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Updated: 14 hours 44 min ago

Oracle Data Integrator 12c: Getting Started - Installation and Configuration

Tue, 2016-11-08 15:34

I’ve decided that it’s time for a refresher on Oracle Data Integrator 12c. This week, I’m continuing the “Oracle Data Integrator 12c: Getting Started” series with the next topic: Installation and Configuration. I don’t plan to dig into all of the nitty gritty details on each specific scenario you might run into. Rittman Mead have an excellent training program for ODI 12c where you can ask the specifics. There is also this 100+ page document from Oracle that can provide further details: Oracle® Fusion Middleware - Installing and Configuring Oracle Data Integrator 12c (12.2.1) E55859-03. In this post, we’ll hit on the basics and hopefully guide you in the right direction.

First, let’s take a look at the installation process. Installing ODI 12c is quite simple compared to past versions of product. This is mainly due to the configuration of agents being moved outside of the initial installation and into a completely different process. The big choice we have now is which implementation to choose: standard or enterprise.

Choose this installation if you plan to use a Standalone Agent to execute your mappings and data integration processes. This will install ODI Studio and the Standalone Agent, along with all of the necessary drivers and libraries to make everything work. Choose this option when installing ODI Studio on your client machine.

This option will install the JEE Agent, Standalone Colocated Agent, as well as ODI Studio. The installation footprint is slightly larger than the Standard install, coming in at 3390 MB vs 3017 MB for standard. That’s a part of why I choose Standard when just installing Studio. Along with the JEE Agent and ODI Studio, you’ll also have the ODI Console and ODI plugin for Fusion Middleware Control (Enterprise Manager). One thing to note, you’ll need to first install the Oracle Fusion Middleware Infrastructure (download) package as it is a prerequisite to the ODI 12c Enterprise version.

To get started, download the bits and bytes from Oracle OTN and unzip the file. Next, using the appropriate Java version, run the ODI installer.

[oracle@bigdatalite bin]$ ./java -version
java version "1.8.0_111"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.8.0_111-b14)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 25.111-b14, mixed mode)
[oracle@bigdatalite bin]$ cd ../..
[oracle@bigdatalite odi122120]$ ./jdk1.8.0_111/bin/java -jar fmw_12. 
Launcher log file is /tmp/OraInstall2016-10-21_12-20-12PM/launcher2016-10-21_12-20-12PM.log.
Extracting the installer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . .

From there, simply go through the install wizard. I won’t go into too much because there’s not much to it. First, decide whether you will install the Standard or Enterprise version. Next, determine where you want to install your ODI home. For a JEE or Colocated Agent installation, ODI must be installed into the Oracle Home containing Fusion Middleware Infrastructure. For Standalone agent, a brand new Oracle Home must be used. Now that we’ve installed the software, it’s time to setup the repository database schema.

Master and Work Repository Setup

The Repository Configuration Utility (RCU) is delivered as a part of the ODI install. It is used to create Fusion Middleware repositories, such as the ODI Master/Work Repositories, and any additional database schemas necessary.

Start the RCU by browsing to ODI_HOME/oracle_common/bin and running ./rcu. The steps are pretty straightforward, so I’ll leave this as an exercise for everyone to try at home. Once we have our repositories, we can begin configuring Agents and Studio.

ODI Studio Configuration

Setting up ODI Studio is fairly straightforward, so I’ll keep it brief. Once installed, browse to ODI_HOME/odi/studio and fire up ./odi.sh (or odi.exe in Windows). Then, create a new connection to your ODI Master and Work repository. Enter the ODI username/password to connect with, master repository schema username/password, JDBC connection information, and Work repository. Test the connection to ensure it’s all working and you’re set.

Standalone Agent Configuration

Browse to your /oracle_common/common/bin and run the WebLogic Server Configuration wizard.


Create ODI Agent

First, create a new domain for the agent. This is similar to a WebLogic domain if you’ve gone through the setup process for any application that relies on WLS. It’s recommended to create the domain outside of the ODI Oracle Home. That way you can avoid issues when upgrading/reinstalling and can follow the same domain directory structure if installing multiple agents, since each must be installed in its own domain.

Next, choose the Standalone Agent Template, installed as part of the ODI download. Then, select the JDK to be used by the agent.

Configure ODI Agent component

The repository is already setup, so now if we connect to the service table (STB) schema, we can look up the ODI repository connection information without having to manually enter anything.

Get RCU configuration

The system component will be the ODI Agent name. Then, set the host server listen address, port, and Supervisor username/password.

ODI Agent configuration

Finally, setup the Node Manager for the ODI Agent. The Node Manager doesn’t have to be used when starting the agent, but it is a requirement to set up during configuration. The Username/Password should be kept in a safe place, as it will be necessary for starting components within the Node Manager.

Finally, click Create and you’re off and running.

Starting the Standalone Agent

Before you can start the agent, be sure to configure it in the master repository via ODI studio. Check out the video below for a short tutorial.

Now, you can startup the agent with the node manager or without it. If we want to manage the agent via Fusion Middleware Control, use the Node Manager. But, if you plan to simply use the command line to start / stop the agent, you can do so using the classic startup method.

Start Agent with Node Manager

From within the DOMAIN_HOME/bin directory, run the following. You’ll want to use nohup to start the process in the background on Linux. For Windows, create a service to run nodemanager.cmd.

[oracle@bigdatalite bin]$ pwd
[oracle@bigdatalite bin]$ nohup ./startNodeManager.sh > nm.out&
[oracle@bigdatalite bin]$ nohup: ignoring input and redirecting stderr to stdout

Next, start the agent component from within the same directory. You’ll be prompted for the Node Manager password setup during configuration.

[oracle@bigdatalite bin]$ ./startComponent.sh OracleDIAgent1
Starting system Component OracleDIAgent1 ...

Initializing WebLogic Scripting Tool (WLST) ...
Reading domain from /u01/odi_agent/user_projects/domains/base_domain

Please enter Node Manager password:
Connecting to Node Manager ...
Start Agent without Node Manager

For times when you don’t need the Node Manager, you can still start the ODI Agent using the classic method. Just remember to always use all-caps when referring to the agent parameters, such as NAME.

./agent.sh -NAME=OracleDIAgent1

Either approach for starting the agent will get you up and running.

Colocated Agent Configuration

The Colocated Agent is essentially a Standalone agent that is managed and maintained via WebLogic Server. Rather than repeat the steps, I thought I would point you to a nice Oracle By Example on Creating a Colocated Agent. As mentioned earlier, be sure to create your domain outside of the ODI home.

Ping colocated agent

For reference, when testing an agent, simply place the hostname:port/agent-web-application-context in a browser. The Ping response means the agent is up and running.

JEE Agent Configuration

Finally, we’ll discuss the JEE Agent configuration. As mentioned in my previous post, the main reasons for using the JEE Agent is for high availability or connection pooling. You may also want to use the ODI Console or need to manage and monitor ODI agents from FMW Control. Whatever the reason, here’s how we configure the agent.

The configuration process is very similar to that of the Colocated Agent, but with a several extra steps involved. I’ll highlight those steps here. To get started, just as with the other agents, browse to the ODI_HOME/oracle_common/common/ directory and run ./config.sh.

Work through the usual first few installer screens. Then, we select the template to configure. Choose ODI Agent and any additional items you’d like to add to the domain, such as ODI Console or Enterprise Manager plugin.

JEE Agent template

Next, add the credential mappings for both the ODI user, allowing JEE agent access to the Master / Work Repository, and the WebLogic domain user.

JEE Agent credential mapping

Select the options you plan to configure for the domain. This will vary based on what currently exists in WebLogic Server, but in this example we’ll be setting up a new AdminServer, Node Manager, and the Managed Server to host the ODI JEE Agent.

JEE Agent domain configuration

Next, configure the AdminServer, Node Manager, and Managed Server. For each, remember to use the machine IP address and not the default “Local All Machines”. For the node manager, enter a username and password as we did in previous configurations.

JEE Agent server configuration

The final screens in the configuration wizard allow you to create a cluster and assign the cluster to the server. You can assign a dynamic cluster as needed for scalability, though this falls outside the context of this article. Assign the cluster to a server, create the machine (remember to assign the IP address), and finally assign the servers (AdminServer and Managed Server) to the machine.

JEE Agent topology

Click create and you're done! Now start weblogic, node manager, then login to console to start ODI managed server and agent.

There you are, ODI Agents installed and configured. As always, there are many external factors that may change how your configuration and setup works in your environment, so please think of this as a simple guide and not the exact approach for each unique situation. If you do have further questions and would like a more detailed answer, you can always join one of the Rittman Mead ODI bootcamps to learn more from one of our experts on the product. Up next in the Getting Started series, we’ll look at creating your first ODI mapping.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Oracle Data Visualization Desktop: Star Schemas and Multiple Fact Sources

Tue, 2016-11-08 04:00

Once added to a project, columns I specified with my custom SQL query now shows up as one source.

Now that I have a custom data source with only the data I want to explore, I can easily create an analysis without having to sift through multiple data sources.

* A note about Data Visualization Desktop and caching: When using the above method of writing SQL to create a virtual table, it is loaded into the cache. You should only use this method for very compact models. If the virtual table contains too much data, you can still add it as a data source but it may be too big to cache, causing your columns not to load when creating analyses.

Although having one fact source is common in relational models, using multiple fact sources is sometimes unavoidable in dimensional modeling.

In my sample data, I have another schema called GCBC_SURVEYS which contains two fact tables containing satisfaction scores for both customers and staff and one dimension table containing the organization that conducted the surveys.

For this example, I’m going to try to add each table as a data source manually first and attempt to join the two fact tables to my dimension table. When using this method, pay close attention to change any key and ID columns from Measure to Attribute so they aren’t aggregated. Data Visualization Desktop sees a numeric datatype and assumes it’s a measure.

Once I've added in all of the GCBCSURVEYS tables as data sources, I’m going to load them all into a project and create my joins using source diagram. When I joined each fact table to the dimension table on the SURVORG_ID, notice how DVD automatically created a join between my two fact tables.

This is not desirable because, due to the presence of a circular join, we run the risk of double counting. When I try to break the join between the two fact tables, DVD asks which data source I want to break conformance from.

When I select one of the fact sources, it will not only break the join between the two fact sources but also the join between the fact and the dimension table.

As of this writing, I have not found a way to only break joins between fact tables if they are using the same key to connect to the dimension table.

The only workaround to this I’ve found is to write SQL statement to pull in the columns and create the joins into one virtual table. This way I could specify the joins without DVD creating one between the fact sources.

Once I created my virtual table, I could use it to create a report and use both fact sources.

Although it can take some time to set up all the data sources you want to use for your model, Data Visualization Desktop packs some powerful features when it comes to dimensional modeling. The ability to use more than one fact source when needed adds another area of flexibility to DVD. Whether you are pulling in each table and then creating your model or writing a SQL to create one virtual table, DVD has the flexibility to be able to accommodate a variety of different scenarios.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c

Fri, 2016-11-04 05:00
Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c

As a newcomer to ODI I enjoy hearing from the more seasoned veterans about common situations they encounter on projects. One of these recurring situations (especially if the company has a very small dev team) is the lack of security. I will not discuss how Oracle improved security by using public/private key pairs for Cloud services, external hackers or any of the buzz words the media likes to toss about. But, I will share with you an easy way to create profiles in ODI to setup a more secure work environment.

Generally speaking, security is neglected because admins, operators or users are not aware of how to set it up or they find it too limiting and tedious to deal with. Other times you might see the exact opposite, where someone has it so locked down you have to request project permissions on the hour just to get work done (Pro-tip: never let control freaks setup or manage security! Just kidding. Maybe.)

