Dallas Marks on MySpace?

One would think that a name like “Dallas Marks” would be unique. Maybe even Google-able. Sigh – not so. In addition to being my dad’s name (although we have different middle names), it is also the name of a country western singer in Pennsylvania. You can check out his MySpace page. He’s not me. Just in case you were wondering…

My Important Moments with Business Objects

Key events at the start of my SAP BusinessObjects career

I’ve been cleaning up my home office as part of getting ready for the new year. I stumbled across some of my old planners. Some nostalgia…

February 13, 2003: After nearly 10 years working with Unix, C & C++, and Oracle, began first Business Objects consulting engagement
September 24-26, 2003: Attended Universe Design training

December 1-3, 2004:
Taught my first Business Objects classes (v6.5 Core, Intermediate, and Advanced Reporting)

May 24-27, 2005: Business Objects XI R1 Fast Track Training, Atlanta, Georgia
June 8, 2005: Passed SAE201 Certification Exam
June 13, 2005: Passed SAE301 Certification Exam
June 20, 2005: Passed SAE401 Certification Exam – I’m a Business Objects Certified Professional!
July 14, 2005: Passed Accredited Report Designer v6.5 Exam
July 28, 2005: Organized steering committee and relaunched SONKBOUG (Southern Ohio/Northern Kentucky Business Objects User Group). Presented Getting To Know Business Objects XI
November 6-9, 2005: Business Objects Insight Americas 2005, Orlando, Florida
December 1-2, 2005: Train-the-Trainer training at Xavier University
December 12, 2005: Taught my first Web Intelligence XI R1 class

February 26-28, 2006: Business Objects Partner Summit 2006, Austin, Texas
July 28, 2006: Accepted as breakout speaker for Business Objects Insight Americas 2006
October 26, 2006: Presented my Insight 2006 presentation, Getting Personal with Publications and Profiles, at SONKBOUG (Southern Ohio/Northern Kentucky BusinessObjects User Group)
November 5-8, 2006: Breakout speaker at Business Objects Insight Americas 2006, San Francisco, California

February 13, 2007: Speaker at Northern Ohio BusinessObjects User Group (NOBOUG) in Cleveland, Ohio
May 14-16, 2007: Customer Centric Selling training for Business Objects partners
July 28, 2007: Accepted as breakout speaker for Business Objects Insight Americas 2007
September 2007: Business Objects Accredited Specialist: Crystal Decisions/Edge Series
September 2007: Business Objects 6.5 Accredited System Administrator
October 7, 2007: SAP AG and Business Objects S.A. announced that the companies reached an agreement that has brought together two of the information technology industry leaders.
October 15-28, 2007: Breakout speaker at Business Objects Insight Americas 2007, Orlando, Florida – presented Secure Universes Using Restriction Sets
December 7, 2007: Business Objects XI R2 Migration Specialist

And in 2008, the adventure continues…
January 13-15, 2008: Business Objects Partner Summit 2008, Las Vegas, Nevada

Business Objects Insight 2007 – Part 2

Learn how to secure classic UNV universes

My Insight 2007 presentation, Secure Universes Using Restriction Sets, is now available for your viewing pleasure (see related article, Business Objects Insight 2007 – Part 1). Restriction sets are most commonly used to create row and column restrictions to secure data for an individual user or group. However, there are some other cool things that you can use restriction sets for, and they are all covered in the presentation. There’s also a supplemental document that provides step-by-step instructions to create my demos. Sample universes and reports, derived from the eFashion universe, are available in a BIAR file.

A quick Google search revealed that my presentation has also been uploaded to an Israeli web site. I can’t read Hebrew and couldn’t find a web site to translate. But if you can, I’d love to find out who found my presentation useful.

Top Ten Mistakes to Avoid in Universe Design – INTRO

Avoiding the most popular mistakes in universe design.

Editor’s Note: This article ultimately became the inspiration for 2009 presentation, Universe Design: Evolution, Intelligent Design, Or Just A Big Mess?

