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Customization Tips and Techniques forAdministering MicroStrategy Narrowcast Server                              Bryan Bran...
About BluegreenHistoryFounded in 1966 in Massachusetts, the company’s core business wasbuying, improving, selling and fina...
Where We Came From• Static web based reports executing from copies of the transactionaltables would take 15-30mins and upw...
New System Requirements Our users needed a more scalable and flexible tool, one that could support our growing company’s r...
Narrowcast at BluegreenAt Bluegreen, we exclusively use the Web Deliveries Integration as allsubscriptions are created fro...
Where Did This Come From?Problem:       Users would receive subscriptions and have questions about them       but not know...
Smart Reply To’sContinued:      We also modified the emails sent from Narrowcast to use a dynamic      Reply To. The users...
Exception ReportingProblem:       Some users have created exception       based reports to email them when       certain c...
Timeouts!Problem:      As our subscription base got higher, so did the load on our server.      Some services started to s...
Quick Narrowcast Lesson                                All of the information needed to           Service              pro...
Timeouts!Problem:       As our subscription base got higher, so did the load on our server.       Some services started to...
Administrative NotificationsBe the First to Know!• Here, you can customize yournotifications. Just put in your emailaddres...
What Really Happened …  Problem:         Users would claim that they didn’t receive a         subscription, or there was a...
Saved Mail – A Life Saver!Saved Mail   This setting on the Information   Transmitter will save a copy of every   email tha...
Spy on the Inbox           •Setup a dedicated           email box for BI           reports to be sent           from, and ...
Log Files …• Log files hold the keys to everymystery. Be sure to enable additionalpertinent information so that it isavail...
Narrowcast Log Analyzer• NCLog is a Visual Basic.NETapplication written to help parse andanalyze Narrowcast log files.    ...
Narrowcast Log Analyzer – Demo!
Narrowcast Log Analyzer – Other Toys• Copy the full log file line to clipboard.• Export this branch to file.• Dynamic grou...
I Need More Information!Problem:      Even with all of the new initiatives, proactive support was still difficult:      • ...
Narrowcast Transmission Recording                  • This feature will                  create tables in your             ...
Enterprise Manager Integration• For exception reporting and analysis, we need toextend the Enterprise Manager project to i...
Narrowcast Schema                    This isn’t a comprehensive                    schema and only includes               ...
Reports - Execution LogThis report is able to perform a lookup to the iServer metadata and retrievethe name of the Report ...
Reports – Subscription LogThis report includes the Title that the user gave when setting up the subscription.This can help...
Reports – Other ReportsThese are some additional reports that were created in this project that areused daily.
Reports – Other ReportsNarrowcast Status Report      Daily quick overview of how many subscriptions ran yesterday.
Reports – Other ReportsNarrowcast Daily FailuresA list of subscriptions that failed to deliver today, usually due to exces...
Reports – Other ReportsDeleted Narrowcast UsersUsers that were deleted from iServer but still have active subscriptions in...
Reports – Other ReportsSubscriptions to Deleted Objects     Users that have subscriptions to reports that no longer exist.
Timeouts 2: The SequelProblem:      We started to have timeout problems again, but this time no amount of      teasing the...
Narrowcast TriggersNCTriggers is a command line program that utilizes MicroStrategyCommand Manager to remotely execute Nar...
Narrowcast Triggers - ComponentsAn XML file is passed as a command line property to the program to supportmultiple instanc...
Narrowcast Triggers – Log FilesThe left file is an example of the program’s log that is created. This helps inchecking lat...
Narrowcast Triggers – NotificationWhen NCTriggers is finished executing a job, it will scan the CommandManager output file...
TakeawaysIf you only learned three things:• Knowledge is Power: Proactive alerts and solving issues before they’re real is...
Thanks for Watching  Bryan Brandow  Sr. MicroStrategy Developer  Bluegreen Corp.  bryan.brandow@bluegreencorp.com  January...
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World 2008 - Administering Narrowcast Server

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World 2008 - Administering Narrowcast Server

  1. 1. Customization Tips and Techniques forAdministering MicroStrategy Narrowcast Server Bryan Brandow Sr. MicroStrategy Developer Bluegreen Corp. bryan.brandow@bluegreencorp.com January 16th, 2008
  2. 2. About BluegreenHistoryFounded in 1966 in Massachusetts, the company’s core business wasbuying, improving, selling and financing recreational land in more than32 states. In 1986 the company was listed on the New York StockExchange and in 1991 it was relocated to Boca Raton, Fla.OverviewBluegreen Corporation (NYSE:BXG) is a leading provider of Colorful Places to Live andPlay®. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., the company has over 6,000 associatesworking in its Bluegreen ResortsSM and Bluegreen Communities® divisions.Bluegreen Resorts markets and sells a flexible, real estate-based vacation ownershipplan with access to over 40 resorts and an exchange network of over 3,700 resorts andother leisure products such as cruises and hotel stays. In 2006 Bluegreen Resortsdelivered nearly 300,000 unique vacation experiences to over 170,000 owners.
