Analytics Server, Data Visualization, OAS, OBI, obiee

I’ve had quite some feedback and reactions on this post over various channels on the last days. I’ll leave the original post as it is so you can read through it, but here are the most important takeaways of the back and forth behind the scenes:

a) Reminder: Deprecated doesn’t mean dead. Otherwise I would have said “dead”
b) Oracle reassured me that they won’t just kill a feature without thinking about proposing a replacement
c) They’re probably going to spell all of this out more explicitly in the documentation
d) Thinking about the support lifecycle of Oracle products each new release means commencing a 12 months grace period for the “now old” version. For something like OAS with yearly releases we can therefore expect a roughly 24months-long timeframe in which we get warned about a feature change in V1 (month 0), then V2 comes along and the feature goes away (month 12) and by month 24 we have to move away from V1 and lose the feature/replace them with something else/do it differently/…. Note that this is a hypothetical case. I’m not saying these features ARE going away by V2 of OAS.

And that’s it for the update. Huge thanks for the amazing reactivity of the Oracle Product Management team and Partner Management as well as everybody out there who bombarded me with messages over just about every conceivable channel.

Data Set, OAS

The new OAC 5.5 release hit us a couple of days ago. After moving over all my existing things from 5.4 to 5.5 via snapshots I realized that while my existing data sets were working in projects I couldn’t re-work them anymore using “Open”. They all throw a “General Error” and stop working.


This was happening for all data sets. XLS sheet bsaed as well as sets pulled from ADW, on-premises data sources etc. It also made no difference whether any modification scripts were being applied or not.

I am being told that this will be patched in the very near future but until then, there is a manual workaround which will allow you to continue working with your existing data sets that you created using earlier versions of OAC:

  1. Create a new project from the data set:

2. Click on “Prepare”:

3. Here you will again get the General Error which you click away with “Ok”:

4. Click on the menu in the bottom bar or right-click on the data set name and choose “Profile”:

5. You will get yet another General error. Just click “Ok” and ignore it.

6. Do NOT click “Save” now! Just exit the data set:

7. Go back to the list of data sets and open your data set again:

8. Voila, your data set is fine again. Rinse and repeat for your others:

Many thanks to the Product Management team for their quick help on this – Philippe, Mike, Luis, Adam, Pravin and Bret! Hope I didn’t forget anyone 🙂

Edit: Obviously I forgot someone. D’oh

12c, Analytics Server, Data Visualization, OAS, obiee

With last Friday’s release of Oracle Analytics Server and Gianni beating just about everybody to a first write-up on how to get it running (after getting the correct versions first) I thought it would be time for a real-world reality check of this newest incarnation of the Oracle Analytics family for on-premises clients.

OAS it the gateway to OAC with pretty much seamless moving from OAS to OAC or deploying things both on-premises and in-cloud in a hybrid setup. New features galore but in turn a dependency on assuring that on-premises is built in a way that they can be moved to the cloud easily. More on this in a moment.

This release is aimed at lifting existing OBIEE customers on par with OAC in terms of functionalities. Customers who for whatever reason do not want or can not move to the cloud. A decision which is valid in and of itself as not everything or everybody has to go to the cloud.

Many functionalities of OAS which weren’t available on-premises so far at all and/or were tied to additional licensing costs are given to customers with existing licenses – for free. Now I have to say it fulfills this bit more than well. To say that Oracle was generous in scooping ladles of additional stuff into it is an understatement.

You can see a full list off features differences here.

However….

HOWEVER the huge issue I see is precisely that list of feature differences combined with the fact that most OBIEE customers have systems that are running since years, are very mature, HIGHLY integrated into their other business-critical systems and their business processes. You know…the things companies actually use to make money. Sadly almost all existing things that aren’t fancy eye-candy for executives but make a solution successful and workable are marked as “deprecated” which translates to:

“Deprecated: Deprecated features won’t be enhanced in the future but are supported for the full life of the Oracle Analytics Server 5.5.x release. Where indicated, a deprecated feature might be desupported in a future, major release. “

  • Oracle Marketing Segmentation – Well isn’t that a major punch below the belt line. Using analytics as the marketing engine for Siebel was half the reason Siebel bought nQuire in the first place. Getting rid of said segmentation engine for Siebel Marketing and drop the related functionality may cause existing customers to both leave both Analytics and Siebel. One stone, two birds. Sadly not the good kind of kill.
  • Flat Files and XML-based Data Sources – Having this in DV is fine, but confining its use to data sets and no longer have the ability to model it properly into corporate data structures? A step back since you simply do not have the same level of integration and access control in terms of detailed row-level filtering and even attribute filtering/masking anymore.
  • Session Personalization using System Session Variables – Now this is just silly. It seems that nobody ever went through any RPD of clients with thousands of users in worldwide implementations and went “Oh hey they are actually using this to make the system react more dynamically without hard-coding 5 gazillion things!”.
  • Act As Another User – Again how can anybody who worked more than 2 weeks on any real life project consider this a candidate to be deprecated? Ever had to Act As another user around the globe to see his data or pick up his slack or troubleshoot? Can you imagine that not every business user is ok with planning a meeting to screen-share with you because they have more important things to do like running the business? Thought not.
  • Database Storage for User Group Memberships – The absolute kicker. This takes the cake (with cream and cherry on top). Like deprecating Marketing Segmentation but taken to the extreme. Customers using other Oracle applications and leveraging what they have already implemented there to help secure and control analytics from a functional, content and data access control perspective are being left out in the cold.

I love OAC and what it has done to the product line and brought to the cloud line-up. But OAS? With that feature list? Well I only hope somebody realizes that it may not be a good idea to completely disregard the existing and blindly chase after buzzwords when compiling the list of things to remain in the product.

Bet on the future and continue developing things in that direction but please don’t sacrifice the existing things on the altar of the new. Especially if the reason is just “because reasons”.

Autonomous Datawarehouse, Chatbots, conference, Data Analytics, Data Engineering, Data Visualization, ITOUG, Machine Learning, Oracle Analytics Cloud, ta Visualization

Check out my latest post over on the ITOUG site on the Data Analytics track at the upcoming events in Milan and Rome, end of January 2020!

https://itoug.it/blog/2019/12/itoug2020-introducing-the-anayltics-big-data-track/

@IT_OUG @oracleace @OracleAnalytics @daanbakboord @SpatialHannes @brendantierney @mikedurran @FTisiot @G_Ceresa @ElffarAnalytics @ChandlerDBA

11g, 12c, 19c, admin, obiee, security, standard configuration

Many times I come across posts and emails asking for help on specific configuration changes or questions asking for help achieving certain things.

Long story short – you can over-complicate everything if you don’t look at what the standard gives you efore going off and hacking / scripting things in an uncontrolled fashion that will come back to haunt you when you patch or upgrade.

Case in point: Implementing new, custom links which should react to standard security privileges.

As in: Adding a link is documented by Oracle, but how can you make this link react to standard privileges which are tied to your Application Roles?

Oracle provides the out-of-the-box functionality of custom links since several years with all the usual bells and whistles. Problem is, that by far not all options are documented in detail with examples. Top tip here: guess what you will never have everything in the documentation, so the important thing is where to look for more information.

Enter the XSD! Every configuration XML comes with an accompagning XSD style sheet which maps all elements and attributes that the XML supports. Find that XSD and you have all the documentation you could ever want. Following the example of making links dependent on OOTB security privileges:


Here we see one of our administrators (prodney) logged in and seeing two custom links rendered. The “SampleApp V607 Index” and the “Custom Link” which is a link to the documentation. Now we don’t want non-admin users to be able to access the documentation link. So how do we go about this?

The customlinks.xml controls the rendering of custom links as described in the official documentation: https://docs.oracle.com/middleware/bi12214/biee/BIESG/GUID-FF6954BA-2DE0-4422-BA58-05F32936F4FF.htm#BIESG3738

That XML file itself is goverened by the customlinks.xsd file. In there we find the following information on the privilege usage:

<xs:attribute name="id" type="xs:string" use="required" />
<xs:attribute name="iconSmall" type="xs:string" use="optional" />
<xs:attribute name="privilege" type="xs:string" use="optional" />
<xs:attribute name="src" type="xs:string" use="optional" />

Now let’s look back at the documentation and an

<link id="l1" name="OTN" description="OTN open in new window" src="http://www.oracle.com" target="blank" >
   <locations>
      <location name="header" />
   </locations>
</link>

My customlinks.xml says the following for the “Custom Link” one:

<link id="l2" name="Custom Link" description="Instructions on how to insert a custom URL on OBI EE headers" src="http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E23943_01/bi.1111/e10541/answersconfigset.htm#BIESG3738" target="blank" iconSmall="common/info_ena.png">
    <locations>
        <location name="header" insertBefore="home"/>
    </locations>
</link>

Nice. Now let’s add 1 and 1.

“id” and “source” are both attributed of “link” just like privileges which gives us the necessary indication of how to use it.

<link id="l1" name="SampleApp OTN Page"  [skipped...] privilege=" hmm what goes here=?! ">

For the content of the “privilege” attribute we simply refer back to the documentation again:

<link id="l1" name="SampleApp OTN Page"  [skipped...] privilege="privileges.Access['Global Admin']">

Which puts the whole entry in the customlinks.xml to this:

<link id="l2" name="Custom Link" description="Instructions on how to insert a custom URL on OBI EE headers" src="http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E23943_01/bi.1111/e10541/answersconfigset.htm#BIESG3738" target="blank" iconSmall="common/info_ena.png" privilege="privileges.Access['Global Admin']>
    <locations>
        <location name="header" insertBefore="home"/>
    </locations>
</link>

Restarting things will now give me the same resutl for my administrative user “prodney”:

And the correctly secured result for my non-admin user “testuser01”:

Piece of cake.

