Friday, June 23, 2006

Winter Corp's Spotlight on Oracle White Paper

Analyst papers don't get any better than this!
Winter Corp has published a white paper titled "Spotlight on Oracle - Key Findings from the 2005 WinterCorp Top Ten Program", which measured the world's largest databases. The report can be downloaded from Oracle.com here.

Some of the highlights of the paper are:
  • The largest data warehouse runs on Oracle
  • The largest scientific data warehouse runs on Oracle
  • It is unlikely that any database vendor's product is as omnipresent as Oracle in the VLDB arena
  • In both the 2003 and 2005 TopTen surveys, all ten databases in the UNIX OLTP workload category run Oracle
  • Oracle is the only database with a showing in the survey, and a strong one at that, across UnIX, Windows, and Linux platforms
  • Nine of the ten largest UNIX OLTP systems run Oracle


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Upcoming BI releases

Got hold of shiphomes being used by QA for testing and installed them on my machine. One is the Oracle BI Standard Edition, which includes Discoverer, Discoverer OLAP, the Spreadsheet Add-In, and more, while the Enterprise Edition includes the Siebel based Analytic Server components like Answers, Dashboard, Delivers, and more. This release also has many, many enhancements that had been in the works from last year. Next month and as we get sooner to the release, I shall start posting on the install and OOTB experience. If there are specific things that people would like to see screenshots of or have me write about do let me know. Also, there is a lot of collateral, demos, white papers that are being prepared, so expect a lot of information to flow your way closer to the release date.

I now have Oracle BI 10g (10.1.2) - infrastructure and middle-tier, the latest shiphomes of BI SE and EE (10.1.3), XML Publisher, an Oracle 10.2 database, a non-Oracle database, and more on the same machine, which also happens to be my work machine. Add to it more than a gig of emails, doc for the app server, tools, and the database, work related docs, Dilbert cartoons (a healthy dose of cyncism is a sine-qua-non), and of course Google Desktop Search (which itself uses up close to 2GB of hard disk space), and I had to uninstall Oracle Database XE because I was starting to run out of disk space - I like to keep at least 6-8GB free. Having 2GB of memory certainly helps though!

See http://www.oracle.com/technology/products/bi/ for more information.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

ODTUG Conference Day 2

Day two of the Oracle Developer Tools Conference. What a broad spectrum of topics, you can get presentations from six sigma techniques, SOA, ADF, spatial analytics, predictive analytics, OLAP, unit testing and so on. If only I had time to attend them to all. I think the biggest buzzes are around Application Express and SQL Developer. The best part of these conferences is meeting people face-to-face, people you know from various blogs and just being able to sit down and just chat about any topic.

Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing as an interest group within ODTUG is growing rapidly. The presentations on BI Enterprise Edition have been well attended and everyone is impressed by the quality of the presentations and most importantly the product demos.

Tomorrow is the last day and I will be in the hands-on sessions all day. In the morning we have the Warehouse Builder 10g and in the afternoon there is the Oracle BI OLAP tools. This session will be show casing the new updated version of Discoverer OLAP and the BI Spreadsheet Addin that supports custom aggregates. This allows business users to create their own dimension members by manually selecting dimension members or alternatively by using a dimensional query. Sales Analyzer used to have this feature and it at last been added to the BI OLAP tools so now customers can at last upgrade from OSA to Discoverer and still have all the functionality they enjoyed in OSA (apart from the ability to create a forecast). As an FYI, the OWB team has developed an OSA flat file migration Expert that uses the metadata flat files to create objects and mappings within OWB that can be deployed to an analytic workspace. Using the Expert and BI OLAP tools most OSA customers can be upgraded and up and running in a very short time.

There are plenty of people in cyber space blogging about the conference and so far everyone seems to be impressed. One more day to go...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Live from ODTUG...Monday

ODTUG 2006 opens with Marco Tilli.

Well not quite, because although the ODTUG 2006 conference in Washington, DC, really kicked off today, there were presentations and hands-on labs happening over the weekend as well. As a result the whole OWB PM team, along with many other PM groups from Oracle, arrived en-masse in Washington, DC on Friday evening ready for weekend opening of ODTUG 2006. In total, I think we have over 20 Oracle people here at the conference, from Product Managers through to Development Directors.

