Oracle OBIEE Review

Powerful platform for summarizing data within a DW environment

Company Background:
• Verisign, Inc. operates the domain name registry for .COM, .NET and other Top Level Domain extensions
• There are more than 125 Million registered .COM and .NET domain names
• These domains are in various states, such as:
newly registered, expiring, renewed, or deleted

Department Background:
• The Business Intelligence group is responsible for reporting, modeling, forecasting, and creating a coherent narrative about the 'health' of the domain registry.
• Our group acts as an information 'hub-and-spoke' for many internal customers such as, Marketing, Finance, Product Management, Account Management, and the Executive suite

Data Background:
• The primary source of data comes from Oracle Business Intelligence (OBIEE)
• Oracle 11g running on Linux
• Oracle has always been a principle database in the infrastructure
• Engineering builds some automated reports for external customers with BI Publisher
• Our Business Intelligence Group used to work with Oracle Discover, then OBIEE (v10), and currently migrating to OBIEE (v11)

Process Challenges:
• Company has never provided an opportunity to choose a different BI tool
OBIEE is the legacy company standard
• Currently migrating from OBIEE (v10) to latest version (v11)
• Along with a new data architecture:
Writing user quick guides
Arranging training for business users
Building dashboards from scratch
Recreating Automated Reports (Agents)

Process Advantages:
• After using OBIEE (v10) for three years, there were hundreds of reports in the folder structure
Some were useful, some weren't
• The migration forced us to start from a clean slate because over the past few years we have better idea about what is important to our customers

OBIEE Pro's:
• Interface is improved from earlier (v10) version
Better organization of windows showing the compound layout, views, and subject areas
Easier to configure pivot tables
There is a split screen where you can arrange the columns and rows and view the pivot table results
• Improved ‘Agent’ capabilities
"Agents" is the new term that replaces "iBot”
With v11, possible to subscribe other people to an automated agent
This is better than having to work with Executives and walk them through the process
• Latest version of OBIEE contains functions to obtain values from prior time periods
Makes comparative reports much easier to create

OBIEE Con's:
• OBIEE interface times out for long queries that involve extensive drill-down
The analysis we perform is not limited to rote, summarization of transactional data
Easier to identify the event in the OBIEE reports then submit a SQL query to the database to pull the transactional detail
• OBIEE Excel 2007 download
Selecting the ‘Excel’ download option still only returns 65K rows
• Formatting is time consuming task
Dozens and dozens of ‘clicks’ required to polish a dashboard
When formatting a pivot table, there isn't an obvious way to change the 'fill' color in the upper left box that sits adjacent
to the row labels and the first column

Other Challenges:
• Working with Unstructured Data
Creating segmentations on-the-fly not practically possible
Temporary tables cannot be inserted into the production environment
Exploring Oracle APEX as a solution
Have to download to Excel and then summarize against a lookup
Analysis often merges non-Oracle data with results from OIBEE reports

• Analytics
Our forecasting code doesn’t run in production
Isn’t available within the OBIEE interface
Resulting datasets downloaded into Access for aggregation
OBIEE has some time series functions but very difficult to perform rigorous validations and monitor accuracy without having to customize the XML and PL/SQL options on the ‘advanced tab’ of the query design window

• Dates
We’ve encountered some issues with dates that we did not have with OBIEE v10
The “Month-Year” date format in OBIEE downloads into Excel as a ‘text’ value instead of an Excel Date value with a “MON-YEAR” format

Conclusion: Oracle Business Intelligence is a powerful platform for summarizing data within a DW environment. Despite OBIEE’s interface and feature improvements, its usability remains clumsy with complex queries requiring skilled coders.

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

author avatarit_user73641 (BI Expert at a manufacturing company with 501-1,000 employees)

I agree on some of your points, I have been around BOBJ and OBIEE and both have their strong points. My wish list for OBIEE is to make it easier to have multiple deployments on the same server, this just seems like a no brainer to me or allow for more cohesive code management system. I know they are working to improve points, but I would like to see them make it easier for muti-user development and such, because at the enterprise level change control and management become very, very large issues and adding significant headcount is not the answer today.