Testing BO BI 4.x using the cloud

Update End of December 2012: Currently the ITX Migration and Demo Environment on Cloudshare is not available anymore for public parties. IT-Logix customers of course can still apply for a shared copy of it. The reason why I have to end the public offering is due to increased workload on one hand. On the other hand we need the current environment for our customer projects. Unfortunately Cloudshare did not respond to my request to offer us a free environment soley for the purpose of sharing our migration environment.

(Update October 15th 2012 –> current machine list)

(Update October 28th 2012 –> Patch 4.5 installed)

(Update October 31st 2012 –> graphomate inlcuding demo dashboard installed –> see Cloudsrv012 in folder graphomate – here you’ll find the user manual too; or open Dashboards on Cloudclnt01 and drag n’ drop the graphomate component to the dashboard to test it yourself!)

While I discussed general migration challenges in my previous blog, this blog addresses the fact that every new release (even just a service / support package) of SAP BusinessObjects needs intensive testing (by the way I’m not talking about versions in Ramp-Up but the regular available versions like currently BO 4.0 SP2). SAP seems to work based on the banana principle:

The product ripe with the consumer.

I could now elaborate on how bad this is and how much better other vendors do (do they really?). But I won’t. I would like to share an opportunity of how you can better cope with the circumstance that you have to test, test and once again test whatever you do with SAP BusinessObjects before you “go live”.

When SAP provided its HANA developer environment to partners and customers I came first to know cloudshare. In the meanwhile I’m quite enthusiastic about cloudshare! It was never easier (and cheaper) for me to create development and test environments having the choice out of a multitude of machine templates and afterwards full admin rights on all machines. But the best thing about cloudshare is that you can easily share a virtual server environment with others for free (at least for a first period of two weeks).

This inspired me to create what finally was named the “ITX BO 4.x Migration Assessment and Demo Environment”. This is a virtual server environment in the cloud. It allows for quick and easy to use «hands-on» tests of current and upcoming releases of SAP BusinessObjects BI products. You can import parts (or everything) of an existing BO content from your XI 3.1 system into the XI 3.1 system in the cloud (using BIAR-Files). Afterwards you can test a migration to BO BI 4.0 SP4 (or you can use BO 4.0 SP4 simply for its own sake) You can get your own copy of the environment for free during two weeks. Afterwards you need a cloudshare.com subscription to further use it.

The environment also includes an installation of the products 360View+ and 360Eyes from GB and Smith (www.gbandsmith.com). I highly recommend these two products in order to streamline your migration. There will be another blog where I will detail on this.

The 4 Available Machines

The Migration Assessment & Demo Environment consists of four machines:

  • BO XI 3.1 SP3 (Server + Client Tools + 360View + 360Eyes)
  • BO BI 4.0 SP4 Patch 5 (Server + Client Tools + Visual Intelligence + 360View + 360Eyes)
  • BO BI 4.0 SP4 Patch 5 (Client Tools, Crystal Reports 2011, Crystal Reports for Enterprise, Dashboards etc.
  • BO DataServices 4.1 + Information Steward

Request your Free Copy

Please contact me to share with you a copy of the current migration environment. You’ll find my contact information in the PDF here or use Twitter with @rbranger.
Please give me some key words why you’d like to use the environment and allow up to two working days to grant you access to a copy of the system.

You’ll receive an invitation email directly from cloudshare.com including a link.

Register on Cloudshare.com

Afterwards you need to open a free account on cloudshare.com:

After your successful registration please log in to Cloudshare ProPlus. Your environment is already starting up… Click on «View environment» to see more details…

Wait until all machines are up and running. In the meanwhile read the description and get familiar with machine names etc.

Let’s «own» the environment. Click on the corresponding button! On the right side you have now much more options available. The cloudshare.com license is now valid for a longer time than only the original two days.

Testing BO BI 4.0 SP4

Let’s start with using the client tools and BI Launchpad of BI 4.0 SP4. Select «Fullscreen RDP» from the drop down menu of «CLOUDCLNT012»:

The password of the BOE Administrator is always IT-Logix32
The SP4 CMS is running on cloudsrv012 on default port 6400
Here some helpful links:
Open the BI Launchpad at http://cloudsrv012:8080/BOE/BI

Find shortcuts to the available client tools on the desktop or in the start menu.

Cloud Folders

If you need to upload files (e.g. a BIAR file with your own BO content), use «Cloud Folders» to upload files using FTP:

On the virtual machine you’ll find a shortcut on the Desktop to access your cloud folders:

Have Fun and Happy Migration!

This is it. I hope you find this new opportunity useful. At least for 14 days you can use the environment for free. Afterwards you need to purchase a subscription at cloudshare.com. By the way this is nothing expensive and I wouldn’t give back mine… Regarding BO and 360 licenses there are only temporary keys part of the environment. I recommend that you use your own keys. In case you have no keys but would like to test drive BO or 360 products please contact me for an extended trial period.

