Users of Jet Reports', www.jetreports.com, BI offering -- Jet Enterprise -- are often confused to discover that the product can be and does get updated.
Before alarms start going off at the IT department, let's understand that there's a distinction between upgrading the software and the scheduled (usually nightly) execution event that pulls new data from your ERP into your cubes.
Differentiating the Jet Data Manager and the Project
This article targets Jet Enterprise users who want to keep their Jet Data Manager application up to date and understand how that's different from upgrading your CubeStore Project.
As of this writing, the current version of the Jet Data Manager (JDM) is 14.5.9. Any customer enrolled and current in the Annual Enhancement Program is entitled to use the most recent release of the JDM,http://jetreports.com/download.
Because uptime is critical in an enterprise environment, typically I wouldn't recommend upgrading the Jet Data Manager unless you fall under one of the following categories:
So what exactly is the Jet Data Manager and how does it differ from the Project?
The Jet Data Manager is the drag-and-drop application developers use to build the cubes and data warehouses instead of hand coding in SQL SSMS and Visual Studio. The Project (in my screenshot: Jet Enterprise NAV 2009 v2.10) is a standardized definition for how data is extracted from the Dynamics ERPs, transformed, and loaded into the cubes for presentation.
Note: there are different projects to suite different ERPs, different ERP verticals, as well as ERP versions.
An analogy for comparing the JDM and Project would be to consider the difference between Microsoft Word and generating a text document. As we upgrade from Word 2003 to 2007 to 2013, we see slicker interfaces, new features, better stability, and more automation. If we aren't actively developing documents, we don't care about the version of Word that's installed; similarly, only developers concern themselves with optimizing productivity by using the latest (and most stable) version of the JDM.
The Project, like a text document, is the artifact. It's where all the creativity and development hours go. Once customized, the Project is what makes your Jet Enterprise environment uniquely suited to your company. Theoretically I could create the BI databases using other tools -- traditionally SQL + BIDS or Visual Studio -- but we prefer to use the Jet Data Manager for its drag-and-drop ease of use!
Is there risk involved in upgrading the JDM? Do I have to wait till all my users are offline?
No and No. Keep in mind, the JDM is just a tool for generating SQL databases. No, you can't run Word and simultaneously update it, but that doesn't mean that other people can't read a Word document you generated while you update your computer.
Additionally, just as you never worry that upgrading Word keeps others from reading your documents, you don't have to worry that upgrading the JDM will break your BI environment. Jet Reports (the company) tries to make all releases of their products backwards compatible so users can enjoy a seamless upgrade experience. They WANT you to upgrade to the current release of their product, in fact it's usually the first troubleshooting step when software doesn't work as expected.
Where to Get Support
Most upgrade complications are known and KB articles and tech support is readily available to navigate clients through upgrade complications.
To access Jet Reports' free support, please register on the Support Site,http://support.jetreports.com, and complete a support ticket
Is upgrading worth the effort?
As a developer, I would say the productivity gains between major releases are well worth the effort to upgrade your JDM. In most cases, upgrading takes less than an hour and the productivity gains can easily surpass that during larger customization efforts. For example features released in JDM version 12 translated into days of work saved when adding advanced dimensions to new Dynamics NAV projects. Then version 14 introduced a slew of new interface tweak stop ease adding custom fields to databases or new measures to the cubes.
Understanding the CubeStore Project
Part of the promise of the Jet Enterprise solution is that within a few hours we can deploy and present a ‘standard’ cube and data warehouse complete with measures, dimensions and hierarchies. This promise is fulfilled by having a set of standardized projects (available from the online CubeStore) that extract data from your Dynamics ERP then transforms and loads them into a data warehouse and cube.
In the above screenshot you can see the standard Sales cube through an Excel Pivot Table with a standard measure and pair of dimensions.
Once the baseline project is in place BI developers can circle back and customize the Project to your company's specifications by adding new measures, renaming dimensions, or otherwise expanding the functionality of the existing framework. For example the standard project defines [Profit] as [Sales Amount] - [Cost Amount] but your company may have other costs to integrate into this calculation -- rebates, commissions, promotions etc. It's these customizations that make updating the CubeStore project to a newer version more difficult because the customizations must be recreated by hand.
Why would the standard CubeStore project change?
After rigorous testing or listening to client feedback, Jet Reports will occasionally update the projects in the CubeStore. For example in an effort to make reporting more transparent to end users, between versions 1.12 of the Dynamics NAV project and version 2.1 , Jet Reports split Unposted Sales Transactions (Sales Line) and Posted Sales Transactions (Sales Invoice Line, Sales Cr.Memo Line) into two separate tables in the Data Warehouse. Additionally, to accurately present Cost, the standard project now includes the Value Entry table in the Sales cube to capture inventory revaluations.
Should I update to the latest CubeStore project?
For the end user with an older and heavily customized Project, choosing to upgrade to the current baseline project or sticking with the older data model is not as easy as upgrading the JDM application because all the customizations in the old project will have to be manually recreated in the new project. Frankly, if reporting out of your current data model works well, there probably isn't any need to update the project.
Barring extensive rework of reporting requirements, the soonest I'd consider upgrading a customized project would be when migrating from an older ERP version to a new one. For clients who haven't invested significant resources in customizing their standardized project, upgrading to the current release of the CubeStore is a significantly less labor intensive project.
For more information or support on your Jet Enterprise project please contact me at Jae@OnyxReporting.com or visit us at www.OnyxReporting.com.