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Allstate Business Intelligence COE SAP BusinessObjects deployment at Allstate Steve Bush – BI Infrastructure Alex Timberg – BI Infrastructure. “It’s More Than BI”. “It’s More Than BI” - SAP BusinessObjects deployment at Allstate. Overview of SAP BusinessObjects environment at Allstate

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Allstate Business Intelligence COESAP BusinessObjects deployment at Allstate Steve Bush – BI InfrastructureAlex Timberg – BI Infrastructure

“It’s More Than BI”

it s more than bi sap businessobjects deployment at allstate
“It’s More Than BI”- SAP BusinessObjects deployment at Allstate

Overview of SAP BusinessObjects environment at Allstate

Plugging into standards across a large enterprise

Who’s involved?

Fueling the car to make it go!

What’s involved?

Closer look at SAP BusinessObjects environment

Keeping the tires on the road…..

Who supports it?

Lessons learned and Challenges for 2009

Q & A


Overview of SAP BusinessObjects environment at Allstate

  • SAP BusinessObjects reporting environment at Allstate
    • History:
      • Business Objects 5.1 (2000-2003)
      • Business Objects 6.5 (2003-2006)
      • Crystal Enterprise 10 (2005-2006)
      • Merged into Business Objects XIR2 (2006)


      • XI Release 2 (FP2.3) with plans for XI 3.1 upgrade project in 2009
      • ~ 150 different reporting projects, thousands of reports
  • 40,000 Allstate users
    • 10,000 Web Intelligence users, 10% concurrent
    • 30,000 Crystal Reports users, 10% concurrent
    • Peak utilization times: Monday’s; first of the month; first of the quarter; year-end
  • How is SAP BusinessObjects used?
    • Web Intelligence reports – Java based deployment
    • Crystal Reports with some custom .Net applications
    • Desktop Intelligence reports – for a number of special reporting needs
    • Xcelsius dashboards – really starting to take off !
  • Reporting data sources
    • Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, SAP
    • Proof of Concepts – using XI 3.1 against Microsoft OLAP cubes
plugging into standards across a large enterprise
Plugging into standards across a large enterprise
  • Getting Started – Let’s take a step back….
    • Management provides overall direction for Business Intelligence (BI) reporting
    • Business community and project initiatives drive BI reporting requirements

this demand continues to grow

    • IT Architects – set technology standards across the enterprise
  • Next Step and why “It’s More Than BI”
    • Practical implementation and deployment start for delivering Business Intelligence to the enterprise
    • Many areas across the organization have to collaborate to deliver successful results

* Business and Technology need to partner closely together

    • Business need drives Technology decisions
    • SAP BusinessObjects (as one of those technologies) is key to delivering BI reporting at Allstate
  • Business collaboration
    • Business client engagement team – provide communication to business areas including training and BI reporting options
    • Business Analysts and “Power” users – provide reporting requirements to the BI development teams plus provide key validation and user acceptance.
    • Data Analysts – provide understanding of project specific data and work closely with Business Analysts
    • Quality Control Analysts – provide report/data testing efforts including load testing

Fueling the car to make it go!

  • Technology implementation
    • Overall technology teams impacting BI delivery to the enterprise
      • Network team – provide technology backbone (switches/routers/hubs/cabling)
      • Desktop Integration team – install and configure machines for all users
      • Packaging team – create standard client install packages for deploying to machines
      • Security team – enable and maintain system resource access and availability
    • More direct technology teams impacting BI delivery to the enterprise
      • BI development teams – development of universes/reports/dashboards
      • Extract Transform Load (ETL) team – scrub data into useable form to load into reporting database
      • Server team – build out “base” server images that are delivered to the BI infrastructure team
      • Database Administration (DBA) teams – provides highly available Oracle db with backup/streaming
      • Storage team – Network Attached Storage with backup and replication
      • BI Infrastructure team - provides deployment and support of SAP BusinessObjects environment
        • also engages SAP BusinessObjects technical support
  • Let’s take a closer look at the SAP BusinessObjects deployment at Allstate

User machines installed with client software for connecting to the SAP BusinessObjects environment at Allstate.

  • Developer’s– Crystal Reports; Universe Designer; Desktop Intelligence; Java Runtime Environment for Web Intelligence Business User’s – Desktop Intelligence; Java Runtime Environment for Web Intelligence
    • Technology: Microsoft SMS (Systems Management Server) packages
    • Motivation: central facility for distributing software allows for easier management and installation to many machines
    • Technology partner: Desktop Integration and Packaging teams

Property of Allstate Insurance Company – Proprietary and Confidential


User enters the address for accessing SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise (BOE) / InfoView portal in Internet Explorer

  • Behind Virtual Internet Protocol (VIP) address there is a load balancer that directs network traffic to one of three physical servers configured as part of load balancing for BOE users.
    • Technology: currently using Foundry load balancer with migration scheduled to F5 load balancer
    • Motivation: allows for controlling system load across the environment with redundant equipment for failover
    • Technology partner: Network Team

Property of Allstate Insurance Company – Proprietary and Confidential


Behind VIP address users are load balanced across one of three BOE web/application tier servers configured with the SAP BusinessObjects applications.