I began my career in Business Objects with very little training. My first assignment was helping a new Business Objects customer replace MS Access reports from their SQL Server sales data mart with Business Objects 5.1. Fortunately, I was working under a very good mentor with many years of Business Objects experience.

Nine months later, I finally got to take Business Objects’ Universe Design class, as my employer was a Business Objects Authorized Education Partner. Attending the class made me appreciate how much more productive I could have been by having the training from the outset.

My initial experiences came flashing back to me at my current project, a migration from Business Objects 6.5 to XI Release 2. As often happens, the staff performing the migration is not the staff that created the universes and reports. The actual migration project can be challenging by itself, but the quality of the work being migrated can introduce additional complexity to the project. The client is a manufacturing firm that adheres to the “Lean Sigma” methodology. I’m still learning about what it means, but apparently part of being lean is not sending staff to training.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about the top ten mistakes to avoid in universe design. The knowledge to avoid these mistakes is covered in DM310R2 Universe Design, part of Business Objects’ official training curriculum. However, I’ll address these topics from a “what not to do” standpoint rather than the “what to do” standpoint taken by the class.

Stay tuned…

Business Objects Migration Specialist

I finally completed the steps to be a Business Objects Migration Specialist. The last step was nearly 30 hours of e-learning, which has come in handy on my current project, a migration from Business Objects 6.5 to Business Objects XI R2 SP3.  By earning this credential, my employer earns the designation of Migration Specialist Partner.

2007 Year in Review

A personal reflection on the past year.


What a long strange trip it’s been!

I began 2007 with a career move to a business intelligence professional services firm that wanted to extend their existing Business Objects Solution Partner relationship and join the Authorized Education Partner program. I knew at the onset that there would be travel, mostly to Ann Arbor, Michigan where the public training facility was located. But I looked forward to the opportunity to build something, a training program, from the ground up. This year, I have stayed 100 nights Holiday Inn hotels alone, earning nearly 273,000 Priority Club points.

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=zbOdxrTBfStw.kdGFMFK5YD_4]

In February, I was a speaker at the Northern Ohio Business Objects User Group, giving my Insight 2006 presentation, Getting Personal with Publications and Profiles. The presentation details how to use single-pass report bursting on the Business Objects XI Release 2 platform.

From February through May, I worked with a European automobile manufacturer in Auburn Hills, Michigan, developing requirements for a master data management system for their product data.

In April, my wife and I enjoyed a weekend in Chicago, Illinois for an off-site company meeting with my employer.

In May, I traveled to Newark, New Jersey for 3 days of Customer Centric Selling training for Partners, provided by Business Objects. The training was directly applicable. I’ve also greatly appreciated the book, which has changed how I approach consulting probably more than how I approach selling.

In June, I made two trips to St. Louis, Missouri to help another Business Objects AEP teach SA210R2 and SA310R2 (Business Objects Enterprise XI Release 2 Administration). Two of my students were administrators for one of Business Objects’ largest customers. They were taking the classes in preparation of their migration, although they were going to wait for BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.0 (code name Titan).

In late July and early August, I spent two weeks in Scotts Valley, California teaching users how to use, of all things, Crystal Reports Explorer. This was my first experience delivering training via WebEx, to users in North America, Asia, and Europe. The schedule was demanding, as the training was offered at times convenient to the end users. North American training was delivered during Pacific Standard Time business hours, Asia beginning at 7:00 PM PST, and Europe at 4 AM PST. While I was in California, I took full advantage of my Ford Mustang rental to visit Carmel By The Sea, Monterrey, Santa Cruz, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, and Big Basin State Park. Driving a Ford Mustang rental through the redwoods (esp. Highway 9 through Henry Cowell) was simply amazing.

