Super-Charged Oracle Business Intelligence with Essbase and SmartView

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1 Specialized. Recognized. Preferred. The right partner makes all the difference. Super-Charged Oracle Business Intelligence with Essbase and SmartView By: Gautham Sampath Pinellas County & Patrick Callahan AST Corporation May 3, 2014 Applications Software Technology Corporation 1755 Park Street, Suite 100 Naperville, Illinois

2 Contents INTRODUCTION... 1 NEW OBIEE FEATURES FOR ESSBASE AND HYPERION USERS... 1 ESSBASE OVERVIEW AND BACKGROUND... 2 INTEGRATING DATA INTO ESSBASE... 2 IMPORTING INTO BI REPOSITORY... 3 DESIGNING THE MODEL WITHIN OBIEE... 3 COMBINING ESSBASE AND RELATIONAL DATA... 4 PINELLAS COUNTY CASE STUDY... 5 PINELLAS COUNTY S MOVE TO EXALYTICS... 5 WHY DID PINELLAS COUNTY OPT FOR AND HOW?... 6 RESULTING EXAMPLES FROM PINELLAS COUNTY... 7 PINELLAS FUTURE PLANS AND LESSONS LEARNED... 9 CONCLUSION Page ii

3 Introduction Oracle Business Intelligence has grown up in front of our eyes, especially with the 11g release. It s more than just dashboards, reports and charts. It s more than slapping it on top of a data warehouse or other OLAP data source. Oracle BI 11g Foundation Suite now includes fulluse Essbase and SmartView. You can now benefit from the multidimensional Essbase capabilities for What If scenarios and other modeling needs. Also, SmartView provides next generation MS Office integration options. New OBIEE Features for Essbase and Hyperion Users With OBIEE 11g, there have been several new features directly related to Essbase and Hyperion users. These include: Essbase as a data source Oracle Answers as a front-end for Essbase, HFM Integration of Essbase and relational data into drill-through models Oracle BI Repository as a data source for Essbase Studio Access to OBIEE dashboards & reporting Page 1

4 Additionally, the latest releases of OBIEE 11g have even further extended this support as follows: Essbase is available as an OBIEE aggregate persistence target Embedded Essbase Studio facilities Automatically create and populate OBIEE aggregates into ASO cubes Better integrated into installation with Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite Better integration with Enterprise Manager Outline imports are handled better Hierarchies better maintained Parent-Child hierarchies supported Alias tables and User-Defined Attributes (UDAs) supported Essbase Overview and Background Oracle Essbase is an OLAP Server that offers optimized multidimensional storage, flexible model definition, and over 300 builtin analytical functions. Additionally, Essbase has inherent read/write/writeback facilities and Excel and MS Office support through the robust SmartView tool. Financial analysis, budgeting, trending and forecasting capabilities are commonly delivered with Essbase. Structurally, Essbase is based purely on Dimensions and dimensions have Members; these member names are Codes/Values and also have Descriptions. The physical implementation of these dimensions and measures are called Cubes. Currently, Essbase offers BSO (Block storage) and ASO (Aggregate storage) cubes, for which the latter cannot be updated and is commonly used for reporting purposes. Hyperion Planning, the most common Essbase application, has required dimensions: Year, Period, Scenario, Version. Other common dimensions include: Account, Entity/Department, Product, Job/Position and more. Integrating Data into Essbase There are many options to load data into Essbase, though, please note that this load involves both metadata and the data itself. For metadata and data loads, the options include: Essbase Studio Oracle Data Integrator, with use of Knowledge Modules Oracle Financial Data Quality Management (FDM) Page 2

