I had a situation recently where scheduled Business Objects reports began to fail with the error message: “Object failed to run due to insufficient security privileges. “. Having spent some time googling the error there seem to be many potential causes if permissions have been changed but in this case it turned out that a user had been deleted. In Business Objects (XI R3.1 at least), when a user is deleted their scheduler instances will be allocated to the Administrator who, despite having scheduler privileges, appears not to be able to execute scheduled reports.
The only solution I could find was to manually reschedule all reports previously owned by the deleted user, if anyone has any better solutions or knows of a method to make a bulk change rather than individually I would love to hear it!
I encountered this error whilst testing a Stored Procedure Universe in BO XI R3.1, given that it says “Invalid Parameter Number” you would naturally assume that it was something relating to the stored procedure itself, passing parameters from the front-end to the DB in SQL, etc. but in my case it was a classic red herring error message.
The issue turned out to be permissions problem, the user executing the stored procedure did not have permissions to execute it. After running the following SQL statement everything ran perfectly…
GRANT EXECUTE ON my_dwh.dbo.usp_do_something_useful TO PUBLIC
… though bear in mind that you may not want to grant permissions to everyone (‘public’), I just use it as a simple example.
Every now and again you’ll have a value coming from a database in seconds, this is usually very handy since you can perform operations on a nice friendly numeric value but often I find that the user will want to see the outcome in a more familiar time format.
I had this problem the other day and rather than write the formula from scratch I used Google and came across Christian Key’s solution which mostly solved my problem. Christian’s solution returns a formatted string, however I needed to return a value that Business Objects understood as a time, in order to that all I had to do is wrap his solution in a ToDate() function as follows:
=ToDate(If((IsNull([TestSeconds])) Or([TestSeconds] = 0 )) Then ("00:00:00") Else FormatNumber(Floor([TestSeconds] /3600) ;"00") + ":" + FormatNumber(Floor(Mod([TestSeconds] ;3600)/60) ;"00") + ":" + FormatNumber(Mod(Mod([TestSeconds] ;3600) ;60) ;"00");"HH:mm:ss")
It is best to supply integer seconds into the above formula, feeding decimals can cause unusual rounding errors and provide times like 02:60 instead of 03:00.
Many thanks to Christian and I hope my little addition helps a fellow WebI user out there.
Today I attended the SAP BI 4.0 launch event at the Royal College of Physicians in Regent’s Park London, the first major launch event for Business Objects since being firmly under the SAP banner lending it a degree of expectation amongst the BO user community. With all said and done the day had a slightly unusual structure, interleaving the “new features” sessions with “the future of BI” and “other interesting stuff” talks so the remainder of this post covers the main themes of the day and the “big picture” topics whilst I’ve broken out the new features into a “What’s New in Business Objects XI Release 4 / SAP BI 4.0?” post.
The morning’s main talk came from SAP’s Technology Evangelist, Timo Elliott (for those of you from the SQL Server world think of a cross between Brent Ozar and Andrew Fryer) who delivered a punchy and informative overview of the ‘big ticket’ enhancements coming in 4.0. The main themes of Timo’s talk an of the day in general were the forthcoming enhancements in the Enterprise Analytics space including the recently acquired Column-Oriented data store Sybase IQ and AP’s latest iteration of In-Memory analysis, HANA (High-performance ANalytical Appliance). HANA will run on hardware from vendors such as IBM and HP with upwards of 1TB RAM and sit between SAP BW and other large data sources providing lightning-fast (up to 350x faster in SAP tests) though later iterations of HANA will all-but replace the current storage engine behind SAP BW (planned late 2011) and ultimately will replace the entire data storage infrastructure behind SAP’s ERP systems and potentially other third-party applications.
Timo’s enthusiasm for these new technologies clearly showed and having been in the industry (and the company) for 20 years it’s worth noting that he described the advent of large-scale in-memory analytics as a “once in a decade” leap in capability and for Enterprise-class organisations I’m quite sure it will be but having worked in much smaller companies I’m somewhat sceptical about how much of an impact it will make at the lower end of the market.