My own cloudshare.com environment which is the base for the Migration Assessment Environment is sponsored by my employer IT-Logix. Please consider IT-Logix if you need dedicated expertise for your next BO migration project.

BO 4.x Migration Challenges

I plan for a few blog posts around migration to the next major SAP BusinessObjects release. This first one is about the challenges in general. It does not cover the setup of the BO 4.x BI platform as such (might be worth a separate blog…) and the question whether you’d better go directly to Feature Pack 3 (now in ramp-up) or if you start with the currently available version of Support Package 2.

Overview of Major Challenges

  • Which reports to migrate?
  • What happens to still existing Desktop Intelligence reports and especially corresponding report instances?
  • Do you want / need to rework your access management settings during the migration?
  • Should you plan for a “big bang” migration or better in smaller pieces? If yes, how do you deal with the parallel operation of two BO versions (e.g. regarding client tools?)
  • How can you check a migration was successful?
  • Do we have enough licenses?
  • How much education is needed for administrators and end users?

In the rest of this blog I gonna detail on these points.

Which reports to migrate?

The less reports and universes you have to migrate, the less effort you have to invest in the migration and the subsequent testing procedure. Therefore you should try to identify unused or duplicated reports before doing the migration. Think about all the possible copies of reports residing in user’s favorite folders or inboxes. Do you really want or need to keep them?

What about Deski?

Desktop Intelligence is now definitely end of life and not existent anymore in BO 4.x. In theory you can convert Deski reports into Web Intelligence reports. But there are still differences which – depending on your reports – might force you to rebuild some reports manually in Webi. Have a look at this blog from Michael Welter / @UniversePro : http://michaelwelter.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/deski_webi_delta/

A typical challenge I encountered is that many Deski users don’t use the central repository of BO. They use the tool purely as a desktop application, that means as an administrator you don’t know exactly how many Deski reports exist out there or how often a report is used. Unfortunately the BO Audit functionality does not properly track local Deski usage.

A specific other problem might be that you cannot convert Deski instances to Webi. Therefore think about whether you need to keep them somehow or if you can drop them once your BO 3.x system is taken offline.

The migration itself

Typically you don’t want migrating waste. This is true for access rights too. A migration is always a good point in time to tidy up and realign things.

Especially in larger BO environments I recommend not to do a “big bang” migration. Anyway you will usually migrate the same content more than one time. First, after having installed the new software release, you might want to do a test migration and let some end users test on the new platform. In parallel the still productive system XI 3.1 continues to run. Therefore you’ll have to reimport content before you go live with your BO 4.x system. Metadata reporting tools can help you to compare contents between the old and the new system and therefore make sure everything was moved successfully (I will address this in a separate post later on).

Especially in case of a partial migration approach you need to think about side-by-side installation of client tools. Unfortunately this is not trivial as e.g. there might be conflicts with Web Rich Client:

Understand Side-by-Side Client Installation

Understand Side-by-Side Client Installation

(Source: http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/BOBJ/All+you+need+to+know+before+upgrading+to+BI4.0)

Licensing

You should consider the following paragraph in the Admin Guide (p. 84):

The BusinessObjects License Measurement Tool (BOLMT) is a java command-line utility used to collect and store BI platform licensing data. The output XML document contains license deployment measurements and is sent to SAP Global License Auditing Services (GLAS) for consolidation as part of a license audit.

Except you or your customer has an “all you can eat” license for your BO system this might be of interest to you. The availability of certain features in BO are not enabled or disabled by the license key. It is purely a matter of access rights how many users can use such a feature. In XI 3.1 and earlier nobody really cared about this as there was no direct possibility available for BO / SAP to verify license compliance. With BO 4.x this is different and you’d better think of your license situation before you migrate.

Education

Many things in BO 4.x are “somehow” new to existing administrators and users. What do I mean with “somehow”? Let’s take Web Intelligence: There are now ribbon toolbars and the more experience you have with Webi the more you’ll ask yourself where things have moved to. A well done overview the new Webi you’ll find here: http://michaelwelter.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/impressions-of-web-intelligence-4-0/

Another example is Crystal Reports for Enterprise: It is not completely different compared to its “origin”. Nevertheless it took me quite a few hours of struggling with the new interface and differently labeled functionality…

More different compared to its predecessor is the Information Design Tool. Although the basic principles of how to design a Universe remain the same, the approach and architecture of the new semantic layer (= UNX universes) is something you should invest some time to get up and running. A good starting point: http://michaelwelter.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/impressions-of-information-design-tool/

All taken together: Yes, both administrators as well as power and end users need additional education and training to enable a smooth transition from XI 3.1 to BO 4.x.

Additional Link

An additional link and quite good summary of materials for your migration you’ll find here: http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-25474

What is your experience with the migration to BO 4.x? Any migration specific aspects I missed?

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