Prior to starting any security profile setups, make sure to sit down and really put some thought into the types of profiles you want to create. Think about the different types of work being done in ODI (developer, operator, etc) and what level of permission someone may require. Review the built-in generic profiles here. Keep in mind that you will need to setup security in each environment (Dev, Test, QA, Prod and any others you might use) that you want to connect to. No security setup 'automatically' transfers over to other environments, and not all users require access to each environment.

In this tutorial we will take into consideration the following users:

  • DI Projects Developer - Level I
  • Senior BI Project Manager
  • Consultant

We will setup the Security Profile (access) for each user and connect it to the appropriate User for the DEV environment.

NOTE: This tutorial is specific to ODI internal password storage and authentication, not external authentication.

The first step is to decide what type of security profile (access) each user will need.

  • DI Projects Developer - Level I: Entry level DI developer. Should be able to develop in select projects only. Should also have 'view-all' access across the environment
  • Senior BI Project Manager: Full access to all related tasks in Designer, Operator and Topology. Might also have ability to edit or create new users.
  • Consultant: Brought in to assist in developing mappings and to load new data from a recently acquired company
  • Ok, now we can begin the setups.

    1. In a work environment you will login using an ADMIN or Security Profile that has the credentials to create security profiles. In our example you are assumed to be logged in as Admin, Training or Supervisor and have the correct access to set the profiles up.
    2. Navigate to the Security tab in ODI.
    3. Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c
      If you do not see it, go to the very top menu and click Window > ODI Security Navigator (seen below)
      Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c

      Now we will create the User logins that will be linked to each profile.

      Most of you will already have User logins, just double-click the specific 'User Profile' when logged in under the ADMIN or full access account to edit permissions for the User.

    4. Expand the 'Users' accordion and click 'New User' to open up the properties window
      Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c
    5. Create a login for Jane Maine, our Level I ETL Developer. Assign her the profiles that will allow strictly regulated access in the Designer Navigator to projects and models but allow her view access for everything. (Review the profile descriptions)

      We see that in order to limit her development access in DEV to specific projects and models in the Designer Navigator, we must use the non-generic profiles NG_DESIGNER and NG_VERSION_ADMIN. We also must include CONNECT so she has the option to connect to DEV.

      Fast Review: An object is a representation of a design-time or run-time artifact handled through Oracle Data Integrator. Examples of objects include agents, projects, models, data stores, scenarios, mappings, and even repositories. An instance is a particular occurrence of an object. For example, the Datawarehouse project is an instance of the Project object. A method is an action that can be performed on an object, such as edit or delete.

      Generic profiles allow access to all methods of all instances of an object.

      Non-generic profiles are not authorized for all methods on the instances, an admin must grant rights on the methods for each instance.

    6. Input Jane's information and assign her a password (abc123) by clicking 'Enter Password'. Make sure that Jane's password will expire in 6 months, forcing her to change it for security purposes. Click 'OK'
    7. Best Practice: Always go in to your account and change any temporary password. See the video on how to do that, here.

      Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c
      Your screen should now look like this (description is optional - I always add them in):
      Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c

    8. On the same properties window click the 'Authorization' tab on the top left side. We are granting very limited access because her projects, as a entry level developer, are limited. Click 'Projects' and allow her access to all methods within 'Projects'. Select all methods (use the checkmark in the top left of each objects) from the following: Select SAVE after each object group methods have been selected:
      • Column
      • Condition
      • Diagram
      • Folder
      • Interface
      • Load Plan
      • Mapping
      • Package
      • Procedure
      • Procedure Command
      • Scenario
      • Scenario Variable

      Your Security Navigator should look similar to this:
      Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c

    9. Now we create the User and Profile for a recently hired Senior BI Manager named Will Doe. Following the same steps, create the User by expanding (or locating) the Users accordion and clicking New User. Make sure to set the password to expire in 6 months.

    10. Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c
      Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c

    11. Unlike the entry level employee, Will Doe needs full access as Senior Manager but he does not need Supervisor access. Check each generic profile (do not check any that start with NG) and click save. Your screen should look similar to the image below.
      Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c
      Pro Tip: If you aren't sure your security settings are correct, after your new user/profile is saved, expand the 'Objects' and/or 'Instances' (orange boxes on the screenshots above) under the Users name and see what is available.
    12. Now we need to create the Consultants general User and profile. The Consultant password does not need to expire, since we will let the account expire after a month.

    13. Create a new User under the Users accordion. Use the name: 'Consultant', Password: abc123, Notes: Temp consultant for ETL DEV work only.
    14. In this situation, the consultant will need nearly full access but not total access to everything. Check all of the generic profiles EXCEPT version admin. Select the NG VERSION ADMIN to allow selective version access. Your screen should look similar to below.
      Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c

    15. Click on the 'Authorizations' tab on the top left and scroll down in the objects list and select 'Version' and check only Compare, Restore and View. Click Save. Your image should look similar to below.

    16. Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c

      Now we test our user settings. Disconnect ODI and login using each USER you created. Look at the limitations for each user.

    17. This screenshot shows how Jane Maine can only access Projects and Load Plans, but not any of the models. What are differences you see for your profiles?

    18. Creating Security Profiles in ODI 12c

      There are so many options for creating secure Users and Profiles within ODI that allow the appropriate amount of access with maximum security - and in fact, it's fairly easy. You can block out high level access such as the entire Operator Navigator or Designer Navigator, all the way down to granular level security where you can block out very specific Methods and Objects associated with it.

      A word to the wise: It is strongly suggested that you only use a generic SUPERVISOR or ADMIN account that has full ODI access for creating users, profiles, changing passwords, etc. Create your own personal user/profile to perform daily work. The reason for this is to know who specifically is doing what. If the user is assigned ADMIN (or something generic) then there is no way to tell who used the login.

      Other suggested settings to try out: You can create Users and Profiles for admin purposes including a 'Designer Navigator only' access, 'Topology Navigator only' access, 'Operator Navigator only' access and variations where you can only access the Designer Navigator and Toplogy navigator, but not the Operator tab.
      Make sure to check out these videos and subscribe:

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Combining Google Analytics and JSON data through Apache Drill in Oracle Data Visualization Desktop

Fri, 2016-11-04 03:26

I've been talking a lot about Oracle's Data Visualization Desktop (DVD) recently, explaining DVD new features and the details of Data Flow component via a fantasy football use case.

Yesterday a new requirement was raised within Rittman Mead: we wanted to analyse our blog stats and specifically understand the number of page views per author of blog posts published in 2016. The two sources of our data were:

My colleague Robin Moffatt already explained in his post how to connect DVD to Google Analytics and how to query JSON files with Apache Drill. Both sources are compatible with DVD, and in this blog post I'll explain my journey in the analysis with the tool to combine both sources.

Ghost JSON data preparation

Following Robin's blog I created two Apache Drill views on top of Ghost Data:

  • vw_fact_post: containing the post information
create or replace view vw_fact_posts as  
 po.post.id id,
 po.post.uuid uuid,
 po.post.title title,
 po.post.slug slug,
 po.post.markdown markdown,
 po.post.published_by published_by,
 cast(po.post.published_at as date) published_at,
 po.post.updated_at updated_at,
 po.post.created_by created_by, 
 cast(po.post.created_at as date) created_at,
 po.post.author_id author_id,
 po.post.meta_description meta_description,
 po.post.visibility visibility,
 po.post.`language` lan,
 po.post.status status from 
 (select flatten(ghost.db.data.posts) post from dfs.tmp.ghost) po;
  • vw_dim_author: containing author data.
select author.u.id id,  
 author.u.name name,
 author.u.slug slug,
 author.u.password pwd,
 author.u.email email,
 author.u.image image,
 author.u.status status,
 author.u.`language` lan,
 author.u.visibility visibility,
 author.u.last_login last_login,
 author.u.created_at created_at,
 author.u.updated_at updated_at,
 author.u.updated_by updated_by 
from (select flatten(ghost.db.data.`users`) u from dfs.tmp.ghost) author;  

The views are not strictly required for the purpose of the analysis since Drill SQL can be directly injected in DVD however creating them has two advantages:

  • the interface between DVD and Drill is cleaner, no complex sql has to be entered and debugged
  • the views can be reused for other projects outside DVD if needed
DVD Data Source Settings

Robin's post provided all the details needed to connect to Google Analytics, no need to add anything there. Apache Drill datasource setting is pretty easy - we just need to specify hostname and port where Drill is running along with the connection username and password.

Drill setup

Once the Drill connection is working I can start importing the views. I do it by selecting the myDrill connection, choosing the dfs.tmp database, selecting the view I want to import and clicking on Add All or selecting the columns.

Drill import

When clicking on OK an "Unsupported SQL statements" error may be raised. This is due to the wrong usage of double quotation marks (") instead of the backtick (`) needed by Drill. I amended the error by clicking on Enter SQL and changing the Drill SQL as in image below.

Drill Error

Having imported the two sources I can review the Measure/Attribute definitions as well as the aggregation methods. This is a crucial point since the associations are made automatically and could be wrong. In my case author_id column was automatically declared as a Measure, which prevented me from using it in joins. I can fix the definitions by right clicking on the source, select Inspect and amend the Measure/Attribute definition.

Drill Measure

Wrangling Google Analytics Data

DVD's Google Analytics connector exposes a set of pre-aggregated views of the tracking data. The Page Tracking view contains a summary of page views, entrances, exit rates and other KPIs at page level - exactly the information I was looking for.

Page Tracking

I then started analysing Page Tracking data within DVD, and found some discrepancies within the data.

  • we recently moved our blog from Wordpress to Ghost: all pages accessed since rittmanmead.com website is on Ghost have the /blog/ prefix, the same was not happening when we were still in Wordpress.
  • the page name could contain a query string appendix like /?.....
  • Ghost slug contains the pure page name, without folder prefix like /blog/2014/ and without starting and ending /

The following is an example of data retrieved from Google Analytics, all for one actual blog post.

GA Row Data

The wrangling of Google Analytics data was necessary and DVD's Data Flow component suited perfectly my needs. I started by importing Page Tracking data source, then by adding two columns:

  • RemovingBlogFromPageName in order to avoid the Ghost/Wordpress problem described above with a case-when and removing the initial / using the substring

  • PageNameClean to remove extra appendix like /?..... with a substring function


I then added the Aggregate step to define the Measures/Attributes and aggregation types. Finally I saved the result locally.

Global GA Flow

The two columns were added in two consecutive Add Columns steps since RemovingBlogFromPageName column is a dependency in the in PageNameClean formula. In a single Add Columns step several columns can be added if they are referencing columns already existing in the dataset.

Creating the Project

In my previous post I linked several data sources with Data Flow, this is always possible but in this case I tried a different approach: the link between Google Analytics and Ghost data (through Drill) was defined directly in DVD Project itself.

First step was to include the Drill datasources: I added vw_fact_post initially and then vw_dim_author by right clicking and selecting Add Data Souce.

Drill data sources

Both sources are now visible in my project and the join between them is auto-generated and based on column name matching. In my case this was wrong and I reviewed and changed it by right clicking, selecting Source Diagram and correcting the joning conditions.

Drill Joining Conditions

Note that I set the Parameter "This connection will" to "Extend a dimension" since the author data is adding attributes to my post data.

Next step was adding Google Analytics refined dataset that I stored locally with Data Flow. I can do it by right clicking, selecting Add Data Souce and then GAAnalyticsDataCleansed. The new source could not be visible immediately in my project, this was due to the lack of matching columns names for the automatic join to be working. I added the joining condition in the Source Diagram section.

GA join

Note that in this case the "This connection will" parameter is set to "Add Facts" since Google Analytics data contains the number of page views and other metrics.
After amending the joining condition I'm finally able to include any columns from my datasource in my project. Here we’ve met the requirement to see post metrics by author, all in DVD and through a very intuitive and accessible interface.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Whatever next? The battle to keep up with changes in technology

Wed, 2016-11-02 10:00

I’ve been managing Rittman Mead’s Training services in the UK & Europe for over a year now, working closely with my colleagues in the US to ensure we continue to coherently deliver expert instructor led educational courses to the very highest standards.

