I attended Oracle OpenWorld (OOW) 2014 recently with a focus on BI, Big Data and ERP. As usual there was no shortage of information. The Partner briefings were particularly helpful in getting some insight into how Oracle sees the future.
We are at an inflection point in computing towards the Cloud. Enabling technologies that support provision of computing resources and applications ‘as a service’ to be consumed from a provider have reached a maturity stage. Every type of computing resource and application can and is being provided as a service (hardware, database, security, administration, ERP, CRM, etc). Coupled with advances in security, database speed and networking and a migration to the Cloud will pick up steam.
Speed & Performance – The age of speed is here. Advances in databases (in memory option to Oracle 12c), storage ( eg flash) and hardware/software integration (eg Exadata, Exalytics) are pushing performance to levels unseen. Transaction volume or data set size need not be an inhibitor to big data analysis or moving to the Cloud.
Big Data Goes Mainstream - Once thought to be exotic and off to the side (and batch!), big data technologies that support analysis of massive data sets (think Petabytes) are becoming mainstream with products developed by Oracle and others.
Review of Specific Topics
Business Intelligence (BI)
BI Cloud Services – Oracle has pushed into the Cloud BI market with a great initial offering. It has 50 GB of available disk space and a user friendly front end for development of reports. It has built in connectors to many of the popular Cloud based and on premise application offerings and more to come. This product represents a great opportunity to get into BI without significant upfront capital investment or significant code deployments. More info here:https://cloud.oracle.com/business_intelligence
BI Apps 188.8.131.52.8 (ODI version) – this product has now matured and has significantly more pre built content than its predecessor version (7964). More info here: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/bi-foundation/documentation/bi-apps-098545.html
Golden Gate and Real Time Reporting – Oracle continues to integrate Golden Gate into its BI product suite and this is greatly enhancing the ability to conduct real time reporting through replication or micro ETL. More info here: http://www.oracle.com/us/products/middleware/data-integration/goldengate/overview/index.html
OBIEE/Essbase Integration – Oracle recognizes the power of its Essbase multidimensional cube for ad hoc analysis and continues to improve its integration with the OBIEE reporting suite. More info here: http://www.oracle.com/webfolder/technetwork/tutorials/obe/fmw/bi/biee/r1013/essbase/biee_essbase.htm
Enterprise Performance Management (EPM)
Budgeting and Planning Cloud Service – this is Oracle’s first product to be moved into the Cloud in the EPM product suite. In only several months of general availability it has received wide and fast adoption. It is a powerful application with a fully featured version of Essbase in the Cloud. Oracle is working on creating prebuilt adaptors to major ERP applications (eg EBS GL) in the near future. More info here: http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/cloud/planning-budgeting/overview/index.html
Big Data - Oracle has invested a lot here and is doing a good deal to make big data technologies and analysis of ‘big data’ (eg social media data, machine based streaming data etc) more accessible to IT organizations and the average end user. Some of Oracle’s key products for Big Data include:
Big Data Discovery – this product uses Endeca (Oracle’s data discovery engine) to analyze data stored in ‘Big Data’ databases eg Hadoop, Cassandra, Mongo db, etc. More info here:https://cloud.oracle.com/sites/Satellite?c=Page&cid=1410671868807&d=Touch&pagename=cloudUiSite%2FPage%2FwcsServiceLayout
SQL for Big Data – Oracle has developed a SQL front end product that allows a single SQL query to access data in traditional SQL databases, NOSQL databases and Hadoop clusters. Oracle claims that such queries have good response time and are not a batch process. Reality still remains to be seen on performance but it is a step in the right direction. More info here:http://www.oracle.com/us/products/database/big-data-sql/overview/index.html
Big Data Appliance - This is a specialized machine that is an 18 node Hadoop cluster in a machine. It comes with a full Cloudera Hadoop distribution and related software. The Hadoop cluster nodes are connected through high speed infiniband network connections so they are faster than a traditional distributed Hadoop cluster connected through slower network connections. This is a good product for companies looking to quickly build out and integrate a Hadoop cluster in their organization. More info here: https://www.oracle.com/engineered-systems/big-data-appliance/index.html
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) - E Business Suite R12-to be frank there could have been more information provided for current EBS R 12 users related to the upgrade path for current on premise EBS R12 users. Similarly there could have been more information regarding how current on premise EBS users can move to the Cloud (eg can an existing EBS application be moved to Oracle’s Cloud using a utility- if yes does it become a subscription based service or does it become a traditional hosting situation). What are the options for a large company running EBS with customizations for moving their ERP to the Cloud? At this point, it appears that a re-implementation on Oracle Fusion for the Cloud is the only option. More answers to be given here. More info here: http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/ebusiness/overview/index.html
Oracle Fusion Apps - although not prominently displayed or talked about from a marketing standpoint at OpenWorld, Oracle continues to improve the Fusion apps to be as functional as their other ERP product sets. Increasingly, Fusion apps are a realistic alternative for large companies for moving to the Cloud or for on premises processing. More info here: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/documentation/fusion-apps-doc-1508435.html
Fusion Financials & Oracle Transactional BI – it is worth noting that Oracle has taken a significant step forward in the real time analysis of GL balances by embedding Essbase natively in the Oracle Fusion financials application. GL balances are perfect for multi dimensional analysis and the Essbase cube will be updated real time at posting to the GL. More info here: http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/fusion/hcm-fusion-transactional-bi-1543884.pdf
More broadly Oracle has taken a more direct and fully functional approach to reporting with Fusion apps by natively building in transactional reporting leveraging the powerful Oracle business intelligence reporting platform directly against the transaction system. Fusion apps is both a transaction processing system and a reporting system. That said it is not expected that OTBI will replace the need for an architected data warehouse for historical reporting and metric-based business intelligence.
Oracle Functional Set-Up Manager (FSM) - Oracle has made the configuration process much more transparent, clear and streamlined by creating the FSM product. This product provides a sequence-based step by step user interface for configuring Fusion applications. This application accelerates the time to configure Fusion apps and allows for more visibility into the key decisions required to configure Fusion ERP apps. More info here: http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E29597_01/fusionapps.1111/e20365/toc.htm
Myles Gilsenan is a Practice Director at KPI Partners. He is a business intelligence professional highly skilled at managing large-scale global information technology programs. Check out Myles' blog at KPIPartners.com.