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Crystal Server Implementation

Posted on 2011-03-04
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Hello experts -

We are working on integrating Crystal Reports Server with Crystal Reports to maximize the use of the repository explorer including the List of Values (LoV) parameter in addition to implementing InfoView as a reporting tool for our advancement officers.  I have put together a short summary of what I have learned through researching this process along with the issues and problems I have run into.  I would appreciate any and all advice and opinions on the attached document as well as suggestions to get us where we want to be (without purchasing any additional software - of course).

Thank you!

Lisa Callahan
VCU Advancement Services
Crystal-Server-Implementation.pdf
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Question by:lcallah93
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Kurt Reinhardt earned 2000 total points
ID: 35037670
Following are my notes on your document:

1)  There is no processor licensing for Crystal Reports Server 2008.  You're limited to either NULs or CALs. You can take advantage of as many processors as your box can handle.  If you've got quad core box or better, great!

2)  Who is going to use the Crystal Reports Viewer 2008 if you're going to have end users go through Infoview?

3)  The publishing wizard is great for uploading an initial batch of reports.  For reports that have been modified or have been developed as one-offs, it's best to upload them straight from within Crystal Reports.

4)  Regarding SQL Views and SQL Commands - there's no single "best" data source to use for the reports.  For simple reports, you could just as easily use linked tables and have them be equally efficient.  Views are fantastic if you have more complex joins or unions and are treated just like tables within Crystal Reports. Commands can be very powerful and allow you to embed parameters anywhere in the SQL, not just the WHERE clause, but Commands also come with some significant caveats, including an inability to use Dynamic Parameters.

5)  If you're using Crystal Reports Server you should always create your LoVs through the Business View manager, never through Crystal Reports.  When you upload a report that has an embedded LoV, it'll save the LoV to the repository with a generic name.  Pretty soon, you'll have a bunch of Expr_001 Lovs and have no idea how to differentiate them.

6)  If you're having issues with the LoVs from the Business View, chances are they weren't built properly

7)  Since your LoVs are managed through the Business View Manager, which is connected to the repository, it stands to reason you wouldn't be able to see the values unless you connected to the repository.  This is basically the same as saying you can't run an Infoview report without connecting to Infoview...

8)  The Crystal Reports Viewer does allow refresh if the user authenticates to Crystal Reports Server.  Only disconnected or non-CRS users will have static data.  The purpose of the viewer is to be able to send reports to non-users/external parties in the native Crystal Reports format in lieu of something else like .pdf

In addition to the points above, you're going to need to take other factors into consideration, especially in regards to system recovery.  

9) Crystal Reports server can only be installed on a single server, which means there is no fault tolerance, failover support or high availability.  You'll need to do cold backups of your CMS database and file repository servers on a nightly basis (at least) to an external location. After all, if the box fails it won't do you any good to have save the backups locally.

10) You'll also need to ensure you properly size your Crystal Reports Server machine.  At a high level, you'll need at least 100 GB HD Space and 4 GB RAM.  After going through a sizing exercise, you'll know if you need more space, more RAM and how many CPUs or cores you need.

11) If you're going to do any type of report bursting and/or publications (newsletters, billing statements, etc...) to external users then you'll need to ensure you have enough publication seat licensed.

12) If you're going to take advantage of dashboarding then you'll need to use the Java Infoview in conjunction with a Java web server like Tomcat - the dashboarding features aren't available in the .NET infoview at all.

13) If you want to integrate Xcelsisus Dashboarding (Dashboard Design Department) then you'll need to ensure you have both adequate licensing (since it's an add-on) and also make sure you're using a Java web server, because the web services aren't supported in either .NET or the default WACS.

14)  Do you want to use the free Live Office add-on? If so, Java web server, once again

15)  Have you taken advantage of any discounts you can get for the licensing from a channel partner, reseller?

16)  What type of server are you installing on?  If it's Windows, it should be Windows Server 2008. It's supported on 2003, but 2003 will soon be deprecated in terms of Microsoft Support.  If you only refresh your machines every 3 to 5 years, chances are you'll be using 2003 in 214 if you install to that platform.  

17)  There is a definite preferred installation order to all of the various components on the server.  What's your current plan for installation?  Will your machine be dedicated to Crystal Reports Server or will it be a shared application server? It should be dedicated.  Will you run the reporting database on the same machine as Crystal Reports Server?  You shouldn't.

~Kurt
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Author Closing Comment

by:lcallah93
ID: 35037804
Thank you for all your input - I really appreciate it!  

I am very glad to know that my architecture is sound - it took me awhile to figure out how everything works together and SAP was not a very viable resource - it seems that they no longer offer phone support for Crystal Server.  

I am not planning on using Crystal Viewer if I can use InfoView, I just wanted to know if it was possible if I need to go that route.

I am going to continue to work on the LoV issues and will make a new post if I run into issues.
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