Oracle BI EE 10.1.3.4 has arrived

A new release of Oracle BI EE, formerly known as Siebel Analytics has been made available for download last week. There are several new features and interesting points about the product direction.

My personal highlights are:

  • Integration with EPM Workspace and Smart Space
  • Discoverer .eex to .rpd migration tool
  • New sample application with support for marketing segmentation
  • Enhanced wsdl support for BI Publisher
  • Enhanced DAC Client (released independently) that supports upgrades from Analytics 7.8.4

But let's discuss each feature in detail. Most of this information is taken from the documentation and while the product is still hot from the oven, I was lucky to try a few things. As with all new features, they will have to prove their practicability in real life. We'll see...

General New Features

Integration with Oracle EPM Workspace, Fusion Edition

Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Workspace (EPM Workspace) is a component of Oracle's Hyperion Foundation Services. It is the central Web interface for users to access all Performance Management content and tools. In the new release, the following Oracle BI EE applications have been integrated into EPM Workspace:

  • Oracle BI Answers
  • Interactive Dashboards
  • Delivers
  • BI Publisher

Integration with Oracle Smart Space, Fusion Edition

Oracle Smart Space is a personalized information delivery solution for Business Intelligence and Enterprise Performance Management that uses configurable desktop gadgets to deliver BI and EPM to every user in the enterprise, utilizing the Windows desktop. In addition, Oracle Smart Space includes a development toolkit for creating additional gadgets that employs common development languages and methodologies and a secure instant messaging system for shared decision making.

You can launch and interact with Oracle BI Interactive Dashboards, Answers requests and BI Publisher reports in the Smart Space Content Viewer and Smart Book gadget and add them to the Favorites gadget. You can use Smart Space Collaborator to share Oracle BI content with other Smart Space users. You can also configure iBot results to be sent as Smart Space notifications and view these in the Notification gadget.

You can set up for users to download Oracle Smart Space and Oracle Smart View for Microsoft Office from within Oracle BI. Once Smart Space is connected to Oracle BI, you can use Windows Explorer to browse the Oracle BI Presentation Catalog and see the folders (Shared Folders and My Folders) and documents (Dashboard and Answers request) that are available to you.

Migrate Discoverer eex files to rpd files

The new release includes a utility to accelerate the migration of Oracle BI Discoverer metadata (in the form of an EEX file, version 10.1.2 or higher) to Oracle BI EE metadata (in the form of an RPD file). The utility is a command line executable (MigrateEUL.exe) and accompanying properties file that can be found in the \OracleBI\Server\bin directory. An instruction document can be found in the \OracleBI\Server\Document directory. Reading the document, you find a chapter named "Why migrate to Oracle BI EE?" and the answer is given as a summary of the Oracle BI EE functionality and benefits. The rest is up to you...

The screenshots below show a first encounter with the utility. I have converted a simple Discoverer EUL into an rpd file. It completed the task without errors, however there is additional manual work to be expected within the rpd file.


migrateEUL.exe command line utility, click to enlarge


rpd file generated by migrateEUL.exe, click to enlarge


Time-aware line charts

A new type of line chart (Line Time Series) is available to plot time series data. The chart automatically scales the X-axis based on the time that has elapsed between data points. The chart requires a single date or date-time data column to be selected on the X-axis. It has a single Y-axis, but supports multiple data series. There are several formatting restrictions for this chart type.


New line time series chart, click to enlarge

Support for Oracle WebLogic Server 10.x. (formerly known as BEA WebLogic Server)

You can use Oracle BI EE and Oracle BI Publisher with the Oracle WebLogic Server

New Sample Oracle BI Application and Data Set

A new sample Oracle BI application and data set called "Sample Sales" has been designed to better and more fully illustrate the capabilities of Oracle BI 10.1.3.4. It showcases presentation (Answers formula building, resentation Variables, Filtering, Layouts, Navigations, and so on) and modeling techniques. The content is designed to demonstrate as much as possible of OBI EE capabilities and is primarily meant to help customers who want examples and templates to extract ideas from. This new set is meant to replace the former Paint sample content. The new Sample Sales application includes numerous reports organized in 20 dashboard pages around the following:

  • Rankings and Toppers
  • Trends and History
  • Tiering and Distribution
  • Detailed Reports
  • Lists and Segmentation (Marketing)

Particularly nice features of the new sample application are the detailed help and the good quality of sample data. I am also positively surprised about the presence of marketing metadata, because the marketing segmentation functionality is something that probably only a few people using Siebel Marketing are aware of, yet it can be used standalone as well.


