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How to troubleshoot any issue in your SAP BI 4.x deployment

Being in the IT/Software industry for close to 20 years I’ve seen a lot of troubleshooting sessions and late nights spent trying to fix a problem.

With this experience came an understanding that with proper methodology it is possible to troubleshoot and find root cause of any issue.
So what is the right methodology ?

I’ll list what I use and you can comment on what you use. In the end we can create a set of steps that will resolve any problem.
Here is how I start my troubleshooting :

  1. Determine what is the exact workflow that is problematic. – I cannot stress enough how important this is.
    A lot of time can be lost troubleshooting wrong problems….
    You need to be sure you know when exactly, what exactly and how exactly a problem is happening. Do not trust your user words !!!
    Verify by asking to show you !! Users, for the most part, are not technical people, to them “report doesn’t work” is good enough description. You, as administrator, need more !!
    If you do not have access to your user machine, have the user take a screenshot of the error message. Most users know how to take a screenshot these days, and having the exact error message and error code helps to search the “Error Messages Explained” document on help.sap.com. That can help the admin then target the pieces involved.
  2. Once you know what is happening – determine what pieces you’re dealing with – how many servers, what’s installed on each, any proxies/ web servers and firewalls, any other devices are part of the workflow etc.
    As administrator, you should have all the environments properly diagrammed and documented so this part should be easy.
    Work with your IT colleagues who manage network and servers to determine what sort of network latency is between pieces etc.
    Environment diagrams and proper documentation of your deployment is very useful when asking SAP support for help.
  3. Start simplifying the picture !!
    Simplify to the lowest possible level (no web, no ssl, no proxies, no LB’s, no network : single box etc) – is the issue still there ?
    If yes – concentrate on that last remaining piece , rest are not a factor !!
    If no – let’s add next piece and so forth !!!
    (this works with any product or tool, adjust freely – use your imagination)
  4. Once you know How exactly and Where exactly the issue is happening, only then go and look if the issue is known, if there are KB articles, SCN posts, your internal knowledge base history etc. that are related to this problem.
    A lot of times, specially if you’re using an established version of SAP product, the issue will be known and documented.
  5. When all of the above is done – here comes the technical part : traces, debug, head scratching, detailed configuration reviews etc…

 

Now that we have covered the basics, what basic tools does the SAP BI4.0 administrator should utilize in troubleshooting ?

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