Extending Auditing in SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise

SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise includes powerful auditing capabilities that allow organizations to perform detailed reporting and analysis of user activity on their business intelligence platform.  SAP includes an Activity universe and sample reports in both Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence formats to get started.

I’ll be presenting “KPIs for Business Intelligence” at the upcoming 2010 SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.  My focus will be on what organizations can build themselves to analyze user activity.  However, many organizations don’t have the time or resources to create their own solutions and there are several packages available in the marketplace for those who would rather buy than build.

I’d like to compile a centralized list of software vendors and their auditing products.  If you are such a vendor, could you add a comment to this post?  Please include:

  • Vendor Name
  • Product Name
  • URL to Product Information
  • Phone and/or e-mail contact to get more information about the product

Remember that I moderate all comments, so don’t panic when yours does not appear right away.  I’ll compile the information into a future blog post and include a summarized PowerPoint slide in my KPI presentation.

Thanks in advance!

2010 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference

I will present three sessions at the 2010 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.

Time to put on my Mickey Mouse ears – I was delighted when the following e-mail arrived on Friday:

Congratulations. We are delighted to invite you to present at the 2010 SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.

The 2010 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference will take place at The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida on October 5-7, 2010. Although general availability (GA) of SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 isn’t happening until 2011, there are multiple sessions about Crystal Reports 2011, SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0, and BusinessObjects Explorer 4.0.  These are the first major releases developed after SAP’s 2008 acquisition of Business Objects, so the conference will be a great opportunity to see how SAP communicates its vision for the future of business intelligence.

As with last year, I’ve been selected to present three breakout sessions:

Explore the Universe with Explorer

Session Code 1002 | Tuesday, October 5, 2010 | 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Like a Hubble telescope for your BI environment, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer software brings together the simplicity and speed of search with the trust and analytical power of BI to provide immediate answers to casual business users. This session focuses primarily on Explorer Standard Edition, which allows SAP BusinessObjects customers to begin using Explorer right away with existing universes. The benefits of Explorer Accelerated Edition will also be presented. Learn how your IT organization can deploy and support Explorer effectively to provide users at all levels of the organization with intuitive access to the same “single version of the truth” that powers existing BI applications.

KPIs for Business Intelligence

Session Code 207 | Wednesday, October 6, 2010 | 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Many organizations use BI tools to develop Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure and improve organizational effectiveness. But fewer organizations apply BI to the business intelligence organization itself. Learn how to develop KPIs from the information available from BusinessObjects Enterprise Auditor as well as other aspects of your business intelligence infrastructure. See how these metrics can be utilized in operational, tactical, and strategic dashboards created using familiar tools like Xcelsius, Web Intelligence, and Crystal Reports.

SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise Security Essentials

Session 409 | Wednesday, Oct 6, 2010 | 2:45 PM – 3:45 PM
In this presentation, learn how the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise security model works. Leverage features, such as inheritance, scope of rights, and custom access levels, to secure the business intelligence system, while reducing overall complexity and maintenance. Techniques will be demonstrated using SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI that are also applicable to SAP BusinessObjects Edge BI. Real-world scenarios drive home the concepts learned and give each attendee the confidence to implement the same techniques back home.

I am looking forward to seeing you at Walt Disney World this October!

For more information:

Averting Disaster

How to properly back up your SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence cluster.

With 2010 and New Years resolutions just around the corner, Tiger Woods isn’t the only person that should be reviewing his disaster recovery strategy (see related New York Times article, Woods Is Silent as Spin Takes On Life of Its Own). Recently, I’ve met with several SAP BusinessObjects customers and am concerned about the verbal responses (and corresponding facial gestures) that I get when I ask about disaster recovery and business continuity.

Let’s review the basics. Unlike “classic” BusinessObjects, which only required the backup of a single repository database backup, starting with the XI R1 platform (and continuing up through BI 4.0/4.1) has multiple components that require backup: the system database (also known as the CMS database), an optional audit database, and two file stores managed by the Input File Repository Server (iFRS) and Output File Repository Server (oFRS).

XI Backup

Similar to the “classic” (pre-XI) BusinessObjects repository database, the system database in XI (sometimes referred to as the CMS database) stores metadata about users and groups, folders, reports, and universes. However, unlike “classic” BusinessObjects, reports and universes are no longer stored as BLOBs in a relational database. Instead, the relational database contains pointers to report and universe files that reside on the iFRS and oFRS.  The iFRS and oFRS are file system directory structures. A proper backup will atomically (at the same time) perform a system database backup with a full backup of the input and output file repository server directories. All three items should be treated as a single entity, during a period of system inactivity. If the database backup and the file system backup occur at different times, a restored system from these backups may not have all of the required information. If your organization is using the auditing feature, the auditing database should be included in the backup and restore process. However, even though it is important, the audit database it is not critical to system operation.

I frequently hear that organizations do not view their BI systems as “business critical” and therefore not subject to the same scrutiny as other IT systems in the enterprise. But in addition to taking proper backups, it is imperative to test the restoration process. To test the backup, restore the system database and two file stores on an isolated server and confirm that the recovered environment is viable.

There are some additional nuances here that I haven’t included for sake of brevity. But I hope that you’ll take the time to review your business continuity plans while updating your personal career goals for 2010. And be careful when parking your Cadillac Escalade.