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Apos Whitepaper Driving Efficient Management Of Your Business Objects BI Platform
 

Apos Whitepaper Driving Efficient Management Of Your Business Objects BI Platform

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    Apos Whitepaper Driving Efficient Management Of Your Business Objects BI Platform Apos Whitepaper Driving Efficient Management Of Your Business Objects BI Platform Document Transcript

    • WHITE PAPER Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform COPYRIGHT Trademarks APOS logo is a trademark of APOS Systems Inc. SAP BusinessObjects and the SAP BusinessObjects logo, BusinessObjects, Crystal Reports and Xcelsius are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP BusinessObjects in the United States and/or other countries. The ESRI logo, ESRI, ArcGIS, ArcIMS, are trademarks, registered trademarks, or service marks of ESRI in the United States, the European Community, or certain other jurisdictions. All other names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners. Product specifications and program conditions are subject to change without notice. Copyright Copyright 2009 © APOS Systems Inc. All rights reserved. [2]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary ................................................................................................................................ 4 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 5 Challenges of BI Adoption and Utilization ............................................................................................ 5 Size of BI Deployments........................................................................................................................................................ 5 Complexity of BI Deployments .......................................................................................................................................... 6 Impact of BI Deployments .................................................................................................................................................. 6 Expectations of BI Deployments........................................................................................................................................ 6 APOS Solutions for Growing BI Challenges .......................................................................................... 7 Enhancing the Platform........................................................................................................................................................ 7 Extending the Platform......................................................................................................................................................... 7 Impact of APOS Solutions ...................................................................................................................... 8 Operational Maintenance Efficiencies................................................................................................................................ 8 Crisis Management................................................................................................................................................................. 9 Migrations ............................................................................................................................................................................. 10 End-User Productivity ........................................................................................................................................................ 10 Summary ................................................................................................................................................12 Customer Implementations ...................................................................................................................13 The Partnerships ....................................................................................................................................13 APOS Systems Inc............................................................................................................................................................... 13 SAP BusinessObjects .......................................................................................................................................................... 13 [3]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Helping over 750 SAP BusinessObjects customers globally, APOS Solutions enhance and extend the SAP BusinessObjects software platform. By enabling deeper control over system monitoring, administration, deployment and integration, APOS Solutions yield lower TCO and higher ROI for SAP BusinessObjects deployments. APOS delivers solutions for advanced system management (APOS Administrator), system monitoring and auditing (APOS Insight), report and object back-up/archive/restore (APOS Storage Center), report bursting and distribution (APOS Publisher), integration with Microsoft Outlook, and integration with ESRI GIS mapping solutions. APOS has been awarded the SAP BusinessObjects ‘Technology Partner of the Year’ award for 2006, 2007, and 2008. The focus of this white paper is to clarify key value drivers and points of impact which the APOS Solutions bring to SAP BusinessObjects deployments. This document is divided into three main sections: 1) Challenges of BI Adoption and Utilization The initial focus of this document is to outline key trends impacting the execution and management of BI deployments, and related challenges that have arrived due to those forces. These trends and challenges are discussed in the context of Size of BI Deployments, Complexity of BI Deployments, Impact of BI Deployments, and Expectations of BI Deployments. 