Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When SAP BEx will die?

Might be that you got similar questions from your customers as well. SAP is replacing its BEx portfolio with BusinessObjects. What shall we do? Start to look for new BW front end? Try to still to BEx as long as possible? Can we live without support from its producer? In case we should switch to other tool, what tool to pick up?
In this post I just try to focus on topic of how long SAP is going to maintain BEx releases. In particular we need to distinguish between developing of new BEx version and its maintenance.

In case of 2nd question related to BEx version maintenance we have nice SAP note 1322923 - Maintenance strategy / deadlines BW Business Explorer (BEx) which answers this. SAP is maintaining BEx per different operation systems (OS). For those OSs which are not supported by their vendor; SAP stops maintenance as well. This date is called de-support date. After expiration of OS manufacturer support SAP is checking compatibility of BEx patches for approximately 1 year. This is called post mortem QA procedure. Just to highlight most used OSs:
Windows XP Professional:
De-Support: March 31, 2014
          Post mortem QA: until December 31, 2014

Windows 7:
De-Support: January 13, 2015
          Post mortem QA: January 14, 2020

In case of 1st question developing of new BEx versions we can refer above mentioned SAP Note as well. It is said in there that within the upcoming versions of SAP GUI (currently under the shipment phase is version 7.3) there will be new versions of BEx as well. We all know how it is with SAP Notes. They all get updated from time to time. I would not be surprised if there will be no such a sentence in future in this note. Therefore we need some other more less “official” SAP sources related to this topic. According SDN’s Bex homepage; quote: “BEx is continuing being delivered within next SAP NW BW and currently there is no is no planned end of life”.
Whatever SAP has ever said days of BEx are not that bright as it would be seen. BusinessObjects portfolio is proffered by SAP. This might be experienced while you would be talked to SAP accounts managers. I have also seen projects where customer was assessing several BI frontend tools and SAP applied only with BusinessObjects and not with BEx. Of course that non SAP BusinessObjects has won.
However you perceive this topic I would say that SAP BEx will be with us for some time and there is no hurry to replace it in midterm perspective.

To see for how long your version of SAP GUI will be supported see following post:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I/O database operations

You might hear mostly from SAP basis people about I/O database operation. They used to refer to that in case something in SAP system is getting to be processed very slowly.

Basically I/O operation of any computer system or part of computer system refers to communication between two parts of system. E.g. Part A of the system passes information to part B of the system. B then return processed information back to part A.

From DB point of view we would say that any operation in the DB is I/O one. As it has to get information as an input; process it and return back information about its status.

In SAP BW we have so called intensive I/O database operations which are time and resources consuming and usually effects large portions of data. Those are following:

Index oriented: creating/rebuild/coalescing/fragmentation of indexes
Table oriented: conversions, reorganization
Client/system oriented: client/system copies/deletions, Unicode conversion
DB statistics: generating
Others: objects validation, DB media recovery, incremental conversion

For further studying this topic see following links:

P.S. Google calls their annual web developer conference as Google I/O :-)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to clear BW/(SAP AS) caches

There are several places across BW tools from where clearing of different types of cache can be done.

BEx Web Application Designer metadata cache: stores metadata information about objects related to web templates. You can also delete the cache in which metadata information belonging to current opened template within the session to BW backend. To delete this cache choose in BW Web Application Designer: Menu Tools -> Setting -> Delete cache -> Delete cache. Documentation for NW2004 can be found here. This is not valid for BW based on version 7.x.

 

OLAP Cache: so called Query cache is type of cache is used to buffer BW queries data sets to be available for next query run. In this case OLAP processor first checks cache and do not need to read the data out of BW infoproviders. To clear OLAP cache run TA RSRT -> Cache monitor -> Delete or you can go via TA RSRCACHE. Online docu here. If you want to do it from your custom ABAP program you may use function module: RSR_CACHE_CLEAR_ALL_CACHES.

 

HTTP server cache: this is related to HTTP server build in SAP AS server. You can clear it via TA SMICM -> Goto -> HTTP server cache -> Invalidate cache -> Global in system. Online docu here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

BW Accelerator Consulting Services by SAP AG

I have write few posts about SAP services provided by SAP Active Global Support (AGS) like BW Go live Optimization session and moreover also about how to prepare your BW systems for those sessions. In current post I focus on services provided by SAP AG for SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator (BWA). Notice that BWA was renamed from Business Intelligence Accelerator (BIA) in January 2009.
There are 2 main groups of BWA services:

1. Consulting services:

1.A Pulse Check Service: Aim is to identify possible BI Accelerator use cases or changes to implement it in your landscape.
- Data model analysis, collection of key BI Accelerator queries.
- Evaluation of key queries on customer system (to identify critical impact of BI Accelerator on queries and maintenance).

1.B. Proof-of-Concept Service:
- Lab environment (remote): Customer provides real business data to SAP
- Customer system (on-site): Evaluation of predefined query scenarios with BI Accelerator on customer BW 7.0 production system.

1.C. Full Implementation Service: Regular implementation of BWA through complete implementation cycle.
- Installation, Configuration and Upgrades
- Performance Optimization Activities
- Post-Installation Assistance

1.D. Health Check: Help existing customers to maximize performance of BWA.

