No Excuses. Turn on Auditor.

Looking across the playing field today, many customers have already made the transition to SAP BusinessObjects BI4.x. Many more have begun to evaluate the process to upgrade from prior versions of SAP BusinessObjects due to the end of life of the XI 3.1 code base happening in less than…GASP…90 days. As we work with customers to plot that course through their migration, even with customers on BI4.0, a recurring theme is that dastardly Auditor database.

I feel like it’s a good time to talk about the objections I most commonly hear to running Auditor. I’d like to weigh those costs against the benefits and let you decide if it’s still not going to be your friend.

It’s too big

It’s true, this data can get massive depending on your landscape size and the number of events you audit for. The crux of this issue is the Character Large Object (CLOB) in the ADS_EVENT_DETAIL table. It’s sort of a catch all field that stores the really detailed information about each event’s detail record. OK that was confusing. Let’s say you’ve asked Auditor to track the SQL statements executed for every query. That’s where that SQL text goes.

Prior to BI4, this data accumulated perpetually unless you took steps to truncate old data. In BI4, the mechanism is in place inside the Central Management Console to tell Auditor to limit the data it holds. Unless your corporate compliance or security groups say you have to keep this data, it’s a safe bet to hang on to this data for a rolling 13 months. This should give you a meaningful picture of utilization over time and not break the database bank.

However, also remember you don’t have to audit everything. Speaking from experience, I’ve always felt that the most important part of the story are logon events, views, refreshes, and schedules. You can add to that list as you see fit. However, if I want to answer the most basic questions: Who is logging on? and Who is using my content? you have the base data required to answer. In XI 3.1 and older landscapes, it’s a bit tedious to enable all of those events, I know. Service by service, you must edit the distinct properties and choose what is to be audited. In a migration scenario, you definitely don’t need it all.

A few of my favorite events from the Webi Processing Servers in XI 3.1/XI R2, for example:

  • Document Retrieved
  • Document Refreshed
  • Report Viewing Succeeded
  • Scheduling Succeeded
  • Scheduling Failed
  • Scheduling Failed But Will Be Reattempted

And, a few from the Central Management Servers in XI 3.1/XI R2:

  • Concurrent Logon
  • Named User Logon

Why both? As common as CPU licensing is in the wild, it’s not uncommon to see users set up randomly between concurrent and named user license types because there is no restriction on the back end unless you explicitly own that license type.

It performs really slowly

What doesn’t? It’s true. Mishandling this data creates risk. If you find this data important, treat it better. There are few salient points to consider here.

  • Where does your Auditor database live? Did you shove it into a nasty shared-services platform that’s over-taxed and think it should run like it’s on SAP HANA?
  • Have you trimmed the extra history gunk?
  • In the absolute worst of cases, have you created any transformations to aggregate some of those important KPIs I mentioned above?

It’s really confusing

Let’s talk about things in the context of BI4 today. SAP has a pretty well formed UNX and a stack of reports (as well as some newer stuff) all ready to go for your BI4 landscape. Don’t try to tell your own story on this data out of the gates. Of course, you can review the admin guide and discern how the data works. The universe provided on the SCN gives you a ready-made set of stories to begin to learn and consume this data on.

Once we’ve knocked down those perceived barriers and begin to accumulate good data, we have some really great stories to tell.

  • How am I doing on adoption with my fancy BI platform?
  • What are the growth trends in utilization and how do they impact my need to acquire more hardware and licenses?

We’re knocking it out of the park today with our customers using this data  to help them successfully migrate to BI4. Don’t run your landscape in the dark if you don’t have to. Turn on Auditor. You should be out of reasons why now. You are welcome.

Cheers.

 

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