Slow Down on the Software Updates

I always dread replacing my computer and try to put it off until I have absolutely no choice.

It’s not that I don’t want all the great new features especially size, speed and battery life since I travel so much, it’s just that I have to go through this ever-increasingly long and painful process of setting everything up exactly the way I had it before.

Yes, I can save my applications and most of my settings (not the cookies and all the preferences though) and I can even restore my desktop but invariably I will end up with new versions of some software products and have to re-log in to a ton of applications and sites with obscure passwords I have to look up. On top of that, so many applications and sites have implemented multi-factor authentication and other security measures that it takes what seems like forever to get back to a point where I can be fully productive again.

Likewise, several BusinessObjects customers have approached me in the last few months saying they dread doing BusinessObjects software upgrades because they are so painful, and it takes so long to get back to a point of stability.

The time between major releases has not really changed much and you can still space those out every 5 years or so but what these customers are not happy about are the numerous Service Packs and Fix Packs that are released within the life of a release. Right now, most BusinessObjects customers are running either BI 4.2 (which goes end of life in December 2024) or the current BI 4.3 release.

SAP has settled into a schedule of releasing a new Service Pack every 12 months and BI 4.3 SP4 has just been released after SP3 was released in December 2022 and SP2 was released in December 2021 and so on. However, each Service Pack does not just contain updates and fixes, it also contains major new functionality (new code) that was planned for the original release but was not ready. So, instead, it is delivered in a subsequent Service Pack. So, Service Packs have become like mini software releases.

In addition, all this new code and functionality leads to issues being uncovered and so Fix Packs containing fixes and patches are released in between Service Packs to address these issues. Now , Service Pack 2, released Dec 2021, is up to Fix Pack 14 and Service Pack 3, released one year later, is already up to Fix Pack 800. This means we are currently seeing a new Fix Pack every 6 to 8 weeks. Some of these Fix Packs contain actual new code and module changes. So Fix Packs have become like mini Service Packs.

Some customers require 6 to 9 months to implement and test a new release of BusinessObjects because it is often integrated with lots of other applications. Many of these clients have hundreds of thousands of BO reports and the regression testing, even with automation, is a formidable task. Often these customers need to repeat a significant part of this testing when upgrading from one Service Pack to another.

This is a lot to ask and, just like me switching computers, not something most want to do.

Now I have not yet addressed the elephant in the room which is why all these Service Packs and Fix Packs are needed in the first place. Well, in a nutshell, it is taking at least 4 months to stabilize a new Service Pack and several weeks to iron out issues in a new Fix Pack. This is due in part to a lot of new code and functionality but also in part to the unique complexity of each customer’s environment.

Most organizations today are running a plethora of security, monitoring, auditing software on top of hundreds or even thousands of software products and tools that interact with BusinessObjects in one way or another. So many software issues these days occur only in one customer environment and are often difficult or sometimes impossible to recreate.

What BusinessObjects customers want most right now is just to slow down on needing to upgrade to a new Service Pack or Fix Pack and to stay on a Release, Service Pack and Fix Pack for a few harmonious years – just like me and my laptop!

Maybe space the service pack releases at least 18 months apart and have less Fix Packs at the same time. Spend longer testing the new Service Packs and Fix Packs before releasing them.

I realize this may not be for everyone, but I would take quality over quantity any day. I would love to hear your feedback.

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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One comment

  1. Good article. I’d prefer quality over quantity every day. Business Objects recently repositioned a bug I raised as a retrospectively documented feature. That’s the thin edge of the wedge.

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