Migrating Desktop Intelligence to Web Intelligence: Time is running out
Desktop Intelligence (Deski) has entered its “End of Life” stage. By the end of 2017, it will no longer be supported and will be phased out by SAP to be fully replaced by Web Intelligence (Webi). If your organization has already made the upgrade to the BI 4.x platform, chances are that you have already converted your enterprise Deski documents to Webi as Deski is no longer supported in the new platform. Please note however, that it is possible to migrate your Deski documents to the 4.x environment even though it is not supported – it just won’t work when you run them via the 4.x Launchpad. In the off chance that you still haven’t fully migrated from Deski to Webi, it is time that you start planning the migration. There are very good reasons for SAP to replace Deski with Webi. One of them being the breadth of rich features that are available in Webi when compared to Deski. Simply put, Deski is an outdated reporting tool and its features are not as rich as that of Web Intelligence (Webi). If your organization currently uses and maintains Deski reports, they will need to be upgraded to Webi in order for its continued use by the enterprise users in the long run. In this blog, I will discuss some options available for you to plan and convert your legacy Deski reports to Webi.
Report Conversion Tool (RCT)
The easiest way to convert your Deski documents to Webi is to use the report conversion tool (RCT) provided by SAP. The tool provides a wizard for you to connect to the source Deski documents (either in a legacy 3.x or 4.x environment) and convert them over as Webi documents. A few clicks and you are well on your way to having your old Deski reports converted to Webi and ready for use once it has been validated by the business users. The tool also gives you a confirmation whether the Deski documents were successfully converted, partially converted or not converted at all. In cases where the reports did not get converted (usually complex ones with lots of formatting and functionality that is not supported in Webi), the conversion tool informs you that the conversion wasn’t successful. In such a scenario, you will need to either manipulate the source Deski document to replace the unsupported functionality and re-run the conversion tool or manually re-create a new Webi report with the same specifications as the Deski report. Remember, proper planning is key to be successful in migrating your Deski documents on time. In order to get a good feel for the effort that will be needed, it is suggested that you run the conversion tool and review the log to determine how many of the total Deski documents were migrated successfully and how many failed during conversion. This should give you a sense of the manual level of effort that will be required to fix the non-converted reports either by updating the source Deski document or re-creating it entirely in Webi. This will also help you properly manage the expectations with the end users and keep them informed. Here is a great resource on how to use the Report conversion tool.
Manually Convert Deski Documents to Webi Documents
If the Deski conversion tool isn’t able to migrate some of the reports, you will need to manually convert them to Webi. This method will require for you to document the technical specification of the Deski report such as data providers, select list, query filters, report filters, report look and feel etc. and design a new Webi report using the same. You may use the initial requirements specifications for the report to help with the re-build. With ample time and planning, you should be able to convert the reports that couldn’t be automatically converted to Webi. Again, this will truly depend on how many of the old Deski reports did not come over using the conversion tool.
Deski Compatibility Pack
If you have already migrated to the new 4.x environment and have the requirement to continue to run Deski versions of the report in the BI 4.x platform, while the migration effort is underway, you may use the Deski compatibility pack to run the legacy Deski reports temporarily. Please note that this is just a temporary solution for allowing you to run your Deski reports until the migration process is completed and should not be treated as a permanent solution. Here is a great tutorial on how to install and use the Deski compatibility pack.
Once you have successfully converted your Deski documents, it is critical that you plan a thorough comparison testing between the old Deski and the new Webi reports to ensure data quality and integrity is maintained. In addition, please involve the business to perform user acceptance testing and request sign off.
In conclusion, with proper planning, the Deski conversion process is fairly simple and straightforward. I am not saying there won’t be any issues, but as long as you follow the correct process and have a solid plan, you will be able to overcome challenges and complete it successfully.