Saturday
On Saturday we "kicked" off (the World Cup is also happening at the same time, just in case you did not know that) with two hands-on labs to give attendees real live experience with the latest 10gR2 release version of Warehouse Builder. We created a very compelling set of exercises around the following topics:
  • Data Quality
  • Data Modeling
  • ETL
  • Extensibility (experts)
Each topic lasted and related exercises lasted about 40 minutes. Overall, everyone found the lessons very valuable and we had a lot of great questions and feedback both during and after each session.

Sunday
This year I was asked to participate in the panel that reviews all the papers accepted by the conference, to select the top 5 five papers. I must admit I was extremely impressed by the quality and breadth of the subjects covered. One of the papers selected was Lucas Jellema's great paper on "Pretty JavaServer Faces". The session associated with this was one of the more in-depth presentations that ran on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully, Lucas will publish the paper on the AMIS blog website for download (http://technology.amis.nl/blog/). The full list of finalists for this year's prize are:
  • Andre Beland, The Oracle 10g Release 2 Rules Manager and Expression Filter - Events for business rules
  • Lucas Jellema, Pretty Java Server Faces - breakthrough of attractive and productive user interface development
  • Alex Nuijten, One Analytic Function can do more than 1000 lines of code
  • David Schleis, Polish up Your Web Applications with Ajax
  • Maggie Tompkins, Lean Six Sigma Tools and Techniques for Software Process Improvement
Unfortunately I was not able to attend Lucas's session as I was in the Business Intelligence CAB where we presented our BI/DW road map to key, mostly US based, customers and partners. Again, we got some great feedback about feature requirements and feature priorities.

The CAB was followed by the BI Summit Presentation, co-presented by George Lumpkin and Paul Rodwick. George Lumkin, Director of Data Warehouse Product Management, presented on the Oracle database as BI platform and provided great customer success stories such as Amazon.com to show how many customers today are being extremely successful with their BI solutions by leveraging the Oracle database.

George also announced the release of OWB 10gR2 and Mark Rittman (Oracle ACE and recognized influential blogger) gave a personal overview of this new release and how he is using it to make his customers more successful. If you have not seen Mark's website, please visit http://www.rittman.net/. Mark's website and blog contains lots of really useful information about Warehouse Builder and all things Oracle BI.

Just before George's session I attended a session by Donna Richey Winkelman who is Director and Editor in Chief of the ODTUG magazine. This was about "How to get published in the ODTUG technical Journal". A great session about how to write technical articles with links to websites that can provide guidance on how to start and plan your articles. I know I am going to sit down when I get back to Redwood Shores and draft some topics and send them to Donna. I would actively encourage everyone, even if you are have never written a technical article before, to just submit your ideas to Donna for review and if they are accepted the ODTUG Journal team will work with you to help you create, polish and finally publish your ideas as a formal paper.

Monday - Opening Keynote
Personally, I spent most of Saturday and Sunday preparing for today's keynote presentation by Marco Tilli, which was entitled "Who moved your Cheese - The Road Map to Fusion". As part of this presentation we again announced the launch of Warehouse Builder 10g R2 and yours truly was on stage to provide a live demo of the data quality feature. I am pleased to say the demo went very well. This new feature of OWB is extremely powerful and I am sure customers are going to get a lot of value from using it. I had a quite a few people stop me as I left the keynote session to ask more detailed questions and I am sure I will be getting lots of emails asking for more information. What we have created with the data quality feature is a unique and simple value proposition relating to data quality issues - Find it, stop it, cleanse it. All fully automated, fully extensible and integrated as part of the product.

In the afternoon I presented my paper on using data mining to help design OLAP cubes. I won't bore you all again with the details regarding this as I have already written about this last year on the blog. I have refined my ideas and messages since then and extended some of the ideas. In fact I got some new ideas during the session from the Q&A during the presentation. Anyway, I am currently working on creating an Expert to provide the attribute importance feature within OWB. I have other ideas but those I will put in storage and wait for this year’s OpenWorld before unleashing them.