2) APOS Solutions for Growing BI Challenges The second section of this white paper looks at key conceptual themes of how the APOS Solutions bring value to the SAP BusinessObjects platform, and distinguishes value points in the context of both a) enhancing the platform, and b) extending the platform. 3) Impact of APOS Solutions The final section of the document looks at the specific elements of where APOS Solutions are impacting and reducing the TCO of SAP BusinessObjects deployments. Primary areas discussed are:  Operational maintenance efficiencies  Crisis management  Migration efficiencies  End-user productivity  Reduced infrastructure  Reduced IT opportunity costs  Reduced IT staff turnover  Compliance initiatives [4]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform INTRODUCTION A recent global survey of over 1,500 CIOs resulted in a respondent ranking of business intelligence (BI) as their top technology priority. In many respects this is not a surprising revelation, given the positive impact that business intelligence solutions have been delivering, but it does reveal how far these technologies have come in their acceptance and deployment levels over the past decade. For many organizations, ‘BI’ was very much an unknown acronym just a few short years ago, while today these same organizations are now relying on BI technologies for the provision of information that drives strategic and operational decisions at all levels. Business Intelligence is now an ‘enterprise’ platform technology for an important percentage of organizations. As with all such technology platforms, significant levels of resources are applied behind the scenes in the execution and management of these environments. CHALLENGES OF BI ADOPTION AND UTILIZATION The increased adoption and utilization of BI has resulted in better informed decision making, which is in turn driving more efficient and effective organizations, but these benefits are accompanied by heavy responsibilities and challenges. Deployment size, complexity, impact and expectation are critical factors behind these responsibilities and challenges, and we can view these factors in the context of the related supply-side and demand-side drivers. SIZE OF BI DEPLOYMENTS Demand: Dramatically more users, departments, divisions, customers, suppliers, stakeholders are signing on to utilize decision making content supplied via business intelligence deployments. While BI usage level profiles range significantly from heavy users, to moderate users, to light users, the cumulative effect of all these user groups is weighty and broad in scope. Even with significant increases in both the volume of users and the volume of content during the past few years, all signs suggest that most organizations are still in the relatively early stages of BI platform utilization. Supply: The underlying infrastructure, security, and content management requirements grow proportionally with the user and content demands. Larger, more powerful server environments are required to meet these demands. There are more BI user accounts, group accounts, report objects, report instances, servers, services, etc. to manage and interact with — this causes a proportional growth in the human resources required to care for and feed these growing demands. This growth in human resource requirement is not limited to the direct administrators of the BI system, but also to those teams which are responsible for supporting database, network, security, web and application-layer deployments which are all dependencies to making the business intelligence system successful. [5]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform COMPLEXITY OF BI DEPLOYMENTS Demand: As user volume and project/departmental volume increases, there is a significant increase in the unique requirements that come from the various users, groups departments and projects. Many organizations are moving towards the consolidation of multiple departmental deployments of BI systems into a single ‘shared services’ environment, where a single business intelligence deployment serves the diverse BI needs of a broad range of departments and projects within their organization. Supply: The result of this trend is a multiplier effect on system management efforts due to complexity factors that result, such as distinct processing schedules, system objects, and security needs, metered system usage, and intricate data, application and platform integration needs. All of these complexities are driven by the diverse end user community. In order to manage the pressures resulting from these additional complexities, further human resources must be directed to accommodate and care for this environment and its related platforms and technologies. IMPACT OF BI DEPLOYMENTS Demand: BI is driving better decision making at all levels and in more departments of organizations. This valuable benefit is accompanied with the significant responsibility of fulfilling the information needs for these operational and strategic decision-making scenarios, and the direct link to the financial impact of these decisions. Whether it is a team of front line service employees making daily operational decisions, a hallmark customer accessing sensitive account statements, or senior management making critical strategic planning decisions, the information supplied through BI platforms has a dramatic and growing financial impact. Supply: Quite simply, the stakes of a successful BI platform are getting much higher, and those with responsibility for managing and maintaining this environment recognize this and feel the mounting pressure of this responsibility. These pressures are driving