in Service Packs, System Administration

Building a BI Maintenance Strategy

One of the most important parts of every SAP BusinessObjects administrator’s job is to build a maintenance strategy for your BI environment. Falling behind on patches can be a costly mistake, so having a plan to stay on top of the latest releases is in your best interest. My approach to a maintenance plan can be broken down into four parts — Plan, Research, Prepare, and Patch!

Plan

Things are a lot different as a BI Admin now that BusinessObjects is an SAP product. SAP has a long history of providing solid support for their existing products, and thankfully we are now seeing the benefits of that. SAP offers both a Maintenance Schedule and Forward Fit Guide for BI Solutions which make planning for your next patch a little easier. The Maintenance Schedule shows you the estimated release dates for each Support Pack and Patch, up to six months in advance. The Forward Fit Guide shows you how each Patch is rolled up into future releases, so you can make sure that all of your required fixes are included in a particular release. Speaking of required fixes — you are tracking ADAPT numbers, right? Those unique IDs starting with ADAPT are assigned to each product issue and are provided to you by SAP Support if you discover an issue.  You can use these to track fixes as the release notes for every patch include these numbers.

Research

So along those lines, you’re going to want to review those Release Notes before installing any new patch. You’ll want to check for your required fixes as well as scanning for other fixes that may affect your users. You can also check out the Known Issues guide to see if there are any new problems that you should expect. Finally, the What’s New Guides published with each Support Pack will give you a quick overview of any new features or functionality. All of these guides are available on SAP’s Help Portal.

Prepare

Before you start installing anything, make sure your backups are good! Both the BI repository database and the BI Filestore should be backed up on a regular basis, but you should take one more clean backup before you begin. Then, take the time to download the correct software. Use SAP’s Download Manager tool and be sure you grab all the files you need before you start. In particular, watch out for full builds versus patch builds and 32-bit versus 64-bit. Be aware of prerequisites — you’ll need to install Support Pack 4 before you install Patch 4.1!  The release documentation can help you figure that part out. Finally, if you’ve got a test system, use it! Install the patches there first and do some testing before unleashing it on your users.

Patch!

Once everything is in order, you can begin to patch. First, disable all nonessential services — you’ll only need the CMS, FRS, and Tomcat servers to be online for the patching process. You may also want to temporarily disable your anti-virus — it could make a big difference on how long the installation takes! Before you kick off the patch, you may want to check the BI Cluster Patching Guide to see if you can patch your servers in parallel — another time saver. Finally, you can begin — patching each server, one product at a time, starting with the BI Platform and working down from there. While that installer is running, pay attention to the Task Manager to be sure that things are moving forward. If it seems like the installer might be hung up, check out the installer log files under the SAP BusinessObjects\InstallData directory for some clues. You might just be able to save a failed patch installation if you pay attention!

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  1. Clean data is essential in a BI system! You are using that data to make big business decisions, so it needs to be accurate. It’s too easy to get lead astray by incorrect data and find yourself in a mess that you have no idea how to get out of.