In August, I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to do a pre-sales call doing my first demo of Dashboard Manager. Let’s just say that there’s a first time for everything…

October was a very busy month. I spent a few days at a Michigan health insurance provider, auditing their Business Objects XI R2 security model. They were gracious enough to let me preview my Insight 2007 presentation, Secure Universes Using Restriction Sets, which I presented the following week in Orlando, Florida. The week after Insight 2007, I taught my first class subcontracting to Business Objects for a nationally-known fashion retailer in Cincinnati.

And now, things are mostly quiet. In November, I began a local assignment, helping a Cincinnati-area customer migrate from Business Objects 6.5 to Business Objects XI R2 SP3. This assignment should keep me occupied into 2008. I’ll be posting some of my activities and lessons learned to this blog.

Business Objects Insight 2007 – Part I

Or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love SAP”.

I recently attended Business Objects Insight 2007 in sunny Orlando, Florida. This was my second year as a breakout speaker, with a presentation entitled Secure Universes Using Restriction Sets. For those expecting big news regarding XI 3.0 (code name Titan) or the next release of Dashboard Manager/Performance Manager (code name Allegro), there weren’t any large announcements during the general sessions; however, there were brief peeks throughout the conference (more about that later).

Of course, the first thing to be dealt with was the small matter of the upcoming acquisition by SAP. Both Bernard Liautaud and John Schwarz indicated that Business Objects would remain an independent organization with both staying on board to lead it. We’ll have to wait till the acquisition closes to learn more, but ideally an independent Business Objects can remain vendor neutral for the benefit of all customers but still create compelling solutions for SAP customers.The “major” product announcement from the conference was Crystal Reports 2008, which is currently in beta and will ship before the end of 2007. I didn’t hear a formal explanation, but I’m assuming that the “2008” designation (instead of XI 3.0) is intended to more clearly communicate to Microsoft Visual Studio developers which version of CR goes with VS. One of the major feature enhancements is the ability to integrate Xcelsius content into a Crystal Report. For those of us who are “traditional” Business Objects users, I’m assuming that similar integration will occur with other reporting tools in XI 3.0.

I was pleased to see that there were two presentations regarding publications, the topic of my Insight 2006 presentation, Getting Personal with Publications and Profiles. Publications are the mechanism Business Objects uses to supporting single pass report bursting. The first presentation was Publications Unleashed, presented by Don Kawahigashi from Integra Solutions. Don had some great examples from an actual customer installation on how to extend the publication capabilities in the current release, XI Release 2. The other presentation was entitled Publications- The Power of Personalization by David Brockington and Derek Wang from Business Objects. Their presentation was my first sneak-peek at the revised Central Management Console (CMC) in XI 3.0. The expected new feature was the addition of Web Intelligence as a supported document type (XI Release 2 publications require Desktop Intelligence). The surprise new features were the addition of Crystal Reports as a supported document type and Dynamic Recipients. With Dynamic Recipients, you can manage subscribers that do not have to be a Business Objects user. I’m anxiously awaiting the release of XI 3.0, which is slated for the intentionally vague “first half of 2008”.

From my perspective, Xcelsius was the most covered technology in the breakouts. The coolest breakout was Jeff Pelletier from AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular) describing how it was used to launch the Apple iPhone. I’m curious to see if and how Allegro will continue to integrate Xcelsius technology into the Dashboard Manager/Performance Manager products.

Curious was the announcement of a deeper partnership with IBM, which came the day after the conference. The delayed announcement probably explains IBM motivation for being a global sponsor of Insight 2007. The press release is sketchy on details, but it appears that a “limited” version of Business Objects will be distributed with IBM DB2.

No formal word on the location of next year’s conference, but I hope it will be sunny and warm.


Welcome to my blog!

My first blog post, written on October 29, 2007.

OK, here goes. My first blog post. I began working with Business Objects 5.x in 2003. It’s hard to believe that in almost five years, I’ve seen four major releases, grown from novice to certified trainer, and presented breakouts at two Business Objects user conferences. My goal with this blog is to periodically post tips and tricks for working with various aspects of Business Objects Enterprise.