So Monday has ended and tomorrow is definitely OWB today, we have wall-to-wall presentations all day long. Paul Narth, Jean-Pierre Dijcks, Ali el Kortobi and myself are all presenting during the day. In fact I have three presentations tomorrow, one in the morning and two in the afternoon. One of our partners SAIC is also presenting on a very interesting topic - OWB and spatial. I will certainly try to get to that one, although it does clash with Jean-Pierre's paper on OWB's new extensibility features.

For more information about the conference and the list of papers and presenters simply visit the ODTUG website (http://www.ordtug.com).

One day over and gone, and two still to go and lots to look forward to. This is certainly a unfolding into another great conference by the ODTUG team. One piece of great news, next year ODTUG is going back to the beach with a return to Florida. Start planning your presentations for next year now.

Other Information
For reference the full list of OWB papers at this years ODTUG 2006 conference are:
  • Introduction to Warehouse Builder 10g Release 2
  • What exactly is an expert?
  • Why use OWB for data modeling (JP)
  • How to Extend Warehouse Builder 10g to Include User-Defined Properties, Icons, and Objects
  • Climb to the OLAP Summit with Warehouse Builder 10g Release 2
  • Reporting against the Warehouse Builder Repository
These can all be download from the collateral link on our OTN Home Page, or by simply clicking here to go directly to the website. In addition there other related OWB papers being presented. If you are ODTUG member these can be downloaded from the ODTUG website. There are two customer papers:

Using OWB Paris to Implement Production ETL in a Geospatial Data Warehouse
by Rob Palmer & Blythe Norris, SAIC
This presentation focuses on using OWB Paris and Oracle Spatial to implement production workflows for daily refresh of the Operational Data Store. Topics include design, performance tuning, and lessons learned.

Building an Effective Data Warehousing Architecture Using OWB 10gR2
by Mark Rittman, SolStonePlus
OLAP or relational, real-time or batch updates? Do you still need an ODS or staging area? This presentation cuts through the jargon and proposes an effective, layered architecture for Oracle data warehouses based on the new features in OWB 10gR2, Oracle Database 10gR2, and the OLAP and data mining options.

We also have a paper presented by one of our partners:
Lifecycle management (LCM) for Oracle Warehouse Builder and other Oracle Development Environments
by Piet Oomkes.
IKAN SCM4ALL offers an easy, transparent way to fully automate the software change (of lifecycle) management of your applications through CVS or SUBVERSION and complements the versioning with build and deploy facilities. During this presentation we will cover concepts of LCM for Oracle development and deployment environments (JDeveloper, OWB, Oracle Application Server, Oracle Database) and give a live demo with Oracle OWB, Paris Release.



Monday, June 19, 2006

Two blog posts on ODTUG 2006

One is by Mark Rittman (link to blog, link to his ODTUG blog post), and the other one is by AMIS Technology (link to blog, link to blog post on the BI keynote).
See my earlier posts on the event here and here.

Small but neat feature in 'Answers'

Starting today (yes, this precise instant in time) I shall start posting on the new Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (link on OTN) product features, and here is the first post, albeit a short one.

In 'Answers' (see link for an explanation for what 'Answers' is: actually, it is Oracle Business Intelligence Answers, and is the ad hoc query and analysis component of the Oracle BI EE suite), when you create a request (that would be a report / query / worksheet in Discoverer parlance, though not quite: a query is what is used to fetch data into a worksheet where it is formatted and displayed), data is automatically sorted by the first column, then the second column, and so on. Furthermore, a group sort is also applied so that i the example below the region does not appear multiple times. This report has been created from a Subject Area (think of a subject area as a Business Area in Discoverer) that is built on the familiar Video Stores dataset.
As you can see here, Region is group sorted ascending, and within each region the cities appear sorted ascending.

SELECT STORE.REGION saw_0, STORE.CITY saw_1, SALES_FACT.COST saw_2, SALES_FACT.PROFIT saw_3 FROM "Video Sales" ORDER BY saw_0, saw_1

If you click the 'Advanced' tab, you can see the SQL that is issued to the analytic server, and also the XML representation of the report (request) you are working with.

In the coming weeks and months I will also include posts on the new features in both the Standard Edition as well as the Enterprise Editions of the Orace BI Suite.

