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Oracle BI&W Product News
July 26, 2005
Mark Rittman

A few of bits of product news I've picked up recently.

The next release of Oracle Business Intelligence is due around the end of the summer (2005) and is being referred to as Business Intelligence 10g Phase 2 (although this might be an internal name). The big news is the inclusion of Oracle Warehouse Builder "Paris", which is due for a third beta release shortly and a community preview before the official release. The other inclusion in BI10g Phase 2 is Oracle Reports, which comes with a few new features including support for Excel Spreadsheet as an output format (proper support, not just CSV support), user defined style sheets, ability to embed HTML in report output, better PDF 1.4 support and improvements to the instrumentation and control of the Reports engine. If you're a UKOUG member you can download a presentation by Aiden Irwin here which goes through the new features.

I chanced across a set of new white papers on OTN on Oracle Database 10g Release 2 with one of the new papers going into a fair bit of detail on the new features in Release 2. From a BI&W perspective, the paper lists the Release 2 new features as being:

"Release 2 includes a number of data warehousing and business intelligence enhancements. The performance of sorting operations and aggregations has been increased up to five fold. The maximum number of partitions per table has been increased from 64,000 to 512,000 with ‘multidimensional’ partition-pruning to speed scan operations. New analytics include standard linear algebra libraries within PL/SQL, enhancements to the SQL model clause, and decision trees to help humans more readily understand complex data mining algorithms. Finally, large DML operations have been made more robust with error logging."

The OLAP engine within 10g is coming with a fair number of enhancements, with perhaps the best "feature" being the fact that it will contain all of the cumulative patches - including and support for AWM2 - meaning that you can download 10gR2 direct from OTN and not have to go to MOSC to get all the required OLAP patches. Hopefully we'll hear more on the R2 OLAP functionality nearer to the release date.

The final bit of news is on Enterprise Planning & Budgeting. EPB Minipack B, referred to elsewhere by Oracle as EPB Release 2, should be due out either soon or later this year depending on who at Oracle you speak to. EPB Release 2 is probably the first version that you'd want to implement properly, and comes with the following new features (note that this is just an advisory from Oracle, no committment to deliver and so on)

  • Budget upload/download using Microsoft Excel (i.e. the Spreadsheet Add-in will allow write-back)
  • Improved reporting through the use of XML Publisher
  • APIs to allow SQL access to the EPB analytic workspace (more on this in a second)
  • Budgeting and planning in multiple currencies
  • Additional user-defined calculation templates
  • Improved security management (the ability to administer users and groups in bulk I believe)
  • Improved business process management
  • Integration with Financial Consolidation Hub and Profitability Manager

Apart from the budget upload via Excel, the bit I found interesting was the SQL API to allow access to the EPB analytic workspace. Now, given that Oracle have made a point of referring to it as an SQL Access API, and not just said that the AW will be accessible using the standard OLAP API, I guess what this means is you'll be able to run SQL queries (using OLAP_TABLE?) against the EPB AW, and they'll give us a set of SQL views to accelerate the process, but this will stop short of allowing us to use Discoverer for OLAP to access EPB data. If you want to use a tool such as Discoverer to access your EPB data, it'll need to be done in the same way it was done with Discoverer 9iAS - create a set of views over the AW (or maybe use the views supplied with EPB Release 2, depending on whether Oracle supply them), then import these views into an End User Layer. It'll be an advance on what's currently available (i.e. nothing) but it won't give you the benefit of the OLAP environment you get with Discoverer for OLAP (proper support for dimensions, hierarchies, OLAP queries and so on). Bear in mind this is just my speculation for the moment, again we'll have to wait and see what comes up when Release 2 is made available.


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