Oracle BI Applications Review

Web-based solution enables multiple users to access the same data

How has it helped my organization?

Since we're an Oracle shop, it's an integrated solution with our database.

What is most valuable?

It's web-based so that I can have multiple users accessing the same data. It provides ease of use and its formatting means we can use the data, export it to Excel, and we manipulate the data afterward if we need to.

What needs improvement?

As with any case study that we’ve ever done, it’s not so much a problem with the application or security or anything of that nature. It’s basically the cost infrastructure. Compared to other solutions, it’s one of the more costly solutions out there. It’s the biggest concern nowadays that upper management has.

As far as costs are concerned, as their current version of SQL Server is now on a Linux platform, it's now become something that we are starting to look at it. It is something that we would actually consider now as something that we migrate to.

If we go to the cloud, cost-wise, Microsoft is cheaper than Oracle. In the end, it goes back to cost.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have no problems with stability. We are an Oracle shop.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

As far as scalability, security, and all the infrastructure go, because we are not only an Oracle shop, we also run Oracle-engineered systems, we have no problems with the system itself. It’s a total package that we have. We have the product, the scalability, the expandability. We have all of that and even the ability to move it up to the cloud.

How is customer service and technical support?

Their support is okay. Sometimes I have to run in circles to get to the correct person, depending upon what the problem is, because sometimes it may be database-driven, sometimes it is application-related. That's my only issue with support.

Since we are an Oracle shop, we have already paid for the cost of that support. My only issue is that sometimes I'm running around in circles to different departments because one refers to the other and then you have to play ping-pong between different parts of the maintenance, the application and the database.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

As far as the application layer goes, reporting-wise, SQL Server Reporting Services and Crystal Reports are the ones that we're looking at, if we move from Oracle BI.

The only other thing that we're really looking at is what platforms they're available on. One of our goals is that it has to be on a Linux platform. Moving forward, as far as the end-user is concerned, we're looking for the lowest overhead for them. Because we already have BI, that already has its advantages built into it because the learning curve is lower for that versus other applications.

What other advice do I have?

You need to know what your objective is, whether it's for reporting tools or databases. There are big differences in database structures between Oracle, MySQL and SQL Server.

Once you know which platform you want to be able to use as far as the database is concerned, the reporting tool is just a matter of what flavor you enjoy the most, in terms of ease of use and learning curve. Any of the above products work on any other platform, except maybe Microsoft SSRS. I'm not sure how well that works with NoSQL databases, but I know it works with the three that I'm looking at it. It's just a matter of the flavor of the tool that you're looking at with your databases and the end-user preferences in how they're going to be able to work with it.

Because we already use BI here, it’s a tool that our users are comfortable with and they already know how to use. So switching to another product may be a little more difficult if it doesn't have the same functionality and feel that our users currently have with the Oracle BI.

From my users' standpoint, they would probably rate Oracle BI at around an eight out of 10, because they like the way that it functions. We did have some instances of using Crystal Reports here, at times. We call Crystal Reports more of a presentation-type reporting tool. It looks good when you have to print it and show it but when you have to export it, it doesn't come out the greatest. You have to have things aligned correctly for that data to be exported correctly.

Oracle BI is more along the lines of what we do here because we're a government agency. It’s more of an engineering tool where users can export the data more easily into a drill-down format like Excel and they can manipulate the data again if they need to. 

The performance of Oracle BI is fine. The application is fine. We have no problems with it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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