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Many customers using Oracle’s E-Business Suite, Siebel CRM, PeopleSoft an JD Edwards ERP suites see the benefits in the “packaged analytics” approach used by the Oracle BI Applications, but don’t wish to invest in Informatica PowerCenter as the BI Applications’ embedded ETL tool. The long-awaited 11.1.1.7.1 release of the Oracle BI Applications became generally available (“GA”) in May 2013,  giving customers a new option to deploy Oracle’s packaged analytic applications using a simplified “All Oracle” architecture based around Oracle Data Integrator 11g. Along with new tools and utilities to speed deployment and reduce the total cost of ownership, and support for E-Business Suite, Siebel, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards sources, this next-generation BI Applications release is the ideal way for new Oracle BI customers to rapidly deploy packaged business analytics within their organisation – and Rittman Mead are here to ensure your initial implementation is on the “fast track” to success.

What’s New in Oracle BI Applications 11.1.1.7.1?

Along with the option to now use Oracle Data Integrator 11g as the embedded ETL tool, this new release delivers a whole new product architecture along with new dashboards, new content, and a new security framework. In addition, there’s now an option to use Oracle GoldenGate to create a new layer in the BI Apps data warehouse data architecture that replicates source data into the warehouse environment, giving you the ability to run the more large-scale ETL processes when you like, rather than when there’s an ETL window for the source systems.

At a high-level Oracle BI Applications 11.1.1.7.1 delivers the following set of new features and capabilities:

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  • New content for existing analytic applications including Financial Analytics, HR, Projects, CRM and Procurement & Spend
  • Dashboards that are now written for OBIEE 11g rather than 10g, including 11.1.1.7 visualisations such as performance tiles, as shown in the screenshots below

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What is Oracle Data Integrator 11g, and how is it Different to the Existing Informatica PowerCenter Embedded ETL tool?

Whilst Informatica PowerCenter is an excellent, enterprise-quality ETL tool, we have found organisations have often held off implementing the Oracle BI Applications for fear of fragmenting their architecture, and as such have failed to gain the benefit from packaged business intelligence solutions. In other cases, organisations have tried to implement customer data warehouses and reporting systems using legacy ETL tools such as Oracle Warehouse Builder, which can often end as time-consuming and producing outputs that lack value.

Oracle Data Integrator is Oracle’s strategic tool for data integration and data warehouse loading, and has for many years been available for use “standalone” as part of Oracle’s Data Integration Suite, and Oracle Fusion Middleware. Using an innovative “ELT”, or “Extract, Load and Transform” approach to data loading, ODI leverages your investment in Oracle Database technology to load and process incoming data, rather than the separate “ETL hub” that Informatica PowerCenter uses that can sometimes lead to a performance bottleneck.

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ODI also integrates in with Oracle’s data quality, change data capture and SOA messaging technologies, and as a 100%-Oracle product delivered by the ODI specialists at Rittman Mead, there’s far more scope than with Informatica for TCO improvements, faster and more efficient data loads, and reuse of skills and technologies across your entire company.

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In this new release of the BI Applcations, ODI load plans replace Informatica Workflows, whilst ODI packages and interfaces equate to Informatica mappings and maplets. The DAC is no more and is replaced by metadata within the ODI repository and other supporting schemas, with setup and configuration of the warehouse and ETL processes now carried out by two web-based tools, BI Applications Configuration Manager and Functional Setup Manager. The closer integration between these tools has made it possible to simplify and streamline the BI Applications setup process, leading to easier configuration and customisations. In addition, you can now use Oracle GoldenGate to “trickle-feed” data updates from your source systems into a what are termed “Source Dependent Schemas”, local copies of relevant data that can then be loaded into the BI Applications data warehouse at a time to suit you, rather than the narrow batch-window provided by your line of business systems.

Why Should I Consider Oracle BI Applications 11g Now?

Many customers have been keen to take advantage of the benefits of the BI Applications, such as faster time-to-deployment and best-practice dashboards, but did not want to invest in a new ETL tool, particularly as Oracle’s long-term aim is to focus on ODI as preferred ETL tool for the BI Applications. Many customers already have skills with ODI, and may already have the product licensed and in-use, and ODI itself is faster to develop new content with, leverages your existing database and middleware investment, and integrates tightly with GoldenGate (for real-time incremental loading across platforms, and into the cloud) and Oracle Enterprise Data Quality (for data profiling and correction).

