Category Archives: Architecture

BI Apps / Performance Layer Preso

This is my presentation from last week’s Rittman-Mead BI Forum in Atlanta.  Incidentally it happens to be the same topic (similar slides) to the KPI Partners webinar from April and what I gave in Denver at Collaborate also in April.  The webinar has been recorded, so you can hear my commentary and the QA session afterwards.  If you get the chance, I’ll be doing the same preso at Kscope in New Orelans next month.  Enjoy!



Build a Performance Layer to Make the BI Apps Fly

The BI Apps from Oracle present customers with a nice head start to getting their BI environment up and running.  Financial Analytics, HR Analytics, Supply Chain Analytics, etc. all come pre built with much of the code and reports you’ll need to build to support your business.  But for many customers they just are too slow for their user community while running dashboards, reports and ad-hoc queries.  In an era where an internet search engine can give you what you want in one second, reports running for a minute or more are just not acceptable.

In this post I’ll discuss some of the inherent performance limitations in the BI Apps and what you should do about it.  Note the vast majority of customers really don’t have a performance problem with their system, but you can always deliver reporting content faster.  If you are running at 15 seconds per page, wouldn’t 5 seconds be that much better?  The performance problem really lies with some large customers with larger data volumes.  It is here where the BI Apps design can be enhanced with more performance in mind.

I’ve written about OBI performance a few times in the past, and I’m sure there will be more to come.  As a refresher, here are a few other posts to take a look at:

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Big Data for Oracle BI

The term Big Data has existed in some form or another for years but recently has taken on a new and more official meaning.  In today’s world of massive internet applications, digital instruments streaming non-stop data, scientific data collection and fraud detection, Big Data has grown far beyond what even a large company used to consider large – into the hundreds of terabytes or even petabytes.  Furthermore, Big Data has a large unstructured component to it, whether comments on websites, blog data, internet usage, images or documents.  This kind of information typically does not map well to traditional database technologies which rely on a very structured table/column arrangement.

Considering high volume and great variability of data, along with very high uptime and extremely short response times needed, traditional RDBMSs simply won’t work – they will not be able to scale out to provide 1 second response time when a Facebook user posts a picture or visits a friend’s wall when there are millions of users looking at petabytes of data.  Thus, completely different kinds of data access and storage technologies are needed, ones which are designed to scale far beyond even a very powerful systems such as Oracle ExaData.

This article discusses Oracle’s view of Big Data and in particular how it pertains to Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence.  Keep in mind there are many offerings and capabilities pertaining to the acquisition and use of Big Data which are well beyond the scope of Data Warehousing and BI systems; I’m going to focus on just a slice of it here.

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Oracle’s Data Warehouse Reference Architecture

Last year Oracle published a white paper called “Enabling Pervasive BI Through a practical Data Warehouse Reference Architecture”.  I took a read through this paper and have some comments on it  (so maybe this is a book report).  For your convenience, I’ve uploaded a copy of it here Oracle DW Reference Architecture Feb 2010.  I also believe the architecture is a little vague (on purpose I suppose).  Depending on how you look at it, you might be looking at how the BI Apps are Architected, or you might be looking at how a real-time Enterprise Data Warehouse is built. Read the rest of this entry

SSDs – A Short Story

Many of you are aware that there is a relatively new kind of storage out there called a Solid State Disk.  Instead of spinning platters with moving heads, SSDs are flash memory chips.  Think of them as a super fast, large thumb drive.

There are 2 main kinds of SSDs, SLC and MLC.  They roughly define the difference between enterprise (SLC) and consumer (MLC), based on both performance and reliability (which of course means price!).  Then there are 2 main interfaces out there – a traditional SATA II/SATA III (just coming out these days) or one that plugs into the bus directly (PCI for desktop PCs and most Intel servers).  The ones that plug into the PIC bus are really only for businesses, as they are very expensive.  But by removing the SATA interface bottlenecks, they are unbelievably fast. Read the rest of this entry

OOW BI Imp Panel Questions #3: Can Exadata Replace a DW?

Click here for the first post in the series and here for the second.

Question #3: With the power of Exadata, are Data Warehouses even needed anymore?  Can’t you just map your BI tools to the transactional system without all of the back end ETL work?

Short Answer: For most systems a DW and ETL are necessary.  However a simple reporting system however can leverage this option for a while.

Long Answer: Data Warehouses started out as a means to offload processing of large data set queries from online transactional systems.  Basically breaking up the workload. Read the rest of this entry

OOW BI Imp Panel Questions #2: Can OBI do SubSecond Responses?

For the first post in this short series, see here.

I don’t think I answered this question properly during the panel; I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that I was sick as heck and my head was swimming.    But anyway here is a better shot at it:

Sidenote: I was so out of it that I spilled a bottle of water on my PC earlier during another presentation.  Luckily the computer stayed alive until I finished!

Question #2: Is it reasonable to expect sub-second response time from OBI?

Short Answer: Basically no, but once in a while yes Read the rest of this entry

OOW BI Imp Panel Questions #1: Is Essbase Mandatory?

At this year’s Oracle Open World in San Francisco, I sat on a BI Implementation Panel with three other experienced Data Warehouse and BI experts.  Stewart Bryson moderated the hour long session with Mark Rittman, Jon Mead and Kevin McGinley on a variety of topics.  I wanted to use this post to discuss a few of the questions in more detail.  Stewart threw some provocative, crowd pleasing questions out there, and phrased them in a very aggressive manner where a few of them quite frankly got me upset!  But that’s all good – I know Stewart and he wanted an exciting panel!

Question #1: With the tighter integration of Essbase into the OBI11g stack, should Essbase be considered mandatory on OBIEE implementations?

Short answer: Useful on some?  Yes.  Mandatory?  Not even close. Read the rest of this entry