SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 SP4 Fix pack 1

We have been installing BusinessObjects 4.0 for a few weeks now. A few weeks! How can that be?

Well, we started off with SP2 and had issues with it. Then SP 4 came out including Feature Pack 3. Being an SAP site, we wanted all the goodies that was in that release but there were still issues.

Drill through from our BOXI 3.1 Dashboards wouldn’t work. The web intelligence services would time out. There was a URL connection error with Crystal Reports for Enterprise and Advanced Analysis for OLAP. When was this going to end? Today we installed Fix pack 1 for SP4 and it fixed all of our issues.

Now I just hope that Data Services 4.0 SP3 fixes the issue with shared CMS!

SAP Visual Intelligence

At the recent Sapphire conference, SAP announced SAP Visual Intelligence. The first version of the product allows analysts to build applications that extract data from HANA and present in manner similar to BusinessObjects Explorer.

SAP Visual Intelligence is aimed at the same audience as QlikView and Tableau. The next version will allow analysts to extract data from other data sources including Excel.

What is not clear is how this allows analysts to migrate into the enterprise BI space where greater scrutiny is applied to the quality of the data, consistent business rules, etc.

How can SAP advocate data quality, governance on one hand and encourage an Excel like free-for-all on the other hand is perplexing. QlikTech and Tableau Software pride themselves on being disruptive. My worry is that SAP is being self-disruptive in chasing “me too” market share.

Oracle to Acquire Hyperion

This is an interesting development from a number of perspectives.

I recall when Oracle acquired the PC Express / Express MDB products from Information resources in the early 90s. Oracle did not really do a lot with the products.

With Oracle acquiring Hyperion, that leaves Cognos and Business Objects. I am betting that SAP will step in an acquire one of those two. Which one? I am guessing that it will be Business Objects because of their French (European) origins.

For the one left out, life will be difficult at the Oracle / PeopleSoft /SAP sites around the world.

But then that assumes that the acquirer actually does a decent job of integrating and developing the technology. Sad to say, if Express is anything to go by, Hyperion technology may well be destined for a similar fate.

Which vendors are Blog Challenged?

I had cause recently to look for blogs from a vendor who shall remain nameless (But whose name begins with H) and found three. One was somewhat technical by a well known technologist there. It was somewhat sanitised though – the PR types had vetted it, no doubt. The other blogs were more conceptual – stuff you could find on their web site.

As far as the big vendors go, Microsoft really sets the benchmark in terms of the numbers of blogs. They don’t seem to have been through PR.

 I am interested to hear what people think. Perhaps even rate a vendor on a scale of 10. 1 being Blog Challenged and 10 being Blog Gifted.

My rankings are:

Microsoft – 6, Hyperion – 1, Cognos – 1, Business Objects – 1

Vendor claims rarely translate into reality

This is a post for those of you charged with implementing new systems from the various BI vendors. It is aimed at those making the purchasing decisions.

 I have worked with all five of the big BI firm’s products now and I can state without fear of contradiction that one should be wary of vendors claims about their products’ capabilities.

For most people who toil (most appropriate word)  implementing and integrating these products, this is completely bleeding obvious.

But these people do not make the purchasing decisions. It is the primary stakeholders, the business, non-technical types who make the decisions based on the carefully crafted and scripted vendor demonstrations or, at best, the prototypes built on a limited data set.

Too often RTM applications are still effectively Beta as there is no way that the vendor can ever hope to test every possible scenario that a purchaser can create.

What to do?

When buying do the due diligence. Chooses your best three products and have them come in build a prototype against your data and let them demo their product against that data.

It is the level playing field that vendors do not like. But remember, you call the shots.

Wait for the major dot release. Don’t buy 5.0! Wait until 5.1 or 5.2. Let someone else iron out the bugs. (A source at Hyperion says that one should really wait until system 9.4 as there are two patches a month coming out at the moment. Microsoft’s Integration Services whilst usable still contains many bugs – that waste developers time! I have similar stories for Cognos and Business Objects.)

I am not saying don’t buy them as these are now suites containing many optional components. Just make sure you get the functionality you want.