CIOs and managers to compensate by applying additional human, system and IT resources in order to successfully fulfill their mandate. Their approach becomes focused on making sound decisions on the most efficient resources to apply, as well as utilizing strategies and technologies to minimize risks. EXPECTATIONS OF BI DEPLOYMENTS Demand: With the increased pressure on BI due to its growing financial impact, clearly it becomes critical that information must be available to decision makers when and where they need it. The timing of business decisions does have segments of predictable needs such as month, quarter and year-end reporting; however, BI systems are feeding information stretching far beyond those traditional operational and financial reporting cycles. It is now becoming critical that BI systems are ready and accessible to meet user needs at any time, and tolerance of the end user community for the BI system being ‘offline’ is declining rapidly. Supply: Ongoing, continual and rapid accessibility to information is quickly becoming the expectation of BI end users, and the satisfaction criteria that BI system owners are measured against. Losing the trust and engagement of the end user community is very difficult to recover from, and critical to avoid. For many IT organizations, service level agreements for BI deployments are becoming common place, and often have financial penalties related to underperformance. However, for those organizations that do not have formal SLA agreements in place, the unwritten expectations of the BI constituents are equally motivating. Where those constituents are end customers of the organization, that [6]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform motivation is even further amplified. As with the financial impact factors noted above, the heightened expectations of BI users drive CIOs and managers to compensate by applying additional resources to mitigate risks. In many cases this means additional human resources, but for matters such as rapid response and recovery to system emergencies this more commonly requires that enhanced technology resources be applied. In summary, the demand-side drivers of size, complexity, impact and expectation are clearly propelling supply-side requirements for human, system, and technology resources to be applied to the BI infrastructure. However, like most areas of business operations, BI resources are under constraint and must be managed efficiently, and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the BI deployment must be optimized. SAP BusinessObjects Software deployment managers, specifically, are under these same pressures to optimize the TCO of their deployment. APOS SOLUTIONS FOR GROWING BI CHALLENGES Like many other successful technology vendors, SAP has a vibrant partner ecosystem, and third party solutions have been created around the core SAP BusinessObjects platform to build on TCO optimization. This is exactly the mandate which APOS Solutions have been delivering on since 1998. By focusing on 1) enhancing the core SAP BusinessObjects platform and 2) extending that platform, APOS Solutions deliver value through power administration and management, platform monitoring, system auditing, report publishing, and content archiving. ENHANCING THE PLATFORM In many cases, APOS Solutions build on the inherent administration and management capabilities of the SAP BusinessObjects platform, dramatically enhancing functionality and control. Key concepts for APOS Solutions are providing functionality and automation that enables streamlined system administrator resources to manage and control high volumes of BI-related system settings, services, users, groups, objects, schedules, and security. Not only is volume of control a significant theme, but depth of granular control of the BI system is also a key benefit. As well, there are important reliability gains due to reductions in human errors resulting from automating repeatable tasks which are otherwise prone to errors and mistakes. The automation, volume of throughput and depth of control provided by APOS Solutions enable valuable IT resources to manage the environment dramatically faster, helping to achieve the response times for ongoing maintenance and emergency resolution that is being driven by rising user expectations. EXTENDING THE PLATFORM In addition to enhancing existing platform capabilities, APOS Solutions also bring various facilities and feature sets that are not offered in any manner within the core platform. These platform extensions bring added competencies to the administration, management and monitoring of the SAP BusinessObjects deployment, and also provide added capabilities within the solutions that are deployed to end users. A more efficiently managed platform with extended insight, control and performance all yield greater satisfaction and productivity in the end user community. [7]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform IMPACT OF APOS SOLUTIONS When customers review the impact that APOS Solutions have on their SAP BusinessObjects deployment, there are several factors to be considered. Key factors that can be measured for financial impact include operational maintenance efficiencies, crisis management, migration influence and end-user productivity influence. OPERATIONAL MAINTENANCE EFFICIENCIES The ongoing care and feeding of an SAP BusinessObjects deployment requires commitment of various resources. Human resources are a very significant portion of that equation, and APOS Solutions allow system administrators to be much more efficient and effective in their tasks, enabling platform owners to be more efficient in how they allocate and manage their valuable IT human resources. The efficiency and