The most valuable feature of OBIEE, for me, is the speed with which we can get a solution to the customer. It takes a lot of work upfront on our side, but once that's done, it's a matter of clicking here, there, and we've pretty much got a solution for them.
Improvements to My Organization:
Users can create their own ad hoc analyses and reports, so that's definitely a big plus. Also, another way its improved our functioning is the speed that it gives us to provide solutions to the customer. That's important to our company so that we can meet contract requirements, particularly ones that are time sensitive.
Room for Improvement:
When we went from version 10 to 11, Oracle changed some of the functionality for us, and ultimately for those few customers that use it. For example, with filters, it was like, "Okay, give me a filter. I want this and I want this." Now it's more like five or six clicks to do the same thing to get to where you're actually defining what the filter is going to do. In my opinion, we lost a little functionality there. We lost some of the streamlining, efficiency, and speed.
We've had some issues with one of the subject areas, in particular, where somehow, somewhere this analysis was built off of this subject area. That subject area got removed. The result was that this analysis still runs properly as it should, but we can't make any changes to it because it says I have an invalid subject area. You can create a new one with the same name, but the internal workings of OBIEE, it knows that it didn't come from here. I've asked several of the experts, and even Oracle, the product manager, and the technical side, they're like, "Wow, really?" That's an unsolved problem.
We deployed it just fine, and implemented it just fine, as everything was squeaky clean, except for what we did wrong, which was essentially user error.
It's rock solid. We've had absolutely no issues with instability.
We can add users without issues. We're able to scale just fine.
Setting up all the metadata and the RPD takes a lot of work. Then, of course, it migrates through the physical layer, the business model layer, and the presentation layer. At that point, we can turn OBIEE loose to some of our customers. Some of them are quite skilled, and they like the hands-on. Some of them are not.
We had an Oracle consultant come in to help us. The DBAs actually installed OBIEE and set up the RPD. I'm not sure that, even now, that was set up optimally. We learned a lot as we went along. It's like, "Now we're this far down the road, and it sure would have been nice to know this back here," because I found that going back and trying to really change some of the structure is difficult.
Cost and Licensing Advice:
Every Oracle product is expensive, so OBIEE was expensive as well.
Depending on the skill level of the people who are actually going to be the BI administrators and developers, I would suggest a consultant, someone who is well-versed and knows the in's and out's, to help implement OBIEE. As I said, we had an Oracle consultant. When he came in, one of the first things we did was sent him to some training for OBIEE. I'm not sure how that came about, but it seemed a little strange to me. The way I look at it, when you hire a consultant to come in and help you, I'm expecting that person to have the background and the knowledge.
The guy did a great job, but there was the training thing that just didn't register. He was a great help to those of us who now develop the solutions for the customer. It was good experience having him there. It was a collaborative effort. I was sitting over his shoulder until I couldn't take it anymore. I said, "No, I have to touch it." You've got to just jump in there and do it. That foundation, seeing some of the stuff he did, and the way he went about it, I think, is invaluable.