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The BusinessObjects Upgrade Dilemma

Buying a car has always been a challenging experience for me. I never know what to buy, when to buy, what features to include, and I definitely don’t enjoy the inevitable frustrating bartering with the sales and finance people. I also still haven’t figured out why I always end up with this invisible ZakTek protection coat despite stating right up front that I don’t want it. In fact, my last vehicle also had something called the “invisible bra” in addition to the ZakTek which is an extra invisible coat just for the front part of the vehicle!

The “when to buy” is usually the bigger issue because the manufacturers are constantly updating or adding new features to models and if you wait just a little longer, there is always something a little better coming out. At the same time, your existing vehicle is getting older and you find yourself spending more money on it so why not keep it longer to recoup that cost?

The same happens in the world of upgrading BusinessObjects. This has been especially true with the current BI 4.2 release. We have now seen no less than 5 service packs released over the last two and half years (SP2 through SP6) and each one of them has come with a lot of new features and functions.

When you add the combined functionality of all those service packs together, you have a pretty awesome BI 4.2 release which definitely makes the decision easier for a BI 4.1, 4.0 or BO XI 3.1 or earlier customer wondering about upgrading.

The tougher decision is for that BI 4.2 customer running SP2 or 3 trying to decide whether to upgrade to SP5 or 6 or just keep going until BI 4.3 comes along. Of course, there is a lot of cool features that came along in SP4, 5 and 6 that you would be missing out on like parity between the Java/HTML Webi viewers, the new Fiori HTML5 UI, New visualization and graphic capabilities for Webi and a lot more. In addition, you may encounter issues at SP2 and 3 that are only properly addressed or corrected with these more recent service packs. These issues could be costing you time and money (just like vehicle repairs to your existing vehicle).

On the other side of the coin, the newer service packs could introduce issues and bugs of their own (even new vehicles have recalls!) and the new BusinessObjects service pack releases have had a less than stellar record with the first releases. In fact, most customers will tend to wait until at least the third fix pack before they will consider upgrading.

Some customers spend months stabilizing a new release and so are naturally reluctant to upgrade frequently. For larger deployments with a lot of universes and reports, the regression and functional testing for a new service pack or release can be very time consuming and resource expensive. With so many things changing in Webi with each of those BI 4.2 service packs, it is recommended to test every report when upgrading.

The bottom line is that there is usually never a good time to upgrade and most customers will tend to do it because they have to (blocking issue, hardware/software/database support etc) or because there is a new feature or function they simply have to have.

While software vendors will say it is best practice to stay current with releases and service packs and always apply the latest, my experience has been that it really does vary from customer to customer.

I feel it is far more important to have annual BusinessObjects health checks and determine how your deployment is running, if it is optimized, if you are making good use of the features/functions you have already and what kind of issues, if any, you have encountered. The health check will also consider the pros and cons of the upgrade option for you so at least you can make a more informed decision.

Another option is to have an audit and upgrade assessment performed before going ahead with any upgrade.

Just like upgrading your vehicle, upgrading BusinessObjects is usually a challenging experience so it might be good to get some expert advice before you move ahead and be sure not to buy any add-on “ZakTek” features!


About Paul

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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