RittmanMead BI Forum 2011 – Day II

Day II of the RittmanMead BI Forum 2011 started of with a presentation of Emiel van Bockel. He took us on a journey from table to strategy. Without knowing themselves the presentations of Michael Wilcke and Emiel their presentations where complementary. We are moving from informatization to socialization. The importance of the context is increasing. You should really know your customer and you must get your information straight. Earning money with information. If information has added value, people (or at least Emiel) are willing to pay for this. The integration of Oracle BI 11g and mobile increases the accessibility. Centraal Boekhuis is the first company, which migrated from 10g to 11g. New functionality like Actions, Maps, Visual Capabilities, Scorecarding but also the role based User Management and Hierarchies will give more possibilities to bring the information to the end user.

Next up was Stuart Wallace who wanted to help us fixing the Fixed Price. Most BI Projects (Processes) are subject to the Devils Triangle:

  • Time
  • Cost
  • Quality

The biggest challenge is the scope. How can you manage a project and make sure you deliver; Fixed Time, Fixed Scope and Fixed Price.

Deliver in small chunks (agile iterations), keep the ROI of BI in mind (look further than the initial project scope) but make sustainable solutions.

Agile iterations bring us to next part of the day; Should all BI Projects be Agile? The discussion started of with a statement of an advocate and an adversary (Waterfall) of Agile. For me it was a very interesting discussing. I haven’t got any Agile experience yet, but I think it is a good method. Users ‘only’ know what the want, when they see their first dashboard. So you have to deliver value as soon as possible. Of course documentation is important, but do it during development instead of upfront. A physical diagram within OBI could also be sufficient as documentation. Sometimes you are designing a unknown solution for an unknown need. Agile should never be an excuse to deliver crap!! The most important thing is that you should think before you do something. On to top of that you should keep communicating. This way you could achieve better understanding for one another.

After lunch Mike Durran shed is light on Scripting the Management of an Oracle BI 11g System. Although Andreas Nobbmann already had covered this subject, Mike did pointed on some ‘new’ things. He first started out explaining the Oracle BI 11g Architecture. That made it a little bit more easy to understand when and why you should use certain MBeans to script these by using Phyton. For more details please have a look at the Oracle BI Systems Management API.

Tony Heljula had the privilege to close the Forum for the majority of the attendees, including me. Tony gave an thoroughly worked out overview of how to measure performance issues in Oracle BI EE and the Oracle database. If you consider the hardware a fact and fine, there few things on the software side you can check and fix;

  • Gather Stats (%)
  • Star Transformation
  • Bitmap Indexes
  • Removing Snowflakes (into the dimension, directly to the fact)
  • Bitmap Join Indexes
  • Partitioning
  • Parallel Query
  • Compression
  • Aggregation

Unfortunately I had to go, and missed out on the presentation of Stewart Bryson. Better luck next time.

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 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 11.1.1.3 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 11.1.1.3. So maybe there are some more improvements in 11.1.1.5.

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!!