign? Next you’ll want to think about your content inventory. It’s probably a good idea to do some analysis on your content, and get rid of anything that is old, unused, or old instances. You want to start the upgrade as lean as possible with your content.
You also have to consider if you are going to do a full upgrade (i.e. rip the band-aid off and cut everything over at once) or do a Staged Upgrade (place the new system up in parallel and cut over one department or group at a time. And probably most importantly, you need to define acceptance criteria from your end users so you will know how to measure if the upgrade has been successful or not.
For those of you still on the old (I mean really old) versions of BusinessObjects like version 5.x or 6.x, your road is going to be very rocky indeed. There is no direct upgrade path from these old versions to BI 4. Instead, you will have to first upgrade to XIr2 or XI 3.x. Having been down that road before, I do not envy you the task. It is attainable, but certainly not something you can do quickly, and definitely not something to be taken lightly.
If you are already on XIr2 or XI3.x you get to make use of the new Upgrade Manager tool and should have a much smoother ride.
Important Potential Stumbling Blocks
There are some big changes with BI 4, and that is a good thing. But there are some things that might trip you up on your road to success. Knowing what some of these bumps are ahead of time essential.
- This is not an upgrade-in-place. You cannot load BI 4 on top of XIr2 or XI 3.x and have it “upgrade” your instance. You will have to do a completely new install
- The Auditor schema is totally new, and there is no way to import your old data into the new structure. Auditing will have to start again on day 1 of your BI 4 system
- InfoView is gone. It has been replaced with the BI Launch Pad. You can expect different URLs, and definitely a different look to the interface
- Dashboard Builder is now the BI Workspace
- Encyclopedia and Discussion are gone with no replacement
- Performance Manager is gone with no replacement
- Search is totally new, and your index will have to be re-build in BI 4
- Desktop Intelligence (a.k.a. Deski, or Full Client) is End of Life. You must use the Report Conversion Tool to convert your Deski reports into Webi report format either before or after your upgrade
- Explorer will no longer support a UNV. Information Spaces based on Excel are upgraded, but the ones based on UNV and bookmarks are not
- The WebIntelligence SDK is not supported in BI 4. Now before you panic, it will be supported and included in a later release, probably BI 4.1. It’s simply not done enough for the BI 4 release
- Universe Designer is still present for now, but will be replaced by the Information Designer tool. The UNV files will still be supported for now, but new universes will be created as a UNX
- There are some significant changes to the security model if you are coming from XI r2. It is the same model as what is in XI 3.x
Some BIG improvements
There are some things that will be heralded with cheers and applause from the masses.
My list of big wins for BI 4 are the following:
- Import Wizard is End of Life and its functionality is replaced by the Upgrade Manager and LifeCycle Manager, depending on the task
- LifeCycle Manager is fully integrated and no longer a separate install
- wDeploy is fully integrated and even includes a GUI now
- Integration Kits are now fully integrated (SAP, PeopleSoft, Siebel, Oracle, etc.)
- Data Federator is partially integrated into the new Information Designer tool
- Mobile BI is fully integrated
The Buzz is Heating Up
No matter what you call it, the energy and excitement around this release is continuing to build. I am certainly looking forward to getting my hands on it so I can pull it apart, try it out, and even break it a few times. That should be sometime soon. Until then, I’m going to continue working on preparing for the imminent release.