There is something about sharing stories with others about the technology you love that gets the blood flowing. I have written blog posts and articles, presented sessions at conferences, and recorded podcasts and tech tips about [Oracle Data Integrator](http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/data-integrator/overview/index.html" target="_blank) over the years. And it’s been a blast! But one thing I find is that I’m always drawn to sharing the difficult or overly technical aspects of ODI, often writing about integration with GoldenGate or strange quirks in the product that I’ve had to overcome for my clients. In a sense, that’s why you’re reading, right? The Rittman Mead blog has always been about solving the difficult problems with Oracle technologies and sharing that knowledge in a simple and easy to understand format. But what about a true “getting started” type of article?
I think it’s time for a refresher on Oracle Data Integrator. What is ODI? How has it evolved over the years and where is it going? And, of course, how do you get started with Oracle Data Integrator? I plan to share what I love about ODI and hope to get some folks interested in this great product as well. If you want to learn even more, I’d love to have you join me or one of my colleagues at one of our ODI 12c bootcamps. We’ll dig deep into the details and answer all of your questions about data integration. But until then, let’s get started with a little about where Oracle Data Integrator came from.
History of ODIOracle Data Integrator was the product of an acquisition that Oracle made in late 2006. Back then, Oracle already had a data integration tool for developing ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) mappings, Oracle Warehouse Builder (OWB). At the time, OWB was delivered with the Oracle Database license, which made it the go-to data warehouse development tool for Oracle developers. In October of 2006, Oracle announced that they had acquired a French data integration company called Sunopsis who focused their product on E-LT (Extract, Load, Transform) rather than the traditional ETL.
What did that mean for OWB? The “standard” (and free with the Oracle DB) ETL development platform for Oracle was now in competition with a new product, Oracle Data Integrator. ODI was a separate license cost and resided in the Fusion Middleware stack, outside of the database. As you might imagine, OWB’s days were numbered. With the possibility to sell additional software licenses and the uprising of Fusion Middleware and Fusion Applications (of which ODI was a big part of), eventually [Warehouse Builder was to be merged with Data Integrator](http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/data-integrator/overview/sod-1-134268.pdf" target="_blank).
The data integration product from Sunopsis became Oracle Data Integrator 10g after the acquisition. In August 2010, Oracle made their first updates to ODI with the release of Oracle Data Integrator 11g. This version moved ODI into the framework utilized by other products such as Oracle SQL Developer and JDeveloper, and introduced new features such as the JEE Agent and the ODI Console. While the 11g version was a step up from ODI 10g, it was still not widely regarded as a typical ETL development tool. The concept of Interfaces being a single unit of work for ETL versus the usual flow-based mapping approach found in most ETL tools, including OWB, led to a slower adoption rate. It took several years, but finally Oracle Data Integrator went flow-based with the release of ODI 12c, integrating some of the best features from Oracle Warehouse Builder into the current ODI product. In late 2013, the initial version of ODI 12c was made available to the public. Besides the switch to flow-based mappings, ODI 12c has also included integration with big data sources and targets, lifecycle management capabilities, many performance enhancements, and a migration utility for those moving from OWB.
Now that we’re caught up with that brief history lesson, let’s look at how ODI is able to differentiate itself from competitors.
What Makes ODI Different?**E-LT**
I alluded to Oracle Data Integrator’s use of ELT (Extract, Load, and Transform) earlier, but what does that mean - and why are the letters in the acronym ETL out of order? The main difference is in the architecture.
Oracle Data Integrator is built to pushdown the transformation work to the source or target datasource. This means there is no need for a middle tier ETL engine to perform transformations, as many of the traditional ETL tools employ. In fact, in most implementations the ODI agent, which performs orchestration of the ETL processes, simply sends the code to the target server to be executed. This architecture allows ODI to use the power of the target datasource to execute the transformations. Why waste the processing power of your Oracle Database when it’s built for this type of SQL execution?
The concept behind Knowledge Modules (KMs) is quite simple. In a nutshell, KMs are generic code templates that are applied to an ODI mapping and use a substitution language to input metadata from within the mapping to produce executable code at runtime. If you want to change the physical implementation of your mapping, say switching from an insert-only “append” integration method to an incremental update approach, you can simply switch the Knowledge Module applied to that particular mapping. KMs can even be customized or created from scratch to suit your specific data integration needs, adding to the overall flexibility of the tool.
Customization and Flexibility
The Knowledge Modules are just one aspect of Oracle Data Integrator that can be customized. With KMs, you can change how your mappings are physically implemented allowing for the ultimate flexibility. But it’s not just mappings, an object called a Procedure in ODI will allow any bit of code or command line call to be made using nearly any type of technology: Groovy, Jython, OS commands, Oracle SQL, MySQL, SQL Server…the list goes on and on. The great part about customizing Oracle Data Integrator is that you can make it adapt to your data warehouse - and not the other way around. Too often companies must adopt a “standard” because it is built into the software they use rather than a good business practice. Thankfully, that’s not the case with ODI.
Beyond customization within the Oracle Data Integrator objects, you can also access the application backend via the [ODI SDK Java API](http://docs.oracle.com/middleware/12211/odi/reference-java-api/index.html" target="_blank). With this level of access, you can perform almost every task that can be completed within ODI Studio. Imagine, you need to create 400 source to staging mappings, all one-for-one column mappings. With the ODI SDK, and less than 50 lines of code, you can create them all in about 5 seconds! The power of the SDK is generally found when there is a need for a batch creation or modification of objects. But it’s not only those cases where the SDK shines, you can also perform actions such as automation of code deployment or even create a development quickstart for your standard mappings, all with custom code building ODI objects.
As you might have noticed, I’m a big fan of Oracle Data Integrator 12c. This is just the first of many in the “Oracle Data Integrator 12c: Getting Started” series. Up next, we’ll really look at how to go about getting started with ODI 12c. As always, please feel free to send me an [email](mailto:%firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank) or message on [twitter](https://www.twitter.com/mRainey" target="_blank) - or comment below - if you have any questions. And if I missed your favorite feature of Oracle Data Integrator, please share in the comments!
Oracle Data Integrator 12c: Getting Started series: