Fender Play Provides Guitar Lessons Using Amazon AWS Serverless Technologies

Is your favorite internet hangout powered by Amazon AWS?

In a previous blog, I indicated that I had a personal goal of learning to play guitar using Fender Play and a professional goal of becoming an Amazon AWS Certified Solutions Architect (see related article, Old Dogs, New Tricks). As part of my AWS studies, I stumbled across a YouTube video showing how Fender uses AWS serverless technologies to power Fender Play.

Learn how Fender uses AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon CloudFront and Amazon S3 by watching the video below.

OUT: Air guitar

IN: Cloud guitar

How cool is that?

New Quarterly Release Schedule for SAP Analytics Cloud

With SAP Analytics Cloud’s new release schedule, you can slow down and speed up at the same time.

Since its inception in 2015 as SAP Cloud for Analytics, one of the features of SAP Analytics Cloud has been its rapid release strategy, with new versions of the product being released about every two weeks. An agile release strategy has many benefits for a new product coming into the marketplace. And certainly a cloud-based product can be updated more easily if the vendor is doing most of the heavy lifting.

But a hectic release schedule also has drawbacks, which I wrote about earlier in a piece entitled What we learned from 31 releases of SAP Lumira. In that article, I advocated that SAP should take a two-track approach to cloud releases, much as Microsoft does with Office and its Office Insider early adopter program.

Starting with version 2018.19 of SAP Analytics Cloud released last month, SAP is moving to a quarterly release schedule to “align with SAP’s global strategy for cloud application releases.” And to continue to satisfy early adopters, SAP is offering a Fast-Track subscription for organizations that continue to want to receive bi-weekly updates.

There’s more details and an FAQ on the SAP Analytics Cloud web site. You’ll also want to check out the video that I’ve embedded above. This new release schedule is great news for SAP Analytics Cloud users.

What are your experiences so far with SAP Analytics Cloud? And what do you think about the new quarterly release schedule? Leave a comment in the section below.

Support my blog with your holiday shopping!

One click can make a difference.

Hi, folks!

Just a quick reminder that you can do all of your holiday shopping at Amazon and support this blog at the same time. Just click here or on the banner ad below.

Now would also be a good time to line your bookshelf with some of the books I’ve reviewed.

Thanks for your support!
Dallas Marks

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Old dogs, new tricks

My fellow SAP analytics professionals and I are reacting to an altered career landscape.

Editors Note: As luck would have it, today is the 11th anniversary of this blog. Thank you to all of my readers who have stuck with me through such humble beginnings.

As an IT professional, it has always been necessary to keep learning and growing. As an SAP analytics professional, that’s become even more clear as SAP is pivoting away from the classic SAP BusinessObjects platform. SAP customers must augment their analytics toolkits (see related article, Everything Must Change). To be fair, the SAP BusinessObjects platform isn’t going to disappear overnight, playing an important role in SAP’s “hybrid” analytics strategy. But just like the new and unfamiliar Crystal Enterprise/BusinessObjects XI platform had to be learned and embraced back in 2005 (what? No more Supervisor?), it’s time for me and many of my BusinessObjects peers to expand our horizons.

On a personal level, I’ve finally done something that I’ve put off for years. I bought a beautiful sea foam green Fender Stratocaster and signed up for Fender Play, Fender’s cloud-based self-service training platform. As an accomplished pianist, I’m amazed and just a little frustrated how a guitar uses completely different muscles than a piano keyboard.

On a professional level, I’m branching out my skills by studying for Amazon AWS certification as my employer became an AWS partner this year. I wasn’t one of the lucky consultants to get certified first, but I do not intend to be the last. Amazon offers three different certification paths (see illustration below) and I plan to become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect with a Big Data specialty.

Amazon AWS Certification Roadmap

I’m not alone. Several of my long-time BusinessObjects friends are moving on. My friend Eileen King just became a certified Looker professional.

And Michael Welter now works for Tableau as a solution architect.

Fellow Web Intelligence co-author Jim Brogden is now a certified Tableau specialist.

And Jay Riddle is hanging out with the cool Tableau kids, too.

I’ve heard of more than one SAP customer that intends to drop their maintenance for SAP BI to save their budgets for new priorities. Perhaps your organization is one of them?

