Oracle Business Intelligence

Oracle Business Intelligence tools overview

Oracle provides three different applications along with licensing options for Business Intelligence and Data warehousing. Those tools are: Oracle Discoverer 10g (Oracle BI Suite Standard Edition), Oracle Business Intelligence Standard Edition One (for mid-market segment) and Oracle BI Suite Enterprise Edition (formerly Siebel Analytics).
This article shows the purpose and major characteristics of each of the Oracle BI applications, also indicating similarities to IBM Cognos 8 and SAP Business Objects applications.

Oracle Discoverer 10g (Oracle BI Suite Standard Edition) Query & Analysis

Oracle Discoverer is an ad-hoc query and analysis tool which allows users to do basic query construction along with tables, cross tabs and charts. End users can interactively navigate, drill down, slice and dice, aggregate and add calculations. It is very commonly used with Oracle RDMBS (most likely with the OLAP database option) and embedded in a number of Oracle Applications in the Oracle e-Business Suite.

In 2006 Oracle Discoverer was repackaged along with Oracle Reports, BI Beans and other tools to form Oracle BI Standard Edition.

The main advantages of Discoverer are Personalized Portals where worksheets can be customized at the portal level for each user, the fact that it comes in a bundle which affects its price and its technology infrastructure is generally very well received by IT.
The problem with Discoverer is that its future is rather uncertain and it should be rather considered as a legacy product. Among other weaknesses it is worth mentioning that it is Oracle only (only Oracle native connection, no multiple data sources, other RDBMS via ODBC only) and its reporting capabilities are limited to singly block (only one graph/crosstab/table).

Discoverer competes with Query Studio, Analysis Studio, Report Studio (for IBM Cognos 8) and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence and Desktop Intelligence.

Oracle BI Suite Enterprise Edition (Siebel Analytics)

After acquiring Siebel in February 2007, Oracle decided to use Siebel Analytics as a key component of their Business Intelligence strategy and the product was renamed to Oracle BI Suite Enterprise Edition (OBI EE).
Oracle’s vision is to continue to focus their Business Intelligence efforts on Enterprise Edition after the acquisition of Hyperion.

    Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (OBI EE) consists of:
  • Oracle BI Server - BI server and common enterprise semantic layer, it provides ROLAP and federated data queries
  • Oracle BI Answers - Ad-hoc query and reporting. It uses a central repository (a semantic layer)
  • Oracle BI Interactive Dashboards – dashboarding solution and a way to distribute Oracle BI Answers reports
  • Oracle BI Delivers - Business activity monitoring (BAM) and alerting solution
  • Oracle BI Disconnected Analytics - mobile analytics
  • Oracle BI Publisher (formerly known as XML Publisher) - Enterprise reporting and distribution of "pixel-perfect" reports
  • Oracle BI Briefing Books – creates snapshots of dashboard pages for offline use

Oracle BI suite EE Answers and Dashboards products compete with Cognos Query Studio, Analysis Studio, Report Studio and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence (along with Web Intelligence Rich Client). Oracle Interactive Dashboards are equivalent to IBM Cognos 8 Go!Dashboard and a lightweight version of BusinessObjects Dashboard Builder or Crystal Xcelsius.

Oracle Business Intelligence Standard Edition One Mid-Market

Introduced in June 2007, Oracle BI Standard Edition One (OBI SE1) is a packaging of Business Intelligence and data warehouse products aimed at providing a complete solution for the mid-market (5-50 named users).

Oracle Business Intelligence Standard Edition One is a subset of Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (previously Siebel Analytics) containing basic functionality like dashboarding, ad hoc querying and pixel perfect static reporting, and also data integration and database technology.

    OBI SE1 includes the following applications:
  • Oracle BI Dashboards –dashboarding providing the ability to combine ad hoc and pixel perfect reports, provide links between them and a drill through functionality.
  • Oracle BI Answers – Ad-hoc query with analysis limited to drilldown.
  • Oracle BI Publisher – Reporting tool to create and distribute pixel-perfect formatted reports.
  • Oracle Warehouse Builder (OWB) – An ETL tool bundled with Oracle RDMS.
  • Oracle Database Standard Edition One – a database offering packaged and priced for small-to-medium businesses or departmental systems providing full database functionality (limited to 2 CPU).

    OBI SE1 doesn't include the following Enterprise Edition capabilities:
  • Alerts (e-mail distribution, alerts)
  • Disconnected Analytics (offline dashboards and querying)
  • MS Office Plug-in

Strengths and Weaknesses
    Key strengths of OBI SE1 are:
  • It is a complete solution including database – the package provides Business Intelligence tools for reporting, analysis, as well as ETL and a database to act as a data warehouse.
  • Low entry price (up to 50 named users)
  • Multiple data source semantic layer - can combine multiple, different data sources.
  • For those familiar with Oracle Discoverer, they will find OBI SE1 to be a better option for query, dashboarding and reporting.

