BeyeBLOGS | BeyeBLOGS Home | Get Your Own Blog

Main | Oracle BI Fusion Intelligence integration with Oracle E-Business Suite »

June 28, 2007

Oracle BI Applications Integration Characteristics

While the market of Business Intelligence is emerging, the field of Business Intelligence Applications is very popular. Many enterprises have both back office and front office systems to support their daily business. Many of these companies have invested in business intelligence products or at least in the technology. A relatively small subset is convinced about the benefits of pre-packaged, integrated business intelligence applications based on best-practices and domain expertise provided by the same vendor providing the back and front office application software.

Business intelligence applications are pre-packed or predefined for one or more source system. Not rarely a combination of CRM and Financial General Ledger for example or CRM, Enterprise Telephony Customer Contact Centers and Supply Chain Management. The business benefits are clear: short implementation times and quick time to market result into a quick return on investment and high adoption rate by the business user community.

Oracle acquired Siebel Analytics, a pre-packaged BI application, integrated with Siebel CRM. These BI applications have been extended and integrated with other source systems like Oracle E-Business Suite, Peoplesoft, JD Edwards and SAP. The underlying technology, Oracle BI Enterprise Edition, is improved to support the business and technology requirements of application integration, not only from a user and data perspective, but also in the light of business process integration: moving from reactive looking-back-to-what-happened reporting to a pro-active, guiding, alerting intelligent business, business intelligence.

In this blog, I would like to discuss the most important integration characteristics of the Oracle BI Applications and the supporting technology platform Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (OBIEE or in short OBI). In order to support the business users in their daily activity, Oracle BI Applications integrate with the primary transactional applications, like Siebel CRM or Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) on several aspects:

User Interface Integration
Because of the 100% web-based and standards based architecture (SOAP) of the OBIEE platform it is very easy to integrate the OBI Presentation Services with a web based application like Siebel CRM or EBS. Siebel CRM up to version 8.0 use their Portal Framework and SOAP based integration technology to integrate the Siebel CRM screen, views and applets with dashboards and reports respectively, giving the end user the perception of using one application only. The Siebel Portal Framework takes care of the Single-Sign-On requirement. On the OBIEE side, several technologies support this integration varying from the Go API in the Presentation Server to Initialization Blocks and Session Variables on the BI Server side.

Action Links are another example of User Interface integration. This JavaScript based technology enables the user to drill down from and OBIEE request or dashboard to a transactional application view including the record of focus. A typical flow in sales force automation for example is: pipeline management -> drill down on a problem stage -> obtain a list of opportunities in this stage including expected revenue and probability of close -> drill down to the specific opportunity in the transactional application including all activities, account information, account service requests, quotes, proposals and sales team at hand.

Another example of user interface application integration is in the marketing area: The OBI Presentation Server incorporates a database marketing segmentation module which can be integrated with any campaign management and execution tool via the SOAP standard for web services integration. This has already been preconfigured for Siebel Marketing.

Security Integration
Besides the critical requirement of single sign on and authentication, an important and time saving characteristic of a BI Application is the integration with the base application security and visibility rules. Typically large organizations have the requirement to secure company information and transactional data based on not only the user's role or responsibility (Sales Rep or Sales Manager) in the organization but also on his or her position (CFO Division Consumer Electronics vs CFO Medical Systems). Based on the user's responsibility, he should have access to certain analytical content, i.e. dashboards, reports, alerts, subscriptions etc.; based on the user's position, he should have acess to certain areas of the database, e.g. the data belonging to division A or B, team 1 or 2.

The point is that this access control business rules are administered in the transactional application. A prepackaged BI Application must integrate with these business rules without duplicating these rules to the BI repository. Oracle BI EE fully supports this role and position based security rules using the technique of row-wise initialized session variables and initialization blocks. Upon login and after authentication, queries are being executed against the transactional database (OLTP) in a certain order to retrieve the security information which is stored in session variables like GROUP or POSITION. These variables are then used to control access to objects in the OBIEE repository or web catalog but also to build business model filters to restrict access to critical records. This integration becomes critical in a volatile organization where user change role and/or position frequently.

