Oracle BI Suite EE 10gR3 – My first encounter

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Oracle recently released its official version of the Oracle BI Suite Enterprise Edition – 10gR3 (10.1.3.2.0 – also known as the Maui release). This version is based on the Siebel Analytics application stack, which Oracle obtained with the Siebel acquisition. The release is different to the previous release in that the previous release was Siebel Analytics 7.8 with the Siebel logo having been replaced by an Oracle logo. I never used the Siebel Analytics 7.8 product and can therefore not compare the changes made in the latest release, but according to those that have used both, the changes are minor. Two changes I did notice was XML RSS link possibilities and a direct linkup to Oracle BI Publisher. Oracle BI Enterprise Edition includes the following components:
· Oracle BI Server previously known as Siebel Analytics Server
· Oracle BI Answers previously known as Siebel Answers
· Oracle BI Interactive Dashboards previously known as Siebel Intelligence Dashboards
· Oracle BI Delivers previously known as Siebel Delivers
· Oracle BI Disconnected Analytics previously known as Siebel Mobile Analytics
· Oracle BI Publisher previously known as Oracle XML Publisher

Fusion Intelligence for E-Business Suite was released on 4th of February 2007. It consists of pre-built EBS repositories and dashboard templates. This means that with these pre-built repositories you could have a BI EE environment up and running for business users of EBS Financials, Procurement, Human Resources, Supply Chain and CRM Intelligence modules. For more information on this topic: http://www.oracle.com/applications/cpm/fusion-intelligence-for-e-business.html   ....
 There’s also Fusion Intelligence for People Soft Enterprise and contains pre-built repositories for the EPM Financials, Human Capital Management, Supply Chain and Campus Solutions warehouses and datamarts. The logical model includes JD Edwards specific content. For more information on this topic:
http://www.oracle.com/applications/performance-management/ent/module/fusion-intelligence-for-peoplesoft.html

The installation of BI EE is very simple, a matter of entering a couple of fields and clicking next. The only pre-installation step required is to ensure that you have a JDK 1.5 version or later (I used a 1.6 version). The installation does not make use of the Oracles Universal Installer but instead uses a Windows Install Shield. It consists of two CD’s totaling 1.1 Gb and can be downloaded from OTN.

One of the options during the installation is the selection of a web server to be used. You have an option of installing a standalone OC4J, using an IIS server or installing J2EE web component into an existing iAS (10.1.3) server. I selected the OC4J option and it worked immediately without any problems. I noticed last week that Oracle has placed a tutorial “Installing the Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition on Windows” which takes you through all the steps. With the installation a Demo data set called “Paint” is also installed. A useful aspect about this Demo data set is that it is based only on XML files (found in %BIEE Home%\OracleBI\Server\Sample\Paint directory) and therefore no database is required.

A good starting point when looking at the BIEE set of tools is the Administration tool (Start / All Programs / Oracle Business Intelligence / Administration). This tool is used to define all the metadata, which is used by the BI Server to submit queries. In the Administration tool you can either create new repositories or use existing ones, for example the Paint repository found in the “%SiebelHome%\OracleBI\server\Repository” directory. When opening an existing or creating a new repository, you’ll notice that the work area is divided up into three layers:- Physical layer, Business Model layer and Presentation layer

In the Physical layer, the physical location and data properties of the data source are defined and could be databases, XML files, csv files, and Excel files. The relationship between all the different data sources is also defined in the Physical layer and can be viewed by selecting “Object(s) and all joins” from the View => Physical Diagram menu choice.

This displays a diagram depicting the data sources and their relationships.

The Physical layer meta-data can either be created manually or be imported from the data source. When importing the meta-data (which is by far the easiest method), the properties of the objects are configured automatically and are based on information collected during the import process. Since most imports are done via ODBC, you’ll most probably need to create an ODBC DSN (XML files are imported directly from file).

Business Model
Once the data sources and their relationships have been defined in the Physical layer it’s time to define the Business Model layer. The Business Model layer is used to link the physical data source with a business logical model and forms the bases of simplifying the end users view of the source data. It is where the data source structures are simplified or made understandable for the end users.

