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Crystal Server 2011 – 2nd Impressions

Last August, I wrote my first blog on Crystal Server 2011 giving my first impressions, I followed this up with a discussion on the merits of upgrading from Crystal Reports Server 2008 to Crystal Server 2011.

I’m now sufficiently bruised and battered to give second impressions following my first migration.  I’d forgotten the details of my earlier posts, on re-reading, I’m feeling remarkably prescient!

Here’s a comment from my First Impressions post regarding the original release already being at SP2:

Service Pack 2?! Isn’t this fresh off the press? OK, so select customers have been running BI 4.0 since early this year, so maybe it’s a sign that this is mature software. But two service packs in 6 months? I’m glad I wasn’t running the original release.On the other hand, imagine if Microsoft release Windows 8 this time next year after a 6 month testing phase with select customers. The first shrink wrap installs as Windows 8 SP2. Imaging the howls of derision! Let’s give SAP the benefit of the doubt for now.”

Looks like I was wrong to give SAP the benefit of the doubt. Try this for a bug: It is not possible to migrate from an earlier release if there are any instances of any report that aren’t in rpt format.

That’s right, read it again.

If you have scheduled a report to pdf, Word, Excel or text the migration wizard will fail. It won’t just skip the bad instance, it will fail completely and not import anything. There are only 2 workarounds; delete all the rogue instances, or migrate a few folders/reports at a time. The 2nd option doesn’t really work as any non-rpt files in user’s personal folders will cause the migration to fail, and they’re seen as a dependency.

So despite an incredibly long beta program, and two Service Packs, the vast majority of existing installations won’t migrate. To make life even more difficult, it’s no longer possible to migrate by just copying instances and changing the location of the system database – you have to use the new migration wizard.

This has been fixed in the latest fix pack for the larger products, but fix packs aren’t available for Crystal Server. Smaller installations will have to wait until SP3 which is mooted for March.

Another comment from my earlier blogs:

Minimum system requirements of 6GB RAM. That compares to 2GB for the 2008 release. From experience to date, 6GB really is the absolute minimum. I’d be more comfortable with double that, which would compare well with a typical 2008 installation with 4GB.”

Sad to say that I was 100% correct on that point. Crystal Server will install with 6GB RAM, but that’s about it. Anything more than a couple of users and memory use goes through the roof. Assume 12GB minimum, 16GB if you’re a heavy user.

And another comment:

64 bit only. Yes, I know I mentioned this in the good stuff too, but every silver lining has a cloud. If you have an obscure ODBC driver, it’s not going to work as only 64 bit ODBC drivers will work.”

Only half right there – if you’re using classic Crystal Reports with regular connections to a database, you’ll find that the reports run as 32 bit processes, so need 32 bit database drivers. It’s only the system database that must be 64 bit, and the new meta-layer stuff.

Last one:  “If you use InfoView a lot, are happy to train your users in the new BI Launch Pad, and have budget for a new server, just upgrade now.”

Really badly wrong, I’m afraid. Chances are your upgrade won’t work!  So, to upgrade or not to upgrade? SP3 should be out soon, assuming that fixes the migration problems, then work through my earlier posting to see if the upgrade is for you.

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