Roller Derby and Testing New BusinessObjects Service Packs

Last night I went to watch a Roller Derby game live on a banked track which I have not done for a long time. I loved the game especially since my team, “The Runaway Brides”, soundly defeated the “Brutal Beauties” but it also reignited my love of the sport. Both teams had great skaters, but “The Runaway Brides” also had very skillful blockers that really made the difference.

After the main game, I stayed on to watch a mashup game between mainly youth players from another team, the “Minor Assaults”. It was the Red team against the Blue team with some senior players from the other teams participating. While I could see some good up and coming youngsters who will soon be in the big league, I was most impressed by how the game was used to try out different plays and different players in different positions.

I have had several BusinessObjects customers asking me since the beginning of the year if they should upgrade to the latest Service Pack 4, which was released in December, and if it was stable. My stock answer to this question is that it is still too early to know if it is stable because not enough people have tried enough things out with it yet.

As with previous BI 4.3 and BI 4.2 service packs, there is a lot of new functionality and code in SP4 outside of just patches and fixes. This leads to a lot of issues being reported with the first version. Because of this, customers usually wait until at least the third fix pack before applying the service pack.

But watching that Roller Derby mashup game, it occurred to me that there may be a better way to determine if the service pack is ready for prime time in your environment and that is to install it on a test server and try things out – just like the mashup game with the “Minor Assaults”.

I know some customers do install new service packs on sandbox severs but often they only run very basic tests. What I am suggesting is to open up that server to a few key users and point it at a replication of your production database (i.e. a test database) then try out different reports as well as ad-hoc queries. In addition, share the service pack release notes with those key users and have them watch one of the SpeakBO webinars on the SP4 features so they can also experiment with some of the new functionality.

There’s a lot of exciting new functionality in BI 4.3 SP4 including further enhancements to the new Data Tab in Web Intelligence where Full Join and Inner Join are added to the Left Join and Append for combining data sets. Plus, the combined data can now be exported to Excel and CSV. And, you can also reuse a cube in multiple combinations and combine multiple data blocks at once.

Also in SP4, you can now refresh Webi as a data source, you can dynamically hide columns, do “send to” actions to allow you to share your document with all possible destinations and do grouping prompts in logical sets with specified options such as required/optional/exclusive.

The list goes on and not just for Webi, Crystal Reports can now use the UNX universe, there are UNX performance improvements and Information Classification capabilities through Azure Information Protection Platform integration are supported.

Anyway, all this to say, service packs like SP4 are packed with goodies and a multitude of patches and you need to test and experiment before considering applying them to your production BusinessObjects deployment.

Every deployment is unique, and SAP will never be able to test out all permutations.  If you want to avoid issues, make sure you test and experiment thoroughly.

You will find a lot of useful information about BI 4.3 SP4 being shared on the SpeakBO PLUS site.  There’s a lot of content about new service packs by both BO experts and customers in addition to access to many webinars and video tutorials on the new features so check it out. There’s a lot of sessions on BI 4.3 SP4 at IBIS 2024 so think about attending that as well.

Oh, and maybe check out a Roller Derby game sometime too!

About pgrill

Paul Grill started his career in Information Technology in the U.K. in 1978, as an Executive Data Processing Trainee for Honeywell. More than thirty years later, he still has a voracious appetite for learning as Information Technology continues to advance at an ever accelerating pace. He was first introduced to the world of Business Intelligence in 1991, in France, when he saw a demonstration of an early version of BusinessObjects on Windows 2.1. He returned to the U.S. to rave about this phenomenal product, but it was many years before BusinessObjects made it into the mainstream. Paul founded InfoSol in 1997, and made Business Intelligence one of the key solutions offered by the company. Today, InfoSol is a leading SAP BusinessObjects solutions partner, known for its expert consulting, education and innovative add-on solutions. Paul is well known within the SAP BusinessObjects community for his extensive knowledge of Business Intelligence, and he has lectured and written many articles on the subject. Paul enjoys writing, running and coaching kids soccer, and is passionate about Ancient Egyptology.

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