RittmanMead BI Forum 2011 – Day I

John Minkjan kicks of Day I of the RittmanMead BI Forum. He’s subject is Oracle BI EE on mobile devices. Very appropriate to the discussion last night during Oracle’s Keynote. Mobile is hot and the audience is very eager to see Oracle BI EE in action on Mobile Devices (Ipad / Galaxy Tab). Before going to the demonstration, John shows us a lot of things you should bare in mind when developing mobile applications. I will not go into the XXX-details or better DDDD.

Oracle BI EE on mobile is not only about nice and fancy dashboards but also about:

  • Equipment
  • Antenna’s
  • Environment
  • Security
  • Usage
  • Cost
  • Health
  • Type (Wifi, Bluetooth, Cellular)
  • Content Control
  • Operating System
  • Device
  • Patching

You have to think about dashboards which are firstly built for a laptop/desktop. Now you should redesign to fit the dashboard into the device. You could use some kind of landing page to navigate to the different dashboards, depending on where you are coming from.

Next up is Adam Bloom. Adam is opening the lid on Oracle BI 11g security. He has a lot to open!! First he shows us the architecture of a Weblogic deployment. The best thing is try to use the Fusion Middleware (FMW) Security. Although 10g  Security via Init Blocks is supported you should make a choice between the two. Another thing is you should stick to whatever is certified, because of the limitations of the Oracle Platform Security Services (OPSS).

Adam also demystified some of the GUID issues. There are some issues when you login with the weblogic-user in different RPD’s. When you set the following parameter; FMW_UPDATE_ROLE_AND_USER_REF_GUIDS in the NQSConfig-file to ‘YES’, the problem is solved. You refresh the GUID’s only when you are moving the indentity stores to a new server. Also when a RPD hasn’t been used on a server yet.

Unfortunately this topic is so new and so complex, some other subjects could not be covered. We shortly addressed configuration and logging but according to Adam; “There are no bugs, only bad configuration”.

On to Andreas Nobbmann, who is going to; “Script for a Jester’s tear” referring to a song of Marillion. Andreas is scripting fanatic and he warns us not to exaggerate the scripting. Scripting could make your life easier and can be used for;

  • repeating tasks
  • deployment
  • configuration
  • backups
  • starting / stopping / status

Downside of scripting is the lack of logging.

Andreas cover various elements of scripting:

If it comes to migrating security check here.

After lunch, Mike Brooks did his ‘Warts and All’-presentation about his real-life experiences when implementing Oracle BI 11g. It turns out that a major release like Oracle 11g is, is not that easy. Not even for experienced people like Mike, supported by the RittmanMead guys. Over at Play.com, they tried to do a one week POC. Based on advice and documentation plans could be made, but due to later experiences the had to switch plans every once and a while.

Implementing the BI part of Oracle BI 11g is no rocket science, but the Weblogic Server is a whole new ballgame. That needs additional skills and training.

Now follows a panel discussion about the following subject; “Was it worth the wait”, My personal opinion is; Yes!! Of course we have been waiting very long and of coures not everything is running as smoothly as we would like it to. On the other hand, the product looks fantastic and it gives us a lot of new opportunities, both technically as well as functionally. I guess we should focus on the good things and let Oracle work on the rest to improve the product.

A few highlights of the discussion;

  • focus on security issues instead of improved BI capabilities
  • sexy Front-end
  • early access, release dates
  • data lineage
  • versioning
  • MUD
  • charting like BI Publisher
  • Oracle OLAP vs Essbase
  • Essbase (Front-end Yes!!, Back-end No!!)
  • Stability
  • Integrated

Was it worth the wait or was worth the technical change? In the end, I guess it was a cautious yes.

Michael Wilcke finished the day with a presentation about why the Oracle BI Server is the ultimate choice for a BICC. BI is a circular process which never stops. When BI stops it is finished. Michael features on two subjects;

  • Business versus IT
  • Process and Organization

There is ‘always’ tension between business and IT. The Oracle BI Server offers the ability to separate these two (logical sql versus physical sql). This way you can de-couple the Front-end from the Back-end.

Requirement engineering can be done via prototyping in Excel and de-coupling. The requirement process is all about understanding the user instead of believing you know what he/she wants. You should define, establish and review. Top-down DWH vs. Bottom-up DWH.

In the end it turned out that Michael did a great job. He was elected by the audience as the Best Speaker. Therefor Mr. Wilcke went home with the most prestigious Brighton #biforum Best Speaker Award. Congratulations Michael.

It was a very interesting day. I think the speakers of this day have taken this event to a higher level (again!)