Sample Sales comes with a detailed online help, click to enlarge.


The Rankings and Toppers dashboard of the new sample sales application


Marketing Segmentation: Prompted Segmentation and Contact Planning Rules

The segment designer now supports the "is prompted" operator as filter criteria which enables passing of values (such as a list of customer Ids) into the segment, thus enabling dynamic segments for so-called event triggered campaigns (also referred to as inbound campaigns).

Contact planning rules allow a company to place volume, frequency and recency rules on all forms of communication across customer, channel, and program dimensions. Rules are created as special segments which act as a filter for other segments.



Segment Tree Designer


New Features for Oracle BI Publisher

Besides the integration with EPM and Smart Space, which we have discussed above, there are the following notable new features for BI Publisher:

Support for multidimensional data sources

Oracle BI Publisher can now access the following multidimensional data sources:

  • Oracle's Hyperion Essbase
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and 2005 Analysis Service
  • SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW)

as Venkatakrishnan already described in his blog, do not expect more than the possibility to enter an MDX query.

Expanded web service

The web service PublicReportService has been expanded to support more operations.

"After Report" Triggers

BI Publisher now provides the ability to set up an HTTP notification as part of the report schedule. When the report completes, BI Publisher will send a notification to a designated URL, along with the report job information. A remote application can use this information in conjunction with the BI Publisher APIs and Web services to access the job details, including the report output and XML data to enable third-party postprocessing of the report.

BI Publisher accepts Web services that return complex data types

In previous releases, BI Publisher could accept only simple Web services that returned simple data types, such as string and Boolean. The Web service data source user interface has been enhanced so that once you provide the WSDL, BI Publisher presents you with the list of Web services that are available from the WSDL, the methods available within the selected service, and the required parameters for the selected method.


First test for the extended wsdl support using a wsdl from Siebel looks good.

Enhanced Analyzer for Excel

The new property "Disable Client Access from Analyzer for Excel" enables you to control the method used to download data to Microsoft Excel at the report level.

Enhanced Template Builder

The Template Builder for Microsoft Word has these enhancements

  • page break support
  • support for additional chart types (Combination, Scatter, Bubble, Stock)
  • more properties supported for charts
  • support for multiple measures in charts
  • enhanced crosstab features (Totals, Formatting)

New Features for Oracle Business Intelligence for Microsoft Office


Several enhancements were made to the BI Office plugin. Click to enlarge.

Ability to enable logging

You can enable logging in the BI Office Add-in on the Advanced tab of the Preferences dialog. Log messages are written in an HTML format to files in the BI Office Add-in installation folder.

Enhanced BI Catalog Task Pane

Chart views in the BI Catalog are identified by a chart type icon that is specific to that chart type. There are icons for bar, area, horizontal bar, line, line-bar combo, pareto, pie, and scatter chart types.

Ability to preserve Excel conditional formatting during refreshes

The BI Office Add-in can preserve any conditional formatting on data that you define using Microsoft Excel functionality.

Support for gauge and funnel views

You can add gauge views to Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel documents. The gauge view is available for insertion as Image and Flash (PowerPoint only). You can add funnel views to PowerPoint and Excel documents. The funnel view is available for insertion from the BI Catalog as an image in both Excel and PowerPoint.