5 Underlying ERP Integrator, for specific source-system adapters, actually utilizes ODI Oracle Data Relationship Management (DRM) Importing into BI repository Much of the work for incorporating Essbase into OBIEE is done within the BI Administration tool. The first piece is to import your Essbase source into the RPD as follows: 1. Choose File > Import metadata menu option 2. Select Essbase as your source 3. Select your Essbase Application and Database 4. Click the arrow to move it into the Repository View 5. Click the Import UDAs checkbox to include user defined attributes Designing the Model within OBIEE Again, within the BI Administration tool, the import facilities have some key defaults that are important to understand. For example, all Essbase dimensions flow in as dimensions with their hierarchies pre-built. Also, there is only one (1) fact measure created for an imported cube. So, within the BMM (Business Model), you may want to setup multiple versions of the Essbase model to meet specific needs. This may come into play when you want to meet alternate report formatting needs and adjust column formatting options as needed. Next, you ll want to refine the defaults coming out of the import. Most notably, you ll want to set the dimension type property to Measures, where desired. With that you ll also want to carry out these associated tasks, by clicking on your Essbase source within the Physical Layer of the BI repository: First, from the Right-Click menu, select "Convert measure dimension to flat list". This converts every member value of dimensions tagged as "Measures" (see above) into a flat list of facts Second, also from the Right-Click menu, select Create Columns for Alias Table. This creates dimension columns for dimension member descriptions (recommended) NOTE: Most Hyperion/Essbase solutions have Default as the alias table. Page 3

6 There are some additional design considerations for Essbase hierarchies and aliases. First, alternate hierarchies are common in Essbase dimensions when these are brought into OBIEE, keeping them separate likely makes sense. However, only one hierarchy can be used in a report; if desired, these can be converted to one. Secondly, utilize aliases (descriptions) for hierarchy columns, especially to help users for which member values (codes) are not helpful. The design piece within the OBIEE while incorporating Essbase data sources is key to properly translating many of the underlying technical semantics to the appropriate business terms and structures applicable for reporting and analysis purposes. Combining Essbase and Relational Data Beyond just incorporating Essbase data into OBIEE, it is common to consider combining Essbase with relational data. Generally, this aligns with these two implementation categories: Federated Model Where certain data (columns, etc.) comes from Essbase, while other data comes from RDBMS; for this, the OBIEE server determines data source based on query Drill Through Generally, when the aggregate data comes from Essbase and details are available within relational sources and gotten to by drilling to detail and resulting navigation. When you do this, it is important to matching the design patterns across Essbase and the relational models. First, the RDBMS model needs to be in a star schema; as a result, you may need to merge snow flaked dimensions. Moreover, models must align closely this includes the dimensional levels matching closely, physical columns needing to match or be manually matched within the BMM (dimension values cannot be numeric, as they are not allowed in Essbase, and prefixes may need to be prepended), and hierarchies must match at every level to allow for drill to detail. Next, integrating models within the OBIEE repository (RPD) can be a bit complicated. For this, we recommend that one models and tests the relational model in the BMM of the RPD first. Next, start overlapping the Essbase content into the model by overlaying (by dragging) the Essbase dimensions on top of the corresponding relational columns and also overlaying (by dragging) the Essbase measures on top of the corresponding relational facts. Some model elements will only be available for one of the sources, dependent on data availability or aggregation level. Finally, the Logical Table Source Content levels must be mapped and verified. This may take some trial and error and review (and re-review) of steps and properties across the relational and Essbase content within the RPD. Page 4

7 Pinellas County Case Study Pinellas County is located in the U.S. state of Florida, with a 2010 population of 916,542 Pinellas largest city is St. Petersburg. As such, Pinellas County is a large Oracle user with several Oracle implementations over the past four years. Currently, Pinellas Oracle footprint is as follows: Oracle E-Business Suite HRMS, Payroll, Adv Benefits, Financials, Procurement, etc.) OBIEE 11g BI Apps (HR, Finance, Procure to Spend, Projects Analytics) Custom OBIEE (Maximo, Service Request, Hyperion, etc.) Hyperion Public Sector Planning & Budgeting BI Publisher as an Enterprise wide Reporting Solution Pinellas County s Move to Exalytics Recently, Pinellas has moved to Hyperion Planning and OBIEE being deployed on Exalytics highlights of this deployment include: Hyperion Hardware consolidation(from 32 to 2 Exalytics) Purpose built hardware Faster calculations, restructure and import/export Faster planning cycle and reporting Page 5