I’ll leave you with one of the masters of the Fender Stratocaster, Mark Knopfler, singing one of his Dire Straits songs as a duet with Emmylou Harris.

Why worry?
There should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now?

Why Worry, from Dire Straights’ fantastic album Brothers In Arms

What new skills have you added to your personal goals? How is your organization adopting to SAP’s new analytics road map? I’d love to hear what’s going on in the world via your comments.

Twitter Purge, Part Two

Looks like I spoke too soon about being unaffected by Twitter’s purge.

Last month I wrote that I was virtually unaffected by the Twitter purge that hit United States Presidents Trump and Obama (see related article, Thankful for real Twitter followers). This month, I looked at my follower statistics and noticed a sharp decline on Wednesday, August 15, 2018.

On Tuesday, August 14, 2018, I had 4,416 followers.
Twitter Purge 4416 followers on 20180814

But on Wednesday, August 15, I had only 4,344 followers – a loss of 72 followers or 1.63%.

Twitter Purge 4344 followers on 20180815

Is Twitter continuing to purge inactive/fake accounts? Or did some of my followers take offense to me writing about SAP Analytics Hub?

Have you noticed a dramatic change in the number of your Twitter followers?

Looking for SAP Lumira 2.2?

SAP Lumira fans are going to have to wait a bit longer for version 2.2.

SAP Lumira 2.2 was supposed to arrive this week (calendar week 34) but according to SAP Note 2465894, updated yesterday, the release is now being “re-planned”.

SAP Mentor Tammy Powlas shared “What’s new in SAP Lumira 2.2” on the SAP Community site from a ASUG preview webcast last July.

UPDATE 08/27/2018: SAP Note 2465894 was updated on August 25, 2018 indicating that Lumira 2.2 is planned for August 31, 2018.

UPDATE 08/29/2018: SAP Lumira 2.2 is now available for download from the SAP Support Portal. Refer to SAP Note 2587459 for SAP Lumira 2.2 release notes and several other helpful links about the new release.

SAP Lumira 2.2 Now Available 20180829

Customizing the new portals in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4 and higher

There are some familiar customization options for the new yet unfamiliar Fiori-inspired BI Launch Pad and BI Administration Console.

SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4 introduced a new Fiorified BI Launch Pad. And SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP5 introduced a new Fiorified BI Administration Console. These new portals will eventually supersede the current BI Launch Pad and Central Management Console, respectively. But today, they each implement a subset of functionality.

The new launch pad is located at http://[webserver]:[port]/BOE/BILaunchpad and has its own properties file, FioriBI.properties. You’ll want to copy the original from the [Install Directory]\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\default to the [Install Directory]\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom folder.

The default file contains many of same properties as the old BI Launch Pad’s BIlaunchpad.properties file; however, not all properties are yet supported. At a minimum, you’ll probably want to customize these:


# You can specify the default Authentication types here. secEnterprise, secLDAP, secWinAD, secSAPR3
authentication.default=secWinAD
# Choose whether to let the user change the authentication type. If it isn't shown the default authentication type from above will be used
authentication.visible=true
# You can specify the authentications that are supported in this field.
# By default all the authentications listed below will appear. You can add or remove values from the field, based on the authentications which are supported.
# Authentications List --- secEnterprise,secLDAP,secWinAD,secSAPR3,secOraApps,secPSE1,secpsenterprise,secSiebel7
logon.authentication.visibleList=secWinAD,secEnterprise
# You can specify the default CMS machine name here
[email protected]
# Choose whether to let the user change the CMS name
cms.visible=true
#You can specify the default administration email_ids in semicolon separated format here.
#The specified Email ids will be used when user will click on Contact Administrator on BILP Login screen
[email protected]

The new BI Administration Console is located at http://[webserver]:[port]/BOE/BIAdminConsole and has its own properties file, BILogon.properties. You’ll want to copy the original from the [Install Directory]\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\default to the [Install Directory]\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom folder.