2. workshops:

W26BII (INTRODUCTORY) High-level introduction for new users
1. Architecture and Infrastructure
- TREX/BW Accelerator Services
- BW Accelerator Engine Details
- BW Accelerator Index Concepts
2. Operating BW Accelerator
- Creating BW Accelerator Indexes
- Updating BW Accelerator Indexes
- Query Execution with BW Accelerator
3. Administration and Maintenance
- BW Accelerator Monitor (RSDDBIAMON2)
- TREX Admin Tool (TREXADMIN)

W26BIA (ADVANCED) Deep technical knowledge for power users
1. Administration and Maintenance
- Installation and Upgrades
- Adding and Removing Blades
- Python TREX Administration Tool
- TREX AlertServer
- Resource Usage Analysis
2. Performance Analysis and Optimization
- Indexing Performance
- Query Performance
3. Troubleshooting
- Root-Cause Analysis
- Advanced Monitoring Concepts
- High Availability
For details of those services see here.

Preparation for SAP Remote Services/Sessions for BW

There are certain SAP services provided by SAP Active Global Support (AGS) like BW Go live Optimization session which might help customers to run their BW solution better. You as an customer can request those session via raising customer message on OSS in area: Remote Service Request of component: SV-BO-REQ and type query: Request for the Delivery of a Remote Service (for details see Note 560499 - Global Support Customer Interaction: Telephone/fax/e-mail or service.sap.com/goinglivecheck).
Once you requested it you need to prepare your system for connection from SAP. Basically there are following main requirements:

1. Your BW system must have the latest ST-SER release 701_2010_1 on the Solution Manager. Otherwise SAP cannot perform any of remote session.

2. You must have a SAP Solution Manager 7.0 (formerly 4.0) with Support Package (SP) 15 or higher installed in your system landscape
There is an ABAP report called RTCCTOOL provided that helps you to determine either you are running correct software components. Report is analyzing tools that you need for SAP sessions by online connecting to SAP OSS. Missing articles like notes, add-ons are listed afterwards. You need to implement this missing stuff before session. For details about RTCCTOOL report see SAP Note 69455.

3. Performance collectors (TA ST03N) and OS collectors (ST06) are configured and running properly.

4. Users that you going to provide SAP must have proper authorization to perform the session. Usually users with authorization profiles SAP_ALL and SAP_NEW are provided.

5. You need to open connection to particular system that is going to be examined on OSS. Particularly following types of connection are needed to be opened:
- R/3 Support
- BW GUI
- BW RFC
- HTTP Connections (if using type BW Java e.g. for web reporting)

6. BW statistics should be up and running.

For more details see SAP Note 160777.

To see all detailed description of all Support Services for Customers using SAP Enterprise Support Services see following SDN link.

What year 2010 gave to SDN?

I started last year (2009) with brief summarization of initiatives that were newly introduced on SDN. This time let me continue and take a look on new stuff that year 2010 brought on the SDN field. Following here few new SDN initiatives:

  1. Idea Place: ideas.sap.com is an place where SCN community members can put ideas in any area of an relation to SAP products, services etc.
  2. SAP Community Network Shop, SAP Premium Educational Products and Resources  sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/shop – meanwhile those “shop” terms was rebranded under new name SAP Community Network eLearning - Online SAP Training.
  3. SDN Code Exchange Platform: sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/code-exchange allows community members to share and collaboratively develop prototypes, showcases, add-ons or event start-up ideas they would like to developed or already started developing in form of projects. Provides platform for support of code and release management, online discussions and blogs, documentation and issue tracking.
  4. SAP Community Netweaver Developer Edition / LicenseWas introduced in Jan 2010 as addition to miniSAP versions of SAP software. See here licenses comparison to find version that suits you and download it from here. Regarding previous offerings like NetWeaver Development Pack see this FAQ. For license maintenance go here.
  5. In-Memory section sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/in-memory. Soon followed by introduction of "four-element (3 focus areas)" strategy at TechEd 2010 in Berlin. Here’s SAP offers a mixture of on-premise, on-demand and on-device applications, and better application orchestration capabilities.
Regarding challenges I see in upcoming year 2011; the biggest one from my point of view would be an integration of all SCN functionalities closer together. Some parts of SCN pieces are still isolated island where user needs to login separately (idea Place) or running on different platforms (blogs, wiki, etc.). From this perspective I see a room for improvement and it is a great to see that something is going on e.g. here.

Possibilities of BEx Queries documenting

A lot of people are struggling with BEx queries in lot of areas. For example when you need to know how particular key figure is calculated. This can be very painful even more in case you have several nested structures where one key figure is comprised from several others and those are again calculated, restricted etc over and over again.
However there are some possibilities how to see query in different view apart of regular development tool – Bex Query Designer.

  1. TA RSRTQ (ABAP report RSRQ_QUERYDEFINITION) - Query Definition.

On selection screen of this tool you can choose the query which definition you would like to see. On the output screen you can see all particular properties of the query: Query Properties, Filter, Characteristic Restrictions, Selection, Default Values, Rows/Columns, Free Characteristics, Rows, Columns, Cells, Formulas, etc.

  

  1. Metadata repository, this is pretty know method how to see basic properties of BEx Query. You can access it from TA RSA1->Metadata Repository: