OTN Appreciation Day : OBIEE's BI Server

Oracle Technology Network (OTN) is one you'll be familiar with if you do anything with Oracle software, from downloading the installers, reading the documentation, using the online forums, 2 Minute Tech Tip videos, whitepapers, and much more!. Tim Hall (a.k.a. Oracle Base) blogged recently about a fun idea to recognise and show appreciation from the Oracle community for OTN. Across the world bloggers throughout the Oracle community will today be posting short articles about their favourite product features.

My favourite is OBIEE, and specifically the BI Server, or OBIS, or nqsserver as geeks come to lovingly know it. OBIEE's front end capabilities have taken leaps forward in recent years with the DV product line, but where OBIEE has never been caught lacking is in its super-powerful data modelling, query handling, and federation capabilities.

How cool is it that you can build a model of your business' data just once, and then iteratively develop the physical source of that data as needed? Maybe you start off directly against a source transactional system in order to deliver results to the business immediately. From that you can then evolve towards a physical star schema as performance or maintenance needs dictate. In all of this though, your reports remain the same, and your logical model remains the same. All you do is remap the physical. This is so powerful! It's something that my former Rittman Mead colleague Stewart Bryson wrote about here if you want to read more.

So that's modelling ... what about query handling? Sure, sometimes the "black box" that is OBIEE frustrates the heck out of technical users such as DBAs in how it generates queries. But the mind boggles when one realises what OBIEE can do as part of its standard functionality:

  • Pick the most appropriate aggregate table to query against, without the end-user having to request it
  • Query data from multiple databases, and return it to the end-user as a single analysis/report
  • Query data from databases with limited analytical capabilities, and perform the required analytical functions
    • And yes, this is a double-edged sword, because when used incorrectly OBIEE may do this when the database should...
  • Query data from any JDBC or ODBC source!
  • Query from any Excel file
    • Stretching "OBIS" a bit here, as the datasetsvc is actually what makes this possible... ;)

So here's to another ~15 years of nqsserver, and here's to Oracle Tech Network. Cheers 🍻!