In-place upgrade or new build?

By Kevin Allen, Lead BI Consultant on
I’ve been doing BusinessObjects server upgrades since Crystal Enterprise 8.0 was released in 2001. The question every customer asks is: should we install the new version on top of the existing installation, or build a new server and import the content to the new server?

If memory serves me right, an in-place upgrade was something that BusinessObjects flirted with in BusinessObjects XI.  However, until the release of BI 4.2, this hasn’t been a viable option. So, when should you take advantage of an in-place upgrade?

There are a number of SAP articles that state customers should be doing in-place upgrades.  SAP is advocating this as it does have many advantages, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this should be your default option.

Regardless of what you read, either in the product manuals, on SCN, or anywhere on the web, the short and long of it is that it depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The size of your deployment
  • Your budget
  • The importance of the system to the business
  • Outage duration. Can the business live without the system for ‘x’ amount of days?
  • Do you want to change your infrastructure with new virtual servers, change or upgrade OS, add more RAM/CPUs, or move to the cloud?

All of these factors need to be taken into account and assessed when planning which option to use.

An in-place upgrade can easily be performed when you have a small BusinessObjects environment, with a small number of licenses (either named or concurrent), and you can afford to have an outage of a day or two. I’ve recently implemented an in-place upgrade for a customer in these exact circumstances and it worked well. They have a small BI Edge deployment and haven’t released the system to the business yet, so an in-place upgrade was the way to go.  However, as part of the rollback strategy, we had backups of the virtual image and the CMS/Auditing databases before commencing the in-place upgrade, so we could roll back should it have been needed.

So yes, in theory, an in-place upgrade is faster, and saves time and money on having to build new servers, and databases, which is what we all want. As long as you have considered the pros and cons and are happy that you have mitigated the risks as best you can, then you can look at doing an in-place upgrade.

Many customers that I have worked with prefer the new build approach for a number of reasons. A system freeze is not required or the period of your change freeze can be greatly reduced and the Software Development Life Cycle (SWDLC) is not impacted. It also offers the opportunity to:

  • Clean out their old system and only upgrade the content they need
  • Redefine the system architecture, change OS, and upgrade system resources
  • Move to the cloud
  • Perform UAT, including testing new features/products, such as Lumira and/or Design Studio

On the whole I would advise that you do your homework and consult a trusted partner, such as Oxygen, a DXC Technologies Company, to conduct an upgrade readiness assessment to advise you on a suitable approach.

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