    • Technology: Windows servers with IIS as the web server and Websphere 6.0.2 as the application server
    • Motivation: to leverage enterprise standards for Websphere configuration. Future plans to run Websphere on Unix platform.
    • Technology partner: Websphere application support
  • Access is controlled through Microsoft Active Directory authentication with single sign-on into BOE
    • Motivation: enabling Active Directory group allows business units to own access/processes to their related reports.
    • BOE has ~ 500 AD groups
    • Technology partner: Active Directory team

Property of Allstate Insurance Company – Proprietary and Confidential


SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise (BOE) web application is configured to communicate with BOE Intelligence Tier.

  • Intelligence tier hosts the Central Management Server (CMS) which is the primary service for connecting to the central repository database
    • Technology: Windows servers point to Oracle Database for CMS repository. BOE db repository ~ 3GB; BOE Audit db ~ 33GB
    • In fall of 2008, migration performed to OPODS platform (Oracle Pool of Database Servers) for a more robust, highly available DB.
    • Technology partner: Oracle DBA team
  • BOE Input and Output File Repository Servers (FRS) also run on the Intelligence Tier which points to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) location
    • Technology: Network Attached Storage (NAS) for Input/Output File repository. BOE uses ~ 500GB of space.
    • Technology partner: Storage Technology team

Property of Allstate Insurance Company – Proprietary and Confidential


SAP BusinessObjects CMS DB is replicated real-time to a backup CMS DB

    • Technology: Oracle Pool of Database Servers (OPODS) with data streaming from one data center to another.
  • SAP BusinessObjects Network Attached Storage (NAS) Input/Output File Repository is replicated to a failover location.
    • Technology: Network Attached Storage (NAS) replication from one data center to another every hour.
  • Motivation: Replication of CMS DB and Input/Output File Repository to a separate data center allows for Disaster Recovery

Property of Allstate Insurance Company – Proprietary and Confidential


SAP BusinessObjects (BOE) cluster is then configured with Processing Tier servers in both data centers.

    • Processing servers execute the related report queries for running reports and scheduled jobs. With processing servers in multiple data centers, BOE server groups can be defined to process reports close to the project specific back-end data source.
    • Technology: project specific databases (Oracle; SQL Server; DB2; SAP)
    • Technology partners: project specific Database Administrators; Extract Transform Load (ETL) teams

Property of Allstate Insurance Company – Proprietary and Confidential


Disaster Recovery of SAP BusinessObjects environment can be switched from Ohio to Illinois Data Center.

    • Priority reporting applications identified to run on this limited environment for DR purposes
    • Two Processing servers are configured with dormant Web/Application and Intelligence Tier that can be enabled in DR
    • Technology partner: Continuity Management team

Property of Allstate Insurance Company – Proprietary and Confidential

keeping the tires on the road
Keeping the tires on the road
  • Technology support
    • Monitoring/alerting support – let us know when things go “bump in the night or day”

SAP BusinessObjects reporting environment is monitored 24x6 (Monday through Saturday) with Sunday’s generally available with scheduled maintenance window.

InfoView web portal availability is monitored by automated scripts every 15 minutes to verify uptime and general functionality for Crystal; Web Intelligence; Desktop Intelligence reports

Query As A Web Service (QAAWS) is now also monitored to verify underlying web service for Xcelsius is up and available.

    • Data Center server support –

Facilitate hardware support including: critical service monitoring, ”low drive space warnings”, OS patches, server backup

    • Technical Help Desk –

Provide first level assistance and engage 2nd and 3rd level support as needed for user support

keeping the tires on the road1
Keeping the tires on the road
  • Lessons Learned over the past few years
    • Building an environment with a focus on redundancy/backup/failover are critical
    • Central Management Servers (CMS) on dedicated servers a must
      • engaging Business Objects technical support has been key to troubleshooting recent “clustering” errors
    • Oracle Pool of Database Servers (OPODS) proven to be a highly available, robust database for CMS repository
    • Websphere application server deployment proven successful
    • Business Objects deployment in a “tiered” environment is key for distributing load across servers
    • Installation of all key underlying software/services allows for flexible server deployment for failover/redundancy
    • Keeping technical documentation up to date is key for support
    • Overall system monitoring and alerting is necessary to increase uptime and availability
      • Key to engage the appropriate Technology resources to go from “red” to “green”
  • Challenges for 2009
    • Xcelsisus dashboard demand on the rise
      • Implementing development best practices and support will be key
    • SAP BusinessObjects upgrade to XI 3.1

“It’s More than BI” - it takes involvement from many teams to make it happen !

Questions ?
  • Contact information – Allstate Business Intelligence COE (Center of Excellence)
    • Al Brosmith – BI Delivery Lead

[email protected]

    • Steve Bush – BI Infrastructure

[email protected]

    • Alex Timberg – BI Infrastructure

[email protected]