Working with OBIEE in Birmingham, and plans for the BI Apps

I've just arrived in Birmingham to be ready for a week of OBIEE data modeling for one of our clients up here. They have built an application that now needs some reports added, they've gone for OBIEE and my job is to create the logical model, map it on to their OLTP database, add security and so forth and get it ready for the reports. It's going to be an interesting task as the data as it stands may or may not be suitable for transforming into a dimensional model, so we may need a bit of OWB to shape and integrate the data before it's ready for importing. What I'm going to try and do is update the blog over the next few days with the techniques that I use (sort of a "prototype methodology", something I've been planning to do for a while), using some of the sample data on my laptop to illustrate the process I'm using. Let's see how it goes.

It's interesting being up here in Birmingham for a reason other than the UKOUG conference - I've been up here a few times since last December for various client visits, this time though I'm here for a few days and staying in Jury's Inn, the hotel we all stayed in for the last conference. Outside it's snowing though Broad Street looks as busy and manic as usual, I may even pop around to one of the bars around Brindley Place one evening just for a bit of UKOUG meetup nostalgia.

The other thing I've been working on is moving all my Oracle BI software on to a new virtual machine based around VMWare, as opposed to Parallels which I've been using ever since getting a Mac (VMWare is our company standard). One thing I would also like to get up and running in this new environment is the Oracle BI Apps, which like OBIEE you can download in full from edelivery.oracle.com; I'm keen to see how the BI Apps dimensional model fits together, how the DAC works and how Informatica gets data in to the warehouse, and whilst I could do this using the "BIC2G" demo environment that's available to partners, installing and configuring it yourself always gives you a bit more insight into how it all works.

One slight issue that I think I'm going to have is that, of course, I'll need an ERP system to extract data from, Oracle e-Business Suite is the obvious candidate but it's no small install - last time I looked it was around 33Gb worth of software, which means I'll probably have to create another VM to put this in and of course go through all the install steps, but at least I should then have the Vision demo instance to use as a data source (these blog postings seem to suggest it's possible and not too tricky a task, once you've managed to download all the disks).

The other thing I considered was one of these "E-Business Suite in a box" setups that gives you 11i on a Mini-ITX server, this would probably be a whole lot easier but I'm not sure if I can justify dropping £600 or so on it. Any other suggestions (such as somewhere I can download a VMWare VM with e-Business Suite already installed) would be gratefully appreciated.

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