effectiveness of IT human resources is derived from APOS Solutions in the areas of regular maintenance, system reliability, and system optimization. Regular Maintenance: As noted earlier, APOS Solutions enable faster, deeper, higher volume control over the SAP BusinessObjects environment and administration tasks. Quite simply, APOS Solutions allow system administrators to address their ongoing, regular maintenance activities in dramatically less time, compared to using the administration capabilities provided with the core SAP BusinessObjects solution. Some examples of areas where dramatic system maintenance time savings can be realized are:  scheduling and rescheduling  report instance management  system object management and maintenance  report object setting maintenance  report object management, maintenance and promotion  universe management, maintenance, and promotion  user and user group security maintenance  automated report instance archiving  data source maintenance  automated platform service monitoring For these examples and for many other regular maintenance tasks, reductions in operator time requirements yield direct cost savings and a resulting reduction of TCO of the platform. System Reliability: During the course of regular maintenance tasks, system administrators are engaged in various tasks which require their manual translation, input, and execution. In many cases these are manual tasks that are better served via automation to reduce or eliminate the unnecessary operator time consumed in the preparation, input and execution steps. However, an additional challenge exists in the form of the significant and unnecessary operator time consumed in recovering from human errors, which are a certainty to occur during these detailed manual processes. While matters of end-user productivity are certainly impacted by system reliability, the focus of this section is on system administrator time [8]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform savings. APOS Solutions provide unique methodologies and automation that directly reduces the time required for troubleshooting and recovery from improperly executed maintenance tasks. System Optimization: As noted above, there are various pressures around maximizing content throughput, minimizing infrastructure resources, and optimizing processing cycles. These pressures drive system administrators to spend significant effort in developing and executing steps and methods for tracking information related to system users, usage patterns, performance, security, available content and capacity planning, all in an effort to better understand the status of their system and take steps to optimize. In many cases, these information gathering steps are very time consuming to follow, and for many scenarios the information that is inherently available lacks the quality and depth desired for optimized decision making. APOS Solutions provide unique facilities, methods and automation which deliver both the quality and depth of system information desired, as well as significantly reducing the level of operator time involved in doing so. The result is proper insight into the system to assess health status, bottlenecks and resource opportunities; this enables the administration team to predict and resolve problems in advance of manifestation, and take action on balancing and optimizing system resources. CRISIS MANAGEMENT During the course of any year, most SAP BusinessObjects deployments will experience a number of unplanned interruptions. These unplanned interruptions can range from a moderate disruption in functioning due to the failure of one or more system services, to a full-scale and extended failure of the platform due to collapse of a physical server. While many other unplanned interruptions can transpire, the fact is that these scenarios will certainly occur for most deployments, with considerable costs incurred as a result of these events. The costs most commonly incurred are human resource costs due to administrator overtime, external consultant assistance and the cost of supporting staff from other areas within IT — DBA, network, security, infrastructure, web, applications and project management personnel may be impacted by and called upon in such events. Another area of significant potential cost due to unplanned interruptions is that of charges resulting from Service Level Agreements with pre-determined costs that will be charged to IT by business units due to system underperformance or lack of availability of the system. Also, due to the interconnection of system and network infrastructure resources between application groups, restoration activities related to an unplanned interruption of the BI platform could very easily cause an unplanned interruption for another application group. Clearly there are significant costs that result in these scenarios. APOS Solutions have a dramatic impact on reducing these costs, and do so by reducing both the number of unplanned interruptions and the time involved in recovering from these events. APOS Solutions can reduce the number of crisis events by closely monitoring BI system services and overall system health metrics, keeping the administrator team informed on the status of these metrics, and providing alert notification of threshold conditions where system metrics exceed pre-defined tolerance levels. In addition to alerting, APOS Solutions can take automated corrective action in an attempt to resolve certain threat events before they manifest themselves — an aid towards a goal of a self-monitoring and self-healing BI system. As well, when unplanned interruptions occur, APOS Solutions dramatically improve the response and recovery time involved in restoring and rebuilding the