10 Steps to SAP BusinessObjects BI4 – Getting BW ready for BI4

Hey, this is Eric (briefly).  I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed steps #10 and #9 so far.  We’ve discussed being a good sport with your IT pals and we’ve talked about getting business buy-in to make the big move.  This week, as you may have predicted…#8!  If you are an SAP BW shop, it may be time for an upgrade!  I’m happy to introduce you again to Ethan Jewett, SAP Mentor, SAP blogger, and all around really smart guy.  Here’s Ethan!

So, you’re going to use SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4 (BI4) with SAP Business Warehouse (BW). BI4 brings many advantages over the 3.1 version when used with BW, but many of these advantages are only seen when used with the proper version of BW itself. So how do you make sure you’re on the right version of BW, and if you’re not, how do you upgrade to take advantage of BI 4.0’s improved interfaces to BW?

Minimum requirements

First, we need to figure out if you even need to do anything. For versions of BW that are compatible with BI4, you’ll need to check the “Product Availability Matrix” available at https://service.sap.com/pam. From there, you’ll need to search for your BI platform (probably “SBOP BI PLATFORM 4.0”) and then click on the link to the “Supported Platforms” document. This will open a PDF with another link to another page on the service marketplace where you can find links to the real PDF guides to platform support for whatever version of BI4 you happen to be on. Except that these links are actually just links to a text version of the URL you need to enter in your browser in order to get to the PDF explaining platform support. Oh, and the PDF for SP02 doesn’t exist anymore. But if you’re on BI 4.0 SP04 or SP05, you’re in luck. Or you could just go directly to the SP05 document here, since the BW requirements are the same for all versions: http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/f0134dbb-8f10-3010-5084-cf90dbb35284 (p. 18)

Once you’ve stopped laughing (or crying) about that process, we can point out that you need to be on at least BW Enhancement Package 1, SP08 to have full functionality with BI4. Figuring out what level your existing BW is comparatively simple. Just log on to BW, then go to the “System” -> “Status…” menu. In that window, click the magnifying `glass under “Component Version”. Under the “SAP_BW” line, reference the “Release” and “Level” columns. These correspond to the to the BW release version (7.31) and support package level (04) listed in the platform support document.

Nbr8BWUpgrade

As you can see, I’m on the minimum patch of the BW 7.31 version required to use the BI4 integration.

Staying on the treadmill

Of course, being on the minimum supported version is not necessarily the best position. More recent support packages will have performance and bug-fix improvements that you might require. Make sure to check release notes on help.sap.com as well as individual notes on the service marketplace. While navigating and monitoring these sites is not easy, learning to navigate them and keeping up with the latest notes is invaluable for people who are maintaining, interfacing with, or regularly working in a BW system.

Generally, I recommend trying to be within 3 support packages levels of the most recent support package on your release version (this margin should shrink to 1 for relatively new releases and for more disciplined IT organizations). Support package applications do require some effort on technical and functional regression tests, but this effort is quite small and is minimized when support packs are applied regularly and without large support package level jumps.

Deciding when to upgrade to a new release version

So, as we can see, as long as you are on at least Netweaver BW 7.0 Enhancement Package 1 (often called NW BW 7.01), you only technically need to apply support packages to be able to use BW with BI4. However, there are other reasons you might want to upgrade your release version (either using Enhancement Packages or through a full release upgrade). For example, NW 7.02 and 7.03 bring with them enhancements to the underlying Netweaver platform and some enhancements to BW.

The real prize is in the upgrade to NetWeaver BW 7.3, which provides many new modeling options in BW (semantically partitioned objects, hybrid providers, and DSO lookup transformation rules, to name just a few). The 7.3 release version also allows BW to run directly on the HANA database, which can result in significant improvements in performance for many activities as well as simplification of the BW architecture (for example, InfoCubes become far less necessary when running on HANA).

So, if an upgrade to a 7.3x BW release is a possibility, I definitely recommend it. However, keep in mind that an upgrade from a 3.5 or 7.0x version of BW to the 7.3x version is a fairly major undertaking. A good test plan must be developed, and there should be at least 1 practice run of the production upgrade with testing to verify that all business-critical functions are working as expected. The reason for this is that there are some incompatibilities between the releases that could cause problems for customizations, and even for some non-customized developments.

Hopefully this gets you thinking along the right lines when evaluating your options for integrating your BI4 platform with your existing BW platform, and upgrading BW if necessary.

About Ethan Jewett: I’ve worked as a consultant in business intelligence and data warehousing for 7 years, primarily in the SAP & BusinessObjects world. I’m an SAP Mentor and an Apache committer. I’m currently focused on new approaches to data management problems. You can find me online at esjewett.com.