OBIEE Step by Step Guide

July 8, 2010

OBIEE 11g New Features, Launch Event

Hello Folks,

Finally, Oracle OBIEE 11g has officially been launched to a very large fan base of both OBIEE and Essbase on July 7. Its a long overdue and lets see how the world receives it. As a technologist, I have PATIENTLY listened to all the Oracle’s sales pitch for 2 hrs of their recorded web cast and here are some things that I came up with that may be of interest to the OBIEE technological community.

First, some non techie stuff that was part of web cast.

Excerpts from interview held with BT Architect and CapGemini Practice Head:

Burning issues & strategies in BI initiatives:

  • Engaging business in maintaining data and considering data as one of the enterprise assets.

Ex: Think of Facebook and its valuation based on user profiles created on this app. Each user profile gets valued at almost $10 and they were trying to emphasize the need for better data sourcing, cleansing and delivering data back to the users in an interactive, usable format.  As data volumes increase, data analysis efforts increase and need for better BI tools increases.

  • Integrating business and IT to help close the loop.

This is not just an BI problem but more of an IT problem.

  • Adoption of users (both Business Analysts & Power Users & End Users)

This has been a problem in BI space since ages 🙂 (atleast in last decade where data volumes crippled like anything imaginable). Better BI tool training is needed and efforts have to be redirected for this initiative.

  • Room for extendability (scalability), performance, integration of analytics into actions.

There has been a lot of emphasis on ‘integration of analytics into actions’ part all through the presentations.

  • Agile BI initiatives

This has been in works recently and heard a lot in TDWI conferences recently. Would be good to see whether BT has put together a framework for others to use for launching this initiative in other places.

  • Leveraging BI analytics for company profitability

The whole point of developing analytics is to drive company’s profitability. There is nothing new here.

  • Leveraging BI for not just business monitoring but for IT Systems monitoring

This is something that IT managers will like. Helping them fire an event as a server goes down; dashboards to monitor your SLA metrics etc etc..

  • Talk about visualization of business processes and trigerring actions based on rules.

We talked about this in ‘integration of analytics into actions’ section. Nothing new cooking here 😦

I am a little happy to know that Oracle internally does use OBI Apps for their metrics monitoring, alerts etc etc..

There has been a big buzz (atleast lot of sales pitch) around ExaData and Oracle BI together having a perfect marriage in data warehouse environments. We have to wait and see whether thats true and need to hear some feedback from customers. Oracle did talk about one of the largest grocery chain using this for their data warehouse and BI environment (Hyperion I think is their Bi tool). I believe this is WalMart that they are talking about.

Coming to the meat of what OBIEE 11g is bringing to the table, here we go that I have found to be interesting and worth noting.

  • OBIEE has a new UI for the end users.

Its not just the dashboard that got remodeled, but also the ‘Answers’ tool. This is big not just for end users but also for people who create adhoc reports and use ‘Answers’ tool every day. Of Course, this has led to some changes in ‘Admin’ tool (discuss changes in this later). This new UI also comes with a new Charting Engine (finally, Corda Charts are out of OBIEE now with this release).

Here is a snapshot of how the UI looks like:

Without aby doubt, you have seen the new icons used for Subject Areas,  Presentation Catalogs and the positioning of the 4 tabs in creating a new report namely ‘Criteria’, ‘Results’, ‘Prompts’, ‘Advanced’. There are new icons on the top of the page which I dont remember from 10g. We have to wait to see what they are (May be these icons are remodeled as they did not talk anything about these in the web cast or may be of least importance for this event). Also, see in the table, the hierarchial drill down is enabled all in one column for Customer Region in Rows and see the drill down path for Time across columns.  This is kind of very elegant. But, it comes down to how much can you configure and what options are out of box for disabling this feature and what happens when you export them to pdf or excel? Does 10g rpds and reports automatically use this new feature when promoted to 11g? I think pivot tables in 10g had real problems in its usage and configuration. Hope they are fixed now in this version. Do you think this new UI is borrowed from Hyperion web based reporting tools? Lets talk about the other features that were brought in the UI side i.e. Chart Slider and Zoom feature. I can explain them both but would love you to refer to these links which were from Oracle and well described technically 🙂

Also, dont forget to skim through the hierarchy columns changes as mentioned in

Buzz words to remember for UI enhancements are : Live Pivoting, Chart Slider, Chart Zoom.

