Thursday, August 09, 2012

Book Review: OBIEE 11g - A Hands-On Tutorial

Over the last few days I enjoyed the privilege of reading the first book of  Haroun KhanChristian Screen and Adrian Ward on OBIEE 11g, titled "Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g: A Hands-On Tutorial".



For those working in the OBIEE 11g realm with little time to read lengthy book reviews: Get this book!

For those who love lengthy book reviews, please read on.

Overall, the book is a very good read. The authors use a concise yet casual and entertaining language. The title holds true: the book is really hands-on, valuable information is found in abundance in each and every chapter along with pointers to the documentation and supporting web sites. Here is a quick summary chapter by chapter:

Chapter 1, Architecture, introduces the role of the WebLogic server and provides good explanations of all related system components and Java components that make up OBIEE 11g.

Chapter 2, Metadata Repository is a great overview of the metadata repository and describes in detail the process of installing the same using the Repository Creation Utility (RCU).

Chapter 3 is a precise, no-nonsense walkthrough of the installation process on Microsoft Windows.

Chapter 4 discusses installation options. It includes much appreciated information on creating high-availability and failover secure environments as well as web tier (HTTP server) installation and configuration. The chapter also covers start-up and shutdown scripts which every admin loves.

Chapter 5, System Management Tools deals with the WLS Console, going into great detail on the intricacies of the WL domain, security realms and EM, focusing of course on the coreapplication application. The chapter demonstrates in depth the typical administrative tasks such as creating application roles and users or managing server components. Special credit should be given to the authors for providing a complete sample app which revolves around Tennis (complete with sample users like Frank Forehand ;-). They don't even go shy on laying out the process of configuring an external LDAP identity provider (MSAD in this case).

Chapter 6, Upgrading, serves valuable information for upgrading from 10g to 11g.

Chapter 7, Reporting Databases. It is very good to see the principles of dimensional modelling laid out in this book as many OBIEE newbies often lack even the faintest concepts. The simple (but in real life often ignored) rules in this chapter should be posted to every project team whiteboard and repeated mantra-style until they stick. References to Codd and Kimball are necessary and in fact part of the chapter.

Chapter 8,  Developing a BI Repository: This pivotal chapter goes to the very heart of OBIEE, namely the RPD file. Truly a hands-on book, the authors go right into creating a simple RPD, starting with the physical layer on top of the demo database they provide with the book. Not much is left unexplained, so the book proves its value as a reference on the project desk. I also liked the consistent best practices and naming conventions in the examples.

Chapter 9, Presentation Catalog: Explains the features of the BI Presentation server such as the common Analysis Editor (aka Answers) and Dashboards but also goes into great detail on the other parts such as MapViewer. The detailed discussion of the Administration pages is also most welcome.

Chapter 10, Dashboards and Analyses: Nice and much needed distinction of Reports vs. Analysis followed by a clear and concise explanation how to create analyses and dashboards. The chapter covers all the basic skills needed to create useful dashboards with the least effort. It also includes advanced options like column selectors and master-detail events. I was delighted to see the concept of implementing row-level security using business model filters covered.

Chapter 11, Agents and Action Framework: This chapter nicely covers the grounds on Agents (fka iBots) and the capabilities of the Action Framework. Quite essential for most requirements in even smaller projects.

Chapter 12, BI Publisher: Good to see deep coverage of BIP as it is often treated a bit bad in projects.

Chapter 13, Customizing the Style of Dashboards: Provides great hands-on examples how to successfully skin a dashboard ;-)

Chapter 14, Improving the Performance does not miss the beat of the book with real-world examples and nice tips across all OBIEE layers

Chapter 15, BI Admin Change Management Utilities introduces several techniques for multi-user development environments, including MUDE of course.

Chapter 16: The importance of Usage Tracking can not be denied anymore. The chapter gives great insight how to set up and use Usage Tracking.

Chapter 17, Essbase and OLAP Integration discusses how Oracle Essbase and OLAP databases can be used as data sources. A nice treat is the introduction of the OBIEE Sample VM in this chapter.

Appendix A explains command line utilities, which is most welcome in book format.

Appendix B informs the reader of the various ways to participate in the OBIEE community and includes a host of links to forums, blogs, etc.

Conclusion

This book will be most useful for what I call the 'trained newbie' who has already been introduced to the fundamentals by decent training and wishes to have a single point of reference and further reading. If you are a novice to the land of OBIEE, make sure that you go through training first as the sheer power of the system will blow you away when you try to digest the book.

For those among us who are able to append words like 'Expert', 'Senior' or even 'Ace' and 'Guru' to their job title, the book is still a valuable resource even if only used to slap nay-sayers and ignoramuses on their head with it (you'd probably need the hardcopy then ;-)

All in all I have to repeat myself: If you work (or plan to work) in the OBIEE realm, go get that book!

have a nice day

@lex

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