Solutions to speed up and optimise the performance in SAP BusinessObjects reports and dashboard

The insiders guide from SAPinsider Las Vegas 2016

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” John Maeda – MIT Media Lab.

“Gather traces for a problem workflow using the right tool, break it down to the simplest level possible.” – Xoomworks BI.

Does a user really need to use all those objects?

Can we simplify security (reduce group membership) to improve response times?

Can you satisfy business requirements using several smaller, leaner queries/reports?

Can report-level calculations be pushed down to the database?

Can you add more mandatory prompts to restrict the dataset?

Some of the questions Xoomworks BI consultant Dan Goodinson challenged his audience with at SAPinsider 2016. Offering solutions to BI design, process, workflows, and execution times in the various layers.

At SAPinsider BI, 2016 in Las Vegas, Dan Goodinson of Xoomworks BI was invited to deliver an instructional presentation. As a technical specialist, he took the audience of experts and users through the steps to improve SAP BI reporting and dashboard speed as well as response times. He chaired a Q&A session afterwards; attendees picked his expert knowledge, fostering interesting questions, subject matter and content on the solutions. We have updated and integrated that content to Dan’s presentation. A link is provided at the end of this introduction.

Dan’s technical but user-friendly and user-useful talk had an excellent response. It joined SAPinsider’s vision for best practices to be explained in many areas of BI. As well as answer the critical questions to optimise what is being used. Dan used a practical and thorough level of detail to present the solutions. He gave the insiders view using his insight and experience of many deployments, uncovering many factors that could be overlooked or not considered.

“During the example run of AD or SAP log-on into BI Launchpad, analysing the traces uncovered one call taking 10 seconds to get a response.”

The presentation using real world examples is a practical guide. Explaining how to determine where time is spent during the various workflows. An SAP Business Objects enterprise is large and complex, no surprise to those who embrace Business Intelligence and analytics. A performance issue in that universe requires the correct analytical approach, tools, and solutions to give the best user experience. The approach should also establish best practices for the user.

As an example, a user will experience a performance issue via their own interface ie. Webl. Or a user will experience a lack of server resources. These common user concerns, when reported, can be analysed, diagnosed, and remedied.

Follow The Stages

The presentation takes you through the three stages using actual examples:

  • Performance Measurement.
  • Performance Analysis.
  • Data Interpretation Tools.

The Approach

Have a baseline measurement of a workflow by simplifying and isolating the multiple levels.

Understand how the various layers interact with each other by examining which processing layers are involved.

Gather traces for a problem workflow using the right tool, break it down to the simplest level possible. Examples of traces are shown, the tools used to establish the traces, and a breakdown of the findings. Best practices and considerations are explored.

Discover where the time hold-up is by breaking down the total runtime in differing processing layers. Delays can often occur outside of the traces you have gathered. End user laptops and devices can often contribute to performance issues.

Verify if the decline in performance is from active concurrency, data volumes, or core processing.

Based on the findings from the analysis, perform a tuning exercise. Challenge user requirements. Show users the benefits of smaller BEx queries. Consider changes to server resources, distribution, and configuration. If you spot an inefficiency in the product then provide the feedback by raising a Support Case.

The Examples

The presentation runs through examples of actual workflows and the tools used for each case. Each example is treated individually and completely so a user can have it as a solution to a problem and a reference to optimise their own system and use:

  • Web Intelligence refresh via OLAP BICS to BW on SAP HANA.
  • Web Intelligence refresh via JDBC to SAP HANA sidecar.
  • SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio refresh via JDBC BICS to SAP HANA
  • AD or SAP log-on into BI Launchpad.
  • OLAP refresh via OLAP BICS in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 to BW on SAP HANA.

A trace showing a single query taking 10 seconds was a serious and obvious outlier in one test run. The example was from users reporting a slow log-on to the BI Platform.

Using HttpWatch we monitored the HTP(S) traffic on the client.

We used SAP Client Plug-in to trace the workflow. Easily spotting the request taking 10 seconds to have a response.

Using the network utility nbstat showed a NetBIOS packet querying for a computer name.

A bad WINS configuration on the server-side with a timing out NetBIOS request was found. WINS then found the IP address of the network computer.

This was just an example of a bad configuration, SAP BusinessObjects did not require NetBIOS for authentication. With no NetBIOS queries left, Single Sign On log-on proceeded at the correct speed.

The Tools Used

The examples and resulting analysis required the right tools for the job. Xoomworks BI used the following in the production of the presentation. Details on the tools are at the end of the presentation:

  • SAP Client Plug-in
  • Wirehsark
  • HttpWatch, Fiddler
  • GLF Viewer
  • Notepad++
  • nbstat

We hope you will enjoy, and find useful Dan’s updated presentation from SAPinsider 2016 Las Vegas.


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