OOW19 Review: Oracle Analytics Deep Dive

In my previous blog I outlined the global news regarding Oracle like the Always Free Tier, the new datacenter plan and the set of new tools for Data Science. Today's blog is dedicated to all the news announced regarding Oracle Analytics in any of the versions: Cloud, Server or Applications.

Oracle Analytics Server

OAS is the long awaited replacement of OBIEE 12c on-premises and promises  functional parity with OAC. Current official ETA is Fiscal Year 2020 and it will be available to customers as a free upgrade. With OAS all customers still on-premises will experience the following benefits:

  • Almost 1-1 feature with OAC
  • Complete compatibility with OAC
  • Simplified cloud migration and better support for hybrid deployments

A related announcement for on-premises customers regards licensing: there is only a single license to purchase OAS which includes all features within it, no separate option for Mobile or Self-Service Data Visualization needed!

Oracle Analytics for Application

This represents the new incarnation of BIApps, completely redesigned specifically for Fusion Apps. As his predecessor, OAX (this is the acronym) it's a packaged, ready-to-use solution with pre-built ETLs and Analytics content like RPD, dashboards, analysis, KPIs. Under the covers uses Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse and Oracle Data Integrator Cloud. OAX is also extendible, by bringing additional datasets in ADW and extending the semantic model and catalog.

Oracle Analytics Cloud

Several enhancements were announced, especially during Gabby Rubin's (VP of Oracle Analytics Product Management) Strategy & Roadmap Session. New features will be available in most of the areas of the tool, including the core of the centralized reporting: the RPD.

Data Preparation

New options will be available in the Data Preparation/Enrichment phase such as:

  • Custom Enrichments based on pre-existing set of values. E.g. enriching PRODUCT_ID with fields coming from a standard Product dimension. This is an interesting idea to enable standardization of dimensions across reporting without forcing people to write SQL or to know where the standard information is coming from.
  • Force Enrichments/Masking: as Administrators, we could enforce some transformations like the credit card obfuscation of fields that may contain sensitive data.

Natural Language Generation

The Natural Language view is already present in the current version of OAC, there is a plan to enhance this visualization by adding more options in the settings panel for grouping and trending analysis.

Spatial Analytics in OAC

A few weeks ago I wrote about Oracle Spatial Studio, a tool designed to provide advanced visual Spatial Analytics. This tool will remain and progress over time, OAC will not cover all the specific use-cases of Spatial Studio. However OAC will enhance its spatial capabilities, like:

  • Providing accurate information about row geo-location: e.g. how many rows were correctly located, how may errors and menus to fix value to location association.
  • Provide spatial functions in the front-end: an end-user will be easily able to calculate the distance between points in a map by writing a simple Logical SQL statement. This option will probably appear on the RPD first (check the twitter thread below)

As you can see, calculating the distance will be just a matter of having the correct dataset and writing a GeometryDistance function.

Connectivity and Security

One of OAC's missions is to become the Analytics Platform on top of any type of datasource. The plan in the future is to expand the list of connectors and security/configuration options like SSL or Kerberos. There is also a roadmap to extend the Data Gateway capabilities to query non-oracle databases.

Modeling capabilities

In OAC we were used to either the classic RPD approach or the self-service Data-Sets. The future reserves some news in both approaches:

  • A new cloud web-based Modeler with the objective of functional parity with the Admintool, so capable of handling more complex designs that the current light data-modeler. I believe this will be also an effort to adapt the RPD development process to the current standards of concurrent development, versioning and storage format.
  • A new Self Service Data Model solution to build light self service models allowing end-users to evolve datasets into proper models sharable and optimized for reporting.

I like the idea of allowing both top-down (centralized) as well as bottom-up (self-service) approach to data modeling. This provides clients the flexibility on the analytical approach while still allowing to enforce centralized rules  (e.g. unique source of truth) when needed.

Unified User Experience and Layout Customizations

As of now the old "Answers and Dashboards" and the new "Data Visualization Projects" were almost completely separated products with each one having its own home page and layout. In the next releases we'll see that the two worlds will start combining, with a unique home and a similar look and feel.

In other news, highly requested by end-users is the possibility of customize almost any option of the layout: from font type and size to colors of any object visible in a project.

Machine Learning Integration

As discussed in the previous OOW review post in the future OAC will be able to use models built in other tools like Oracle Machine Learning in the Autonomous Data Warehouse or Oracle Data Science. This provides an end-to-end Data Science story from Data Analyst to Data Scientist all with a simple, secure, highly configurable and performant toolset.

As you can see a lot of news coming in various aspects of the tool, from on-premise functional parity, a new packaged solution for Fusion Apps and a lot of features enhancing OAC functionality and customization options.

What do you think? Is this the right direction? Do you feel there is something missing?

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