Edit prompts and levels after insert

When you insert a view in an Excel or PowerPoint document, you can edit or change the levels or prompts for that view

Enhanced prompts selection interface

Support for prompts has been enhanced to provide the following prompt properties that are available in Answers:

  • Multi-selection of values
  • Search for prompt values
  • Shuttle UI for selecting multiple values
  • Cascading prompts where the value of one prompt limits the values available in a subsequent prompt
  • Skip prompts
  • Enter ranges of values
Support for grand totals in table views

Support for inserting BI Answers request views to Excel and PowerPoint that have been constructed using Set operations

BI Office supports inserting BI Answers request views to Excel and PowerPoint that have been constructed using Set operations. Set operations combine results from two or more requests into a single request. The request can be constructed using any of the following Set operations: Union, Union All, Intersect, or Minus.

Server Independence

Views inserted in Excel and PowerPoint documents by the BI Office Add-in connected to one server can now be refreshed by connecting BI Office against a different server, as long as the view definitions are the same.

Transparent compression of results

New settings have been added in the BI Office Server configuration file that allow an administrator to specify whether compression of results should take place before they are transmitted to the BI Office client, and to specify the minimum size of the result set beyond which the results should be compressed.

Support for NT Lan Manager (NTLM) Authentication Protocol for Microsoft Windows

BI Office connections that run on supported Windows client operating systems that use Active Directory as the LDAP server for Windows authentication can now connect to Oracle BI Enterprise Edition without requiring the user to enter a user name and password, provided that Oracle BI EE is configured to authenticate against the same Active Directory server.

DAC (Data Warehouse Administration Console) 10.1.3.4

I was surprised to find a standalone installer for the DAC on the download page. Typically the DAC is installed and used together with Oracle BI Applications (current version 7.9.5) and is used to orchestrate the ETL processing. The user guide reveals many new and interesting features. The new DAC Client comes with a nice online help and tutorial(!).


DAC login dialog with online help

These are new features of DAC 10.1.3.4:

User Management

The User Management feature enables you to create and manage user accounts. Three roles are available with different depth of privileges: Administrator, Developer, and Operator.

DAC Repository Database Authentication File

Upon logging into DAC for the first time, the DAC Repository Database Authentication File authenticates the database in which the repository resides. When you configure a connection to the DAC Repository, the configuration process includes creating a new authentication file or selecting an existing authentication file. The authentication file authenticates the database in which the repository resides. A user with the administrator role must distribute the authentication file to any user account that needs to access
the specified DAC Repository.

Multi-Source Execution Plans

There are two types of multi-source execution plans:

Homogeneous
This type of execution plan extracts data from multiple instances of the same source system. For example, a business might have an instance of Oracle EBS 11i in one location and time zone and another instance of Oracle EBS 11i in another location and time zone.

Heterogeneous
This type of execution plan extracts data from one or more instances of dissimilar source systems. For example, a business might have an instance of Siebel 7.8 in one location, an instance of Oracle EBS 11i in another location, and a second instance of Oracle EBS 11i in yet a third location. You can also stagger the timing of data extraction when you use this type of execution plan.

Repository Audit Trail

The menu option DAC Repository Management > Repository Audit Trail enables you to access the Repository Audit Trail, which stores information about users, machine IP addresses, and repository timestamps.

Actions Feature

Provides a flexible way to drop and create indexes, truncate and analyze tables, and define SQL scripts to enhance task behaviors. The Actions feature enables you to define and run SQL scripts to carry out various actions in relation to indexes, tables, and tasks.

Upgrade/Merge Wizard

Probably one of the most desired enhancements is the possibility to upgrade an existing DAC repository, even from Siebel Analytics 7.8.4. Previously, upgrading the DAC repository from 7.8.4 to 7.9 meant hard manual labour. The wizard can also be used to merge a development repository with a production repository of the same version, this being a feature that has been there in 7.8 but was missing in 7.9.


New installer for the DAC, note the Fusion Business Intelligence logo.

Phew, this was a big one, let me now have a break and if time allows post some details on these features later.

have fun

@lex

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The intention of this blog is to share findings about Siebel CRM and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (Oracle BI EE formerly known as Siebel Analytics) from technical and other (sometimes unprecedented) perspectives.

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