8 Parallel processing Patches specific for using Exalytics power Supported together OBIEE TimesTen In-memory DB BI Foundation Suite (OSSM, Mobile, Essbase, OBIEE) Summary Advisor High Density Visualization Mobile The high-level integration of Pinellas ERP (Oracle EBS), Hyperion, Essbase and BI components is highlighted here: Why Did Pinellas County Opt For and How? Pinellas implemented OBIEE and BI publisher as Enterprise Wide Dashboard and reporting tool, also for Hyperion. Importantly, they also converted from MOLAP into ROLAP, where ROLAP offered the following: Institutional knowledge (People Build Applications not Products) OBIEE converts MOLAP into ROLAP Essbase cube get converted into a logical star schema by OBIEE Smartlists as dimensions Accounts dimension has hierarchies and driver information in MOLAP Better performance and flexibility Frequent changes to the metadata Page 6

9 Pinellas got there by making the following approaches: Used ODI to Reverse Engineer the Metadata Flattened the data to facilitate level based measures Massaged the metadata to fit the dimensional modeling Used Data Export command to extract fact from the cube Created necessary indexes Part of this is obviously the move to OBIEE Pinellas made the decision to have OBIEE be their foundation for BI, reporting and analysis because of what it offered: Richer content and visualization Federation of data across multiple sources in a single logical model (Relational, ROLAP, MOLAP etc.) Common Enterprise Information Model Actionable Intelligence Better End User experience (OSSM, BI, Mobile, TimesTen, Adhoc Reporting, Spacial, HOLAP, etc.) Drill through capabilities Pixel perfect reporting with BI Publisher Essbase supported as a data source Resulting Examples from Pinellas County The delivery of Hyperion and Essbase content through OBIEE has been well-received. Here are some examples: Page 7

10 Page 8

11 Additionally, BI Publisher is relied on heavily for highly-formatted reporting needs, generally replacing the need for Hyperion Financial Reporting in most cases. Importantly, BI Publisher can leverage the BI metadata to source the reports, rather than having to re-map data in. Here s an example of a BI Publisher report against the OBIEE metadata: Pinellas Future Plans and Lessons Learned Pinellas is pushing the limits with the latest features of the newest releases of Oracle BI, Hyperion, Essbase, ODI and Oracle s engineered systems like Exalytics. Pinellas future plans involve extending implementations in these areas as follows: More OBIEE integrations with Essbase cubes OBIEE Drill down to Planning and ERP Applications Exadata for Oracle EBS Golden Gate for specific integration needs Real time Data warehousing Multiple systems in sync Database upgrade Scorecarding with Oracle Scorecard and Strategy Management (OSSM) Page 9

12 Integration and migration to ADF Platform Full migration to BI Publisher-EE as enterprise reporting tool Lastly, is it important to acknowledge that Pinellas team required and learned the necessary skills and tools to allow for these technical solution implementations. The following skills and associated training options are to be considered: Data Architect & ETL(ODI) Kimball s Book ODI or Informatica OBIEE Administrator Attend OBIEE classes for Administration OBIEE Metadata Developer Attend OBIEE classes for Metadata and Repository Power Users Attend the Dashboard and Reports class Conclusion In summary, OBIEE and Essbase are a great combination that will continue to be refined and improved by Oracle in the coming years as both products are key BI and EPM solutions for Oracle. Finally, special thanks to Tejas Patel of AST Corporation for his contributions to this paper. Page 10

13 May 3, 2014 AST Corporation 1755 Park Street, Suite 100 Naperville, Illinois Phone: Fax: Copyright 2014 AST Corporation AST Corporation is a privately held company founded in 1995 to serve commercial and public sector organizations in utilizing the full potential of their investment in Oracle Applications and Technologies. We have built our practice by providing top quality full life cycle and turn-key consulting services for Oracle Applications implementation and upgrade projects, among other specific services. Our mission is to insure that you, as a valued client, receive the highest level of expertise and personalized service for your Enterprise Applications. We endeavor to help you realize the full benefit from your investment in software applications and integrate them seamlessly to your business processes.

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