However, OBI SE1 is still an Oracle focused solution (for reporting and ETL target it must be an Oracle RDBMS, MS SQL Server, IBM DB2 and Teradata can be used as ETL sources) and as a mid-market solution it cannot be run at more than 50 named users (when deployment goes beyond 50 named users the customer needs to move to Enterprise Edition). There is also no support for Linux as Oracle Business Intelligence Standard Edition One runs on the Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 server only.

OBI SE1 competes primarily against IBM Cognos 8 BI and Business Objects Professional products family.

Oracle Business Intelligence resources

Sybase and Oracle comparison
Sybase and Oracle comparisonThe article provides a comparison of Oracle 9 and 10g and Sybase ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise) version 12,15. The comparison study indicates main differencies in Oracle and...
Oracle Data Integrator
Oracle Data IntegratorAn introduction to Oracle Data Integrator, the Oracle ETL tool formerly known as Sunopsis Data Integrator. The presentation contains an overiew of Data Integrator, the...
Oracle express
Oracle expressOracle Database Express Edition (Oracle Database XE) is an entry-level, free to develop, deploy, and distribute database based on the Oracle Database code. It is preconfigured and...
Hyperion reporting and analysis Documentation
Hyperion reporting and analysis DocumentationReporting and Analysis section of the online Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management System Documentation. There are many documents in HTML and PDF format on various Hyperion...
Oracle OLAP workshop
Oracle OLAP workshopAn Oracle OLAP blog edited by experienced Oracle Data Warehousing specialists. Among other topics, it contains a comprehensive Oracle OLAP Workshop which shows how to build...
Oracle SQL Hints
Oracle SQL HintsA good guide on SQL query optimization by using SQL Hints in an Oracle database. The tutorial shows why the hints are useful and when Oracle hints should be used instead of the...
Ask Tom Oracle Questions and Answers
Ask Tom Oracle Questions and AnswersAskTom is a rich knowledge base for working with Oracle databases. People ask questions related to Oracle or describe problems they are facing. Tom answers those questions which...
Oracle 9i Business Intelligence
Oracle 9i Business IntelligenceThe article contains an overview of Oracle9 i Integrated Business Intelligence. It elaborates on how to put data into the Oracle database, turn that data into information, share...
How to create an Oracle Analytic Workspace
How to create an Oracle Analytic WorkspaceThe tutorial shows how to populate a samle OLAP Analytic Workspace with dimensions and cube objects using Analytic Workspace Manager - Oracle AWM. The tutorial is based on a...
Getting Started with Discoverer
Getting Started with DiscovererThe getting started with Oracle Discoverer tutorial is a great site to start learning Oracle Business Intelligence. The tutorial uses a small database that contains information...
Hyperion acquisition by Oracle
Hyperion acquisition by OracleThe article uncovers the details of a multibillion-dollar deal between Oracle and Hyperion and illustrates the impact of that transaction to the PeopleSoft and Siebel acquisitions...
Oracle articles and FAQ
Oracle articles and FAQOracle data warehousing articles and FAQ's with broad information and comments. We recommend reading the following articles: Indexing an Oracle Data Warehouse to improve...
Automating ETL using Oracle warehouse Builder
Automating ETL using Oracle warehouse BuilderThree articles by Nandeep Nagarkar which put emphasis on automating ETL using Oracle warehouse Builder. Including OWB overview, components and OWB architecture. The articles cover...
Oracle PL/SQL, MySQL, SQL Server tutorials
Oracle PL/SQL, MySQL, SQL Server tutorialsPL/SQL Tips and programming examples. The examples include tasks like sending email in PLSQL, creating random numbers, Oracle Internet Directory, long deletes, integration with...
Rittman Mead Consulting Blog
Rittman Mead Consulting BlogRittman Mead Consulting are delivery specialists for Oracle business intelligence and data warehousing projects. Founded by Mark Rittman and Jon Mead, two veterans of the Oracle...
Oracle Discoverer blog
Oracle Discoverer blogDiscoverer blog with tutorials which help learning Oracle Discoverer. The articles cover installation and setup guide, Discoverer integration with BI Publisher, Discoverer OLAP...
Analytic functions by example
Analytic functions by exampleThe tutorial provides a clear, thorough concept of analytic functions and its various options by a series of simple, concept building examples. The article is addressed to SQL...
Oracle Analytic functions
Oracle Analytic functionsAnalytic functions in Oracle 8i and 9i are designed to resolve such data processing problems as calculation of moving average, running totals, finding percentages within a group....
Materialized View Concepts and Architecture
Materialized View Concepts and ArchitectureOracle Materialized View concepts and architecture in Oracle9i Database Online Documentation. The chapter describes the use of materialized views, types, mechanism and ways of...
Oracle BI
Oracle BIOracle delivers a complete, pre-integrated technology foundation to reduce the cost and complexity of building and deploying enterprise business intelligence. Oracle Data...