State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade, April 2014

When I last wrote about the state of the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 upgrade back in January (see related article, State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 Upgrade, January 2014), SAP had just released SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 SP2 with some new features, additional stability for lifecycle manager, and some SDK changes just to shake things up. Last month, SAP released SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 Support Pack 3 and we recommend that all SAP BusinessObjects customers place one of the following events on their 2014 project calendar:

  • Upgrade to SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 SP3
  • Upgrade to SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 SP7

Upgrade directly to BI 4.1 SP3

For customers not yet on the BI 4.0 platform, we recommend skipping BI 4.0 entirely and going straight for BI 4.1 (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 Support Pack 3). BI 4.1 rolls up a large number of fixes from prior releases and introduces a modest yet useful set of new features across the entire suite. Support Pack 3 also introduces session management features long requested by BI administrators. Support Pack 3 is the first support pack to provide full support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 11, amongst other interesting additions to platform support. Support Pack 3 is missing some patches from Support Pack 2, but expect these gaps to be closed when the first patch arrives in a few weeks (Update: Patch 3.1 was released on May 2, 2014).

If you’re currently on the XI R2 or XI 3.0/3.1 platforms, you should also plan your upgrade around BI 4.1.  If you still have a large investment in Desktop Intelligence, we encourage you to retire it even though minimal Desktop Intelligence support has been added to BI 4.1 via the Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack. If you absolutely must keep Desktop Intelligence, first upgrade to XI 3.1 SP6 SP1 or higher (XI 3.1 SP7 is now available). This action patches Desktop Intelligence to the version required for the Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack in BI 4.1.  You can then proceed with migration to BI 4.1.

Customers currently on a patch level of BI 4.0 can certainly benefit from BI 4.1. But if you’re not experiencing any serious issues corrected in BI 4.1 SP3, it may be worth waiting until later in the year for a future support pack.

Upgrade to XI 3.1 SP7

Organizations still using XI R2 (which has been out of patch support for 3 years), XI 3.0 or even earlier versions of XI 3.1 will find them increasingly problematic because they don’t support the latest desktop operating systems, browsers, and Java runtimes being rolled out by corporate IT. If your organization still doesn’t feel ready for BI 4.1 or cannot budget for new 64-bit hardware, you’ll want to patch up to XI 3.1 Service Pack 7 (SP7), as it provides Tomcat 7- a huge improvement over Tomcat 5.5- along with the latest OS, database, and browser support including Microsoft Windows 8.1 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 and 11. Service Pack 7 also includes Java 7 support, which was first added to Service Pack 5 Fix Pack 3 (see SAP Note 1736762). It also provides CMS and Audit DB support for Microsoft SQL Server 2014 and Oracle 12c even though those databases are not yet supported for CMS or Audit usage on BI 4.0 or 4.1.

But remember, according to the Product Availability Matrix, the end of mainstream maintenance for XI 3.1 is 12/31/2015. Although Priority One support continues through 12/31/2017, in reality there are only about 18 months before the leap to BI 4.1 becomes mandatory.

Special Considerations for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer Users

If you’re using Explorer on the BI 4.0 platform, note that the latest Mobile BI version 5.1.9 supports Explorer if you patch up to the recently released BI 4.0 SP8 (or move up to BI 4.1). Patching up allows you to retire the stand-alone SAP BusinessObjects Explorer for iOS app in favor of a single SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI for iOS app.

SAP BusinessObjects Explorer XI 3.2 SP4 is the last release of Explorer for the XI 3.1 platform (see SAP Note 1726438) and is curiously no longer in maintenance, a rarity for SAP. But according to SAP KB 1526928, it remains compatible with “XI 3.1 SP5+”, which means it can be used with XI 3.1 SP6 and SP7. Unlike later versions of BI 4.0 or BI 4.1, XI 3.1 organizations will still need the SAP BusinessObjects Explorer for iOS for mobile Explorer functionality.

Provide Business Value To Your Users

The worst thing you could possibly do in an upgrade kickoff meeting is send the message to your business users that “the upgrade will be long and painful but the charts will be prettier”. Reinvent the standard IT systems upgrade by recalculating business value, re-engaging with the business community, and re-introducing business intelligence to the executive suite (see related article, Reinventing the Business Intelligence Upgrade).

Resources for planning and executing a BI 4.1 upgrade

Unsure how to size a new 64-bit environment for BI 4? We’ve written a blog series entitled 10 Steps to Get to BI 4.0 to help jumpstart your project.

Can EV Technologies help our organization with a BI 4.1 upgrade?

We’ve helped multiple organizations successfully upgrade from XI 3.1 and BI 4.0 to BI 4.1. Our migration methodology uses powerful technology from our Sherlock® Inspector Suite to analyze your existing BI platform. We can use XI 3.1 usage to determine an appropriate BI 4 sizing. We can also easily identify inactive users and content in your current environment, allowing you to simplify and shorten the time to migrate, test and deploy the new implementation.

Each upgrade path offers new ways to solve information challenges. Regardless of which path you choose in 2014, EV Technologies is here to help make your business intelligence strategy a reality. Contact us today to begin the conversation.

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