Another major theme for the day was the advent of Analytic Applications, essentially packaged BI and Data Warehouse products pre-built for specific industries (e.g. Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing) or for departmental purposes (e.g. Finance, HR). Demoed by Jeff Veis and Andy Hirst, these applications are presented as a series of dashboards but since much of the underlying KPI definitions and data architecture are already built they can reduce implementation time to as little as 12 weeks vs. 6-9 months for a ‘from scratch’ implementation. It’s easy to be sceptical about this as we all tend to believe that our problems are unique but each application is focused so closely on a particular industry/department that even if they’re only able to meet 70% of the core requirements out of the box the simplicity and reduced timescales ought to be well worth the sacrifice, especially since they’re customisable after the initial setup.
The third major theme of the day was Data Quality, in fact in addition to the session on Information Steward by Barry Dodds and Dave Pugh four other speakers made a point of telling the audience that everybody in the room had data quality problems – it’s probably true but I couldn’t help feeling a little nagged by the end of it all! The tool itself seemed very capable and for a DQ application it was remarkably visual and included dashboard-style elements (to paraphrase Barry) “using analytics to improve analytics” which despite being a cool soundbite is a actually a very sensible approach to take.
Also announced was the new Complex Event Processing engine Event Insight, essentially these CEP engines (like Microsoft’s StreamInsight) take an incoming stream of events in real-time from operational systems and provide monitoring and alerting capabilities as well as processing for more traditional reporting and dashboarding. Additional products mentioned but not thoroughly explored were a collaboration tool sapstreamwork.com and a new unstructured text processing engine that is able to parse free text such as Twitter feeds and provide “sentiment analysis” as well as tagging various context indicators including geography.
Roadmap wise we were told to export more along the lines of Pervasive BI, Big Data, Social / Collaboration and more in the Mobile BI space. On the latter we should expect enhancements to the existing Business Objects Explorer mobile app as well as a native WebI application, mobile platforms mentioned included Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Mobile, iPhone, iPad and even the RIM Playbook but oddly no mention of Android. I’m not sure if it was left off of the slide by accident or there are legitimately no Android plans, I’d assume the former since Android is almost certain to become the market leader in terms of wide-spread adoption.
In addition to the Business Objects staff there were also a couple of external speakers both of whom gave interesting talks…
Tony Harper of Capgemini who spoke on the general topic of Mobile BI, highlighting the increased user expectations presented by high quality consumer-oriented smartphone and tablet apps as a particular challenge. The talk was thought-provoking and in particular it Tony’s statement that Mobile BI projects will be “sending information farther from the walls of the data centre than ever before” really underscored one of his main themes that providing so many people in so many disparate locations live access to your data will significantly stretch both performance and data quality and these expectations should be factored into Mobile BI projects from the beginning.
Following Tony was Alys Woodward from the research firm IDC who gave a good talk on the factors influencing BI uptake within organisations listing the most important contributing factors as being as Degree of Training (including training on KPIs as well as the tools), Design Quality (of architecture and processes), Non-Executive Involvement (i.e. get the business users involved), Importance of Governance and Use of Performance Management Methodology (the last two being important drivers in organisations where they are relevant).
Don’t forget to check out my ”What’s New in Business Objects XI Release 4 / SAP BI 4.0?” post too for more detail on the core Business Objects product stack.
Categories: Business Intelligence, Business Objects, Sybase, The Cloud Tags: Analytical Applications, Andrew Fryer, BI, BI 4.0, Blackberry, BO, Brent Ozar, Capgemini, CEP, Column-Oriented, Data Quality, DQ, ERP, Event Insight, HANA, IDC, In-Memory, Information Steward, iOS, iPad, iPhone, IQ, Mobile BI, Playbook, SAP, SAP BW, Sybase, Timo Elliott, WinMo, XIR4
Having been at the London SAP BI 4.0 Launch event I have divided my write-up between general themes (see here) and detailing the new features of the classic Business Objects product suite that were revealed on the day.
