State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade, December 2014

As 2014 winds down to a close, its time to put the finishing touches on project plans and budgets for 2015. For organizations that rely on SAP for their analytics platform, one priority for 2015 is crystal-clear…

All Roads Lead to BI 4.1

The messaging from SAP continues to be that all roads lead to BI 4.1, specifically SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 Support Pack 5, which was released last month. While there were rumors that UNX support for Live Office, Web Intelligence Free-Hand SQL, and the SAP Lumira integration kit would be bundled into SP5, those items did not make the final cut and are instead expected for BI 4.1 SP6, which is tentatively scheduled for mid-2015. However, BI 4.1 SP5 does have other nice touches, like bumping Apache Tomcat 7.0.32 up to version 7.0.55.

To make sure customers get the BI 4.1 message, SAP announced last week that it will add two additional years of product support for BI 4.1 (see related article on SAP Community Network, New Maintenance Dates for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1). End of Mainstream Maintenance for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 has been extended two years until December 31, 2018. End of Priority One Support for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 is now December 31, 2020.

The Road Ends for XI 3.1 and BI 4.0 in 2015

We have previously recommended to customers not yet ready for the BI 4.1 plunge to patch up to the latest release of XI 3.1 (see related article, State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4 Upgrade, April 2014). In addition to fixes, upgrading to XI 3.1 SP7 provides the the latest platform support (especially Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 and 11). Upgrading to XI 3.1 SP7  is still appropriate advice for customers still on classic BusinessObjects 5.x or 6.x, or XI R1, because they cannot upgrade directly to BI 4.1 without getting to XI R2 SP2 (no longer available) or higher.

However, customers currently on XI 3.1 or even BI 4.0 should be aware that patch support for those versions will end on December 15, 2015. So the question for these customers (or even XI R2 customers) now becomes whether to upgrade to BI 4.1 in the first half of 2015 or wait for BI 4.2, which is expected (but not promised!) in the second half of 2015.

Pursuing Simplification While Contending With BI Disruption

Not only do all roads lead to BI 4.1, but multiple product paths are converging toward a simplified tool set.

SAP Simplified Analytics Portfolio

We’ve been party to many conversations about go-forward strategies from customers who are already considering a wholesale discontinuation in using SAP Dashboards or SAP Explorer. Before you put any of these tools in the closet, consider both the time it will take for SAP to implement the future state platforms, the time for them to become generally accepted as a go-forward tool, and the fact that in some shape or form, compatibility should be in place for older content. Our old friend Adam Binnie even went so far to say “you can expire tools but you can’t expire content” (see related article, Contending with BI Disruption). The tools you own today bring business value. Put them to use. Don’t call them obsolete before their prime (But we won’t object if you call Desktop Intelligence obsolete).

Got Lumira?

If you haven’t already, take the time to download the free edition of SAP Lumira. Depending on the state of your enterprise license for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, you might even have licenses for the paid edition. SAP Lumira, along with its developer-oriented peer SAP Design Studio, are the foundation of SAP’s analytics future (see Jayne Landry’s blog Run Simple: Convergence of the SAP BusinessObjects BI Product Portfolio). While the integration kit between BI 4.1 and SAP Lumira Server remains in customer ramp-up and not generally available, SAP did add some desktop manageability features for SAP Lumira in BI 4.1 SP5. And SAP recently announced a HANA-free edition of Lumira Server, to be named Lumira, Edge Edition (see SAP Community Network Article, SAP Lumira, Edge edition: What Is It?).

Ten Steps to BI 4.1

Last year, we wrote a ten-part series about getting to BI 4.0. It’s still great advice for getting to BI 4.1.

10. Get all the key IT players to the table

9. Get business buy-in

8. For SAP BW shops – Update SAP BW in a world before BW 7.01 SPS 08

7. Clean house

6. Do a proper sizing exercise/Plan to scale

5. Determine the Destiny of Desktop Intelligence

4. Define your migration path

3. Create an education and change management plan

2. Know your universe

1. Test, test, and more test

If you’re not sure where to get started, we’ve helped organizations of all sizes deploy small, medium, large and even some extra large BI 4.1 installations. Using our Sherlock® Migration Toolkit, we’ll analyze your current system and help determine the best path to getting your organization on the new platform. 2015 is definitely the year that all SAP customers need to travel the road to SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1. We can help you make the journey safely.

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