As an initial step one of the key tasks to be considered in any Business Intelligence product upgrade or migration is ‘Object Consolidation’.
What is Object Consolidation? The process of getting to understand the current BI environment by means of the metadata and analysing them with a perspective to determine and eliminate redundant objects. The ‘object’ in a BI product would be its reports and the semantic layer definitions (like Universe in Business Objects).
Steps Involved in Object Consolidation
1. Locate all objects (reports and semantic definitions). These objects could be from a central repository and as well from individual user folders and desktops
2. Check whether the Object’s metadata are available in a relational storage (metadata repository) else build processes that would collect the metadata of the objects and store them into a relational structure
3. Run SQL queries against the relational structure to determine
a.‘Duplicates’; the objects that have same metadata elements
b.‘Clusters’; the objects that have similar metadata elements. when objects(reports) differ between them by a few 1 or 2
metadata elements then these Objects are grouped as ‘Clusters’
c. ‘ Dormant’; the objects that are no longer used
d. Complexity of the objects in terms of factors like the number of metadata elements being used in an object
4. Share the object consolidation findings to the users for confirmation and verification
5. By eliminating the duplicate & dormant and including only the prime in a cluster prepare the consolidated list of objects
a.Duplicate objects are directly removed
b.From the Cluster objects only the key object is considered for upgrade. After the upgrade of the key object rest of the
objects in the same cluster are derived from this upgraded key object
The consolidated list of objects and the understanding of the complexity of the existing environment becomes one of the key inputs to plan for the upgrade process.
Benefits of Object Consolidation
1. Eliminating upgrade of unwanted objects, saving on effort & cost
2. Enabling to build a clean system in the newer version or platform ensuring easier system maintenance
3. Enables effective upgrade planning based on the understanding of the environment
4. Improves the understanding of the existing environment through the metadata links
Object Consolidation Challenge: Accessing the metadata of the objects would be a challenge since many of the BI products don’t expose the metadata that can be queried through SQLs. But almost every products provide SDK kits through which the metadata can be accessed or expose the metadata as XML files. We would need to build tools that can pull the metadata using SDKs or in the cases of XML files build XML readers/parsers to pull the required metadata.
Next time let us discuss on one other key task in an upgrade project