One thing I’ve noticed is that while a great deal of value is gained by attending instructor led training, particularly if you’re upgrading or installing a new product to your data platform, you can find that two or three months down the line a new version is released which comes with new features and functions that weren’t previously taught.

Take OBIEE 12c for example, it first hit the shelves back in October 2015 and we are now on the 3rd release. In the last year, we’ve seen additions such as Data Visualization Desktop (see my friend Francesco’s recent blog post) and the ability to incorporate even more data sources to your OBIEE system (see my friend Matt’s new features guide!)

At Rittman Mead, we’ve been working on a service which we believe will complement our customer’s initial investment in instructor led training sessions. While we always wish to retain an open line of communication with everyone we have trained in the past, we realise that offering contemporary content that’s more attuned to end-users everyday roles is beneficial and necessary.

Our on-demand training service will offer top-up courses as well as our current catalog of training. It's designed to fit around users’ busy schedules with self paced learning to help people get the best out of their investment in new technology.

For more information including sneak peeks & early bird offers for our on-demand training services, please register your details here.

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Categories: BI & Warehousing

Using SQL to Query JSON Files with Apache Drill

Tue, 2016-11-01 09:49

I wrote recently about what Apache Drill is, and how to use it with OBIEE. In this post I wanted to demonstrate its great power in action for a requirement that came up recently. We wanted to analyse our blog traffic, broken down by blog author. Whilst we have Google Analytics to provide the traffic, it doesn't include the blog author. This is held within the blog platform, which is Ghost. The common field between the two datasets is the post "slug". From Ghost we could get a dump of the data in JSON format. We needed to find a quick way to analyse and extract from this JSON a list of post slugs and associated author.

One option would be to load the JSON into a RDBMS and process it from within there, running SQL queries to extract the data required. For a long-term large-scale solution, maybe this would be appropriate. But all we wanted to do here was query a single file, initially just as a one-off. Enter Apache Drill. Drill can run on a single laptop (or massively clustered, if you need it). It provides a SQL engine on top of various data sources, including text data on local or distributed file systems (such as HDFS).

You can use Drill to dive straight into the json:

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> use dfs;
|  ok   |             summary              |
| true  | Default schema changed to [dfs]  |
1 row selected (0.076 seconds)
0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> select * from `/Users/rmoff/Downloads/rittman-mead.ghost.2016-11-01.json` limit 1;
| db |
| [{"meta":{"exported_on":1478002781679,"version":"009"},"data":{"permissions":[{"id":1,"uuid":"3b24011e-4ad5-42ed-8087-28688af7d362","name":"Export database","object_type":"db","action_type":"exportContent","created_at":"2016-05-23T11:24:47.000Z","created_by":1,"updated_at":"2016-05-23T11:24:47.000Z","updated_by":1},{"id":2,"uuid":"55b92b4a-9db5-4c7f-8fba-8065c1b4b7d8","name":"Import database","object_type":"db","action_type":"importContent","created_at":"2016-05-23T11:24:47.000Z","created_by":1,"updated_at":"2016-05-23T11:24:47.000Z","updated_by":1},{"id":3,"uuid":"df98f338-5d8c-4683-8ac7-fa94dd43d2f1","name":"Delete all content","object_type":"db","action_type":"deleteAllContent","created_at":"2016-05-23T11:24:47.000Z","created_by":1,"updated_at":"2016-05-23T11:24:47.000Z","updated_by":1},{"id":4,"uuid":"a3b8c5c7-7d78-442f-860b-1cea139e1dfc","name":"Send mail","object_type":"mail","action_

But from this we can see the JSON object is a single column db of array type. Let's take a brief detour into one of my favourite commandline tools - jq. This let's you format, filter, and extract values from JSON. Here we can use it to get an idea of how the data's structured. We can do this in Drill, but jq gives us a headstart:

We can see that under the db array are two elements; meta and data. Let's take meta as a simple example to expose through Drill, and then build from there into the user data that we're actually after.

Since the root data element (db) is an array, we need to FLATTEN it:

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> select flatten(db) from `/Users/rmoff/Downloads/rittman-mead.ghost.2016-11-01.json` limit 1;
| EXPR$0 |
| {"meta":{"exported_on":1478002781679,"version":"009"},"data":{"permissions":[{"id":1,"uuid":"3b24011e-4ad5-42ed-8087-28688af7d362","name":"Export database","object_type":"db","action_type":"exportContent","created_at":"2016-05-23T11:24:47.000Z","created_by":1,"updated_at":"2016-05-23T11:24:47.000Z","updated_by":1},{"id":2,"uuid":"55b92b4a-9db5-4c7f-8fba-8065c1b4b7d8","name":"Import database","object_type":"db","action_type":"importContent","created_at":"2016-05-23T11:24:47.000Z","created_by":1,"updated_at":"2016-05-23T11:24:47.000Z","u

Now let's query the meta element itself:

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> with db as (select flatten(db) from `/Users/rmoff/Downloads/rittman-mead.ghost.2016-11-01.json`) select db.meta from db limit 1;
Nov 01, 2016 2:18:31 PM org.apache.calcite.sql.validate.SqlValidatorException <init>
SEVERE: org.apache.calcite.sql.validate.SqlValidatorException: Column 'meta' not found in table 'db'
Nov 01, 2016 2:18:31 PM org.apache.calcite.runtime.CalciteException <init>
SEVERE: org.apache.calcite.runtime.CalciteContextException: From line 1, column 108 to line 1, column 111: Column 'meta' not found in table 'db'
Error: VALIDATION ERROR: From line 1, column 108 to line 1, column 111: Column 'meta' not found in table 'db'

SQL Query null

[Error Id: 9cb4aa98-d522-42bb-bd69-43bc3101b40e on] (state=,code=0)

This didn't work, because if you look closely at the above FLATTEN, the resulting column is called EXPR$0, so we need to alias it in order to be able to reference it:

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> select flatten(db) as db from `/Users/rmoff/Downloads/rittman-mead.ghost.2016-11-01.json`;
| db |
| {"meta":{"exported_on":1478002781679,"version":"009"},"data":{"permissions":[{"id":1,"uuid":"3b24011e-4ad5-42ed-8087-28688af7d362","name":"Export database","object_type":"db","action_type":"exportConten

Having done this, I'll put the FLATTEN query as a subquery using the WITH syntax, and from that SELECT just the meta elements:

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> with ghost as (select flatten(db) as db from `/Users/rmoff/Downloads/rittman-mead.ghost.2016-11-01.json`) select ghost.db.meta from ghost limit 1;
|                     EXPR$0                     |
| {"exported_on":1478002781679,"version":"009"}  |
1 row selected (0.317 seconds)

Note that the column is EXPR$0 because we've not defined a name for it. Let's fix that:

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> with ghost as (select flatten(db) as db from `/Users/rmoff/Downloads/rittman-mead.ghost.2016-11-01.json`) select ghost.db.meta as meta from ghost limit 1;
|                      meta                      |
| {"exported_on":1478002781679,"version":"009"}  |
1 row selected (0.323 seconds)
0: jdbc:drill:zk=local>

Why's that matter? Because it means that we can continue to select elements from within it.

We could continue to nest the queries, but it gets messy to read, and complex to debug any issues. Let's take this meta element as a base one from which we want to query, and define it as a VIEW:

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> create or replace view dfs.tmp.ghost_meta as with ghost as (select flatten(db) as db from `/Users/rmoff/Downloads/rittman-mead.ghost.2016-11-01.json`) select ghost.db.meta as meta from ghost;
|  ok   |                           summary                           |
| true  | View 'ghost_meta' created successfully in 'dfs.tmp' schema  |
1 row selected (0.123 seconds)

Now we can select from the view:

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> select m.meta.exported_on as exported_on, m.meta.version as version from dfs.tmp.ghost_meta m;
|  exported_on   | version  |
| 1478002781679  | 009      |
1 row selected (0.337 seconds)

Remember that when you're selected nested elements you must alias the object that you're selecting from. If you don't, then Drill assumes that the first element in the column name (for example, meta.exported_on) is the table name (meta), and you'll get an error:

Error: VALIDATION ERROR: From line 1, column 8 to line 1, column 11: Table 'meta' not found

So having understood how to isolate and query the meta element in the JSON, let's progress onto what we're actually after - the name of the author of each post, and associated 'slug'.

Using jq again we can see the structure of the JSON file, with the code taken from here:

> jq 'path(..)|[.[]|tostring]|join("/")' rittman-mead.ghost.2016-11-01.json |grep --color=never post|more

So Posts data is under the data.posts element, and from manually poking around we can see that user data is under data.users element.

Back to Drill, we'll create views based on the same pattern as we used for meta above; flattening the array and naming the column:

use dfs.tmp;
create or replace view ghost_posts as select flatten(ghost.db.data.posts) post from ghost;
create or replace view ghost_users as select flatten(ghost.db.data.users) `user` from ghost;

The ghost view is the one created above, in the dfs.tmp schema. With these two views created, we can select values from each:

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> select u.`user`.id,u.`user`.name from ghost_users u where u.`user`.name = 'Robin Moffatt';
| EXPR$0  |     EXPR$1     |
| 15      | Robin Moffatt  |
1 row selected (0.37 seconds)

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> select p.post.title,p.post.slug,p.post.author_id from ghost_posts p where p.post.title like '%Drill';
|              EXPR$0              |              EXPR$1              | EXPR$2  |
| An Introduction to Apache Drill  | an-introduction-to-apache-drill  | 15      |
1 row selected (0.385 seconds)

and join them:

0: jdbc:drill:zk=local> select p.post.slug as post_slug,u.`user`.name as author from ghost_posts p inner join ghost_users u on p.post.author_id = u.`user`.id where u.`user`.name like 'Robin%' and p.post.status='published' order by p.post.created_at desc limit 5;
|                                     post_slug                                      |     author     |
| connecting-oracle-data-visualization-desktop-to-google-analytics-and-google-drive  | Robin Moffatt  |
| obiee-and-odi-security-updates-october-2016                                        | Robin Moffatt  |
| otn-appreciation-day-obiees-bi-server                                              | Robin Moffatt  |
| poug                                                                               | Robin Moffatt  |
| all-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-obiee-performance-but-were-too-afraid-to-ask     | Robin Moffatt  |
5 rows selected (1.06 seconds)

This is pretty cool. From a 32MB single-row JSON file:

to being able to query it with standard SQL like this:

all with a single tool that can run on a laptop or desktop, and supports ODBC and JDBC for use with your favourite BI tools. For data exploration and understanding new datasets, Apache Drill really does rock!

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Connecting Oracle Data Visualization Desktop to Google Analytics and Google Drive

Tue, 2016-11-01 05:42

To use Data Visualisation Desktop (DVD) with data from Google Analytics or Google Drive, you need to set up the necessary credentials on Google so that DVD can connect to it. You can see a YouTube of this process on this blog here.

Before starting, you need a piece of information from Oracle DVD that will be provided to Google during the setup. From DVD, create a new connection of type Google Analytics, and make a note of the the provided redirect URL:

Once you have this URL, you can go and set up the necessary configuration in Google. To do this, go to https://console.developers.google.com/ and sign in with the same Google credentials as have acces to Google Analytics.

Then go to https://console.developers.google.com/iam-admin/projects and click on Create Project

Having created the project, we now need to make available the necessary APIs to it, after which we will create the credentials. Go to https://console.developers.google.com/apis/ and click on Analytics API

On the next screen, click Enable, which adds this API to the project.

If you want, at this point you can return to the API list and also add the Google Drive API by selecting and then Enabling it.

Now we will create the credentials required. Click on Credentials, and then on OAuth consent screen. Fill out the Product name field.

Click on Save, and then on the next page click on Create credentials and from the dropdown list OAuth client ID

Set the Application type to Web Application, give it a name, and then copy the URL given in the DVD New Connection window into the Authorised redirect URIs field.

