Desktop Intelligence to connect again to BO 4.1

Let me share an interesting finding with you, especially those who were not attending the recent SAP BO User Conference in Orlando. When I first saw the following pic I thought this must be another joke about Deski:

(Source: pic.twitter.com/Wckjr4HX)

During the recent BO user conference (the BusinessObjects Arbeitskreis / BOAK) hosted by IT-Logix in Zurich / Switzerland I mentioned this and got numerous requests to look for more details. Obviously many of Swiss BOBJ customers still use Deski and it is quite a show stopper to them regarding any upcoming migration to BO 4. Yet this morning Blair Wheadon from SAP confirmed the slide above was no joke but serious:

As you can see the Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack (DCP) should be available in BO 4.1, the next minor release (don’t confuse this with patch 4.1 which equals to BO 4.0.4.1). So far I couldn’t find any rumours when BO 4.1 will be available. Feel free to write your estimation by adding a comment!

Update: I’ve just found more information here:

scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-31798

Great thoughts by Eric Vallo here: bit.ly/NEi3b9

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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