system. Those improved response and recovery times have a direct impact on reducing the costs related to crisis event management. [9]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform MIGRATIONS Like all major technology platforms, SAP BusinessObjects deployments are faced with the time consuming and risk intensive necessity of version and platform migrations. The frequency of these migrations varies between organizations, depending on their IT and business requirements as well as the organizational IT culture regarding pace of technology adoption. Whatever the frequency, organizations of all sizes recognize that the cost and productivity impact of an SAP BusinessObjects system migration can have a substantial impact on their annual budget spending. The larger and more complex the deployment, the longer and more complex the migration process, and the larger the budget required to complete the process. APOS Solutions can assist with some of the very time consuming elements of a migration process, and as a result have a direct positive impact on the cost of migration. Some examples of specific areas where APOS Solutions can provide important efficiencies include:  auditing of the migration, verification of successful migration of objects, instances and security settings  bulk operation of security settings and modifications to security and preference settings in the target environment  bulk changes to objects and schedules in order to utilize new features and settings or respond to in bulk to configuration changes needed due to new features and settings-monitoring and metrics gathering for system optimization of the target migration environment  migration and rebuilding of recurring schedules  optimize source system by archiving content to streamline content to be migrated For migration tasks such as these, the methodologies and automation provided by APOS Solutions can reduce the time involved by 50%-90%, as compared to using inherent platform capabilities. Some examples of such migration tasks would be scheduling, instance search, user preferences initialization, bulk changes to object and schedule settings, bulk database password change for objects and their schedules, etc. Given that many large deployments require months of planning and execution surrounding such processes, it is easy to recognize the financial benefits involved. In addition to providing more efficient capabilities, APOS Solutions can also provide otherwise unavailable insight into system content, patterns and performance which result a faster, smoother migration process. END-USER PRODUCTIVITY Platform availability, content availability, content reliability, and system performance are all factors that have been noted above. In previous sections, discussion of these concepts has focused on how APOS Solutions bring efficiencies for accomplishing tasks and processes for managing these factors. However, what have not been discussed thus far are the dramatic cumulative gains that result for end users of the SAP BusinessObjects system when APOS Solutions have been utilized to enhance the stability, performance, and reliability of the BI platform and content. When the system is stable and performing well, BI content is available and ready when needed for decision making. This impacts end users by reducing or eliminating inefficient work cycles due to waiting for information or the necessity for workarounds due to information not being available or reliable. Combined with this is the potentially staggering impact of both direct and opportunity costs of resulting from delayed or bad decision making, due to information not being available or not being reliable. In some cases the costs associated with an unavailable or unreliable BI [ 10 ]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform platform will be related to a single decision error or single project that has a major financial cost impact, but more predictable is the dramatic cumulative effect of many small inefficiencies of end user time waste, or many small to medium sized decisions that are impacted by an unavailable or unreliable BI platform. In assessing the impact, it is very reasonable to consider a small percentage of productivity improvement across the full BI end user community, while more challenging is trying to predict what the larger impact events might be. In most deployments there are a broad range of usage levels within the user community, but it is reasonable to categorize the user base into heavy users, moderate users, and light users. Certainly the heavy user group will have the greatest end-user productivity gains, given that an efficient, available and reliable system will produce significant time savings for this segment of users due to their high reliance and usage of the BI system. As well, this is also a group of people who are typically involved in decision support for the larger impact decisions within the organization. However, even minor productivity gains in the light user community will have significant cumulative financial impact due to the much larger number of users that are likely to exist in the light user community. Looking beyond the Light, Moderate and Heavy users within an organization, we must also consider the impact of availability and reliability on the external users of the systems. Many organizations today are utilizing their SAP BusinessObjects platform to deliver high value information to their customers via an extranet or customer-facing portal. This is a significant benefit to the customer and has an important impact on solidifying the business relationship. However if the information portal availability or the reliability of the content being delivered becomes a point of frustration to the customer