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Updates:

4/1/2015 – Added link to BI4.1 Product Maintenance Release Strategy as Presented at SAPPHIRE 2014.

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Greetings BI4 Friends & Colleagues –

This Blog is a couple of years in and still some good questions and new information on the BI4 Maintenance Topic that we need to de-mystify.  Most recently a Blog post by my good friend Dallas Marks of EV Technologies:  http://www.dallasmarks.org/blog/2013/11/a-plethora-of-sap-bi-patches/ has set the wheels a turning.  Some updated questions on this topic but still in line with the original inspiration for this Blog that was derived from Jonathan Haun of Decision First’s Blog entitled “Patch Management in SAP Business Objects 4.0”.

  • Do our BI4/4.1 Customers understand our maintenance process?
  • Have we done a great job of explaining it and how it is changed from XI3?
  • What is the best way to consume BI4/4.1 maintenance?

This Blog is our effort to begin answering these questions for you, help you understand the strategy,  and give your team the knowledge to maximize your investment in  BI4. So here goes and we hope you find this useful!

How Did We Get Here?

When the BI4 Maintenance strategy was conceptualized there were 3 drivers which drove the design and framework of the plan:

  1. Quality & Governance: Maintenance Model & approach needed to align with SAP standards.  SAP has been delivering mission critical support since 1972 so natural requirement to align our BI4 maintenance with SAP’s established best practices.
  2. Align Terminology: A ONE SAP approach to go with common naming conventions which are recognizable and familiar across all component areas.
  3. Critical Corrections: We needed a fix vehicle with a fast turnaround to replace the Limited Availability Fixes (LAFix) in XI3.  We know the LAFix had its fans and use cases but it wasn’t a scalable vehicle and didn’t motivate customers to keep current with maintenance where corrections and innovations could be consumed in a predictable and logical manner.

Overview of BI4x Maintenance Vehicles

Delivery Vehicle Contents Frequency* Lifetime** XI3 Comparison
Minor Release

Innovations ( The Evolution of our story… )

Roll up of Support Packs

Complex Corrections

New Language Packs

As Needed

2 years Minimum

Review SAP Release Strategy Document for additional details.

Service Pack (SP)
Support Pack

Small Point Innovations

Roll up of Critical Patches

Additional Corrections

New Platform Support

~6 months ~18 Months unless Product is in Ramp Up Fix Pack (FP)
Critical Patch

Urgent Customer Corrections – Priority 1 or Show Stopper Priority 2 Messages

~6 weeks

NA

Limited Availability Fix (LAFix)

Frequency: Estimated and subject to change.  Always refer to KB 1479533 for links to Published released dates on the SP-Stacks page.

** Lifetime: In accordance with SAP Release & Maintenance Brochure with formal End of Life Dates noted in Product Availability Matrix ( PAM ).

*** Feature Packs: You will notice Feature Packs are not included as a delivery vehicle.  Currently FP3 was a one time only release and included in Support Pack 4.  Please refer to KB 1721866 for details.

**** Releases are Cumulative: BI4 Maintenance Releases are cumulative but make sure you review the Forward Fit scenarios which can be found in KB 1479533.

***** BI4.1 Product Maintenance / Release Strategy: SCN Doc 60765

When Should I Apply a Maintenance Release?

Before we jump off this cliff the usual disclaimers apply – This is guidance and you ultimately need to find the best fit for your business in alignment with our Product maturity and release schedule.  If you need guidance for your specific environment then please consult our SAP Professional Services Organization or engage one of the many fine SAP Partners out there – You know who you are! Now to the good stuff….!

Urgent Corrections

Critical Patches – They are what we thought they were! These are for your most critical corrections and are intended for only the most serious issues causing  Production Downs or Blocking a Go-Live.  Now I know what you are going to say – ALL our requested corrections are super urgent and need to be in Critical Patches. We hear you and we aim to please but this requires balance as we have to ensure the criticality of the corrections, manage the size of the patches, and minimize regressions.  When you request a Critical Patch a business case will be required that will need to meet the standards as outlined in KB 1661557.   We know what you are thinking at this point and we agree – another way to manage Critical Patches better would be higher quality up front so there would be less requirement for urgent corrections.  This is not lost on us and a number of actions in the works but we will save that for another Blog on another day!

General Maintenance

Overall we support Minor Releases for 2 Years and underneath that come the Support Packs and Critical Patches to provide the more urgent corrections.  Earlier in the release schedule or your adoption schedule plan to be more aggressive with your application of maintenance.  For critical patches this means applying them when you have an urgent defect that needs to be addressed.  You do not need to apply every one of them – if you find a nice landing spot which is comfortable for you then spend some time there and relax.  For Support Packs it is best to plan for a yearly refresh to a current so that you will be able to consume the latest fixes and innovations.  I know,  I know –  what happens if we find a regression? We try not to break things but if we do we will do our best to correct it in a Critical Patch to meet your Go Live requirements.

Note: If you do find an issue and need to patch up the recommendation is always to upgrade to the latest and most current Support Package + Patch where the fix is available.  This way the time and effort spent to upgrade allows you to be on a current and supported release and consume all available fixes.  It is never recommended to patch up to the first Support Package + Patch where an issue is fixed unless it is the most current release.   

That is all for this Blog but hopefully we have provided some additional information and context on the BI4/4.1 Maintenance strategy that you can apply.

To make this easier to find I have also posted a brief presentation on this topic in the BI PlatformsBI4 Maintenance Demystified section of SCN and we have also posted a copy of the presentation that we delivered at SAPPHIRE in conjunction with Saroj Parmar from SAP Development/IMS at this LINK.

Thank you! Now let’s go implement some BI4.1!!!!!

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