Remember that the logon.authentication.VisibleList parameter is new starting with SAP BI 4.2 SP5 and higher (see related article, New BI Launch Pad Customization in SAP BI 4.2 SP5)

As with the new BI Launch Pad, the default properties file contains many of same properties as the Central Management Console’s CmcApp.properties file; however, not all properties are yet supported. At a minimum, you’ll probably want to customize the same properties:


# You can specify the default Authentication types here. secEnterprise, secLDAP, secWinAD, secSAPR3
authentication.default=secWinAD
# Choose whether to let the user change the authentication type. If it isn't shown the default authentication type from above will be used
authentication.visible=true
# You can specify the authentications that are supported in this field.
# By default all the authentications listed below will appear. You can add or remove values from the field, based on the authentications which are supported.
# Authentications List --- secEnterprise,secLDAP,secWinAD,secSAPR3,secOraApps,secPSE1,secpsenterprise,secSiebel7
logon.authentication.visibleList=secWinAD,secEnterprise
# You can specify the default CMS machine name here
[email protected]
# Choose whether to let the user change the CMS name
cms.visible=true
#You can specify the default administration email_ids in semicolon separated format here.
#The specified Email ids will be used when user will click on Contact Administrator on BILP Login screen
[email protected]

The new admin.user.email property is interesting, as both portals have a link to contact the BI Administrator. Although the link is labeled “BI Administrator” it may make more sense to put the email address of your corporate help desk or whomever is your first line of support for logon issues.

Branding and theming is not yet possible with these new portals, but both will continue to receive enhancements in the support packs leading up to SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.3.

Thankful for real Twitter followers

How I fared during this month’s Twitter purge.

Or “How I fared after the July 2018 Twitter purge”.

Twitter made news last week by purging locked accounts.

Two of the biggest losers were Twitter’s most famous user, President Trump, who saw roughly 400,000 of his 53.4 million followers vanish, and Barack Obama, who bid farewell to more than 2 million.

USA Today article, July 12, 2018

President Trump lost less than 1% of his followers. Former president Barack Obama lost nearly 2%.

Curious to see how my own Twitter account fared after the purge, I turned to my Twitter analytics page. I was surprised to learn that I actually gained a modest number of followers over the past 28 days.

Twitter followers after July 2018 purge

As you can see, I gained 7 followers during the past 4 weeks.

Twitter followers after July 2018 purge

Aside from a very active US president, Twitter doesn’t seem the busy news source that it used to be, especially for analytics news. I’ve noticed that more and more people are interacting with me and my blog from LinkedIn, not Twitter.

You can keep up with my analytics antics on your favorite social network, assuming that it’s either Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

You can also keep in touch on the SAP Community.

Finally, you can support this site by making purchases through one of its Amazon links, like this one.


What kinds of social media are you still using? Did you survive the most recent Twitter purge? Wherever you are, thank you for following me along my analytics journey!

Using the new commentary feature in SAP BI 4.2

Commentary is a useful new feature in SAP BI 4.2 but needs configuration beyond the default setup to work optimally.

One of the new features in SAP BI 4.2 is commentary. Although it currently only works with Web Intelligence, it is a feature of the BI platform so we can expect to see other tools such as Crystal Reports adopt it over time. Unlike the depreciated discussions feature, which permitted threaded discussions on a document, the commentary feature allows threaded discussions to occur on a report element such as a Web Intelligence cell.

The commentary feature consists of a Commentary Service (part of the Adaptive Processing Server) and a table named COMMENTARY_MASTER that is created in the Audit schema by default.

Regarding the new APS service, it is not necessary to isolate it in its own process, but it can be added to a “Core” APS as shown in SAP KB 1694041.

Regarding the new COMMENTARY_MASTER table, SAP recommends relocating it to its own database, as the commentary feature can create performance issues for auditing if left configured to the Audit database.

By default, BI Commentary creates and maintains its tables in the Audit database… However, SAP recommends that you configure a new database to store the comments from BI Commentary application. Databases supported for BI Commentary are the same as those supported for Auditing.

SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP5 Administration Guide
Section 18.1.3.11 Managing BI Commentary Application Settings

And SAP KB 2346055 describes some of the bad things that can happen if the commentary service uses the audit database on a production system.

You’ll have to configure JDBC drivers for your database vendor on each node hosting the commentary service. Then configure the new data source in CMC -> Applications -> BI Commentary Application, shown below.

Configuring the commentary database

And since you may choose to report on the COMMENTARY_MASTER table, you’ll probably want to configure the data source on all the reporting nodes, too.

In my experience, the COMMENTARY_MASTER table wasn’t created in its new location until a user actually entered the first comment, so I would recommend that the BI administrator use one of the sample Web Intelligence documents or a personal document to create the first comment and confirm that the table is created and populated correctly.