New Graph styles in the upcoming Discoverer release

This summer (around August), there will be a new Discoverer release that will contain a few new features. The biggest news is in the OLAP area, where support for custom (or calculated) members will be available, with support in Discoverer OLAP (D4O) as well as the Spreadsheet Add-In (link to Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Standard Edition page on OTN). Also, there are six new graph styles that have been added to the list of available graph styles that were introduced in the 10.1.2 release (see section 1.2.3 of the the "Discoverer Statement of Direction" for some screenshots) - April, Comet, Confetti, Glass, Nautical, Southwest. See below screenshots of a 3D graph with each of these styles applied.

Southwest style
Nautical Style
April Style
Glass Style

Confetti StyleComet Style

The graph wizard in Discoverer looks pretty much the same, except when you go to the "Style" tab, you will find the new graph styles added (I have highlighted only three below).

And of course the styles applied are available in Viewer and Portlets.


Styles are one of the easiest ways of jazzing up reports and of allowing users to focus more on which graph type works best for displaying different kinds of data and less on how to pretty up the graph.
More on this and other new features in the upcoming Discoverer release soon... Watch out for a mini-series on the new improved Spreadsheet Add-In, which has a host of new and improved features, including better VBA support, named queries in Excel, non-modal query wizard, and lots and lots more.

Monday, June 05, 2006

OWB OBEs now available

Two new Oracle By Example (OBE) (link to page on OTN) tutorials on the recently released Oracle Warehouse Builder 10gR2 (10.2) have been made available on the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) by our Server Technology curriculum group. Both are estimated to take a little over six hours to run through, so they are comprehensive for someone who wants to take a look at a high level at all that this new release has to offer. And since these are OBEs, you could download the product and run through the examples alongwith the product, or simply go through the screenshots - the results should be the same in both cases. Of course if you run through the OBE screenshots only the exercise should take less time.

The first OBE is titled Introduction to Oracle Warehouse Builder 10g Release 2
  • Starting with Oracle Business Intelligence Warehouse Builder (approximately 15 minutes)
  • Working with Flat File Transactional Data (approximately 20 minutes)
  • Designing the Relational Target Warehouse (approximately 60 minutes)
  • Designing ETL Data Flow Mappings (approximately 60 minutes)
  • Deploying the Target Warehouse (approximately 30 minutes)
  • Loading the Target Warehouse (approximately 45 minutes)
  • Business Intelligence Modeling (approximately 20 minutes)
The second OBE is titled Migrating to Oracle Warehouse Builder 10g Release 2
In this Oracle By Example course, you get a step by step guide to migrating an existing system implemented using OWB 10gR1(10.1.0.4) to a new OWB 10gR2 environment. The objective of this migration process is not to scrap off your old system and re-build a new system using the latest OWB release. Rather, the objective is to smoothly move your existing system from OWB 10gR1 to OWB 10gR2 in order to give you the benefits of new capabilities as well as save on your investments and your time.
  • Setting Up the Environment for Migration (approximately 40 minutes)
  • Migrating Design Metadata to OWB 10gR2 (approximately 30 minutes)
  • Migrating Runtime Metadata to OWB 10gR2 (approximately 30 minutes)
  • Deploying the Migrated Dimensions and Cube (approximately 30 minutes)
Happy learning.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Discoverer Handbook 10g on Amazon

To check the sales rank of Oracle books on Amazon (that would be the e-commerce site that sells books, not the river), you can use this link, or follow this breadcrumb from Amazon.com - Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Databases > Specific Databases > Oracle > General.

The above link opens the page with the books sorted by their "bestselling" status.

This link was originally posted on Tom Kyte's blog (link to post, link to blog), where his book, "Expert Oracle Database Architecture: 9i and 10g Programming Techniques and Solutions", is at #2 - "eBay Powerseller Secrets:Insider Tips from eBay's Most Successful Sellers" is at the number 1 position, why I don't know.

Michael Armstrong-Smith's "Oracle Discoverer 10g Handbook" is at #14 (link to book on Amazon.com, link to Michael's blog).

BTW, Michael's ACE (link to page on Oracle.com) profile is now up on Oracle.com here.

Finally, if you want to go to the Oracle Store on Amazon.com it seems you can directly type http://www.amazon.com/oracle/ (which redirects you to this URL).