BusinessObjects XI R2 – Good to the Last (Code) Drop

The BusinessObjects XI R2 Era is Over.

Today is June 30, 2010, a day that will live in infamy. It is the last day of patch support for SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2. Limited tech support will continue for an additional year, until June 30, 2011. But it means that XI R2 Service Pack 6 (XI R2 SP6 and a few fix packs, Fix Pack 6.4 being the latest) is the end of the XI R2 distribution. With the recent release of XI 3.1 Service Pack 3 (XI 3.1 SP3) and the highly anticipated BI 4.0 coming at the end of this year, SAP is signaling that it is time to move on (see related article, Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0). I can still remember the excitement of the 2004 acquisition announcement of Crystal Decisions by a then-independent BusinessObjects, followed by road shows and road maps. XI Release 1 was to ship in early 2005 with XI Release 2 following later in the year. XI R2 indeed shipped in late November 2005 and I started my first BusinessObjects migration project in January 2006. It brings a smile to my face when I think of how my career as a business intelligence professional has changed since those days.

What does the end of patch support mean for XI R2 customers? It means that although tech support is still available to assist with issues over the next 12 months, the standard approach to anything resembling a software bug will be “upgrade to XI R2 SP6, apply its fix packs, and hope the problem disappears.”  Otherwise, move to XI 3.1. XI 3.1 thoughtfully implements many of the enhancements customers requested for XI R2, including a completely redesigned Central Management Console (with new security features), a slightly redesigned InfoView portal for users, a desktop edition of Web Intelligence (the Web Intelligence Rich Client), and more. Beginning with XI 3.1 SP2, SAP introduced additional Web Intelligence features to help customers continue the migration away from Desktop Intelligence, which will either have limited or no support in BI 4.0. BTW, I have no inside knowledge here – we’ll all learn Desktop Intelligence’s fate together when SAP introduces BI 4.0 in fall 2010 (see related article, Desktop Intelligence, Back for a Limited Time).

The table below contains product end-of-life (EOL) dates courtesy of the SAP Support Portal. If your enterprise is still using classic BusinessObjects 5.x or 6.x, now is the time to begin planning your migration to XI 3.x. Customers on XI R1 or XI R2 should also begin making plans to upgrade to a fully-supported release. Because of the CMC’s redesign and its new security features, I highly recommend that organizations budget training dollars for their administrators. Although upgrading from XI R1 or R2 is not as complex as a classic BusinessObjects migration, the new XI 3.x security features, particularly the custom Access Levels (CAL) are much easier to maintain than the Advanced rights available in XI R1 or R2.

Product and Version GA Date Patch Support EOL Tech Support EOL
BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2 24-Nov-2005 23-Apr-2007 30-Jun-2011
BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2 SP1 30-Mar-2006 31-Aug-2007 30-Jun-2011
BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2 SP2 23-Apr-2007 31-Mar-2008 30-Jun-2011
BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2 SP3 20-Nov-2007 30-Sep-2008 30-Jun-2011
BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2 SP4 31-May-2008 30-Nov-2009 30-Jun-2011
BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2 SP5 31-Dec-2008 30-Jun-2010 30-Jun-2011
BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2 SP6 16-Dec-2009 30-Jun-2010 30-Jun-2011

Convincing Reasons to Move to Web Intelligence

Henri Theuwissen provides some solid reasons for moving to Web Intelligence.

Henri Theuwissen has written Convincing Reasons to Move to Web Intelligence, a thoughtful and detailed review of how organizations can move from Desktop Intelligence to Web Intelligence.  Henri makes the case that

The conversion from Desktop Intelligence to Web Intelligence:
– Reduces the total cost of ownership (TCO).
– Increases the ease of deployment and upgrade.
– Offers better web-based performance and higher interactivity over the web.
– Is more closely coupled with other capabilities offered by SAP products such as Xcelsius, Explorer, Live Office, Mobile or BI widgets

