Integrating BOXI R3 with Microsoft Sharepoint: A Practical Guide to Getting Started

In October I introduced the topic of Integration capabilities between SAP BusinessObjects and Microsoft SharePoint, highlighting the benefits of the integration for those companies that want to streamline their Business Intelligence content through their company portal. In this article I reported a comparison of the integration software that SAP offers to BO customers, based on the different system configurations, and presented the features of the leading product currently available, called Integration Option for Microsoft Sharepoint – IOMS.

In follow up to the initial investigation, one of our customers recently asked us to implement IOMS on an existing BusinessObject XI R3 Edge and Microsoft Sharepoint Server 2007 platform. Based on this customer success story, I will explain the requirements and the steps I went through in order to set up and install the IOMS software.

Choice and download of IOMS

A general note before any installation: the IOMS software obviously needs to be compatible with the current version of BusinessObjects. Several versions of IOMS are therefore available for download from http://service.sap.com according to the following schema:

  • BOXI 3.1 SP1 > Integration Option SP1
  • BOXI 3.1 FP1 > Integration Option FP2
  • BOXI 3.1 SP2 > Integration Option SP2
  • Etc…

Installing the IOMS Package

The first challenge I faced during the installation was related to the fact that Microsoft Sharepoint and Business Objects were installed on different servers. This is a common practice to maximize the performance of each systems, but how do we ensure that this configuration allows for the integration?

One important prerequisite was that the IOMS software had to be installed on the SharePoint Server, but during the first installation attempt, the following error messages appeared.

The issue can be solved as follows:

If you are trying to integrate IOMS with BusinessObejects Enterprise, the .NET SDK has to be installed on the SharePoint Server before installing the integration kit. Note that in addition, the BO Enterprise Web Tier needs to reside on the same server as SharePoint, therefore it is necessary to configure the BO platform accordingly.

If you are trying to integrate IOMS with BusinessObejects Edge, despite what the error message suggests, a full installation of Edge needs to be performed on the SharePoint Server. The same license of the existing operational BusinessObjects Edge can be used. Also if there is a fix pack or service pack on the existing BusinessObjects Edge 3.1 the same should be installed on the SharePoint Server. Do not install the SDK on the SharePoint Server, as this conflicts with Edge. After the installation, all the BusinessObject Services on the SharePoint Server need to be stopped and only then the installation of IOMS can be completed. BusinessObjects Edge will remain a “silent” installation on the server.

Another crucial point we encountered during the kit installation relates to the configuration of the BusinessObjects InfoView interface, and resolves an open question from our previous blog article.

During the installation of IOMS, the administrator is asked to choose the preferred interface for viewing BusinessObjects objects inside SharePoint. Both .NET and Java are available, which confirms that IOMS is not intended to work only with BusinessObjects systems configured with IIS web servers.

The subsequent steps of the installation wizard allow you to specify the server name/IP and authentication settings necessary to connect to the operational BusinessObjects environment. I don’t have a specific recommendation to make about this point; just remember to check the connectivity to the BusinessObjects server (via cmd… ping BO server, or simply test InfoView with Internet Explorer).

Configuring the deployment of the Web Package

After you install the Integration option for Microsoft SharePoint software, the icons or shortcuts are not added to the Start menu. IOMS is not an application, but an add-on software that includes a package of BusinessObjects-specific web parts that are added to the SharePoint deployment.

As a result, eight new BusinessObjects web parts can be selected at any time from the Home Gallery folder in SharePoint:

  • Content Explorer Web Part
  • User Actions Web Part
  • Advanced Search Web Part
  • Dashboard Web Part
  • Document Viewer Web Part
  • Xcelsius Viewer Web Part
  • Crystal Report Viewer Web Part
  • Analytical Report Viewer Web Part

The most important of them is the Content Explorer Web Part. This is the reproduction of Infoview within SharePoint and is mandatory to work with the BusinessOjects content, as it includes the logon window to the operational BO system. Any other Web Part needs to be used in combination with the Content Explorer.

And here is a picture of how the final BusinessObjects-Sharepoint deployment  in use would look like:

After installing the Integration option for Microsoft SharePoint software, the administrator can finally configure additional options that are specific to each deployment. It is also worth mentioning the SSO authentication with AD credentials, allowing you to navigate BusinessObjects within SharePoint without repeating logon credentials at the moment of use.

The details of this configuration are reported in the IOMS Administrator Guide, but based on our experience this is often a tricky configuration that involves the modification of .NET system files. Stay tuned for a complete troubleshooting guide on SSO configuration to be published in future blog articles.

In October I introduced the topic of Integration capabilities between SAP BusinessObjects and Microsoft SharePoint