Sunday, February 6, 2011

The End of Classic Business Objects

In his recent blog postings, SAP Business Objects trainer Dallas Marks has talked about "the end of the world as we know it" as it relates to the software vendor's decision to sunset their classic BO authoring tool known as Desktop Intelligence (or DeskI as its short nickname).

The legacy Windows product is going away, and the vendor expects their customers to switch to the web version. To date, there is minimal conversion help and some DeskI features cannot be replicated using Web Intelligence (aka WebI).

Of course, another option is to just eliminate Business Objects altogether and move to a different web-based BI product. To assist companies choosing this type of replacement initiative, we added a new feature to our BI Consolidator scanning engine.

While the utility had always been able to look for specific keywords, for BO analysis we wanted to parse the SQL, extract table and column information into a database, and produce redundancy reports.

From the BO Repository, we copied the underlying SQL from the DeskI and WebI data providers for each BO Document (the reports). A utility parses the details and saves all of the data into an "inventory" repository for later analysis.

The following BO information is captured within the SQL inventory repository:
  • BO Universe name and a calculated high-level "group"
  • BO Folder name and group
  • BO Userid 
  • BO Document name and group
  • BO Data Provider name, type (DeskI or WebI), and group 
  • SQL Tables being accessed on FROM phrases
  • SQL Table types (e.g., aggregate aware, summaries, history, hierarchies, security, etc.)
  • SQL Table groups 
  • SQL Columns being accessed on SELECT phrases 
  • SQL Columns being referenced on WHERE phrases 
  • SQL Column types (e.g., count, amount, ID, code) and groups 

These calculated "groups" allow us to organize information into higher level categories for redundancy analysis. With both category and detail data, we can discern which databases, tables, and columns are being used within thousands of BO reports. Tying this repository together with usage statistics, we can also determine which of the BO reports are of high usage and their associated data elements.

In addition to BO WebI and DeskI, our scanning can also capture information from your Crystal Reports modules.

SAP is eliminating your BO DeskI product, but converting your legacy reports to WebI is not your only option. Contact me if you are interested in learning more. 


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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.