Click Create, and then make a note of the provided client ID and client secret. Watch out for any spaces before or after the values (h/t @Nephentur). Keep these credentials safe as you would any password.

Go back to DVD and paste these credentials into the Create Connection screen, and click Authorise. When prompted, sign in to your Google Account.

Click on Save, and your connection is now created successfully!

With a connection to Google Analytics created, you can now analyse the data available from within it. You'll need to set the measure columns appropriately, as by default they're all taken by DVD to be dimensions.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Performing a 12c Upgrade with a New Install

Tue, 2016-10-25 04:00

Software updates often include new features, and while useful, these new features are often the only driving factors in upgrading software. There's no harm in wanting to play around with the shiny new toy but many software updates also include much more significant changes, such as resolving bugs or security vulnurabilities.

In fact, bug fixes and security patches are usually released on a more frequent schedule than new feature sets. These changes are necessary to maintain a healthy environment. For this reason, Rittman Mead usually suggests environments are always as up to date as possible with the current releases available.

OBIEE was released this past summer, and it seems to have resolved many issues that plagued early 12C adopters. Recently, OBIEE was also released, resolving even more issues with the early 12C versions. With all of the improvements and fixes available in these versions, an upgrade plan should be a priority to anyone currently on one of the earlier releases of 12c (especially

Okay, so how do I upgrade?

Spencer McGhin has already posted a fantastic blog going over how to perform an in-place upgrade for the release. Even though it was for the previous release, the process is very similar. For those interested in reading a step by step guide, or looking to see what would go into the process, I would suggest reading his post here.

However, with OBIEE 12C's new BAR files, we could take another approach to performing an upgrade. Instead of the traditional "in-place" upgrades, we could perform an upgrade using a different process. We could simply perform a brand new install of this OBIEE version and migrate the existing content using a variety of tools Oracle provides us. Robin Moffatt covered this kind of installation for OBIEE here, before the new BAR files existed, and now the BAR files will make this process much more straightforward.

If you choose to "upgrade" your environment by performing a fresh install, implementing the upgrade process will comprise of exporting the required files from OBIEE, removing the old version of OBIEE (if you are using the same machine), installing the new version of OBIEE, and then deploying the previously exported content. This process resembles that of a migration, and can be thought of that way, but migrating between 12C environments seems to be much simpler than migrating to a 12C environment from an older environment.

So an upgrade process could instead look like a brand new installation of the new OBIEE version, and then the execution of a handful of commands provided by Oracle to return the environment to its previous state.

But what would we gain from following this process, rather than a traditional in-place upgrade?

It's worth noting that either approach requires careful planning and testing. Performing a brand new install does not remove the necessity of planning an upgrade process, gathering requirements, identifying all content that must be migrated, testing the installation, testing the migration, and user acceptance and validation testing. The proper process should never be ignored, regardless of the implementation method.

Is there any advantage to a fresh install?

For starters, you won't need to pollute your system with old or deprecated scripts/directories. In Spencer's aforementioned blog, he found that after his upgrade process he had to maintain a second middleware home directory. If you upgrade your environment throughout the years, you may end up with hundreds of unused/deprecated scripts and files. Who enjoys the thought that their environment is full of old and useless junk? A fresh install would cull most of these superfluous and defunct files on a regular basis.

Additionally, there is the occasional bug that seems to reappear in upgraded environments. These bugs usually appear to be from environments that were patched, and then upgraded to a new version, which causes the previously fixed bug to reappear. While these bugs are fixed in future patches, fresh installs are usually free from these kind of issues.

Finally, I would argue a fresh installation can occasionally be simpler than performing the upgrade process. By saving response files used in an installation, the same installation can be performed again extremely easily. You could perform an install in as little as three lines, if not fewer:
/home/oracle/files/bi_platform- -silent -responseFile /home/oracle/files/obiee.rsp /home/oracle/Oracle/Middleware/Oracle_Home/oracle_common/bin/rcu -silent -createRepository -databaseType ORACLE -connectString localhost:1521/ORCL -dbUser sys -dbRole sysdba -schemaPrefix DEV -component BIPLATFORM -component MDS -component WLS -component STB -component OPSS -component IAU -component IAU_APPEND -component IAU_VIEWER -f < /home/oracle/files/db_passwords.txt /home/oracle/Oracle/Middleware/Oracle_Home/bi/bin/config.sh -silent -responseFile /home/oracle/files/configure_obiee.rsp

If this is the case, you can just save the response files set up during the first installation, and reuse them to install each new OBIEE version. Of course the required response file structure could change between versions, but I doubt any changes would be significant.

How do I migrate everything over?

So you've chosen to do a fresh install, you've saved the response files for future use, and you have a brand new OBIEE environment up and running. Now, how do we get this environment back to a state where it can be used?

Before performing the upgrade or uninstall, we need to gather a few things from the current environment. The big things we need to make sure we get is the catalog, RPD, and the security model. We may need additional content (like a custom style/skin or deployments on the Weblogic Server, configurations, etc.) but I will ignore those for brevity. To move some these, I expect you would be required to use the WLST.

Catalog, RPD, and Security Model

Lucky for us, the Catalog, RPD, and Security Model are all included in the BAR export we can create using the exportServiceInstance() function in the WLST. You can then import these to a 12C environment using the importServiceInstance() function. Easy enough, right?


If your users are maintained in the embedded Weblogic LDAP, you must export them and then re-import them. This process can be done manually or through the WLST using the Current Management Object.

If users are maintained through an external Active Directory source, then the configurations will be pulled in with the Security Model in the BAR file.

Testing the migration

The final step is, of course, to make sure everything works! And what better way than to use Oracle's new Baseline Validation Tool. This tool is included in OBIEE 12C, and is perfect for testing migrations between environments.

For those unfamiliar, the basic process is this:

  • Configure and run the Baseline Validation Tool against your content.
  • Perform the upgrade (be sure to preserve the previously gathered test results)!
  • Run the Baseline Validation Tool again to gather the new output, and display the compared results.

The output should be an HTML file that, when opened in a browser, will let you know what has changed since the last time it was run. If everything was migrated properly, then there should be no major discrepancies.

Final Thoughts

Is it better to do an in-place upgrade, or a fresh install and migrate current content? The answer, as always, depends on the business. One method adds complexity but allows for more customization possibilities, while the other is likely faster and a more standard approach. Use whichever works for your specific requirements.

It's an interesting idea to install a new version of OBIEE every so often, rather than perform an upgrade, but maybe for some organizations it will simplify the process and alleviate common upgrade issues. If you or your organization are often stuck on older versions of OBIEE because you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the typical upgrade process, maybe you can provision an additional environment and attempt this alternative method.

As previously stated, it is imperative for environments to be as up to date as possible, and this method is simply another, albeit unconventional, avenue to make that happen.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Oracle OpenWorld 2016 - Data Integration Recap

Fri, 2016-10-21 16:33

I know it's been about a month since Oracle OpenWorld 2016 concluded, but I wanted to give a brief recap on a few things that I thought were interesting in the data integration space. During the week prior to OpenWorld, I had the privilege to attend the Oracle ACE Director Briefing. Over 2 days, ACE Directors were provided an early preview of what's to come down the Oracle product pipeline. The importance of the event is easy to note as Thomas Kurian himself spends an hour plus providing the initial product overview and answering questions. The caveat, the entire session is under NDA (as you might imagine). But, the good thing is that several of the early preview products were announced the following week at Oracle OpenWorld. Here's what I saw that might impact the Oracle Data Integration product area most.

Data Flow ML

Take an ETL tool, add the cloud, and mix in the latest Big Data technologies and methodologies and you have Data Flow ML. This cloud-based tool is built for stream or batch processing, or both, following the Lambda architecture. Data is ingested into Kafka topics, transformed using Spark Streaming, and loaded into a final target, which may be created automatically by DFML. Along the way, Spark ML is used to profile the data and make suggestions for how to enrich the data with internal or external sources. The technology is still in its early stages but keep an eye out on the Rittman Mead blog for more information over the next few months.

Data Integration in the Cloud

Oracle Data Integrator Cloud Service is coming soon and with it, new licensing options. ODI can be deployed in the cloud on Java Cloud Service or Big Data Cloud Service, or it can be deployed on-premises for more of a hybrid environment. From a licensing perspective, ODICS can be a monthly subscription or you can BYOL (bring your own license) and run ODI from any compute resource. This flexibility allows you to pushdown the transformation execution to the location of the data, rather than moving the data to the transformation engine - a standard for Oracle Data Integrator.

Oracle Data Integrator

Coming soon, the next patchset release for Oracle Data Integrator 12c. Features discussed at Oracle OpenWorld were:

  • Git Integration and Smart Merge:
    This release will introduce a new integration for lifecycle management, Git, adding to the current integration option of Subversion. Not only that, but ODI will finally provide "smart" merge functionality to allow an automated merge of a branch into the trunk.
  • Kafka and Spark Streaming:
    With ODI for Big Data, streaming integration is coming. Use of Apache Kafka as a source or target and Spark Streaming integration for transformations will allow for more real-time processing of data. The introduction of Cassandra as a data source is another enhancement for the Big Data release.
  • RESTful Connectivity:
    Another long awaited feature is REST web service integration. A new technology, similar to the SOAP web service integration, will be available and able to connect to any RESTful service. Along with that, BICS and Storage Cloud Service integration will be introduced.

There are definitely many other interesting looking products and product updates coming (or already here), including GoldenGate Service Architecture, updates to the GoldenGate Cloud Service, Big Data Cloud Service, Big Data Compute and several others. It’s an interesting time as the Oracle shift to the cloud continues - and data integration won’t be left behind.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Data Visualization Desktop Data Flow Component

Thu, 2016-10-20 07:54

My previous post contained a brief description of Data Visualization Desktop (DVD) new features in, in terms of sources, visualisations and components. In this post we're going to simulate a typical analyst use case and understand how DVD can support the process.

Data Visualisation Desktop is a tool aimed at departmental analysis, with data coming from different sources and results that need to be delivered quickly. Given the ad-hoc nature of it, traditional long term IT-driven Business Intelligence processes often won’t suffice. In this example we'll have a deep look at DVD's Data Flow component and how it can be used to create an ETL flow in order to analyse data coming from a multitude of sources. Data Flow is new functionality introduced in DVD

Preamble: being Italian I can't avoid talking about football, the example provided in this post will analyse some Serie A data together with some Fantasy Football information in order to understand which players I should choose for my team.

Data Sources

In order to analyse Serie A players I based my research on the following data points:

  • Players cost: Excel file containing Team, Role and Fantasy Football Cost for each Serie A player. This file can change match by match since Cost of a single players can vary reflecting his performances.
  • Players statistics: CSV files containing players statistics like goal scored, yellow and red cards, assists and fantasy football mark for every match of the current and past season.

For the purpose of the example I'm assuming the Players cost file is an XLSX received manually by the analyst (think at Budget data) and the Players statistics data stored in an Hive table.

Creating Data Sources in DVD

Data Visualization Desktop has a native connector to Hive, so just need to click on "Data Sources", then Create -> Connection and select "Apache Hive". The setup is pretty simple, we need to specify the host, port, username and password of the Hive Server.

Hive Connection

The next step is creating a new Data Source and select the newly created "TestHive" as source. The list of Hive's databases and, selecting FantasyFootball, the list of tables are visible.

Hive Data Source

After clicking on the ff_statistics table we can select and import the columns. There is also an option to check or directly enter the SQL if needed. After clicking OK (and checking that no errors arise) we are ready to use the Hive table.

Hive Columns

The "Players Cost" Excel file, received manually by the analyst, can be directly updated using the Data Source -> Create -> Data Source -> File option.

Upload a File

DVD automatically detects the column types and provides a preview of the content

Excel file content

Once the data source is saved we are ready to start manipulating the data.