To learn how to use the commentary feature, check out SAP KB 2269131, which includes a video. Using the side panel, comments can be added to sections, table cells, free-standing report cells, or an entire table block. As of SAP BI 4.2 SP5, comments cannot be added to charts but perhaps support will be added in a future support pack.

In the example below, I have added a comment in a Party Pants Trends report on the Printed Lycra Trousers table cell for New York. Other report viewers can see that a comment has been added because of the yellow triangle in the cell’s upper right corner. Comments can be created in either reading mode or design mode, but you must have the Reporting – Enable Formatting security right. This requirement may lead to changes to existing custom access levels.

Web Intelligence report with commentary

I’m personally a fan of enabling new bells and whistles such as commentary. But if your organization is not ready for the commentary service, you can disable it simply by disabling or removing any commentary services in the landscape. Take a look at SAP KB 2313335 for details.

Perhaps we’ll see the SAP BI 4.3 installer prompt administrators to set up the commentary database (and the monitoring database, which defaults to Apache Derby) correctly from the beginning. But for now, setting up commentary is a post-installation configuration step for the SAP BI administrator.

References

  • SAP KB 1694041 – How do you configure the Adaptive Processing Server (APS) for improved performance and scalability?
  • SAP KB 1707921How to display the discussions in BI4
  • SAP KB 2269131How to use the BI Commentary feature and add comments in Webi Reports in BI 4.2?
  • SAP KB 2313335How to disable Commentary from Web Intelligence document in BI4.2
  • SAP KB 2346055Performance degradation while opening a Web Intelligence document with SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 4.2
  • SAP KB 2525675How to configure the BI Commentary Tool in SAP Business Intelligence 4.2 SP02 and onwards – Guided Answers

Things Can Only Get Better

The roadmap of the SAP BusinessObjects platform makes me scared. But I won’t stop and falter. Here’s what Howard Jones taught me about SAP analytics strategy. And growing older.

Earlier this year, my wife and I got to see Howard Jones in concert from the second row. The last time I saw him in concert was way back in 1989, so I was grateful for the opportunity.

I discovered Howard Jones in my teen years. His groundbreaking use of synthesizers as a “one-man band” was a big inspiration for me. After all, there are so many guitar heroes but so few piano heroes. He was definitely mine. Known for the positive messages in his lyrics, Howard expressed my thoughts when SAP announced revisions to its analytics roadmap just a few days after the concert (see related article, Everything Must Change).

And do you feel scared? I do!
But I won’t stop and falter.

Change can definitely be scary. And sadly, you can’t stop it. Just like you can’t stop having birthdays.

I’m grateful to artists like Howard Jones because at age 63, he’s not only riding his past success like No One Is To Blame. He continues to tour and create new music like the autographed Engage CD that I picked up at the concert. His success doesn’t magically wipe away the rampant ageism that is in modern IT. But it does give me hope as I grow older.

Howard Jones Engage CD with autographed cover

Treating today as though it was the last, the final show
Get to sixty and feel no regret
It may take a little time a lonely path, an uphill climb
Success or failure will not alter it

Don’t be fooled by what you see. And don’t be fooled by what you hear- especially from Microstrategy. They posted this FUD gem during SAPPHIRE last month.

Things have actually gotten better during the past few months. SAP has moderated its tone when messaging its analytics customers, committing to delivering SAP BusinessObjects 4.3 in 2019 (see related SAP blog by Mike Flannagan, SAP Customers Champion the Intelligent Enterprise with SAP Analytics Innovations). And SAP is making smaller batches of improvements in the forthcoming SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP6, expected later this month. In his aptly-named song Those Who Move Clouds, Howard Jones sings:

I wish that I could offer you a chance to change direction.
But you know that pathways must be followed to near destruction.

Sadly, “You can look at the SAP analytics roadmap, but you can’t change it” doesn’t rhyme. But I’ll continue to work on that. In the meantime, this old dog is committing himself to learn new tricks with SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP Cloud Platform, SAP HANA, and even non-SAP technologies. Because things can only get better.

In the meantime, don’t crack up. Bend your brain. See both sides. Throw off your mental chains. And don’t always look at the rain.

Related Reading