Although I teach the official SAP Web Intelligence course, the course doesn’t draw parallels to Desktop Intelligence.  So I’m very thankful to Henri for putting together a comprehensive resource.  My first exposure to BusinessObjects was in 2003 with version 5.1.  I remember my mentor Jeff Bartel, now an SAP Sales Consulting Manager, telling me to “not worry about Web Intelligence”, as it really wasn’t useful.  Web Intelligence became a much more viable tool beginning with Web Intellgence 6.5, took some additional steps with XI Release 1, and came into its own with XI Release 2.  Web Intelligence XI 3.0 added the Rich Client and Web Intelligence XI 3.1 SP2 continues the trend of adding functionality currently present in Desktop Intelligence along with never before seen features like input controls, which have no Desktop Intelligence equivalent.  Henri indicates that the maturity of Web Intelligence will continue later this year with the next major release, code named Aurora.  Aurora will be the first major BusinessObjects release under SAP’s leadership, so it will be interesting to see what happens with product names (Interactive Analysis?), version numbers (XI 4.0, or something else?), and new features.

In any case, the days of Desktop Intelligence are numbered and customers should embrace Web Intelligence as much as possible.  Any advanced requirement that cannot be handled by Web Intelligence should be implemented using Crystal Reports, not Desktop Intelligence.  But there really are many convincing reasons to move to Web Intelligence and Henri Theuwissen points the way.

Querying the Business Objects 5.x/6.x Repository with SQL

BusinessObjects XI R1 was first shipped in early 2005.  The real action didn’t begin until XI R2 shipped in November of that year.  My first 5.1.x to XI R2 migration started the following January 2006.  I thought my migration days were behind me, but I find myself helping an OEM vendor that bundles BusinessObjects upgrade their customers from 5.1.8 to XI R2.  One of the reasons I keep this blog is just so I can easily find stuff I need wherever I go, even if it’s stuff that I don’t think anyone else cares about.  So since I’ve had to dust off these 5.1.x repository queries, I thought I would share the goodness.   There are only minor changes to the 6.x repository structure, so they should work there, too.

If anyone else out there is still on version 5, you’re not alone…  But I’m working on it, one customer migration at a time.

The following queries were created using MS Access and may need revision to run native in SQL Server, Oracle, etc.
See http://www.forumtopics.com/busobj/repository5/rpindex.htm as a reference to the repository schema.

Universe & Connection
SELECT OBJ_M_CONNECTION.M_CNTN_C_NAME, OBJ_M_CONNECTION.M_CNTN_N_TYPE, OBJ_M_CONNECTION.M_CNTN_C_NETNAME, OBJ_M_CONNECTION.M_CNTN_C_RDBMSNAME, UNV_UNIVERSE.UNI_FILENAME, UNV_UNIVERSE.UNI_LONGNAME, UNV_UNIVERSE.UNI_FIRSTAUTHOR, UNV_UNIVERSE.UNI_LASTAUTHOR, UNV_UNIVERSE.UNI_CREATEDATE, UNV_UNIVERSE.UNI_MODIFYDATE
FROM OBJ_M_CONNECTION INNER JOIN UNV_UNIVERSE ON OBJ_M_CONNECTION.M_CNTN_N_ID = UNV_UNIVERSE.UNI_CONNEXION
ORDER BY OBJ_M_CONNECTION.M_CNTN_C_NAME;

User Profile
SELECT OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_C_NAME AS UserName, (DateAdd("s",[OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_N_LAD],"12/15/1970")) AS UserLastActionDate, OBJ_M_ACTORLINK.M_ACTL_N_ACTORTYPE, IIf([M_ACTL_N_ACTORTYPE]=2,"General Supervisor",IIf([M_ACTL_N_ACTORTYPE]=4,"Supervisor","N/A")) AS UserProfileName
FROM OBJ_M_ACTORLINK INNER JOIN OBJ_M_ACTOR ON OBJ_M_ACTORLINK.M_ACTL_N_ACTORID = OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_N_ID;

Inbox
SELECT OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_C_NAME AS InboxUser, (DateAdd("s",[OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_N_LAD],"12/15/1970")) AS UserLastActionDate, OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_C_NAME AS DocName, OBJ_M_ACTOR_1.M_ACTOR_C_NAME AS DocCreator, OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_N_SIZE AS DocSize, OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_N_TYPE AS DocType
FROM (OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS INNER JOIN (OBJ_M_ACTORDOC INNER JOIN OBJ_M_ACTOR ON OBJ_M_ACTORDOC.M_ACTDC_N_ACTORID = OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_N_ID) ON OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_N_ID = OBJ_M_ACTORDOC.M_ACTDC_N_DOCID) INNER JOIN OBJ_M_ACTOR AS OBJ_M_ACTOR_1 ON OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_N_USERID = OBJ_M_ACTOR_1.M_ACTOR_N_ID
ORDER BY OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_C_NAME, OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_C_NAME;

