Migrating, upgrading or updating the latest release of SAP BusinessObjects (BOBJ) is now a tried and tested process. But the one aspect that arises every couple of years is how to consolidate multiple systems into a single landscape. Tim Nightingale, Business Intelligence expert, looks at the newest features included in BOBJ 4.2 SP4, and paths the way to successful consolidation of multiple BOBJ instances.
BOBJ 4.2 SP4 - it’s all about the tiles
The ‘fiorified’ BILaunchpad gives the end users a tile based view of all the documents available to them. This simplified user interface looks cleaner and is more user-friendly. It also makes great use of ‘categories’ to group documents together. There is still the ability to view the repository by folders, but for users with access to a small number of documents, it can be appealing. Administrators, developers and users with lots of documents may get frustrated with the default view, where lots of tiles could fill the browser space, possibly leading to some confusion.
Web Intelligence interfaces
The simpler Web Intelligence interfaces are stripped back to the basics, showing the document without all the toolbars getting in the way. A simple filter panel at the top helps the user understand how they may have altered the report. The really interesting part is that interacting with a report using input controls and element linking makes the report ‘come alive’ as the document shows exactly where the filters are being applied. This is a great addition which is best seen on touch interfaces.
So, where are the cost savings I mentioned?
There are many customers that have multiple deployments of BOBJ for various reasons, including:
• Regional deployments that are closer to the global user base (probably managed centrally). This gives the best user experience compared with a single global system.
• Departmental owned systems, often at different product levels. These are often reactive to get new features into a department as the ‘strategic’ environment is often held back a release or two for stability.
• Disparate systems that have come from the results of mergers and integrations of companies. As the companies integrate infrastructure, applications and backend data, it also makes sense to have a single BOBJ landscape.
Consolidating BOBJ systems can bring potential license and maintenance savings. Moreover, it will always deliver operational savings with regards to BOBJ management and system costs (system provisions, energy, heating, cooling and hosting management).
Consolidating BOBJ – best practice
But how do you go about consolidating these separate systems? The starting point is to consider the following points:
• Do you want to start with an empty system, or have one designated as a master?
• Has anything ever been moved/copied from one of the landscapes to another?
• How will you handle conflicts? For example, where two things match in separate systems, either by name and type in the same [named] folder, or were moved/copied.
• Are the source systems at different product versions?
• Are you planning on consolidating the security models or are you creating a new one?
After these points have been identified and resolved, then the rest of the plan is more or less the same as a migration, apart from one additional piece – a staging system.
The staging system is where the consolidation of the existing systems takes place. It’s here that the conflicts are found and resolved. Resolutions could include renaming or the removal of old versions, as well as creating new folders and updating the security model.
The security model is probably the hardest piece to resolve since users of the source systems will be expecting the same access as before. It is often best to examine the existing systems, to see which model has the best fit going forward and use this as a starting point. This will help you decide how you are going to move security between the systems.
If your source systems are of varying product versions, then you will need to be sure the Upgrade Management Tool can connect to them as sources. Otherwise, you might also need an interim system to move a source system to a supported version.
Consolidating BOBJ landscapes can seem like a daunting task. If you have done migrations previously it will be easier. It simply requires a bit more planning and consideration for the person responsible for making the decisions and resolving any conflicts that arise.
If consolidation is getting your head in a spin why not get in touch with one of our dedicated experts. Get in touch here