Oracle OBIEE Review

Expensive and it doesn't give us the flexibility to do what the business needs


What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is to pull reports on different departments within the organization. It's very time consuming to find these reports within the IT team. Their team has also been limited to the number of people inside there, so the reports take a little bit longer. When the reports do come out, there are very little changes that can happen to these reports. You have to keep requesting changes to these reports. It is expensive and it doesn't give us the flexibility to do what the business needs. Sometimes we've got users that need to create their own reports and OBIEE needs to be developed from scratch. It's time-consuming and there are much better analytics programs out there that can do the job even better.

How has it helped my organization?

We use AWF and we can plug in various data into artificial intelligence. The benefit side of that is that you can actually start to predict trends, see things that you haven't ever seen before. We've been trialing a few solutions and I sat with our logistics department last week, and we can actually see which is the most cost efficient route because we are obviously a distributor of chemicals. There are various paths that the distribution channel takes and we can actually see and pull the data of which is the most cost efficient channel or delivery method that we can deliver these goods.

What is most valuable?

Flexibility, scalability, and the speed that you can pull these reports are the most valuable features. Accuracy is also a huge factor because if it's junk in, it's junk out. I'm leading a big data modeling project at the moment. We've been modeling the data properly into a data warehouse. Currently, we've just been using an ETL database and that doesn't really work. The data is not live, it's not instant. The tools plugging into the data warehouse need to produce the results quite quickly and I know the tool is only as good as your data warehouse.

What needs improvement?

They should develop greater visualization because their visualization isn't industry leading at the moment. The way you pull the data and see the data compared to other platforms, they're lagging a little bit behind. Also, their cost. I've got Oracle account managers trying to persuade me every day to purchase these licenses. Once you purchase OBIEE, then you have to purchase the virtualization and then you have to purchase the mobile license to operate on the mobile. It's really expensive. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. Once you go through a long process and get everything working, it does work. There's a lot of time and effort that needs to go into the solution before you get the results that you want.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is limited. The scalability compared to other products that I've seen and tested, is quite far behind.

How are customer service and technical support?

We do you use Oracle support. We've been paying for an Oracle support subscription for four or five years, and not one ticket has ever been logged. When I came in, I've encouraged the team to ask Oracle questions. They do get back quite quickly. Their support is good. Working with our account managers, if I need to escalate anything, I can speak to them and they escalate the call. I've got that ecosystem working quite well. That does work for us.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We switched to OBIEE because Discoverer was very old and outdated. We migrated from Oracle databases 11G to 12C, and they found that Discoverer was not compatible with the Oracle database 12C. They decided to move to another platform, and the previous IT manager was very Oracle focused and orientated, which I don't agree with because Oracle is very heavy resource intensive and there are much lighter applications that you can plug into. The way they structured it wasn't very conducive to the business because OBIEE and the data that you compile on that is used for OBIEE. Now what I'm trying to do is, we're busy modeling the data for a data warehouse where we can plug multiple connections to that data. You can have mobile apps for different business criteria, business objectives, and business goals, and once you're with OBIEE your limited to that. That's the problem, that lack of research and insights causes.

When choosing a new solution, the most important factor is understanding the business goals and objectives and understanding what the business needs from that product. Once I've got all that information I then look at the different products and see what they can do. I look at the product and see how much of the business criteria it ticks off and I measure and compare it to other platforms. I rate it on a scale and see which one best suits the business.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at IBM and SAP. 

What other advice do I have?

It's a great product if the business requires it, but for our business and the environment that we're in, I'd give it a three out of ten because it just doesn't meet the criteria that we need. I'm very pro-cloud, a cloud platform would be really nice. I know Oracle does have a cloud analytics solution, and we've looked into them on how to move that over, but it's really expensive for the investment that they've already made into OBIEE. These days, IT leaders like myself, the new trend is a consumption model instead of an on-premise model. Using the cloud in consuming what you need, switching off what you don't need. I've done this whole exercise with our whole ERP, we moved that through to the cloud, we moved all our on-premise services through to the cloud. With that, I can predict cost. I know exactly what's happening. I trade capital expenses for variable expense. It makes life much easier.

I would advise someone considering this solution to, first of all, define your business goals and objectives. Define what the business needs, and then analyze all the products that you're considering and see which is best suited for you. There are much cheaper solutions to work with, much easier solutions to work with. We're here in Dubai though, it's a small country, and there are companies, massive companies, that have invested millions of dollars into Oracle OBIEE and it just crashed, it failed. It wasn't what they need. The main thing, if I could advise anybody, is, you need to see what the business goals, objectives and the needs of the business are first, and then you can choose your platform.

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