User Capabilities
SELECT OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_C_NAME, OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_N_TYPE, OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_N_LEVEL, OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_N_STATUS, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_USERID, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_ID, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_APPLID, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_TYPE, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_VALUE, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_C_LABEL
FROM OBJ_M_GENPAR RIGHT JOIN OBJ_M_ACTOR ON OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_USERID = OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_N_ID
ORDER BY OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_USERID;

Global User Capabilities
SELECT OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_USERID, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_ID, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_APPLID, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_TYPE, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_VALUE, OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_C_LABEL
FROM OBJ_M_GENPAR LEFT JOIN OBJ_M_ACTOR ON OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_USERID = OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_N_ID
ORDER BY OBJ_M_GENPAR.M_GENPAR_N_USERID;

Document, Category, Universe
SELECT OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_C_NAME AS Document, (DateAdd("s",[OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_N_DATE],"12/15/1970")) AS ExportDate, OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_C_NAME AS Creator, OBJ_M_CATEG.M_CATEG_C_NAME AS Category, OBJ_M_DOCATVAR.M_DOCATV_C_DPNAME, OBJ_M_DOCATVAR.M_SRC_C_NAME, (DateAdd("s",[OBJ_M_DOCATVAR.M_DOCATV_N_REF],"12/15/1970")) AS LastRefreshDate, OBJ_M_UNIVERSES.M_UNI_C_FILENAME, OBJ_M_UNIVERSES.M_UNI_C_LONGNAME
FROM OBJ_M_UNIVERSES RIGHT JOIN ((((OBJ_M_DOCCATEG RIGHT JOIN OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS ON OBJ_M_DOCCATEG.M_DOC_N_ID = OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_N_ID) LEFT JOIN OBJ_M_CATEG ON OBJ_M_DOCCATEG.M_CATEG_N_ID = OBJ_M_CATEG.M_CATEG_N_ID) LEFT JOIN OBJ_M_ACTOR ON OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_N_USERID = OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_N_ID) INNER JOIN OBJ_M_DOCATVAR ON OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_N_ID = OBJ_M_DOCATVAR.M_DOC_N_ID) ON OBJ_M_UNIVERSES.M_UNI_C_FILENAME = OBJ_M_DOCATVAR.M_SRC_C_NAME
ORDER BY OBJ_M_DOCUMENTS.M_DOC_C_NAME, OBJ_M_ACTOR.M_ACTOR_C_NAME, OBJ_M_CATEG.M_CATEG_C_NAME, OBJ_M_DOCATVAR.M_DOCATV_C_DPNAME;

BusinessObjects XI 3.0

Business Objects, an SAP company, officially launched BusinessObjects XI 3.0

Today Business Objects, an SAP company, officially launched BusinessObjects XI 3.0, which will ship in late March 2008. Formerly known by its code name of Titan, BusinessObjects XI 3.0 represents a major revamp from one end of the product portfolio (Enterprise Information Management, or EIM) to the other (Information Discovery and Delivery, or IDD).

In addition, the Business Objects unveiled a slightly tweaked mission statement, as part of the alignment with its new owner, SAP.

Transforming the way the world works by connecting people, information, and business

Business Objects XI 3.0 promises improvements in the migration process, in addition to product enhancements. According to Business Objects, one third of their customers have migrated, one third are in the process of migrating, and a third are still waiting to migrate to the XI platform. Some of the features in XI 3.0 were added specifically to address concerns of its largest customers, who have delayed migration until XI 3.0 was ready.

As a consultant, trainer, migration specialist, and conference speaker, 2008 is shaping up to be a challenging, yet fun, year digesting all of the new product features. If your organization has not yet migrated, it’s certainly worth evaluating XI 3.0 after it ships in March 2008.

Business Objects Migration Specialist

I finally completed the steps to be a Business Objects Migration Specialist. The last step was nearly 30 hours of e-learning, which has come in handy on my current project, a migration from Business Objects 6.5 to Business Objects XI R2 SP3.  By earning this credential, my employer earns the designation of Migration Specialist Partner.