This is also the area where dimensions and cubes (fact tables) are defined. The yellow item identifies objects as Fact tables. The white items are the sources for dimensions which are the items depicted by the icons shown as arrows.
Adding items to the Business Model is done by dragging and dropping items from the Physical layer. After you have dragged in the required items, you can create dimensions and logical tables based on these dragged items. The items in the Business Model layer can all be renamed to more meaningful and logical names.

Finally the Presentation layer is what the end user gets to see when using Oracle BI Answers. It is an extra layer in which the Business Model layer can be further simplified for the end user by grouping objects/columns into different folders. After creating the required folders, the items are dragged and dropped from the Business Model layer area into these folders.

There’s an interesting security feature that can restrict users/user groups from viewing the different Presentation layer objects. It’s possible to restrict users to maximum number of rows fetched or maximum time that queries may take.

You’re also able to restrict a user from using the BI Server at certain times of the week.

The Oracle BI EE web interface consists of Oracle Answers, Dashboards, Deliveries and BI Publisher. The first time that you use it you should be able to login with the user Administrator (password blank). If this doesn’t work, you can set the password of Administrator in the Administration tool (select Security in the Tools menu).

To be able to use Oracle BI EE web interface you need to ensure that the following services have been started:
· Oracle BI Server
· Oracle BI Presentation Server
· Oracle BI Java Host (required to run Dashboards)
Also ensure that your selected web service has been started, in my case OC4J (Start => All Programs => Oracle Business Intelligence => Start OC4J).

The BI EE web interface can be started by using the link found in: Start => All Programs => Oracle Business Intelligence => Presentation Services (you could also start it via the browser if you know the URL).

Once logged in, the first page that is displayed is the default Dashboard (in our case the Paint dashboard). The Paint dashboard displays some of the report and dashboard display possibilities.
 

At the top of the web page you have a My Dashboard link. This is where you can drag and drop your own collection of reports that you may find important. At the bottom of most of the reports you’ll find a “Modify” link, which you can use to make any changes to a report (assuming that you have the required privileges).

At the top right you’ll find a link Answers, the application with which reports and ad-hoc queries are modified or created.

Under the More Products link you will find BI Publisher (XML Publisher), Delivers, Marketing and Disconnected Analytics.

The BI Publisher takes you to the Oracle BI Publisher Enterprise home page (in a new browser window) without having to re-login.

 

To create a new report, select the "Create a new report" link (click the “more…” link "Create a new report" is not displayed), give the new report a name and then select the Create button. The BI Publisher report can be created using many data sources including RSS feeds and the BI Answers presentation layer.

I’ll cover the BI EE’s BI Publisher in a future blog.

Deliveries is where you can define proactive alerting triggers for email, mobile devices and workflows e.g. sending an email or starting a Business Process when an event takes place (sales fall below a given threshold).

Disconnected Analytics gives mobile users full functionality dashboards while disconnected from their network.

On the left of the Oracle Answers page you’ll find a list of all available reports. To modify a report, select it and then select the modify link.

To create a new report, you’ll find in the Subject Area, on the right side of the Answers page, collections (Paint demo has the Paint and Pant Exec collections), which match the folder names given in the Presentation Layer of the Administration application. Once you select a collect, all the available items of the collection are displayed in the left panel.

To create a new report, click on items in the panel area and they’re added to your report. You can then add filters, formats, aggregations and the sorting of columns.  To check the results of your report, select the Results tab. If you’re satisfied with the result, save the report (right side of the page) and the report is now available to add to dashboards.

To add a report to a dashboard, select one of the available dashboards e.g. My Dashboard (top left on the home page) then select Edit dashboard from the Page Options selection list found at the top left of the page.

In the left panel select one of the available reports and drag it onto the dashboard work area. You can add as many reports as you wish. You’re also able to link the dashboard reports to other reports e.g. linking a basic dashboard to a more detailed report.

Another possibility is to select BI Publisher reports for the dashboards by dragging the “BI Publisher Report” button onto your dashboard work area and then selecting a BI Publisher created report.

This covers the simplicity of creating Dashboards in BI EE. If you wish to get up to speed with the BI EE applications, Oracle has some excellent tutorials that cover most of the BI EE products.

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  1. Cassandra Gant on

    Your blog on OBIEE 10gR3 was very helpful and explained why we had to do things a certain way. I am new to Oracle BI and was looking for some resources that I might consult from time to time.