What to expect when upgrading a BW system

Upgrading a BW system is a not a small task. Based on our experience, we have gathered a few hints and tips below, which will help you to plan your upgrade process properly.

The drivers for upgrading are quite indisputable:

  • BW 3.5 versions have been out of regular maintenance and support since 2013
  • BW 7.x brings enhanced data modelling, better process orchestration, easy reporting, ad hoc analysis and in-memory planning

Pain Points

The challenges facing BI/BW upgrade projects can be technical or administrative in nature. Spotting them before they occur will minimize their impact – hopefully to zero.

Factors to keep in mind 

Creating an SAP BW upgrade plan is critical to any successful SAP BW upgrade project. The plan should include all the necessary software and hardware requirements and actions to be taken at different stages. All these activities have to be properly captured in a work breakdown structure along with resources and target dates.

The following list of activities must be considered in any BW upgrade project,

  • Define the Existing Landscape
  • Include Solution manager
  • Data conversions
  • Data loading
  • Identify testing requirements and strategy
  • Test scripts
  • Decide on ABAP and/or JAVA stacks ,
  • Support pack levels to be applied
  • New front-end components
  • Network adjustments to maintain system performance
  • Upgrading or migrating operating systems and databases
  • Unicode conversion etc.

Making assumptions and lack of pre-planning in any upgrade project will result in failure.

Tip: The ASU Tool is recommended for any BW upgrade – study thoroughly beforehand, then follow the SAP upgrade guides at each stage. Involve both Basis and BW Consultants before planning all these requirements.

Upgrade Procedure

This totally depends on the current version of BW, and whether you want to upgrade to a whole new version of BW and stay in line with the SAP road map or just upgrade to the next supported version from current.

The following are the approaches according to the current state.

  • Direct Upgrade: If the current version is BW 7.x then upgrade directly to BW 7.4 – with BW on HANA is recommended, but non-HANA is also possible.
  • Two stage upgrade:  If the version is still 3.x then a direct upgrade to BW 7.4 is not possible. In this case a two stage upgrade is mandatory. In the first stage BW 3.x is upgraded to BW 7.3 and then in the second stage to BW 7.4. With a two-stage upgrade the time and the resources required are increased.

Tip: Unicode conversion is mandatory as is the JAVA stack for Web templates execution, if moving to BW 7.3.

Requirements Gathering

Thoroughly study the situation by analyzing the existing landscape, and go through the specific Master Guide of the Upgrade such as 3.x to 7.3 or 7.x to 7.4 and decide on the approach that has to be followed for the available functionalities.

  • Capture all the elements to decide what is to migrate, and what is not: eg Info providers, Custom Objects, Transfer rules routines , CMOD in BW , CMOD in ECC/CRM Bex Queries, Workbooks, Web templates, Roles etc.
  • Go-through the Basis and ABAP component Upgrade Guides for the respective approach, and document all the relevant notes that were referred for similar Upgrades.

Tip: It’s good to involve the key stakeholders in this requirement gathering and obtain sign off, so that everyone is in agreement of current and planned landscape.

Test Scripts

For any testing to be carried out, proper test scripts need to be in place. Follow test scripts such as Initial data loads, Delta loads, Bex query executions, Workbooks execution, Web templates execution and for re-conciliation purposes in the upgrade stage. Without these test scripts in place the regression testing may go hay-wire.

Tip: Regression testing at every stage should be carried out by the user team and the technical team. The user team should be aware that they need to dedicate some time for the testing.

Functional Upgrade

According to requirement all objects such as Info providers, extractors, open hub interfaces, 3rd party interfaces, should be migrated to 7.x and should be tested and validated on the new release. In general, for any BW upgrade project a functionality upgrade is crucial.

To stay in line with SAP, most sites upgrade their existing 3.x system to BW 7.4. In this process there is a lot of manual work for BW consultants wherein they have to manually migrate all the 3.x Bex queries to 7.x. This part of the migration can be a considerable task, depending on the number of Bex queries in the current BW system and number of users.

The list does not end with Bex queries alone – there will be a lot of 3.x dependent reports such as Workbooks, Web templates and Reporting agents which need migrating when moving to BW 7.4.

Tip: All the objects migrated to 7.x should be collected in transport requests, and when the production box is upgraded, the import needs to be in a planned sequence.

Configurations / Integrations

Integrations with the BW system after upgrade with BPC, BWA, Business objects, Solution manager, enterprise portal and any other third party tool can be a major task.

Tip: When the current version of BW is completely ABAP stack, then when it is moved to BW 7.x the JAVA stack is mandatory for experiencing new functionalities like Web templates execution, BEX broadcasting, Report designer executions, Enterprise Portal etc.

Hope you will find this article helpful. We’ll publish more technical papers sharing our experience in near future and we’d welcome your feedback.