Upgrading to NetWeaver BW 7.3: Our story part 2 - the long hard road

4 March 2011

John Appleby

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

The story of #BluefinRunsSAP so far

23 days before go-live I wrote my first blog on our upgrade to NetWeaver BW 7.3. I’d hoped to go live on the 8th December and it seemed like a realistic goal at the time. Unfortunately the additional 14 days belied the complexity of running such a new version of SAP in a productive environment. It’s been emotional, and a lot of fun.

So here’s a brief history of the problems we’ve gone through, and out the other side of, in that 23 day period before December 28th 2010.

Windows. Ah.

Interestingly, NetWeaver BW 7.3 won’t run on Windows 2003 which is what we run on almost everything. So our friendly IT department upgraded our systems to Windows 2008. If I’m being honest, they did tell me that the documentation says not to upgrade from Windows 2003 to 2008 and how right that was.  If you’re thinking of it… don’t even bother. Migrate to  new equipment running Windows 2008 before you even start this process.

And in case you were wondering, this applies to NetWeaver 7.0 Enhancement Pack 2 too. And that includes of course ERP 6.0 EhP5 and CRM 7.0 EhP1. If you’re still running Windows 2003, do yourself a favour and move off it – not by upgrading! What’s double annoying is that you can’t install NetWeaver 7.0 based products on Windows 2008 R2 so if you want to move to that you have to migrate to Windows 2008, upgrade to NetWeaver 7.02/7.3 then Upgrade to Windows 2008 R2. Does it have to be quite so hard?!

So we migrated to new Virtual Machines running Windows 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2. And on we went.

Files… what files?

It turns out that when you upgrade NetWeaver from 7.0x to 7.3, you need a number of additional supplemental files – correction files for the upgrade and various other downloads that you have to get from SAP’s Service Marketplace (download portal). SAP managed to get this right for NetWeaver 7.02 which had these files available on the day of release.

Unfortunately we were presumably the first people to upgrade to 7.3 and therefore the first people to find out that these files didn’t exist. More disappointingly, it took SAP days to release a file, only for us to find out 2 minutes after that, that there was yet another file missing. We lost an entire week on this alone.

Enterprise Portal 7.3

SAP has a good tradition of making new versions of the Enterprise Portal compatible with old versions of SAP. For example, you can install the HR Self Services content from R/3 4.7 or ECC 5.0 onto Enterprise Portal 7.0 – with certain limitations of course. We have a single shared portal for HR Self Services and BW, and expected to migrate the HR content onto Portal 7.3

It seems however that so far – and it’s not clear if this will always be the case – you must be running the new ERP 6.0 EhP5 (or Business Suite 7 innovations 2010) to run Portal 7.3, and the old ERP 6.0 EhP4 HR content doesn’t work. So we now have to have two portals instead of one. Great.

Core bugs

It’s curious actually because we’ve only found 3 bugs so far in NetWeaver BW 7.3 Now this is almost certainly partially because we have been running BW 7.3 in beta for the last 6 months and have been one of a few organizations contributing to ironing bugs out of the product. Even still, this isn’t bad.

On the other hand, we found a lot of bugs in our own processes which looked like bugs in BW. Data load problems, extraction problems and configuration problems – especially with the new Portal 7.3 – have made us think there have been more bugs in SAP than there were; and have taken a while to work through.

Project Santa

If you’ve not been reading Philippa Holland’s excellent blog series on Bluefin’s Project Santa then you should be. You can check them out on her profile page. Project Santa causes both an impact, and is impacted, by our upgrade to 7.3. We split our systems in two and have two parallel landscapes – one for Project Santa and one for BW 7.3 and we will have to reconcile those landscapes in a multi-track approach over the next 2 weeks. Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas Project Santa.

Thanks Santa for SSDs

When our IT department built out our new Production System (we cutover to a new Windows 2008 system a week before the upgrade proper), they had a nice surprise for us. A new virtual machine with shiny new CPUs and more memory, plus the productive database sitting on Solid State Disks (SSDs). And what a difference this has made to us. Tasks that took 15 minutes to complete take mere minutes.

Production Upgrade

Well I’m writing this blog whilst the production upgrade is in progress and I may have to rewrite this section. Let’s hope not. So far, the upgrade has gone right through with our learning from the Development environment resolving any productive issues so far. There have been no additional fixes required and we’re most of the way through the downtime phase of the upgrade after just 1 hour.


Well let’s see what happens tomorrow. We have to regression test our data loads and connect up BI Java then test all our scheduled reports and sign off the system. And on the 4th January… Project Santa moved to transport into our landscape.

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About the author

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

I've always been passionate about new technology. I cut my teeth helping global financial services and consumer goods companies build data warehouses to manage their business - especially when they wanted to run faster.

These days, I travel weekly across continents, helping clients differentiate themselves using analytics technologies. This then involved building a team to design the solution, make it work and lead it through to successful completion.

I believe that in-memory computing is radically changing the face of business so you can ask me about SAP HANA, or about any other data platform like DB2 BLU, Hadoop or MongoDB for that matter.

I'm passionate that giving back to the community reaps long-term rewards and this has shaped the last few years of my career - being a contributor to knowledge sharing websites as an SAP Mentor; and a sometime advisor to Wall Street investors on emerging technologies and those companies bringing to market new innovations.

When I'm not busy designing in-memory apps, you may find me pounding the pavement to the beat of music in the hilly suburbs of Philadelphia, or traveling the world to meet new people and new cultures.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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