Data Flow

Our initial goal is to exclude from the statistics table any data quality issues. This could be down to invalid CSVs, as well as players not existing in "Players Cost" file (if they were sold to teams outside Serie A or they stopped their career). To do so we can use the Data Flow option included in DVD and accessible in the Data Source page.

Path to data flow

The first step is to select ff_statistics from list of sources, right click and select "Add Step". From the list of options presented we can select Filter and remove all the invalid data by simply only include rows where the "Code" is not empty [null].

Data Flow Step 1

The Data Flow chart now includes the Filter component. Following step is to bring in the "Players cost" file in the flow by selecting the Add Data option. Then it's time to join the two sources, we can do that by selecting both them and choosing the Join option.

Join two Dataflows

We can specify the columns which will be used in the joining condition and the join type (inner or outer) by selecting the desired option in the Keep Rows section (between Matching rows or All rows). For the purpose of our analysis we'll keep only the matching rows of the two datasets (inner join) since we are interested in all players listed in Players Cost and having a valid set of statistics in Players Statistics.

Now we can enrich the data set further, by adding derived metrics and attributes:

  • Count of Matches: The number of valid matches (having a not null grade) played by so far by each player. This will be used later to filter out all players having less than 10 valid games since those are less likely to play most of the games.
  • Role Translation: Roles are specified in Italian, a simple CASE WHEN can translate them in English.

The enrichment can be achieved by creating an additional Add Columns Step and filling properly the formulas.

New Columns Formula

After filtering out all players with less than 10 valid marks, an Aggregate step can be added to set the aggregation level and methods. The Aggregate step should be included in every Data Flow since it's the unique place where Attribute/Measure and aggregation definitions can be made. A Data Flow without the Aggregation step will provide a default column definition that may result in an unusable output data source.
Finally we can store the end resultset locally in order to proceed with the analysis.

Global Flow

We can now execute the data flow and FantasyFootball is automatically added to the list of DVD's Data Sources. The Data Flow can also be stored in DVD in order to be re-executed when necessary.
Keep in mind that Data Flow works locally on the workstation where DVD is installed, so data extraction and manipulation will generate a load on the system based on the data volume and complexity of the steps.


Before creating a project we can review the resulting FantasyFootball dataset settings and change the Attribute/Measure definition of my Columns as well as the type of aggregation.

Change Columns Attributes

As written before it's better to define Attributes/Measures with an Aggregate step in the Data Flow since any setting changed directly in the dataset will be overwritten when the Data Flow is re-executed.

With the data preparation work completed, now is time to start creating a project using the FantasyFootball dataset. As written in my previous post a number of new visualisations is available with DVD, some are used in the example below like Chord, Parallel and Sankey diagrams.

Global Flow

Unfortunately I'll not share the details of my findings since those could be used against me in the competition but Hey....that Higuain looks like a good player!

In this post we saw a typical analyst use case, with data coming from multiple sources needing to be joined together and cleansed. All operations done manually via Excel that can now be automated, saved and re-executed with DVD's Data Flow.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Data Visualization Desktop

Wed, 2016-10-19 06:17

Yesterday Data Visualization Desktop (DVD) Version was released. DVD, since its first release, aims to extend Oracle's Data Visualization portfolio by adding a desktop tool allowing data visualization capabilities directly to end users without the intervention of the IT department, in line with the Gartner's bi-modal IT.

The new version adds several capabilities to the existing product like visualization types, data sources and a wrangling option. This post will share the details of the new release additional features.


After downloading DVD, the installation is pretty simple, just double click on the Oracle_Data_Visualization_Desktop_V2_12_2_2_0_0.msi file, choose the installation folder and click on "Install".

Installation end

Once the installation is finished, be aware of the message in the last screen, it says that the correct version of R and the set of packages need to be installed in order to be used with DVD for Advanced Analytics. Those can be installed via the "Install Advanced Analytics" file placed in Start Menu -> Programs -> Oracle.

This setup allows to chose the R installation location, installs R and then downloads from cran.us.r-project.org the relevant packages.

R Setup

New Visualisations

The first set of improvements in the new release is about the new out of the box visualisation, and new set of graphs is now available:

  • List: Shows a list of the dimension's values together with a gradient colouring based on the measure selected

List View

  • Parallel Coordinates: Shows multiple dimensions on the same chart enhancing the ability to quickly get an insight about possible connections between them

Parallel View

  • Timeline: It's an effective way of showing time related facts, each fact is shown along a timeline, with one or more distinguishing attributes, the example shows the quantity shipped by day and city.

Timeline View

  • Network Diagrams: Chord, Circular, Network and Sankey Diagrams are used to shows inter-relationship between elements

Network Views

Other visual enhancements include a multi-canvas layout that can be exported with a single click and a hierarchical or gradient colouring for the charts.

Data Sources

A lot of new data sources have been added to DVD, some of them still in beta phase. A bunch of new databases are now supported like Netezza, Amazon Aurora and PostgreSQL.

An interesting enhancement is the connection to Dropbox and Google Drive allowing DVD to source files stored in Cloud. Finally DVD's exposure to Big Data world has been enhanced by the addition of the connectivity to tools such as Apache Drill, Presto and Cassandra.

DVD Data Sources

Excel Editing

Excel sheets used as data source now can be edited and the DVD project refreshed without the need of manually reloading the spreadsheet.

Data Flows

There is a new component in DVD called Data Flow allowing the end user some basic transformations of the data like joining two datasets (even if coming from different sources), filtering, aggregating, adding columns based on custom formulas and storing the result on the local file system.

DVD Data Flows Options

In the example below two files coming from Hive (but the source can also be different) are joined and a subset of columns is selected and stored locally.

DVD Data Flows Options

Data Flows can be stored in DVD and re-executed upon request. The list of Data Flows is available under Data Sources -> Data Flows. In the next blog post I'll show a typical Analyst use case in which Data Flow can help automating a series of data loading, cleansing and enriching steps.

Data Insights

Data Insights provides a way of quickly understand the dataset available, by default it shows a series of graphs, one for every attribute, with the cardinality of each attribute's value. A drop down menu allows to show the same graphs based on any measure defined in the dataset.

DVD Data Insights

BI Ask

The new DVD version contains also BI Ask, providing the ability to create queries with natural language which is automatically interpreted and presented in suggested visualisations.

BI Ask

As you could read in this post the new version of Data Visualization Desktop adds a series of really interesting features enabling not only the data visualisation but also data exploration and wrangling. In the next blog post we'll see a typical DVD use case and how the new Data Flow option could be used to couple data coming from various sources.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

OBIEE, Big Data Discovery, and ODI security updates - October 2016

Wed, 2016-10-19 04:14

Oracle release their "Critical Patch Update" (CPU) notices every quarter, bundling together details of vulnerabilities and associated patches across their entire product line. October's was released yesterday, with a few entries of note in the analytics & DI space.

Each vulnerability is given a unique identifier (CVE-xxxx-xxxx) and a score out of ten. The scoring uses a common industry-standard scale on the basis of how easy it is to exploit, and what is compromised (availability, data, etc). Ten is the worst, and I would crudely paraphrase it as generally meaning that someone can wander in, steal your data, change your data, and take your system offline. Lower than that and it might be that it requires extensive skills to exploit, or the impact be much lower.

A final point to note is that the security patches that are released are not available for old versions of the software. For example, if you're on OBIEE or earlier, and it is affected by the vulnerability listed below (which I would assume it is), there is no security patch. So even if you don't want to update your version for the latest functionality, staying within support is an important thing to do and plan for. You can see the dates for OBIEE versions and when they go out of "Error Correction Support" here.

If you want more information on how Rittman Mead can help you plan, test, and carry out patching or upgrades, please do get in touch!

The vulnerabilities listed below are not a comprehensive view of an Oracle-based analytics/DI estate - things like the database itself, along with Web Logic Server, should also be checked. See the CPU itself for full details.

Big Data Discovery (BDD)
  • CVE-2015-3253
    • Affected versions: 1.1.1, 1.1.3, 1.2.0
    • Base score: 9.8
    • Action: upgrade to the latest version, 1.3.2. Note that the upgrade packages are on Oracle Software Delivery Cloud (née eDelivery)
  • CVE-2016-2107
    • Affected versions:,,,
    • Base score: 5.9
    • Action: apply bundle patch 161018 for your particular version (see MoS doc 2171485.1 for details)
BI Publisher ODI
  • CVE-2016-5602

    • Affected versions:,,,,
    • Base score: 5.7
    • The getInfo() ODI API could be used to expose passwords for data server connections.
    • More details in MoS doc 2188855.1
  • CVE-2016-5618

    • Affected versions:,,,,,
    • Base score: 3.1
    • This vulnerability documents the potential that a developer could take the master repository schema credentials and use them to grant themselves SUPERVISOR access. Even using the secure wallet, the credentials are deobfuscated on the local machine and therefore a malicious developer could still access the credentials in theory.
    • More details in MoS doc 2188871.1
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Oracle Data Integrator 12c: Getting Started - Components and Architecture

Sat, 2016-10-15 12:19

I’ve decided that it’s time for a refresher on Oracle Data Integrator 12c. I’m writing a Getting Started series to help folks get interested in the product and maybe even teach a few old dogs (including myself) some new tricks. In my last post, I shared the history of ODI and a bit about what sets it apart from other ETL tools on the market. In this article, I’ll walk through different components of Oracle Data Integrator and some of the architecture choices you’ll need to make in order to get started with ODI 12c.


Before diving into the architecture, we need to understand the different components that are part of the Oracle Data Integrator installation.


ODI is driven by metadata. This metadata is stored away in two different repositories: the Master repository and the Work repository. The Master repository contains information about security (users, profiles, etc), topology (data connections, contexts, physical/logical schemas), and ODI versioning. Each Master repository can be linked to one or more Work repositories. Work repositories can be of 2 different types: development or execution. In a Development Work repository you’ll find all of the design objects (mappings, packages, procedures, etc) and datastore metadata. The Execution Work repository only stores the execution objects, Scenarios and Load Plans, and there is no development capability. More on all of these objects in a later post.

ODI Repositories

The Master and Work repositories can reside in the same database schema or as their own schemas in the same database instance. The latter practice was more common in the past, before the Repository Creation Utility (RCU) was really the main mechanism for creating the repositories. The RCU doesn’t provide an option for separating the repositories into two different schemas, therefore the standard is to use one single schema. But that’s not the only reason, it also stems from the best practice of separating your environments in entirety; development, test, production, so each can be maintained, upgraded, and patch separately. We’ll jump into the environment setup further down.


The Oracle Data Integrator Agent is what orchestrates the execution of processes created in ODI. At runtime, agents will be used to run Load Plans and Scenarios via an ODI schedule, command line call, web service call, or a third-party scheduler. Agents are accessed via http/https requests, regardless of how they are called into action.

There are 3 types ODI 12c of agents:

  • JEE Agent
    Implemented as a deployment in Weblogic Server 12c, the JEE Agent allows you to use the features of WLS, such as clustering for high availability and JDBC connection pooling.
  • Standalone Agent
    The Standalone Agent is a lightweight Java application that is typically installed to run closest to where most of the transformations will occur. In most data warehouse setups, this is on the data warehouse server.
  • Colocated Agent
    This type of agent is essentially a Standalone Agent that is managed via Weblogic Server. If you want to manage all of your agents via WLS, this is the way to go.

A great article from the ODI A-Team, ODI Agents: Standalone, JEE and Colocated, describes the agent types in further detail, including the comparison of agent features chart, found below.

ODI 12c Agent Comparison


ODI Studio is a Java based development environment based on the JDeveloper framework. Studio is installed on client machines and used to connect to the master and work repositories to access the ODI metadata and perform object development. Essentially, this is where the magic happens!

Architecture - It Depends.

With any good question comes the answer, “it depends”. Before we can choose an architecture for ODI, the system requirements must be determined, allowing us to work through the “it depends” answer more clearly. Let’s dive right in with some potential requirements that may be necessary for a proper data integration setup.