Oracle BI Applications 11.1.1.7.1 is based on the 11.1.1.7 release of Oracle Business Intelligence, another major new release and one that provides an updated look-and-feel, a raft of new visualisations and user interface improvements, access to Oracle BI Mobile, an embedded Oracle OLAP server, and SmartView, Oracle’s new MS Office integration tool that also works across Hyperion Planning, Financial Management and Oracle Essbase too.

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Implementing the BI Applications using this latest version of Oracle Business Intelligence provides modern, responsive dashboards and query environments that fully up-take Oracle Business Intelligence 11g’s features, whereas earlier releases of the BI Applications use dashboards largely based on 10g-era visuals and query features. Oracle Business Intelligence Applications 11.1.1.7.1 is also fully mobile and Exalytics enabled, providing analytics to your users where-ever they are, at “the speed of thought”.

Now that the enabling 11.1.1.7.1 release of the BI Applications is now available, together with new configuration and management tools to reduce even further the work involved with setting up and managing your system, there’s never been a better time to start deploying analytics and BI dashboards on top of your ERP, CRM and in-house system – and all at low-risk and with build-in support for any upgrades you might make to your Oracle source systems over the subsequent years.

What About Existing BI Applications Customers?

Although, in general terms, BI Apps 11.1.1.7.1 covers most of the existing analytic application modules along with all of the 7.9.x-era sources (EBS, PeopleSoft, JDE and Siebel), there are some important restrictions that you’ll need to be aware of when making any plans to use this new release, starting with upgrade paths (or lack of them):

  • There’s no automatic upgrade path from BI Apps 7.9.x, and no automated migration routine to take you from Informatica to ODI; if you want BI Apps 11.1.1.7.1 now, you’ll have to reimplement rather than upgrade, or you can wait for BI Apps 11.1 PS2 which will support upgrades from earlier releases, but (important to note) keeps you on Informatica – any move from Informatica to ODI will need to be done yourself, as a re-implementation
  • Only Oracle database sources and targets are supported in this initial release, in practice not a real issue for new implementations, but worth bearing in mind if you planned to use Teradata, for example, as your target data warehouse platform
  • Oracle Fusion Applications aren’t supported as a source either, yet, so anyone using this will need to stay on BI Apps 11.1.1.6.x until an upgrade version becomes available
  • A few edge-case analytic applications and sources aren’t supported in this release yet – Enterprise Asset Management, for example, is not yet supported for any source, whereas some other applications only support more recent PeopleSoft versions and not JDE, for example. As always, get the most up-to-date supported sources and applications list from Oracle before making any major investment in an implementation or upgrade project.

For more information on the Oracle BI Applications 11g product roadmap, and when Informatica customers will be able to take advantage of the new content with the 11g release, take a look at our “Looking Towards the BI Apps 11g” blog articles series from the second half of 2012, and keep checking back to our website as more news becomes available.

How Can Rittman Mead Help with your BI Applications 11g Implementation?

Although the Oracle BI Applications provide a packaged set of ETL routines, dashboards and data models, they do require installation, configuration and connecting to your data sources; with the BI Applications themselves either being installed on-premise, or as a managed service “in the cloud”. In addition, almost every BI Applications deployment requires customisation to one extent or another, to bring in or combine additional data sources, deal with data issues or just meet your particular requirements for dashboards and KPIs. Rittman Mead are renown specialists with both Oracle Data Integrator and the Oracle BI Applications, have worked closely with Oracle Corporation over the development of this new release, and are in a unique position to get the maximum value from this new release.

But its not only our technical and product skills that make us the ideal partner for delivering the BI Applications within your organisation. We literally “wrote the book” on Oracle Business Intelligence 11g, and our two Oracle ACE Directors (Mark Rittman, Gurcan Orhan), two Oracle ACEs (Stewart Bryson, Venkat Janakiraman), proven project method and highly-experienced delivery team will ensure you’re on the fast track to Oracle Business Intelligence Applications success.

How Do I Find Out More?

Rittman Mead have offices in the Brighton UK (for EMEA), Atlanta GA (for North America), Banglore and Melbourne, Australia. We’d be pleased to discuss your Oracle BI Applications project with you, provide you with some pointers and guidance, and let you know how our world-wide consulting, managed services and education teams can take away your project risk, and get you up-and-running cheaper, faster and more reliably.

Call us now at (0)8446 697 995 for the UK/EMEA or (888) 631 1410 for the US and Canada, or drop us a line at info@rittmanmead.com, for more details.

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