BI7 (NetWeaver 7.0) was released in October 2005 and has since been very well received by the SAP community. Despite the long period since its release, many customers have not upgraded to BI7 and continue to use BW 3.5 (NetWeaver 04).
I am often asked about the benefits of BI7 over 3.5. So here I am going to give my top 6 reasons why you should upgrade…
Reason 1 – Maintenance and support
BW 3.5 is out of standard support and in ‘extended maintenance’. SAP will continue to support 3.5 until 31 March 2013, but do charge higher maintenance fees until this date. No support will be available after this time. To continue to be supported by SAP you will have to upgrade you BW system before 2013, so why not do it now and realize the benefits from the improved toolset?
Reason 2 – Integrated Planning (IP)
Integrated Planning is introduced in BI7 and is the new planning tool and replaces BPS “Business Planning and Simulation”. IP when compared to BPS is more powerful, easier to configure, offers a better user experience and is fully integrated into BEx reporting.
There is no automatic upgrade path from BPS to IP, so we strongly advise all new developments undertaken with Integrated Planning. This is only possible once you have upgraded to BI7.
Reason 3 – Business Warehouse Accelerator (BWA)
BWA is a combined hardware/software product from SAP that provides a massive (up to 50,000 times) increase in your BW reporting performance. The BWA is implemented on Blades Server(s) and it uses ‘in memory compression and partitioning’ to provide report results, rather than reading from the database.
To take advantage of BWA you must be using BI7. For any organization that wants quicker reporting (and who doesn’t?) BWA is well worth investing in.
Reason 4 – BEx reporting improvements
BEx has continued to evolve with each release of SAP BW. In BI7, an entirely new version of the BEx toolset is available. The improvements in the new version are numerous and wide-ranging: it is easier to use, reports are more flexible and queries are more powerful. To aid a smooth upgrade and migration, the old tools are unchanged and remain alongside the new. Integration with BusinessObjects requires BI7. Your BI7 upgrade will need to be completed in advance of any implementation of any of the BOBJ suite.
Reason 5 – DTPs and transformations
New ETL functionality is provided in BI7. This offers easier configuration, improved supportability and greater flexibility when managing data loads. For development and support teams this offers a quantum leap forward when doing the majority of their data flow tasks. Update rules which are available in BW 3.5 remain as legacy functionality. Migration to Transformations and DTPs can be done on and ‘as needed’ basis at your chosen pace.
Reason 6 – Cube re-modeling
It is now possible to restructure and redefine your InfoCubes without having to empty them of data and reload them. Anyone who has worked with large volumes of data (which I suspect is most of us) can testify to the disproportionate effort required to do something as simple as remove a field, restructure dimensions or populate a new characteristic in a cube. This can now all be done quickly, easily and leaving the data in the cube.
Okay, I know this is 6 reasons rather than the titled 5. There is so much to cover, it is hard to stop at 6! I hope these have communicated the types of ways in which a 3.5 to BI7 upgrade gives substantial and tangible benefits. At some point, an upgrade will become a necessary, so why delay and postpone the benefits of BI7?