High Availability

A key decision that drives which components of Oracle Data Integrator will be installed and configured stems from the need for a highly available ETL process. If there is a critical process or reporting that relies on ODI, then HA will be a requirement. Not only that, but you’ll want to look at using something like Oracle RAC for the repository database in order to keep it up and running. Finally, high availability won’t save you from an entire data center going offline, so ensure you have a disaster recovery process in place as well.

Environments Required

How many environments do you need? Let’s start with the minimum, Development, Test/QA, and Production. Ok, well if you’re a small shop you might be able to get away without Test/QA, but not recommended. I would also add a 4th environment, Hotfix, which will store the production development objects, allowing your team to fix a production issue quickly without having to restore code from source control. The purpose of understanding the number of environments upfront is to determine how many application servers and database servers will be required for the entire Oracle Data Integrator setup. There’s yet another great article from the Oracle A-Team that describes the use of the ODI Master Repository across these many environments.

ODI Environments

Lifecycle Management and Deployment Process

As you can see in the environments image above, there are also different arrows showing the deployment process and use of source control. The deployment process is usually the easy part to determine: Migrate ODI execution objects from Dev—>Test—>Prod. But the mechanism for doing so might be a bit different, especially if (or more likely, when) source control is introduced.

Oracle Data Integrator 12c can integrate with Subversion, and soon Git, for full lifecycle management capabilities. ODI also has its own object versioning, but it really is only to be used as a last resort. Often, teams have developed their own process around exporting objects to XML, loading into a source control system, and migrating to the next environment. Whichever process you determine is best for your organization, or if you plan to piggy-back on what’s currently in play for developers at your company, you’ll want to ensure the correct components are introduced into the architecture.

Sources and Targets

This is about the types and location of the data sources that ODI will need to connect to. If you have a set of flat files on a server that is unreachable from the machine where the ODI agent is installed, you’ll need a new Standalone agent placed somewhere that can pull from the file server. Drawing up the entire “planned” data flow will help to sort out these decisions early on, especially if you introduce big data into the mix.


Finally, everyone’s favorite topic: security. There are many aspects to security within ODI, including how developers access ODI Studio and how to secure your ETL processes and the application itself. As mentioned earlier, the ODI Agents are called via a web request. The addition of SSL can further secure transmission of these requests, but may also introduce additional setup. If you have a large team of ETL developers, or maybe just a company policy on how applications are to be accessed, ODI can be integrated with your organization’s LDAP via the external authentication setup. With these and other considerations for ODI security, be sure to sort this out during the requirements and architecture phase.

There are many other questions that will need to be answered in order to properly choose your architecture, but hopefully this will get you started. As always, you can join one of the Rittman Mead ODI bootcamps to learn more from one of our experts on the product. Up next in the Getting Started series, we’ll look at Oracle Data Integrator installation and configuration.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Streaming data from Oracle using Oracle GoldenGate and Kafka Connect

Wed, 2016-10-12 10:00

This article was also posted on the Confluent blog, head over there for more great Kafka-related content!

Kafka Connect is part of the Confluent Platform, providing a set of connectors and a standard interface with which to ingest data to Kafka, and store or process it the other end. Initially launched with a JDBC source and HDFS sink, the list of connectors has grown to include a dozen certified connectors, and twice as many again 'community' connectors. These cover technologies such as MongoDB, InfluxDB, Kudu, MySQL - and of course as with any streaming technology, twitter, the de-facto source for any streaming how-to. Two connectors of note that were recently released are for Oracle GoldenGate as a source, and Elasticsearch as a sink. In this article I'm going to walk through how to set these up, and demonstrate how the flexibility and power of the Kafka Connect platform can enable rapid changes and evolutions to the data pipeline.

The above diagram shows an overview of what we're building. Change Data Capture (CDC) on the database streams every single change made to the data over to Kafka, from where it is streamed into Elasticsearch. Once in Elasticsearch it can be viewed in tools search as Kibana, for search and analytics:

Oracle GoldenGate (OGG) is a realtime data replication tool, falling under the broad umbrella of Change Data Capture (CDC) software, albeit at the high end in terms of functionality. It supports multiple RDBMS platforms, including - obviously - Oracle, as well as DB2, MySQL, and SQL Server. You can find the full certification list here. It uses log-based technology to stream all changes to a database from source, to target - which may be another database of the same type, or a different one. It is commonly used for data integration, as well as replication of data for availability purposes.

In the context of Kafka, Oracle GoldenGate provides a way of streaming all changes made to a table, or set of tables, and making them available to other processes in our data pipeline. These processes could include microservices relying on an up-to-date feed of data from a particular table, as well as persisting a replica copy of the data from the source system into a common datastore for analysis alongside data from other systems.

Elasticsearch is an open-source distributed document store, used heavily for both search, and analytics. It comes with some great tools including Kibana for data discovery and analysis, as well as a Graph tool. Whilst Elasticsearch is capable of being a primary data store in its own right, it is also commonly used as a secondary store in order to take advantage of its rapid search and analytics capabilities. It is the latter use-case that we're interested in here - using Elasticsearch to store a copy of data produced in Oracle.

Confluent's Elasticsearch Connector is an open source connector plug-in for Kafka Connect that sends data from Kafka to Elasticsearch. It is highly efficient, utilising Elasticsearch's bulk API. It also supports all Elasticsearch's data types which it automatically infers, and evolves the Elasticsearch mappings from the schema stored in Kafka records.

Oracle GoldenGate can be used with Kafka to directly stream every single change made to your database. Everything that happens in the database gets recorded in the transaction log (OGG or not), and OGG takes that ands sends it to Kafka. In this blog we're using Oracle as the source database, but don't forget that Oracle GoldenGate supports many sources. To use Oracle GoldenGate with Kafka, we use the "Oracle GoldenGate for Big Data" version (which has different binaries). Oracle GoldenGate has a significant advantage over the JDBC Source Connector for Kafka Connect in that it is a 'push' rather than periodic 'pull' from the source, thus it :

  1. Has much lower latency
  2. Requires less resource on the source database, since OGG mines the transaction log instead of directly querying the database for changes made based on a timestamp or key.
  3. Scales better, since entire schemas or whole databases can be replicated with minimal configuration changes. The JDBC connector requires each table, or SQL statement, to be specified.

Note that Oracle Golden Gate for Big Data also has its own native Kafka Handler, which can produce data in various formats directly to Kafka (rather than integrating with the Kafka Connect framework).


I'm using the Oracle BigDataLite VM 4.5 as the base machine for this. It includes Oracle 12c, Oracle GoldenGate for Big Data, as well as a CDH installation which provides HDFS and Hive for us to also integrate with later on.

On to the VM you need to also install:

  • Confluent Plaform 3.0
  • Oracle GoldenGate Kafka Connect connector
  • Elasticsearch Kafka Connect connector
  • Elasticsearch 2.4

To generate the schema and continuous workload, I used Swingbench 2.5.

For a step-by-step guide on how to set up these additional components, see this gist.

Starting Confluent Platform

There are three processes that need starting up, and each retains control of the session, so you'll want to use screen/tmux here, or wrap the commands in nohup [.. command ..] & so that they don't die when you close the window.

On BigDataLite the Zookeeper service is already installed, and should have started at server boot:

[oracle@bigdatalite ~]$ sudo service zookeeper-server status
zookeeper-server is running

If it isn't running, then start it with sudo service zookeeper-server start.

Next start up Kafka:

# On BigDataLite I had to remove this folder for Kafka to start
sudo rm -r /var/lib/kafka/.oracle_jre_usage
sudo /usr/bin/kafka-server-start /etc/kafka/server.properties

and finally the Schema Registry:

sudo /usr/bin/schema-registry-start /etc/schema-registry/schema-registry.properties

Note that on BigDataLite the Oracle TNS Listener is using port 8081 - the default for the Schema Registry - so I amended /etc/schema-registry/schema-registry.properties to change



Configuring Oracle GoldenGate to send transactions to Kafka Connect

Oracle GoldenGate (OGG) works on the concept of an Extract process which reads the source-specific transaction log and writes an OGG trail file in a generic OGG format. From this a Replicat process reads the trail file and delivers the transactions to the target.

In this example we'll be running the Extract against Oracle database, specifically, the SOE schema that Swingbench generated for us - and which we'll be able to generate live transactions against using Swingbench later on.

The Replicat will be sending the transactions from the trail file over to Kafka Connect.

I'm assuming here that you've already successfully defined and set running an extract against the Swingbench schema (SOE), with a trail file being delivered to /u01/ogg-bd/dirdat. For a step-by-step guide on how to do this all from scratch, see here.

You can find information about the OGG-Kafka Connect adapter in the README here.

To use it, first configure the replicat and supporting files as shown.

  1. Replicat parameters

    Create /u01/ogg-bd/dirprm/rconf.prm with the following contents:

    REPLICAT rconf
    TARGETDB LIBFILE libggjava.so SET property=dirprm/conf.props
    MAP *.*.*, TARGET *.*.*;
  2. Handler configuration

    Edit the existing /u01/ogg-bd/dirprm/conf.props and amend gg.classpath as shown below. The classpath shown works for BigDataLite - on your own environment you need to make the necessary jar files available per the dependencies listed in the README.

    #The handler properties
    #The formatter properties
    #Set the classpath here
    javawriter.bootoptions=-Xmx512m -Xms32m -Djava.class.path=.:ggjava/ggjava.jar:./dirprm

    Note the gg.log.level setting - this can be very useful to switch to DEBUG if you're investigating problems with the handler.

  3. Kafka Connect settings

    Edit the existing /u01/ogg-bd/dirprm/confluent.properties and amend the schema.registry.url URL to reflect the port change made above. All other values can be left as defaults.


Now we can add the replicat. If not already, launch ggsci from the ogg-bd folder:

cd /u01/ogg-bd/
rlwrap ./ggsci

and define the replicat, and start it


Check its status:

GGSCI (bigdatalite.localdomain) 13> INFO RCONF

REPLICAT   RCONF     Last Started 2016-09-02 15:39   Status RUNNING
Checkpoint Lag       00:00:00 (updated 00:00:02 ago)
Process ID           25415
Log Read Checkpoint  File ./dirdat/rt000000000
                     First Record  RBA 0

Note that on BigDataLite 4.5 VM there are two existing replicats configured, RKAFKA and RMOV. You can ignore these, or delete them if you want to keep things simple and clear.

Testing the Replication

We'll run Swingbench in a moment to generate some proper throughput, but let's start with a single transaction to check things out.

Connect to Oracle and insert a row, not forgetting to commit the transaction (he says, from frustrating experience ;) )

[oracle@bigdatalite ogg]$ sqlplus soe/soe@orcl

SQL*Plus: Release Production on Fri Sep 2 15:48:18 2016

Copyright (c) 1982, 2014, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

Last Successful login time: Fri Sep 02 2016 12:48:22 +01:00

Connected to:
Oracle Database 12c Enterprise Edition Release - 64bit Production
With the Partitioning, OLAP, Advanced Analytics and Real Application Testing options

SQL> insert into soe.logon values (42,42,sysdate);

1 row created.

SQL> commit;

Commit complete.