Also showed in the demo is a feature where as you drill down in one report, all the other reports as part of the dashboard also do get drilled down based on the value chosen in the first report. This, I think, is not an enhancement but has to wait to see whether they have up with a new feature for us.

  • Repository Changes using ‘Admin’ tool.

As far as I can remember from the 2 hr web cast, there is no mention of any great new feature in Admin tool. There are icon changes for almost all objects in the repository namely Logical Tables (Both Facts and Dimensions), Measures, Dimension Attributes, Hierarchies, Hierarchy Levels etc etc. Have to wait for the tool to be released to corroborate this.

  • BI Search

This is going to be big for all the data owners and BI implementations. All reports, dashboards can be tagged and all the tags that you as a dashboard developer or as a Answers tool user put in, these are searchable. What a cool feature to search for reports and dashboards. Well, it also boils down to creating good meta data to be developed for all the dashboards, reports, prompts, types of reports whether its publisher report or a answers report or a prompt.

  • Clustering Support for Essbase and BI Publisher

This would be huge in big corporations who deal with terabytes of data every day. There is this mention of using BI publisher as a operational reporting tool when compared to Answers tool in the web cast but I still dont think thats what their intention was. Essbase queries will now run in micro seconds rather than in sub seconds that its touted for 🙂

  • Web Center Workspaces

Though there is this mention of web center workspaces, I did not completely get it. I am speculating that it has to do with integration of oracle portal, BI search and SOA.

  • New Thin Client for editing BI Publisher reports

BI Publisher is still getting a face lift with this release of a new thin client where you can use create and edit BI Publisher reports. Oracle is finally going away from using MS Word, Excel as their editing tools for BI Publisher. I believe, they are still supported but not recommended.

  • Encrypted Meta Data for Metadata Security

This is a nice feature to add on and very few customers might have really thought of (atleast thats my take on it). When meta data is created against your repository objects, certain objects meta data (i.e. formula, business rules, data sources) can be encrypted so that end users does not completely know whats behind the metric and its calculation.

  • Action Framework

This is just an emphasis on the ‘integration of analytics into actions’ feature that I was talking to you before. Now, the action framework can be used to trigger an email, run a BPEL process, run a java method based on the business rules set on each metric. This helps in closing the loop for business folks and BI helping business to improve and act upon based on pre-defined criteria.

  • Annotations, Colloboration

Talked about the annotations, online chat and work group creation for colloboration purposes based on BI report results. Seems like an extension to writeback functionality we have been used to in 10g. Will have to play with this tool before we can see the real benefit. Of Course, it helps reduce excel attachments in emails that Oracle was talking in this webcast.

  • ScoreCard, KPI and Strategy Management

This is an addon that talks about the goals, KPI of the company and then breaking it down to each individual department’s goals, KPI and monitoring the results for these KPIs. Oracle has thought to resurrect the ‘Score Card’ methodology in BI space. Lets see whether they have done it right this time 🙂

Of Course, dont forget to watch this 2 minute presentation which will bring all of this together for you

Eagerly waiting to play with this new version and see what it brings to the table 🙂

BIG Disappointments:

  • Do not know how many people really see this as a big bottleneck but I do with my existing client. My client has been thinking that Oracle will bring a merger of toolsets (Hyperion Interactive Reporting, OBIEE) as part of 11g.


  • Also, you still have two plugins for Office (one for OBIEE and one for Essbase). Does it not look cool if you have just one plugin for both these purposes whether its MOLAP or ROLAP? Can they play together on a customer’s desktop? Do they have to pick one or the other?

Until next time, Kudos to all OBIEE evangelists out there and making this tool a huge success. I am sure Oracle did get this product right by merging Siebel Analytics, Essbase and access to all MOLAP, ROLAP and HOLAP technologies all in using one tool.

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