RittmanMead BI Forum 2011 – Masterclass (Part II)

After the lunch, which was excellent by the way, Mark continued the Masterclass. Next on is the OBIEE11g – Server & RPD New Features. There are new features in the RPD which you should try yourself (including me), before you really can understand what is happening. The guys over at RittmanMead are decompiling .jar-files to make anything more clear! I guess I will start with the Admin-tool. A few highlights;

  • Column Descriptors –> Use the description to show, while in the background you use an Id (indexed) to ‘fire’ a query (Oracle Discoverer functionality)
  • Lookups Tables & Functions –> Interesting functionality Venkat already blogged about
  • Hierarchies (Ragged & Skip Level) –> Only use Ragged and Skip Level when you really need it, because it will generate complex queries to identify and it will be giving problems with generating MDX for Essbase.
  • Parent Child Hierarchies –> PC Aggregation is only aggregating for the member by default. You should do some extra modeling to bring the closure table into the model.
  • Oracle OLAP Option –> The BI Server now can manage navitve Oracle OLAP. As Mark mentioned; “A cautious welcome”

Tony closes the Masterclass whit the OBIEE11g – SOA Integration. New in Oracle BI 11g is the Action Framework. The Action Framework makes it possible to integrate your Business Intelligence System with your business process. Either by navigating through an url or by integrating with Web Services. Calling Web Services opens a whole new world for me. Now you see a further integration of Oracle BI 11g and Oracle Fusion Middleware. On the one end this Action Framework gives us a lot of new possibilities. On the other end it gets more and more complex. You should get to know a few of the following and more:

  • SOA Concepts
  • JDeveloper
  • BPEL Workflows
  • Oracle SOA

This way you should be able to integrate with external applications by building and deploying web services and invoke them from Oracle BI EE.

Thanks to Mark and Tony, they did a great job with this Masterclass. Although it seems like an information overload, both guys have presented a lot of information in such a way we do not have to be bored in the coming months.

RittmanMead BI Forum 2011 – Masterclass (Part I)

Arrived this morning in Brighton for my second RittmanMead BI Forum 2011. The forum started of with a Masterclass. Because of the flight-schedule between Amsterdam and London – Gatwick, I wasn’t able to make it on time. In the end I received sufficient information to call it a valuable Masterclass. The hosts of this Masterclass were the master himself; Mark Rittman and Tony Heljula. These guys had the privilege to ‘compete’ with last years Masterclass by Kurt Wolff. I must say; They did a pretty good job. The Masterclass consist of 4 different subjects, equally (although Mark tried to claim Tony’s time) divided by the two hosts:

  • OBIEE11g – Architecture, Components & Internals
  • OBIEE11g – Spatial Integration
  • OBIEE11g – Server & RPD New Features
  • OBIEE11g – SOA Integration

Mark started off with the OBIEE11g – Architecture, Components & Internals. Unfortunately I had to miss the first part. Still I have been able to take some notes. With the new Oracle BI 11g release, starting form we are presented with an whole new architecture. The best way to  make sense of Oracle BI 11g is to get comfortable with;

  • Instances
  • Domains
  • Using the WebLogic Scripting Tool (WLST)

I joined the Masterclass when Mark arrived at the WLST part. Thes WLST-scripts are calling MBeans. There seem to be more of these MBeans in the background than presented via the GUI. By using scripting (Jython) you are able to manipulate meta-data in the repository and objects in the catalog. Andreas Nobbmann will cover part of this subject in his presentation on Thursday.

Anthony continued with his presentation about the improvements of the Spatial Integration in OBIEE11g. One of my ex-colleagues (Maarten Jan Kampen)  did a presentation of  Spatial Intelligence in OBIEE10g. The integration in OBIEE10g was full of additional Javascripting. In OBIEE11g this has significantly improved. For the sake of his marriage, Tony didn’t gave his holiday a different purpose, so he left his presentation based on So maybe there are some more improvements in

If you have your spatial metadata in order, the user should be capable to make his own spatial reports. Just by using the Map as an additional representation of the data, next to eg. the Pivot View. In OBI11g the spatial architecture is as follows;

  • Database (Locator could be enough, for extra manipulations on the data you will need an additional Spatial-license)
  • Oracle Mapviewer
  • Oracle Mapbuilder (or better Map Configurator)

Tony showed us several possibilities of building basemaps using the sample files from Navteq on OTN. You could also use Google Maps or Bing Maps. Using the Navtew files you could also create your own custom basemaps. Next to that Tony showed us a lot of possibilities of Spatial Integration in OBIEE11g, like

  • Locator Functions
  • Spatial Functions
  • Drilling (Master-Detail)
  • Navigating
  • Evaluate –> Spatial Functions

Already a lot to talk about and we were only half way!!

Security issues when upgrading a Web Catalog from 10g to 11g

I blogged about upgrading from Oracle BI EE 10g to Oracle BI EE 11g R1 earlier. Although this is a very straight forward process, you could end up with some security issues.

Picture the following. You are an administrator user with the appropriate security roles to act as an (Presentation Server) Administrator. You are able to login and manage the Weblogic Console and the Enterprise Manager. When you log into the upgraded Web Catalog you are not able to see the Administration-link.

There already a lot of good blogpost about the new Oracle BI 11g security setup. Just to name a few;

When upgradin a WebCatlog you could be forced to do a work-around  for the security, thanks to René Kuipers. The workaround is as follows;

  • Do the upgrade according to the documentation
  • Make a backup via the Catalog Manager or upgrade a second time so you have a copy of the Web Catalog
  • Throw away the user folders via the Catalog Manager
  • Login again into the Web Catalog via; http://localhost:9704/analytics (a new user folder should be created)
  • If necessary you could move the reports from the backup to the online Web Catalog

It’s a workaround and could be very time-consuming when you have to upgrade a Catalog with a lot of users. Hopefully this issue will be solved in a future release.