SQL> select * from soe.logon where logon_id=42;

---------- ----------- ---------
42       50865 12-AUG-11
42          42 02-SEP-16

Now if you list the topics defined within Kafka, you should see a new one has been created, for the SOE.LOGON table:

[oracle@bigdatalite dirrpt]$ kafka-topics --zookeeper localhost:2181 --list
SLF4J: Class path contains multiple SLF4J bindings.
SLF4J: Found binding in [jar:file:/usr/lib/zookeeper/lib/slf4j-log4j12-1.7.5.jar!/org/slf4j/impl/StaticLoggerBinder.class]
SLF4J: Found binding in [jar:file:/usr/share/java/kafka/slf4j-log4j12-1.7.21.jar!/org/slf4j/impl/StaticLoggerBinder.class]
SLF4J: See http://www.slf4j.org/codes.html#multiple_bindings for an explanation.
SLF4J: Actual binding is of type [org.slf4j.impl.Log4jLoggerFactory]

and you can view the record:

[oracle@bigdatalite dirrpt]$ kafka-console-consumer --zookeeper localhost:2181 --topic ORCL.SOE.LOGON --from-beginning

{"schema":{"type":"struct","fields":[{"type":"string","optional":false,"field":"table"},{"type":"string","optional":false,"field":"op_type"},{"type":"string","optional":false,"field":"op_ts"},{"type":"string","optional":false,"field":"current_ts"},{"type":"string","optional":false,"field":"pos"},{"type":"double","optional":true,"field":"LOGON_ID"},{"type":"double","optional":true,"field":"CUSTOMER_ID"},{"type":"string","optional":true,"field":"LOGON_DATE"}],"optional":false,"name":"ORCL.SOE.LOGON"},"payload":{"table":"ORCL.SOE.LOGON","op_type":"I","op_ts":"2016-09-02 14:56:26.000411","current_ts":"2016-09-02 15:56:34.111000","pos":"00000000000000002010","LOGON_ID":42.0,"CUSTOMER_ID":42.0,"LOGON_DATE":"2016-09-02:15:56:25"}}

Hit Ctrl-C to cancel the consumer -- otherwise it'll sit there and wait for additional messages to be sent to the topic. Useful for monitoring when we've got lots of records flowing through, but not so useful now.

The message is JSON, so a useful tool to install is jq:

sudo yum install -y jq

You can then pipe the output of kafka-console-consumer through jq to pretty-print it:

[oracle@bigdatalite dirrpt]$ kafka-console-consumer --zookeeper localhost:2181 --topic ORCL.SOE.LOGON --from-beginning|jq '.'

  "payload": {
    "LOGON_DATE": "2016-09-02:15:56:25",
    "CUSTOMER_ID": 42,
    "LOGON_ID": 42,
    "pos": "00000000000000002010",
    "current_ts": "2016-09-02 15:56:34.111000",
    "op_ts": "2016-09-02 14:56:26.000411",
    "op_type": "I",
    "table": "ORCL.SOE.LOGON"

or even show just sections of the message using jq's syntax (explore it here):

[oracle@bigdatalite dirrpt]$ kafka-console-consumer --zookeeper localhost:2181 --topic ORCL.SOE.LOGON --from-beginning|jq '.payload.op_ts'

"2016-09-02 14:56:26.000411"

So we've got successful replication of Oracle transactions into Kafka, via Oracle GoldenGate. Now let's bring Elasticsearch into the mix.

Configuring Elasticsearch

We're going to use Elasticsearch as a destination for storing the data coming through Kafka from Oracle. Each Oracle table will map to a separate Elasticsearch index. In Elasticsearch an 'index' is roughly akin to an RDBMS table, a 'document' to a row, a 'field' to a column, and a 'mapping' to a schema.

Elasticsearch itself needs no configuration out of the box if you want to just get up and running with it, you simply execute it:


Note that this wouldn't suffice for a Production deployment, in which you'd want to allocate heap space, check open file limits, configure data paths, and so on.

With Elasticsearch running, you can then load Kopf, which is a web-based admin plugin. You'll find it at http://<server>:9200/_plugin/kopf

From Kopf you can see which nodes there are in the Elasticsearch cluster (just the one at the moment, with a random name inspired by Marvel), along with details of the indices as they're created - in the above screenshot there are none yet, because we've not loaded any data.

Setting up the Elasticsearch Kafka Connect handler

Create a configuration file for the Elasticsearch Kafka Connect handler. I've put it in with the Elasticsearch configuration itself at /opt/elasticsearch-2.4.0/config/elasticsearch-kafka-connect.properties; you can use other paths if you want.

The defaults mostly suffice to start with, but we do need to update the topics value:

# Custom config

Because Elasticsearch indices cannot be uppercase, we need to provide a mapping from the Kafka topic to the Elasticsearch index, so add a configuration to the file:


If you don't do this you'll get an InvalidIndexNameException. You also need to add

topic.key.ignore = ORCL.SOE.LOGON

Note that the global key.ignore is currently ignored if you are also overriding another topic parameter. If you don't set this flag for the topic, you'll get org.apache.kafka.connect.errors.DataException: STRUCT is not supported as the document id..

Now we can run our connector. I'm setting the CLASSPATH necessary to pick up the connector itself, as well as the dependecies. I also set JMX_PORT so that the metrics are exposed on JMX for helping with debug/monitoring.

export CLASSPATH=/opt/kafka-connect-elasticsearch/*
export JMX_PORT=4243
/usr/bin/connect-standalone /etc/kafka/connect-standalone.properties /opt/elasticsearch-2.4.0/config/elasticsearch-kafka-connect.properties

You'll not get much from the console after the initial flurry of activity, except:

[pool-2-thread-1] INFO org.apache.kafka.connect.runtime.WorkerSinkTask - WorkerSinkTask{id=elasticsearch-sink-0} Committing offsets

But if you head over to Elasticsearch you should now have some data. In Kopf you'll see that there are now 'documents' in the index:

In addition the header bar of Kopf has gone a yellow/gold colour, because your Elasticsearch cluster is now in "YELLOW" state - we'll come back to this and the cause (unassigned shards) shortly.

Interactions with Elasticsearch are primarily through a REST API, which you can use to query the number of records in an index:

[oracle@bigdatalite ~]$ curl -s -X "GET" "http://localhost:9200/soe.logon/_count?pretty=true"
"count" : 4,
"_shards" : {
"total" : 5,
"successful" : 5,
"failed" : 0

and you can pair it up with jq as above to select just one of the fields:

$ curl -s -X "GET" "http://localhost:9200/soe.logon/_count?pretty=true"|jq '.count'

To see the data itself:

$ curl -s -X "GET" "http://localhost:9200/soe.logon/_search?pretty=true"
  "took" : 25,
  "timed_out" : false,
  "_shards" : {
    "total" : 5,
    "successful" : 5,
    "failed" : 0
  "hits" : {
    "total" : 4,
    "max_score" : 1.0,
    "hits" : [ {
      "_index" : "soe.logon",
      "_type" : "kafka-connect",
      "_id" : "ORCL.SOE.LOGON+0+3",
      "_score" : 1.0,
      "_source" : {
    "table" : "ORCL.SOE.LOGON",
    "op_type" : "I",
    "op_ts" : "2016-09-05 14:46:16.000436",
    "current_ts" : "2016-09-05 15:46:21.860000",
    "pos" : "00000000000000002748",
    "LOGON_ID" : 42.0,
    "CUSTOMER_ID" : 42.0,
    "LOGON_DATE" : "2016-09-05:15:46:11"

This is looking good! But ... there's a wrinkle. Let's fire up Kibana, an analytical tool for data in Elasticsearch, and see why.


Go to http://<server>:5601/ and the first thing you'll see (assuming this is the first time you've run Kibana) is this:

Elasticseach, Index Mappings, and Dynamic Templates

Kibana is a pretty free-form analysis tool, and you don't have to write SQL, define dimensions, and so on -- but what you do have to do is tell it where to find the data. So let's specify our index name, which in this example is soe.logon:

Note that the Time-field name remains blank. If you untick Index contains time-based events and then click Create you'll see the index fields and their types:

Columns that are timestamps are coming across as strings - which is an issue here, because Time is one of the dimensions by which we'll pretty much always want to analyse data, and if it's not present Kibana (or any other user of the Elasticsearch data) can't do its clever time-based filtering and aggregation, such as this example taken from another (time-based) Elasticsearch index:

As a side note, the schema coming through from OGG Kafka Connect connector is listing these timestamp fields as strings, as we can see with a bit of fancy jq processing to show the schema entry for one of the fields (op_ts):

$ kafka-console-consumer --zookeeper localhost:2181 --topic ORCL.SOE.LOGON --from-beginning --max-messages 1|jq '.schema.fields[] | select (.field | contains("op_ts"))'
    "field": "op_ts",
    "optional": false,
    "type": "string"

This string-based schema is actually coming through from the OGG replicat itself - whilst the Kafka Connect handler interprets and assumes the datatypes of columns such as numbers, it doesn't for timestamps.

So - how do we fix these data types in Elasticsearch so that we can make good use of the data? Enter Dynamic Templates. These enable you to specify the mapping (similar to a schema) of an index prior to it being created for a field for the first time, and you can wildcard field names too so that, for example, anything with a _ts suffix is treated as a timestamp data type.

To configure the dynamic template we'll use the REST API again, and whilst curl is fine for simple and repeated command line work, we'll switch to the web-based Elasticsearch REST API client, Sense. Assuming that you installed it following the process above you can access it at http://<server>:5601/app/sense.

Click Get to work to close the intro banner, and in the main editor paste the following JSON (gist here)

DELETE /_template/kafkaconnect/
PUT /_template/kafkaconnect/
  "template": "soe*",
  "settings": {
    "number_of_shards": 1,
    "number_of_replicas": 0
  "mappings": {
    "_default_": {
      "dynamic_templates": [
          "dates": {
            "match": "*_ts",
            "mapping": {
              "type": "date",
              "format": "YYYY-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.SSSSSS"
          "non_analysed_string_template": {
            "match": "*",
            "match_mapping_type": "string",
            "mapping": {
              "type": "string",
              "index": "not_analyzed"

What this is doing:

  1. The DELETE is just there so that you can re-run these statements, since Elasticsearch won't update an existing template.
  2. Any index beginning with soe will be matched against this template.
  3. This is based on a single-node Elasticsearch instance, so setting the number of replicas to zero, and shards to one. In a multi-node Production cluster you'd want to set these differently. If you leave replicas as the default (1) then your Elasticsearch cluster will remain in "YELLOW" health status as there'll forever be unassigned shards.
  4. The dates template matches any field with _ts suffix and sets it to a Date type. The inbound data must match the format shown. For details of the date format specifics, see the JodaTime documentation.
  5. The non_analysed_string_template template matches any string field and creates two instances of it; one analyzed and one not. Analyzed is where it gets tokenized which is useful for full-text searching etc, and non-analyzed is necessary for aggregations against the full field value. For example, "New York" would otherwise aggregate as 'New' and a separate instance 'York'.

Put the cursor over each statement and click the green play arrow that appears to the right of the column.

For the DELETE statement you'll get an error the first time it's run (because the index template isn't there to delete), and the PUT should succeed with

    "acknowledged": true

Now we'll delete the index itself so that it can be recreated and pick up the dynamic mappings. Here I'm using curl but you can run this in Sense too if you want.

$ curl -X "DELETE" "http://localhost:9200/soe.logon"

Watch out here, because Elasticsearch will delete an index before you can say 'oh sh....' -- there is no "Are you sure you want to drop this index?" type interaction. You can even wildcard the above REST request for real destruction and mayhem - action.destructive_requires_name can be set to limit this risk.

So, to recap - we've successfully run Kafka Connect to load data from a Kafka topic into an Elasticsearch index. We've taken that index and seen that the field mappings aren't great for timestamp fields, so have defined a dynamic template in Elasticsearch so that new indices created will set any column ending _ts to a timestamp. Finally, we deleted the existing index so that we can use the new template from now on.

Let's test out the new index mapping. Since we deleted the index that had our data in (albeit test data) we can take advantage of the awesomeness that is Kafka by simply replaying the topic from the start. To do this change the name value in the Elasticsearch connector configuration (elasticsearch-kafka-connect.properties), e.g. add a number to its suffix:


If you're running Kafka Connect in standalone mode then you could also just delete the offsets file to achieve the same.

