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State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade – February 2019

According to Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution, The President

“shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

and he did so last night. There aren’t any such rules governing the frequency of the State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade. But as I watched the President of the United States last night, it seems like a perfect time to write a new one (see my previous article, State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade – February 2018). SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2 Support Pack 6 is currently available, Support Pack 7 is on track for a March 2019 release, and SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.3 is coming next year.

The Plug-In Free World Is Finally Here

The first topic I’d like to address is browser plug-ins. Back in 2014 I wrote that there were obvious and not-so-obvious places in the BI Launch Pad and Central Management Console where Adobe Flash was used (see related article, Adobe Flash – Dying but not Dead Just Yet). After years of struggling with browser plug-ins like Adobe Flash for Xcelsius dashboards and the Java JRE for Web Intelligence, I’m pleased to report that BI 4.2 SP6 is the first version of the BI platform that eliminates Adobe Flash from the BI Launch Pad and Central Management Console. And even Dashboards 4.2 has been recently upgraded to generate HTML (non-Flash) dashboards.

Support Pack 6 also provides the smallest feature gap between the HTML edition of Web Intelligence and its historically more powerful Java-based cousin. If you’re currently using an earlier version of BI 4.2 such as two-year-old Support Pack 3 you’ll find much more refinement in the current release of the HTML edition of Web Intelligence. However, upgrade pre-planning and acceptance testing are key. On a recent upgrade project, one of my customers had to roll back BI 4.2 SP6 Patch 500 to a pre-upgrade VM snapshot because of an issue with multi-source universes. The issue will be corrected in BI 4.2 SP6 Patch 600, which is coming in March 2019. But so is BI 4.2 SP7 and that code line never had the multi-source defect. So later this year I’ll be helping that customer make a second attempt at an upgrade, most likely to SP7.

Lumira Is Still a Solution for Early Adopters

Despite the revised SAP analytics roadmap, Lumira 2.x remains a key solution, especially for customers who started using Lumira 1.x or Design Studio 1.x. However, becoming a new Lumira adopter in 2019 is probably not the best use of your team’s resources. Organizations that have installed Lumira or Design Studio but never used it should probably look at retiring it during their next upgrade project. Although beware of compiler issues, especially with the 1.x versions. Depending on your situation, it may be easiest to disable Lumira and Design Studio without uninstalling them. If you’re still using Windows Server 2012, your next SAP BI upgrade should be re-platformed on Windows Server 2016 anyway – an ideal time to continue life without Lumira.

The Intelligent Enterprise Keeps Becoming More Intelligent

Organizations that run on the SAP Business Suite should be taking a long look at SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP Analytics Hub, and the SAP Digital Boardroom. Last year, SAP slowed down the SAP Analytics Cloud release cycle from every two weeks to quarterly (see related article, New Quarterly Release Schedule for SAP Analytics Cloud). The slower schedule isn’t a sign of less innovation. It’s a sign of a growing user base of enterprises that need to plan around a slower release cycle (The more adventurous among you can still have new software every two weeks, if desired).

I feel like I’m in the minority, but I believe organizations should first position SAP Digital Boardroom with their C-level executives and middle management, with SAP Analytics Cloud positioned as a supporting cast member, not the star (see related SAP Community article, Thoughts on the SAP Digital Boardroom).

Licensing these cloud-based products can still present a challenge to adoption, but your organization’s C-level executives need to begin to see and feel these products and understand that adoption is a matter of when, not if. A full set of cloud licenses for the enterprise may not be in the 2019 budget, but SAP-powered organizations need to start funding proofs-of-concept and pilots this year.

The State of the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform is Strong

The SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform team continues to innovate and SAP plans to support it well into the future. One organization that I am working with- a multi-national insurance corporation- is deploying it this year as its global standard. I’m excited to see what will be delivered next year by SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.3. Who knows? We may get the band back together next year to start writing a Fifth Edition of Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide.

For More Information

What are your plans for the on-premise SAP BusinessObjects BI platform in 2019? Will your organization start an SAP Analytics Cloud pilot? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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