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Squeezing the BusinessObjects sizing model until it bursts

I’m working on a project that may (or may not) deploy SAP BusinessObjects (or BI 4 something) to a few users.  Or maybe a lot of users. Or maybe a whole lot of users.  Here’s how the questions start: “How many users do you expect will use this new system that we haven’t designed yet?” “Could be a lot. If it works well, could be a lot more. If it doesn’t work so well, maybe not so many.”

With that mandate, I began looking for reference materials. My friend and colleague Greg Myers suggested these SCN documents to start with:

And SAP Notes:

So that took me to the “SAP Business Objects BI 4 Sizing Estimator version 1.1”, which, alas, is a Flash file (.swf), meaning no iPad modeling.  And the URL is something to behold:

(Easy for you to say…)

The instructions suggest user count is a critical metric, and in fact, that’s all the inputs that are allowed.  When I run models, I like to tune them up my throwing high and low values at them.  Otherwise, if I just plug in one number, I can’t be sure how it scales.  Let’s start with no users.


Seems reasonable – 8,000 SAPs just to get the propellers running and the ship moving down the runway.  Let’s add 100 users, just in web intelligence, to see what one component might require.


Under Information Consumers, I put 20, business users 50, and expert users 30.  Oops. Red line.  What does that mean? Eventually I clicked on the question mark next to SAPs and tried to read this fine print:


I could not zoom in, could not copy/paste the text, and, as it turns out, this is rather important.  It would be nice if this was searchable text.  Oh wait: Google.

When the SAP estimate turns red, be sure to consult an SAP sizing expert to adjust the estimate accordingly for your deployment.



Barely 100 concurrent users, and this model is saying: “don’t trust me.” Who do I turn to for sizing?  It’s supposed to be me, but without further data I’m in a pickle.

I trolled, I mean trawled, around SCN looking for more information, and found this interesting document:

Large-Scale SAP BusinessObjects BI 4 Platform Deployment Over SAP Sybase ASE and Sap Sybase IQ Databases

It’s not quite applicable to my project, but has good clear testing and scaling methodologies written up, and essentially describes what an end state in a couple years might look like if we fail, er, fall, on the side of too many users.  With clustering and other redundancy built in, this design would have 10 systems – 2 for Tomcat, 2 for CMS, and 6 for Web Intelligence.  I would only need to refine the last tier, and decide whether to start with 2 or 4 systems, since we’d probably want to cluster the first two anyway.

Now I just need to figure out what “SAPS” means.

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  • Jim,

    Thanks for another very interesting post. You piqued my curiosity, as we are still in the midst of our BusinessObjects deployment, and I wondered how our team handled the sizing, as I heard that they are still seeking our first guinea pigs for BusinessObjects. One of our project team members told me that they just went with the assumption that, sooner or later, there would be the same number of users as in our current BI system, and they expect to have to revisit the sizing periodically.

    Good luck with your deployment; I look forward to an update.


  • Hi Jim,

    keep in mind that what you call "100 users" is 100 active concurrent users, means that you assume 100 users active working on the system at the same time. to speak in BW terms - 100 active dialog processes at the same time.

    not saying that this is "large" - but at that point you will have to reach out to consulting to do a complete sizing exercises.



    • Ingo:

        Yes, the instructions were clear about the "100 users" being active concurrent. In a company with over 10,000 employees, that's not unreasonable to expect. As for consulting, I'm the internal consultant for sizing, and, how to put this nicely, I'm checking outsiders work. Thanks for the feedback!


      • Hi Jim,

        I would then suggest you take a look at the presentations from the ASUG webinars and from TechED as sizing the BI system is not something "simple".

        The sizing tool is making certain assumptions - such as single server deployment, which clearly for that user amount will not work, which is why there is the companion guide with some walk throughs.

        Take a look at the webinars on sizing which do explain a lot of the steps and details because the sizing tool will only give you plain SAPS numbers and you still need to distribute the system and that has an impact on the overall size of the environment