SAP BusinessObjects continues to dominate business intelligence, so to continue offering a best-in-class platform, SAP is moving SAP BusinessObjects into the cloud. Known as SAP BusinessObjects Private Cloud Edition (PCE), SAP is offering the best of the BusinessObjects platform while easing the most cumbersome aspects of managing the platform. In this post, I share Protiviti’s experience with SAP BusinessObjects PCE.
Initial steps to get ready for SAP BusinessObjects PCE
The first consideration when starting these engagements is whether this is a migration or a brand-new installation. In a migration scenario, it is important to consider the sizing and usage of the existing system to avoid running out of capacity in the new system. Start with an inventory of all reports, report types (i.e., Web Intelligence, Crystal Reports, etc.), data connection types and database types and locations. This inventory will serve clients well when they are determining what communication addresses and ports may be required.
In a net-new scenario, consider how the system will be used and how extensively reports will be saved to the environment, which will help clarify correct sizing of the new PCE environment. With the sizing in mind, work with SAP to provide both the correct number of servers and the right amount of storage space for the system. For our clients’ convenience, Protiviti uses a questionnaire provided by SAP with all the connectivity information necessary. Once this is completed, the SAP BusinessObjects PCE servers will appear as if they are part of the client’s network.
Setting up the environment
SAP BusinessObjects PCE runs on SUSE Linux Enterprise. Companies currently running SAP BusinessObjects in a Microsoft Windows environment will need to consider changes between a Microsoft Windows and a Linux environment in hosting an SAP BusinessObjects system. Items such as data source types (OLEDB is not supported in Linux) and authentication methods (Microsoft Windows Active Directory can be moved to LDAP) should be planned. Protiviti suggests standing up an on-premise Linux environment to act as a staging environment prior to making the jump to the cloud. Remember that in newer versions of SAP BusinessObjects, Crystal Reports is no longer supported on Linux. We suggest clients discuss this requirement with SAP to design a solution to continue Crystal Reports usage in SAP BusinessObjects PCE.
The setup is the easiest part. Once the correct sizing is identified, content and operating system differences, it’s a matter of allowing SAP the time to stand up the servers and configure the VPN. Once the servers are configured, SAP will schedule a delivery meeting to discuss the technical details of the environments and ensure the client can connect to them. This will initially be accomplished by internet protocol (IP) address. However, domain name server resolutions can be added to the network to resolve server names to the correct IP addresses. These few steps are necessary to stand up the SAP BusinessObjects PCE environment and connect them to the network, making them accessible to the end-users.
The next thing to consider is how the SAP BusinessObjects PCE environment will connect to data sources. If the data sources are located on-premise (such as SQL Server or Oracle), ensure that the correct networking rules are applied to allow communication on the IP addresses and ports. In some networks, ports are already opened and it’s a matter of allowing IP addresses. Since this is a network security issue, contact your network security department for more information on that. Consider any data sources that may live outside of the firewall. For instance, if a company contracts with a third-party data provider and can connect to their databases, it may need to allow for their IP addresses and ports from the PCE environment as well.
After the servers are configured and data sources are allowed, users may then begin testing. At this point, the SAP BusinessObjects PCE environment looks and feels just like a traditional on-premise system. End users will still access the LaunchPad as before, with a new address or a repointed existing address. Client Tools will still connect as before. However, an end user’s Client Tools will need to be upgraded if moving to a new version of SAP BusinessObjects. Keep in mind that only one single version of Client Tools can be installed on any one machine at any time.
And we’re live…
Once live with SAP BusinessObjects PCE, there are some key things to consider. First, communication with SAP will be handled via the SAP Support Portal. A valid S ID will be provisioned to allow the entry of service requests and incidents on the SAP BusinessObjects PCE environment. Next, operating system access is only possible to the SAP support team. Should there be a need to make changes that require Operating System access, a service request must be entered, including details on the need and a scheduled time to complete the change.
The advantages to running SAP BusinessObjects PCE are plentiful. Clients get world-class support in a completely hosted environment. A team of knowledgeable subject matter experts is available to help configure the environment without causing undue stress on internal teams. Additionally, the SAP support team is top-notch and proactively monitors for any issues. In any case where an issue with the SAP BusinessObjects PCE environment has been encountered, the SAP support team proactively notified us that an issue has been identified and was being reviewed. Rest assured that upon issue resolution, the SAP support team will provide another update when the issue is resolved. They will actively monitor the services running within the SAP BusinessObjects PCE system. If a specific service suddenly stops, SAP will immediately log in and begin a diagnosis to reduce or eliminate any downtime.
Upgrades to the platform are a snap. Clients are allowed a certain number of major and minor upgrades per year. Once a client is ready to move to the next version, they simply put in a service request and schedule it according to their needs. The SAP support team will communicate throughout the process, take proper backups, apply upgrades and customizations and test. They will send notifications when the upgrade is complete. There is no need for planning after-hours internal teams to perform upgrades. The SAP BusinessObjects PCE environment acts just like a native cloud application, but the client is in control.
To help make the process smoother, here here are several things to do to get started:
- Contact Protiviti to express interest in moving to SAP BusinessObjects PCE.
- Take an inventory of the current SAP BusinessObjects environment to include report types, database types and locations (with IP addresses, server names and ports) and I/OFRS sizes.
- Using Crystal Reports? Be sure to discuss this requirement with the SAP account executive.
View Protiviti’s Quarterly Analytics Check-In Webinar: How to Optimize Your PCE Migration on-demand here.