Early News on the Oracle BI Apps - Essbase Integrator

I was recently going through the recorded Open World sessions using Oracle Open World on Demand, and came across an interesting session by Alaric Thomas and Mike Nader on the forthcoming Oracle BI Applications to Essbase Integrator. This is a technology project going on within Oracle that aims to deliver integration between the Oracle BI Applications technology stack and the Essbase stack, so that users can for example launch SmartView from a BI Apps dashboard and analyze their data using Essbase.

Listening to the presentation and reading the slides, it's clear that this is a work in progress and there's the usual disclaimers about not being able to make purchasing decisions based on what they say. As this session was a preview and it's at such an early stage, I won't be too specific about what they said, though you can listen to the session in full and download the slides on Open World on Demand, session S308151, if you're interested in the full details. Anyway, here's what was talked about:

The product is called the "Oracle BI Applications Essbase Integrator" and aims to deliver in three areas:

  1. A seamless user experience between the OBIA dashboard and SmartView
  2. Metadata sychronization between the BI Apps RPD and the Essbase Outline
  3. An Extension to BI Apps Financial Analytics and Supply Chain/Order Analytics

Looking at the demo screenshots, the way that this would be delivered would be through additional narrative views on the BI Apps dashboard (the platform targeted is Oracle BI EE, BI Apps 7.9.6 and Essbase 11.1.1) that would provide drop-down menus linking to SmartView analyses. When the menu item is selected, SmartView would be contacted (via the OracleSV protocol that Venkat blogged about here) with context being passed from OBI Apps to Essbase. Dimensions would be on the correct axes, security would be honoured and the user should not have to do anything to maintain their train of thought.

The way that data and metadata would work, is that the BI Apps RPD would be used as the initial data definition for the Essbase cube. The BI Apps RPD would be read and parsed, with data being extracted via UDML and then loaded into a Fusion Middleware MDS repository that stores an abstracted data model for the two systems. This would then be used to generate an Essbase outline along with the neccessary SQL scripts to extract data via the BI Apps RPD. Then, a similar process would work over time to keep the Essbase cube in sync with the BI Apps RPD, but preserving user changes to the Essbase cube so that models and other Essbase-specific analyses are preserved during updates. There is quite a sophisticated process at work here with bi-directional synchronization between the two products, from what I can see it doesn't use Essbase Studio but instead relies on custom data and metadata loaders.

An area that appears to have had significant thought is how to apply OBI data filters, aggregations and calculations to the Essbase cube. OBI filters are essentially predicate based - filter products on "electrical", for example - whereas Essbase ones are hierarchical, whilst OBI calculations are in SQL whilst Essbase ones are in MDX. OBI aggregations are also transferred 100% to Essbase, and the whole thing is aimed at the current set of BI Apps and Essbase products together with EBS rather than being reliant on the Fusion (11g) generation of products.

So, I won't say any more as this session was the first public unveiling of the product, but as I said if you have Oracle Open World on Demand access you can listen to the presentation and see the slides for more details. I'll be trying to get Alaric across to ODTUG Kaleidoscope later in 2010 to see if he can demo this later in the year, but if like us you're a user of both the BI Apps and Essbase, this sounds like an interesting development.