  3. 3. Where We Came From• Static web based reports executing from copies of the transactionaltables would take 15-30mins and upwards of 2-3hrs for yearly reports.• Delays in the queue would start in the morning and on busy report days,a request could take hours to be fulfilled.• In order to be prepared for important Monday meetings, users had tocome into the office earlier and earlier to beat the morning report rush.• Users had to print large binders of reports and prepare them fordaily and weekly usage by Site Directors.• No real data cleansing processes.
  4. 4. New System Requirements Our users needed a more scalable and flexible tool, one that could support our growing company’s report and analysis demands. Old New• Slow execution (minutes to hours) • Fast execution (seconds, regardless of load)• Static report. • More flexible in prompts and drill downs. • Scheduling
  5. 5. Narrowcast at BluegreenAt Bluegreen, we exclusively use the Web Deliveries Integration as allsubscriptions are created from pre-existing reports that users run or createthemselves in MicroStrategy Web. This provides users with a singleinterface to execute reports and manage their subscriptions.Web Deliveries is a relatively new feature, debuting in 8.0. During ourimplementation and roll out, we encountered some challenges. Thispresentation takes you on a tour of some of the things we faced and oursolutions to overcome them.
  6. 6. Where Did This Come From?Problem: Users would receive subscriptions and have questions about them but not know who to ask. They would ask IT, but we didn’t have a way to track an email back to a subscription. Users were confused and IT was frustrated!Solution: Adding Information Objects for the owner of the subscription and the schedule that it is associated with will help in the debugging process and let the users know who to contact if they have questions.
  7. 7. Smart Reply To’sContinued: We also modified the emails sent from Narrowcast to use a dynamic Reply To. The users would see the normal “Business Intelligence” address as the sender, but if they clicked “Reply”, it would magically change to the owner of that subscription.• Email is received from the • Clicking reply replaces the namestandard company distribution box. with the user who created the subscription.
  8. 8. Exception ReportingProblem: Some users have created exception based reports to email them when certain criteria are met. However, an email is sent regardless of report content and the user is given a daily “No Data Returned” email.Solution: Edit the Information Object for the report data and either change the message to something nicer or don’t send an email at all.
  9. 9. Timeouts!Problem: As our subscription base got higher, so did the load on our server. Some services started to struggle to finish and timeout.
  10. 10. Quick Narrowcast Lesson All of the information needed to Service process the subscription (Who, What, When). Individual instance that a Service is executed. Subset of subscriptions broken outSegments Segments for each execution for use in load balancing between multiple Execution Engines.
  11. 11. Timeouts!Problem: As our subscription base got higher, so did the load on our server. Some services started to struggle to finish and timeout.Solution: Proper usage of the Segment Size, Execution Timeout and Work Allocation settings helped improve system stability and performance.
  12. 12. Administrative NotificationsBe the First to Know!• Here, you can customize yournotifications. Just put in your emailaddress, select the section that soundslike what you’re after, and click theGoverning and Filtering button. • Select either all notifications or specific ones. Careful though, sometimes errors that are logged aren’t necessarily important ones! Some are simply optional pieces of a subscription that a user chose to leave blank.
  13. 13. What Really Happened … Problem: Users would claim that they didn’t receive a subscription, or there was a problem with the report. How are we to know what really happened? Solution: At this point in the project, we found that we were mostly in the dark about what was happening. We employed several different solutions to get a better grasp on what was happening …
  14. 14. Saved Mail – A Life Saver!Saved Mail This setting on the Information Transmitter will save a copy of every email that it sends. This can be a life saver for debugging what’s going on. Just remember to periodically clean it out because it gets very large! • This is also a great way to do debugging in Production. If there is a service giving you problems, but you don’t want to spam the users, change this setting to “Save to File” and the users won’t receive any emails while you test!
  15. 15. Spy on the Inbox •Setup a dedicated email box for BI reports to be sent from, and add it to your outlook so that you can see its return messages. • You’ll be able to see what happens to emails AFTER they’ve left the hands of Narrowcast. For example, if someone’s email box is full or their account is misspelled or non-existent.
  16. 16. Log Files …• Log files hold the keys to everymystery. Be sure to enable additionalpertinent information so that it isavailable when needed. • Be sure to edit your log governing settings! By default, they are 5mb and 10 files, that’s not enough! Oh, there’s the problem …
  17. 17. Narrowcast Log Analyzer• NCLog is a Visual Basic.NETapplication written to help parse andanalyze Narrowcast log files. • Instead of the normal log file being stored chronologically, NCLog allows you to browse the file logically. • Predefined user alerts are flagged with a red bulb and bubbled up to the top, indicating that a particular service contained an alert. You can now drill into a service and see only information related to the service you are interested in.
  18. 18. Narrowcast Log Analyzer – Demo!