The first words on the first slide of Varik Torsteinsen’s talk were: “4.0 is here”, followed swiftly by a contradictory “well, almost”! The product is currently in “ramp-up” phase with selected customers being given access to the 4.0 software downloads but will most likely reach General Availability at the end of May. The current supported migration path will be from XI R2 SP2 or XI R3.0 or above, there was no specific mention of migration tools or process.
Possibly the largest single change might be the introduction of an entirely new Semantic Layer and the replacement of the Universe Designer tool with the Information Design Tool (IDT). The new semantic layer includes elements from the old Data Federator product (which presumably no longer exists) and allows a single universe to combine data from multiple sources, a great leap forward for BO but something OBIEE (nee Siebel Analytics) has been able to do for a while.
Some of the small (but very welcome changes) include support for 64-bit operating systems, enhanced virtualisation support, additional monitoring and a re-written auditing back-end. Along with the functional changes there was the usual biennial nomenclature shuffle that Business Objects tend to put us all through, the main changes being…
- Xcelsius will now be called SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards.
- InfoView will now be called BI Launchpad.
- Dashboard Builder will now be called BI Workspaces.
- Voyager and Pioneer will now be called SAP BusinessObjects Analysis.
Crystal reports still exists and appears to have a new and slicker UI, the dashboard builder (BI Workspaces) has also been improved and should result in much faster design-times.
Web Intelligence doesn’t seem to have changed fundamentally (don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing) though there have been a number of enhancements that will prove popular including the addition of new chart types including variable slice height pies, scatter bubbles, polar bubbles, tag clouds, box plots, heat maps and tree maps. There are more tabs and tab-like options available in the UI to allow access to additional functionality, documents can be pinned in the BI Launchpad and will retained the pinned status across sessions – a great way to make sure you always look at your data assurance report!
The Query Panel also now has a Data Preview pane at the bottom-right and direct visibility of the data in the Data Provider is now possible, though I didn’t see whether the raw data could be saved independently I’d assume it can be. Reports can now be based on Excel documents, Analysis Views, BeX, text-files, Web Services and you can even create a report with no data provider at all. Copying report elements from one report to another is now possible, the chart/table will move and also bring the Data Provider along with it – it appeared that this was instant as well so it potentially may not even require another request to the database.
I’ve still got a lot of questions that I didn’t get a chance to answer today (Grouping? Free-hand SQL? Hiding?) but what I did see was worthwhile although I would say that perhaps WebI still looks a bit slower than it ought to although that could be down to using laptops for demos. I hope my round-up helped, I did leave some things out so please feel free to ask if you’ve any other questions.
Categories: Business Intelligence, Business Objects Tags: Analysis, BI Launchpad, BI Workspaces, BO, Business Objects, Dashboards, Federated Query, IDT, Infoview, OBIEE, Pioneer, SAP, Universe, Voyager, WebI, Xcelsius
I just received the following alert from the UK Business Objects User Group (very good, you should join) and have scraped the following text from the SAP support site…
SAP Business Objects Enterprise Daylight Savings Brief
Applies To: All Business Objects Enterprise XI r2 FP6.3 and earlier, and XI 3.1 SP3+ (FP3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5 ) Environments.
Brief: Due to Daylight Savings Time changes that went into effect on March 13, 2011 in the Americas and are scheduled for March 27, 2011 in Europe there is a potential of scheduling issues and excessive failed instances to appear on Recurring Daily Schedules in Business Objects Enterprise XI r2 FP6.3 and earlier as well as XI 3.1 SP3+ environments. If you encounter any issues please refer to the SAP Knowledge bases below for workarounds and resolutions and if required please raise a Message for Processing to via the Service Marketplace.
I’ve installed the fix pack recommended here: https://websmp210.sap-ag.de/sap/support/notes/1448881 and I’ll post an update after the weekend to say whether or not it worked.
UPDATE: The instance of Business Objects that I manage appears to have crossed the clock change boundary without any duplication of scheduled reports so either the fix pack mentioned above did the trick or the issue itself did not occur!