due to availability or reliability, then the portal instead has a detrimental impact on the customer relationship. Operational maintenance efficiency, crisis management, migration, and end user productivity are all key factors in assessing the financial impact that APOS Solutions can have on an SAP BusinessObjects deployment. However, these are not the only factors for consideration, as several other important factors do exist. Reduced Infrastructure: A well tuned and optimized BI system means that the underlying infrastructure can be kept to a minimum size. Containing physical server resource requirements means that hardware and licensing costs are contained, and the number of potential failure-points is reduced. APOS Solutions bring insight and functionality to SAP BusinessObjects deployments that are important to this tuning and optimization. Reduced IT Opportunity Costs: While potential IT projects and their related benefits are almost unlimited, IT human resources are typically quite limited and are often a key factor for potential IT projects not being carried forward. APOS Solutions bring efficiencies to SAP BusinessObjects deployments that reduce the time requirements of IT human resources, thereby opening up time for those same resources to go on and pursue other projects that drive value within the organization. Reduced IT Turnover: Many of the regular and ongoing administration and maintenance tasks involved with an SAP BusinessObjects deployment can be tedious, repetitive and cumbersome in nature. Such tasks can have a negative impact on the longevity of a platform administrator. APOS Solutions reduce such frustrations and increase employment satisfaction for administrators by providing capabilities which allow them to take rapid, bulk, direct, and granular actions on the SAP BusinessObjects environment, freeing their time for more inspiring and higher value activities. [ 11 ]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform Compliance Initiatives: APOS Solutions provide platform capabilities which can be utilized strategically to assist with various compliance initiatives. One example of compliance related utilization might involve the provision of a controlled report and document archival process which meets challenging compliance standards. Another such example may be the provision of enhanced promotion controls which enables appropriate restrictions on how administrators can access or change the content and security settings within development, test, QA, and production environments. SUMMARY Business Intelligence solutions play a critical role in the operations and strategic planning for today’s organizations, and it is clear that the impact of these solutions are still in the early stages. As these environments continue to grow in their size and complexity, SAP BusinessObjects system administrators will benefit from utilizing APOS Solutions in order to produce a deployment that satisfies the expectations of their end user base as they utilize this information to positively impact the results of their organizations. [ 12 ]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform CUSTOMER IMPLEMENTATIONS Examples of customer implementations are available in the Case Studies section of www.apos.com: http://www.apos.com/Company/CaseStudies.aspx THE PARTNERSHIPS APOS SYSTEMS INC. APOS is an authorized SAP Software Partner and was recognized as the SAP BusinessObjects ‘Technology Partner of the Year’ for 2006, 2007, and 2008. A leading SAP BusinessObjects Partner, APOS Systems Inc. offers incomparable knowledge and expertise in extending the SAP BusinessObjects XI platform. APOS Solutions are helping over 750 SAP BusinessObjects customers, in over 30 countries worldwide, maximize their investment in the SAP BusinessObjects XI platform. APOS Solutions for SAP BusinessObjects XI provide customers with powerful tools to extend their business intelligence system. The APOS Solutions are efficiency-enabling technologies which bring enhanced management, monitoring, and integration to SAP BusinessObjects deployments. The net result for the business intelligence system is increased control and scalability, and decreased total cost of ownership. As well, APOS development services often use APOS Solutions as the foundation to fast-track custom development projects. APOS Solutions include telephone, email, and web-based technical support plus a maintenance program that provides new versions going forward to support new releases or upgrades of SAP BusinessObjects XI. SAP BUSINESSOBJECTS SAP is the world's leading provider of business software, offering applications and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. With more than 82,000 customers in over 120 countries, the company is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt stock exchange and NYSE, under the symbol "SAP." The SAP® BusinessObjects™ portfolio transforms the way the world works by connecting people, information and businesses. With open, heterogeneous solutions in the areas of business intelligence; information management; governance, risk and compliance; and enterprise performance management, the SAP BusinessObjects portfolio enables organizations to close the gap between business strategy and execution. For more information, visit www.sap.com. [ 13 ]
    • Driving Efficient Management of the BI Platform HEAD OFFICE 100 Conestoga College Blvd., Suite 1118 Kitchener, ON Canada N3H 1J2 Phone 519.894.APOS (2767) Fax 519.894.1891 BRANCH OFFICES 35447 McKee Road Abbotsford, BC Canada V3G 2Z4 Phone 604.864.0766 Fax 604.864.4291 80-83 Long Lane London, UK EC1A 9ET EMEA Sales: 44 (0) 207 099 0374 EMEA Support: 44 (0) 208 819 9640 Ext 1 EMAIL: apos@apos.com WEB: http://www.apos.com/ [ 14 ]