Patch Management in SAP® BusinessObjects ™ 4.0
If you have installed and migrated to SAP® BusinessObjects ™ 4.0 I am sure you are well aware that the patches are being released at a rapid pace. By now you have likely found one or more annoying little bugs that require a patch from SAP. SAP has been quite diligent at fixing problems that are reported, but there can be a lag between the time that an ADAP is created and a patch is released to address the problem. In many cases you might have applied more than one patch to address one or more issues. Below is a list of common questions I received and my recommendations or thoughts.
1. Should I install every patch that is released by SAP?
With past versions both SAP® BusinessObjects ™ Support and I would recommend that you only apply a patch to address a known issue in your environment. This required that you read through the release notes to find an ADAP that matched your issue or wait for support to recommend installation based on an open case. However, with 4.0 I have made an exception for the first few months. Based on my experience almost every patch has contained one or two fundamental fixes. These fixes have addressed a wide variety of issues within the platform, but they generally make for a healthier system. In short, I would recommend that each patch be applied for the foreseeable future. Once version 4.0 has matured, I would recommend returning to the rules used in previous versions.
Update (September 19th 2012)
With the releases of Support Pack 4 Patch 2 and Support Pack 2 Patch 18 the platform has stabilized and I have found that not every new patch is required. I recommend that you continue to review the release notes. The initial releases of SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 SP1 and SP2 had several issues that drove early adopters crazy. Every patch was as precious as gold. This is no longer the case because SAP is doing a great job of addressing the issues and patches are being released about every four weeks. Looks like Support Pack 5 will be released in November of 2012 as well.
2. Are the patches cumulative?
Yes, each patch contains the fixes from the previous patch. You do not need to install patch 1 through 10 to obtain all the fixes from patch 10’s predecessors.
3. Should I remove the previous patch before installing the new patch?
This seems like a strange question but I recently discovered that each patch install will back up the previous patch into a directory before applying the new patch binaries. According to SAP support, each patch is cumulative so there is no need to retain the previous version; however each patch also backs up the previous patch version. This is not necessarily unique to SAP® BusinessObjects ™, but given that each backup will range from 2 – 3 GB, you might run out of space on your server after applying several patches. Unfortunately SAP does not provide a script to remove these old backups so the only way to manage the storage requirements is to remove the old patch before applying the new one. You can verify the size of your install data by examining the following directory: X:\Program Files (x86)\SAPBusinessObjects \InstallData\ . Also, this will effectively double the time required to install new patches. Hopefully SAP will provide a utility to remove old install data, but until then, remove the old patch manually.
4. What is the difference between a patch and a support pack?
A patch contains fixes to known issues within the product. They are intended to address bugs, errors, crashes and many other problems between major and minor versions of SAP® BusinessObjects ™. Support Packs are released to mainly address previously identified bugs but more importantly they are released to provide new functionally. In some cases this new functionality is based on needed enhancements to address un-scalable or faulty logic within the product. In other cases the new functionality will address needed support for databases, browsers, operating systems and trends in BI.
5. Will there be a version 4.1?
In October of 2011 SAP announced that version 4.1 would now be released under the name “Feature Pack 3”. Feature Packs are new to BusinessObjects but they appear to be something similar to a Service Pack and Minor Release. Based on the information available on the internet, feature pack 3 will contain major enhancements to functionality, performance, scalability and reliability. Because SAP is releasing this under a different name, there might eventually be a version 4.1 but SAP has not released any information to support this thought.
Update (September 19th 2012)
Feature Pack 3 was never released to the public. It was a ramp-up build only. Its features were instead included in Support Pack 4. There appears to be a 4.1 version on the horizon but not official released dates have been released. Click here to see What’s New is SP4
6. Should I install new Support Packs?
As stated above, support packs add new functionality but in rare cases they remove functionality. I would recommend that you review the release notes to make sure the support pack does not remove functionality from your environment. If it appears to have no impact, it is a good idea to install the support pack to maintain support for both BusinessObjects and the products we use to interact with BusinessObjects.