With the introduction of Fusion Applications a while back now, Business Intelligence has been pushed into the applications stream by Oracle. The wow factor for most of the Fusion Applications package comes with the ability to do a lot of analysing. The question is, did Oracle pull a rabbit out of its hat or was this a lingering ability by the company that has never been in sight of the group of Oracle Applications users?
I’m sure you could have guessed the answer, but nonetheless, Oracle’s portfolio is so big; it was already there. The thing is, there was always a part missing. Before Oracle BI Applications 11g was launched it wasn’t all Oracle that did the work for you.
- an Oracle database, mandatory for using Oracle BI
- an Oracle Weblogic instance for hosting your environment
- Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) as the main BI software
Ontop of that there was Oracle Business Intelligence Applications (OBIA). Which basically is a suite of predelivered data warehouse, dashboards and reporting for several CRM, HCM and Financial systems. Most of which are Oracle, but SAP for example is also supported.
The biggest gap however has always been the part where the data gets transported and transformed from your source system(s) to the data warehouse (ETL). Up to the last version before 11g, this was handled by Informatica’s ETL tool, Powercenter. Probably a thorn in Oracle’s Fusion middleware strategy, because a vital part was not theirs. But from 11g they changed that drastically. Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) was introduced into the mix of Fusion Middleware to come to a 100% Oracle product line. But what does this mean for you as a consumer of the software?
- As an end user, nothing.
- As a systems administrator, nothing.
- As an integrator, your whole world.
Luckily Oracle delivers a whole box full of ETL’s, but that doesn’t mean you will never have to add or change anything. I personally come from a (PeopleSoft) world where it’s a rarity to find a vanilla environment to attach to. This means you will have to adapt OBIA as well.
This in itself is a project on its own because you have to weave through all the already present dimensions and tie your extra’s to the right ones. But it does not weigh up to having to build up your own data warehouse from scratch by just using OBIEE instead of OBIA. It costs a lot of money in licensing, but it will save you money in implementation time.
Finally, as an overview, the list of middleware applications you have access to in order to keep your BI environment up and running:
- Weblogic Console, needed for the administration of your virtual servers and domains
- Enterprise Manager, needed for controlling your farm (performance, availability, errors and warnings)
- Configuration Manager, needed to setup your BI environment and create/manage/execute Load Plans online
- Functional Setup Manager, this acts as a subprogram for the Configuration Manager where you can assign functional setup tasks for different users
- Data Integrator Console, the online version of ODI studio where you can check Load Plan execution details and manage high level settings. This is also accessible through the Configuration Manager
- BI Publisher, this is the online tool to create static reports that you can publish and/or embed via Analytics
This leaves you with the end user application, in which the actual analytics and dashboards are made as well, Analytics.
And this is only the out of the box installation of OBIA 11g. As this is all Fusion Middleware, you could add more from that same pallet Oracle has ready, like:
- Identity Manager
- Enterprise Single Sign-On
- Access Manager
For a finishing touch, you still need to install actual old fashioned client software on your computer in order to do the real work on OBIA 11g (in bold the programs you will most likely use most).
- OBIEE Administration Tool, to administer your three BI layers (physical model, business and mapping model and presentation model)
- OBIEE Catalog Manager, server-client ability to administer the catalog. Normally you would do this online via Analytics
- OBIEE Job Manager, used for scripted jobs
- ODI Studio, used for managing and building ETL streams
For the use of the Administration Tool it is advisable to have a machine ready with lots of RAM (minimum of 8GB) as it consumes quite a bit. Right now it’s running idle on my machine with just an opened offline repository and taking up 1,8GB or RAM. This will only increase while you work with it.