  19. 19. Narrowcast Log Analyzer – Other Toys• Copy the full log file line to clipboard.• Export this branch to file.• Dynamic grouping optionsthat are pulled from thelog file.• Ignore List throws outany line that contains oneof these key words.• Filter List to only includelines that contain thesekeywords.• Alert List tohighlight with the redbulb what you want tojump out.
  20. 20. I Need More Information!Problem: Even with all of the new initiatives, proactive support was still difficult: • We were relying on mining the log files to see what was happening each day. • We were unable to link a subscription to the physical report, which was causing a lot of problems when trying to troubleshoot subscriptions that were having problems. • We had no idea how many people were using the system aside from counting the number of emails in the Saved Mail folder. We needed even more information!
  21. 21. Narrowcast Transmission Recording • This feature will create tables in your Narrowcast Metadata repository that log everything that Narrowcast does. This includes details on every subscription that is executed.TN6200-072-0277
  22. 22. Enterprise Manager Integration• For exception reporting and analysis, we need toextend the Enterprise Manager project to includethe Narrowcast Transmission Data. • With this you can do analysis on what has been happening with Narrowcast and create exception reports that will either email on occurrence or just give daily status updates.
  23. 23. Narrowcast Schema This isn’t a comprehensive schema and only includes the items that were necessary for our project. You could also easily replace a complicated data model with free form SQL reports written to serve specific purposes.
  24. 24. Reports - Execution LogThis report is able to perform a lookup to the iServer metadata and retrievethe name of the Report that is subscribed to. This is information that is notavailable in any Narrowcast Log files or the Administration console. It isinvaluable for tracking down errors.
  25. 25. Reports – Subscription LogThis report includes the Title that the user gave when setting up the subscription.This can help to differentiate between multiple subscriptions with the same name.This information is mined out of the Subscription Preferences XML stored in theSubscription Book Repository.
  26. 26. Reports – Other ReportsThese are some additional reports that were created in this project that areused daily.
  27. 27. Reports – Other ReportsNarrowcast Status Report Daily quick overview of how many subscriptions ran yesterday.
  28. 28. Reports – Other ReportsNarrowcast Daily FailuresA list of subscriptions that failed to deliver today, usually due to excessivefile size or incorrect email addresses.
  29. 29. Reports – Other ReportsDeleted Narrowcast UsersUsers that were deleted from iServer but still have active subscriptions inNarrowcast.
  30. 30. Reports – Other ReportsSubscriptions to Deleted Objects Users that have subscriptions to reports that no longer exist.
  31. 31. Timeouts 2: The SequelProblem: We started to have timeout problems again, but this time no amount of teasing the execution settings was helping to resolve it. Our project had grown and since our schedules required that all subscriptions run at the same time, this resulted in ~1,000 jobs trying to run at the same time and bottlenecking.Solution: Staggering the services seemed to help resolve the issue by lightening the load at any one time. But this provided another problem … if we stagger the schedules, and ETL runs long, then we are sending out subscriptions before the warehouse is finished loading!
  32. 32. Narrowcast TriggersNCTriggers is a command line program that utilizes MicroStrategyCommand Manager to remotely execute Narrowcast schedules.Subscriptions are executed based on timing built into the application andcalled by a completed ETL system.The business need for this application is to stagger the execution ofsubscription sets so that they aren’t all run at the same time. Thiseases the load on Narrowcast server and gives you full control over whenthe subscriptions are executed.
  33. 33. Narrowcast Triggers - ComponentsAn XML file is passed as a command line property to the program to supportmultiple instances from different projects. The file contains the CommandManager SCP script file which has the actual triggers to execute the Narrowcastservice, the number of minutes it should wait before executing the next item,and the schedule it should run on.
  34. 34. Narrowcast Triggers – Log FilesThe left file is an example of the program’s log that is created. This helps inchecking later in the morning what it tried to run. The right file is thestandard Command Manager output text which shows each service that isexecuted.
  35. 35. Narrowcast Triggers – NotificationWhen NCTriggers is finished executing a job, it will scan the CommandManager output file for any errors. If any are found, an Email notificationis sent to the administrative email address with the text.
  36. 36. TakeawaysIf you only learned three things:• Knowledge is Power: Proactive alerts and solving issues before they’re real issues. Builda system that will call for help when it needs it.• A Happy System is a Stable System: Make sure the proper configurations are appliedfor your environment and monitor that everything is executing when it should and inthe time frame it should.• The Job is Never Done: There is always more to tweak, stay on top of, and analyze whenit comes to a growing environment. Either by analyzing common table hits to findaggregate opportunities or improving ways that you troubleshoot and diagnose an issue,there is always room for improvement. “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth building a tool to do it.”
  37. 37. Thanks for Watching Bryan Brandow Sr. MicroStrategy Developer Bluegreen Corp. bryan.brandow@bluegreencorp.com January 16th, 2008www.bluegreencorp.com

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