Data Integration
The main difference between a BI Application and a BI Tool is the availability of pre-packed business intelligence content, being reports, dashboards, metrics, drill down paths, guided navigation, alerts, action links, traffic light alerts, etc.. The Oracle BI Applications pre-packaged content comes with three main pre-built repositories:

1. the OBIEE repository and catalog
2. the ETL repository tailored for the source applications
3. the Data Warehouse model

The current version of the Oracle BI Applications is 7.9.2 relying on the Oracle BI EE 10gR3 Platform supports combinations of Siebel CRM starting with version 6.3, SAP R/3, Oracle E-Business Suite, Peoplesoft and JD Edwards. Several areas of functionality is supported, like CRM, ERP, SCM, Human Resources and Contact Centers (i.e. switches and telephony data). In some areas vertical industry solutions are provided as well. For non-supported source systems, universal adaptors can be utilized. Basically with the Universal Adaptors the initial steps of the ETL, being the changed data capture and extract to staging area must be coded and implemented manually.

The pre-built ETL repository includes not only routines for changed data capture, extract to staging area and the load into data warehouse tables, but also seed data for common dimensions like the time dimension or dimension lookup files with domain values or dimension value sets to support sources independent metric calculation (new in version 7.9.2). Note that the ETL environment and also the ETL repositories consist of two main components, Informatica which is the ETL engine and the DAC which is the orchestra leader of the entire ETL process.

The pre-built Business Analytics Warehouse (BAW) is one single but modular data warehouse model to support one or a combination of the source systems mentioned. The BAW is compliant with the Ralph Kimball dimensional modeling methodology and supports slowly changing dimensions, aggregate tables, hierarchy tables and many others.

The pre-built OBIEE repository and web catalog are aligned with the Business Analytics Warehouse and contain the domain specific and end user facing dashboards, reports and KPI's.

Supporting Technology
Next to the importance of integration, the success of a Business Intelligence Application is dependent on the supporting technology platform. Without going into detail the most important characteristics of the Oracle BI EE Platform to support successful BI Applications are:

1. the caching technology which enables a significant performance improvement for standard dashboards and reports
2. the open repository ODBC API which enables other enterprise ODBC compliant tools to access the OBIEE repository presentation layer and therefore the pre-built KPI's, dimensional attributes, preserving the security business rules
3. the ability to join multiple different data sources and data source types in the OBIEE repository
4. the multilingual capabilities of the OBIEE platform. Because of their enterprise, international usage, transactional systems are designed to be used in a multi-lingual environment. For Business Intelligence tools this is not that evident at all. Translating application strings, repository metadata strings, report and dashboard names and last but not least the data itself in a data warehouse and business intelligence environment is a huge effort. Oracle BI EE platform however supports the dynamic translation, based on the user's profile, of the application strings, web catalog and presentation layer metadata (like presentation columns and descriptions) relatively easily. For the pre-packed metadata, the translation for the common languages are available out-of-the-box. Translation of dimensional data, like service request types, complain severity, product catalog names etc require configuration of the data warehouse and Oracle BI EE repository.

It was my intention with this contribution to give a relatively high level overview of the integration points involved and requirements of the Oracle BI Applications with the respective source systems. Many of the topics discussed may lead to more (technically) detailed postings in this blog, for example the open intelligence interface of the repository or the multilingual capabilities.

Keep you posted -

Gerard Braat

Posted by Gerard Braat at June 28, 2007 3:15 PM


Hello Gerard,
I was origionally trained on Siebel Analytics 7.7 and 7.8 last year as an Principal Consultant with Oracle Corp and I am familiarizing myself with OBIEE. You sound knowledgeble enough for me to ask you a couple of questions and if anyone else knows the answer please chime in. Is the Pre-built BI Apps BAW available for PeopleSoft Financials/SCM If so, and since OBIEE can have multiple data sources, could PeopleSoft EPM be one of those data sources? In other words, be able to get the benefits of BAW right away with installing OBIEE Apps disc then implementing EPM datawarehouse but then import those dw table objects into the the pre-seeded repository. We are in the early stages of implementing PeopleSoft EMP with OBIEE on Solaris and we currently have the Financials mentioned about as well as HCM.
Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

Posted by: Ryan Momberger at August 16, 2007 6:21 AM

very good. Nice Article

Posted by: saikrishna at January 1, 2008 10:59 PM


How to view the different languages column names and screen names in OBIEE.


Posted by: Rajkumar at April 18, 2008 8:34 AM

I appreciate, cause I found exactly what I was looking for. You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

Posted by: escort service London at May 16, 2011 1:39 PM

Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent, as well as the content!

Posted by: London escort agency at May 17, 2011 1:53 AM

You made some first rate points there. I seemed on the web for the difficulty and located most people will associate with along with your website.

Posted by: Allegro at May 17, 2011 10:03 AM

Post a comment

Remember Me?