Uncategorized

If you’re into cloud, analytics, data and everything around then join us for the second Oracle Analytics meetup which we’ll be hosting on the 20th of September 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Click here to register!

1) Graph Databases and Graph Analytics: the new weapon of Business Analytics

Graphs are around for ages, for many it’s a bunch of mathematical theories, for others some kind of highly specialized engines. In reality almost any kind of information can easily be represented as a graph, and a graph can have various advantages over a relational approach to data and analysis.

2) Oracle Analytics Cloud New Features

What has changed, what is new in Oracle Analytics Cloud? We will look at the major changes in the 5th big release of OAC – 18.3.3. Main areas cover data flows, data preparation, visualization, sources, BI Publisher and Essbase.

3) Machine Learning Alleviates ‘Blank Canvas’ Syndrome

For an artist or a writer, a completely blank canvas might inspire the next Rembrandt masterpiece or Pulitzer Prize winner. For a business manager performing data analytics, a blank canvas might cause extreme terror. Discover how to use Oracle Analytics Cloud to avoid ‘Blank Canvas’ Syndrome with Machine Learning and find trends that will help you improve your decision-making.

installation, OBI, obiee, OTN, sampleapp

Every week between OTN, stackoverflow, and direct questions sent to my email accounts there are 2-4 occurrences of “How do I install OBI on Windows 7/8/10” or “I am having issues with installing OBI on Windows”.

In order to clear up this topic once and for all – here is the ultimate guide to running Oracle BI on your Windows desktop OS:

  1. Download VirtualBox

  2. Install VirtualBox on your machine

  3. Download all image files for the Oracle BI Sample Application
  4. Deploy the VM in your local VirtualBox installation according to the Deployment Guide
  5. Start your deplyoed SampleAppVM via your VirtualBox Manager

  6. Use the “Start” icon to start both the database and the full Oracle BI stack inside the VM

  7. Let the script run its course until all services are up and the leave that terminal window open

  8. Open Firefox inside the VM and click the “OBIEE Login” bookmark

  9. Log on using “weblogic” / “Admin123” (without the quotes)
  10. You’re in. You’re done. That’s it. You have a fully functioning OBI environment with about 5 gazillion more things compared to what you could ever come up with yourself.

Now it you haven’t stopped reading yet because you thought “Hey wait this isn’t a Windows installation” let me explain a couple of things:

Point #1: Oracle BI is a server tool. It isn’t your WhatsApp desktop, it isn’t your Chrome/Firefox/Safari. It’s actually a whole range of servers and as such not something you run on a desktop operating system. And because of that:

Point #2: It is NOT supported on Windows desktop operating systems!
If you go to the Fusion Middleware Supported System Configurations page and open the certification matrix for the current 12.2.1.2.0 version you will find that the only mention of anything “Windows” are 2012 and 2012R2:

No 10, no 8, no 7, no ME, no XP, no 98, no 3.1 … you get the point. No. Desktop. OSs.

Point #3: That means that Oracle will never bother to test things fully or help you out if you mess up things or can’t get something to run because you installed on a Windows desktop OS. You’re on your own.

Point #4: Even if you make it run or clamour “But I’ve seen tons of videos where” it works like someone recently did – I don’t care and neither will Oracle in terms of their product development or support. Sooner or later you will run into follow-up issues and scratch you head and go mad because things just don’t work or not as expected / in a weird fashion.

People this is how technology works. An Android app is an Android app and not usable on iPhone unless the company making it actually releases an iPhone app. Ask any iPhone user and gamer how they felt between the Android release of Pokemon GO and the iPhone release last year.

To use another example: You shouldn’t fill up a diesel-engined car with petrol just because you always took petrol from the pump or whatever unvalid reason you can conjure up. Well you can but don’t complain afterwards that your engine is busted

Got it now? Thanks!

oracleace, OTN

If you’re following me on twitter you’ll know that I’ve been travelling and conferencing quite a bit this year. Someone I kept running into was Ms @oracleace herself: Jennifer Nicholson. For those of you who don’t know her – she’s our ACE mom 🙂 Translation: she runs the ACE program. She organizes the ACED travels. She actually reads all our endless reply-all email chains to the different ACE lists (seriously guys – STOP IT!) and replies in no time flat. She handles nominations/applications. As I said – she’s our mom.

To give you an idea of how much she supports us all around the globe and not just administratively: while I rocked up at DOAG in November after a central european trip through 4 countries she came there after a multi-week continent-hopping convering China and India amongst other places. Still she did the DOAG and after just two weeks back in the US flew over to Europe again for UKOUG. Respect.
Having her on site is always a rallying point for the ACEs participating in these events as well as a point of contact for other people interested in it.


Another thing I’d like to say out loud on here for once – and only once I will not get into this discussion again – is that I want to congratulate her on and thank her for the calm and professional way she has managed the recent restructuring of the ACE program and the ensuing nigh-revolt thunderstorm!

Thank you, Jennifer!

To all other ACEs out there: Please don’t be whining divas bordering or obnoxious bitchiness!