Whilst in the configuration file you need to also add another entry, telling the connector to ignore the schema that is passed from Kafka and instead dynamically infer the types (as well as honour the dynamic mappings that we specified)


Now restart the connector (make sure you did delete the Elasticsearch index per above, otherwise you'll see no difference in the mappings)

export CLASSPATH=/opt/kafka-connect-elasticsearch/*
export JMX_PORT=4243
/usr/bin/connect-standalone /etc/kafka/connect-standalone.properties /opt/elasticsearch-2.4.0/config/elasticsearch-kafka-connect.properties

And go check out Elasticsearch, first the mapping:

$ curl -X "GET" "http://localhost:9200/soe.logon/_mapping?pretty"

      "soe.logon" : {
        "mappings" : {
              "LOGON_ID" : {
                "type" : "double"
              "current_ts" : {
                "type" : "date",
                "format" : "YYYY-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.SSSSSS"
              "op_ts" : {
                "type" : "date",
                "format" : "YYYY-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.SSSSSS"

Note that the two timestamp columns are now date type. If you still see them as strings, make sure you've set the topic.schema.ignore configuration as shown above in the Kafka Connect properties for the Elasticsearch connector.

Looking at the row count, we can see that all the records from the topic have been successfully replayed from Kafka and loaded into Elasticsearch. This ability to replay data on demand whilst developing and testing the ingest into a subsequent pipeline is a massive benefit of using Kafka!

$ curl -s -X "GET" "http://localhost:9200/soe.logon/_count?pretty=true"|jq '.count'

Over in Kibana head to the Index Patterns setting page (http://<server>:5601/app/kibana#/settings/indices), or from the Settings -> Indices menu buttons at the top. If you already have the index defined here then delete it - we want Kibana to pick up the new shiny version we've created because it includes the timestamp columns. Now configure a new index pattern:

Note that the Time-field name field is now populated. I've selected op_ts. Click on Create and then go to the Discover page (from the option at the top of the page). You may well see "No results found" - if so use the button in the top-right of the page to change the time window to broaden it to include the time at which you inserted record(s) to the SOE.LOGON table in the testing above.

To explore the data further you can click on the add button that you get when hovering over each of the fields on the left of the page, which will add them as columns to the main table, replacing the default _source (which shows all fields):

In this example you can see that there was quite a few testing records inserted (op_type = I), with nothing changing between than the LOGON_DATE.

Connector errors after adding dynamic templates

Note that if you get an error like this when running the connector:

[pool-2-thread-1] ERROR org.apache.kafka.connect.runtime.WorkerSinkTask - Task elasticsearch-sink-02-0 threw an uncaught and unrecoverable exception
org.apache.kafka.connect.errors.ConnectException: Cannot create mapping:{"kafka-connect":{"properties":{"[...]
at io.confluent.connect.elasticsearch.Mapping.createMapping(Mapping.java:65)

then check the Elasticsearch log/stdout, where you'll find more details. This kind of thing that can cause problems would be an index not deleted before re-running it with the new template, as well as a date format in the template that doesn't match the data.

Running a Full Swingbench Test Configuration

If you've made it this far, congratulations! Now we're going to set up the necessary configuration to run Swingbench. This will generate a stream of changes to multiple tables, enabling us to get a feel for how the pipeline behaves in 'real world' conditions.

To start will, let's get a list of all the tables involved:

$ rlwrap sqlplus soe/soe@orcl

SQL*Plus: Release Production on Tue Sep 6 11:45:02 2016

Copyright (c) 1982, 2014, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

Last Successful login time: Fri Sep 02 2016 15:49:03 +01:00

Connected to:
Oracle Database 12c Enterprise Edition Release - 64bit Production
With the Partitioning, OLAP, Advanced Analytics and Real Application Testing options

SQL> select table_name from user_tables;


11 rows selected.


The OGG replication is already defined with a wildcard, to pick up all tables in the SOE schema:

[oracle@bigdatalite config]$ cat /u01/ogg/dirprm/ext1.prm
EXTTRAIL ./dirdat/lt

[oracle@bigdatalite config]$ cat /u01/ogg-bd/dirprm/rconf.prm
TARGETDB LIBFILE libggjava.so SET property=dirprm/conf.props
MAP *.*.*, TARGET *.*.*;

The OGG Kafka Connect handler will automatically create a topic for every table that it receives from OGG. So all we need to do now is add each table to the Elasticsearch Sink configuration. For this, I created a second version of the configuration file, at /opt/elasticsearch-2.4.0/config/elasticsearch-kafka-connect-full.properties

topic.index.map=ORCL.SOE.WAREHOUSES:soe.warehouses ,ORCL.SOE.PRODUCT_INFORMATION:soe.product_information ,ORCL.SOE.PRODUCT_DESCRIPTIONS:soe.product_descriptions ,ORCL.SOE.ORDER_ITEMS:soe.order_items ,ORCL.SOE.ORDERS:soe.orders ,ORCL.SOE.ORDERENTRY_METADATA:soe.orderentry_metadata ,ORCL.SOE.LOGON:soe.logon ,ORCL.SOE.INVENTORIES:soe.inventories ,ORCL.SOE.CUSTOMERS:soe.customers ,ORCL.SOE.CARD_DETAILS:soe.card_details ,ORCL.SOE.ADDRESSES:soe.addresses

Having created the configuration, run the connector. If the previous connector from the earlier testing is running then stop it first, otherwise you'll get a port clash (and be double-processing the ORCL.SOE.LOGON topic).

/usr/bin/connect-standalone /etc/kafka/connect-standalone.properties /opt/elasticsearch-2.4.0/config/elasticsearch-kafka-connect-full.properties
Running Swingbench

I'm using charbench which is a commandline interface for Swingbench:

$ /opt/swingbench/bin/charbench -cs localhost:1521/orcl -u soe -p soe -v trans,users
Author  :        Dominic Giles
Version :

Results will be written to results.xml.
Hit Return to Terminate Run...

Time            NCR     UCD     BP      OP      PO      BO      SQ      WQ      WA      Users
06:59:14        0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       [0/1]
06:59:15        0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       [0/1]
06:59:16        0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       [0/1]
06:59:17        0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       [0/1]
06:59:18        0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       [0/1]
06:59:19        0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       [0/1]
06:59:20        0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       [0/1]
06:59:21        0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       [0/1]
06:59:22        0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       0       [1/1]
06:59:23        2       0       2       0       0       0       0       0       0       [1/1]
06:59:24        3       0       4       5       0       0       0       0       0       [1/1]

Each of the columns with abbreviated headings are different transactions run, and as soon as you see numbers above zero in them it indicates that you should be getting data in the Oracle tables, and thus through into Kafka and Elasticsearch.

Auditing the Pipeline

Let's see how many records are on the ORDERS table:

$ rlwrap sqlplus soe/soe@orcl

SQL*Plus: Release Production on Tue Sep 6 12:21:13 2016

Copyright (c) 1982, 2014, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

Last Successful login time: Tue Sep 06 2016 12:21:09 +01:00

Connected to:
Oracle Database 12c Enterprise Edition Release - 64bit Production
With the Partitioning, OLAP, Advanced Analytics and Real Application Testing options

SQL> select count(*) from orders;


But, this includes the records that were pre-seeded by Swingbench before we set up the OGG extract. How do we know how many have been read by GoldenGate since, and should therefore be downstream on Kafka, and Elasticsearch? Enter logdump. This is a GoldenGate tool that gives a commandline interface to analysing the OGG trail file itself. You can read more about it here, here, and here.

First, determine the trail file name:

$ ls -l /u01/ogg/dirdat/*
-rw-r-----. 1 oracle oinstall 64068 Sep  9 10:16 /u01/ogg/dirdat/lt000000015

And then launch logdump (optionally, but preferably, with rlwrap to give command history and search):

$ cd /u01/ogg/
$ rlwrap ./logdump

From the Logdump > prompt, open the trail file:

Logdump 1 >OPEN /u01/ogg/dirdat/lt000000015
Current LogTrail is /u01/ogg/dirdat/lt000000015

and then filter to only show records relating to the table we're interested in:


and then give a summary of the records present:

Logdump 3 >COUNT
LogTrail /u01/ogg/dirdat/lt000000015 has 46 records
Total Data Bytes              14056
  Avg Bytes/Record              305
Insert                           22
Update                           23
Metadata Records                  1
After Images                     45
Filtering matched           46 records
          suppressed       208 records

Here we can see that there are a total of 45 insert/update records that have been captured.

Let's check the replicat's trail file also matches:

$ ls -l /u01/ogg-bd/dirdat/*
-rw-r-----. 1 oracle oinstall 64416 Sep  9 10:16 /u01/ogg-bd/dirdat/rt000000000

$ cd /u01/ogg-bd
$ rlwrap ./logdump

Oracle GoldenGate Log File Dump Utility
Version OGGCORE_12.

Copyright (C) 1995, 2016, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

Logdump 1 >OPEN /u01/ogg-bd/dirdat/rt000000000
Current LogTrail is /u01/ogg-bd/dirdat/rt000000000
Logdump 3 >COUNT
LogTrail /u01/ogg-bd/dirdat/rt000000000 has 46 records
Total Data Bytes              14056
  Avg Bytes/Record              305
Insert                           22
Update                           23
Metadata Records                  1
After Images                     45
Filtering matched           46 records
          suppressed       213 records

Average of 3 Transactions
Bytes/Trans .....       5421
Records/Trans ...         15
Files/Trans .....          4

Looks good - a total of 45 records again.

So from OGG, the data flows via the Kafka Connect connect into a Kafka topic, one per table. We can count how many messages there are on the corresponding Kafka topic by running a console consumer, redirecting the messages to file (and using & to return control to the console):

$ kafka-console-consumer --zookeeper localhost:2181 --topic ORCL.SOE.ORDERS --from-beginning > /tmp/kafka_orcl.soe.orders &

and then issue a wc to count the number of lines currently in the resulting file:

$  wc -l /tmp/kafka_orcl.soe.orders
45 /tmp/kafka_orcl.soe.orders

Since the console consumer process is still running in the background (type fg to bring it back to the foreground if you want to cancel it), you can re-issue the wc as required to see the current count of messages on the topic.

Finally, to see the number of documents on the corresponding Elasticsearch index:

$ curl -s -X "GET" "http://localhost:9200/soe.orders/_count?pretty=true"|jq '.count'

Here we've proved that the number of records written by Oracle are making it all the way through our pipeline.

Monitoring the Pipeline

Kafka and Kafka Connect expose metrics through JMX. There's a variety of tools for capturing, persisting, and visualising this, such as detailed here. For now, we'll just use JConsole to inspect the metrics and get an idea of what's available.

You'll need a GUI for jconsole, so either a desktop session on the server itself, X11 forwarded, or you can also run JConsole from a local machine (it's bundled with any JDK) and connect to the remote JMX. In this example I simply connected to the VM's desktop and ran JConsole locally there. You launch it by running it from the shell prompt:

$ jconsole

From here I connected to the 'Remote Process' on localhost:4242 to access the Kafka server process (because it's running as root the jconsole process (running as a non-root user) can't connect to it as a 'Local Process'). The port 4242 is what I specified as an environment variable as part of the kafka process launch.

On the MBeans tab there are a list of MBeans under which the bespoke application metrics (as opposed to JVM ones like heap memory usage) are found. For example, the rate at which data is being received and sent from the cluster:

By default when you see an attribute for an MBean is it point-in-time - doubleclick on it to make it a chart that then tracks subsequent changes to the number.

By connecting to localhost:4243 (press Ctrl-N for a new connection in the same JConsole instance) you can inspect the metrics from the Kafka Connect elasticsearch sink

You can also access JMX metrics for the OGG Kafka handler by connecting to the local processs (assuming you're running JConsole locally). To find the PID for the RCONF replicat, run:

$ pgrep -f RCONF

Then select that PID from the JConsole connection list - note that the process name may show as blank.

The producer stats show metrics such as the rate at which topic is being written to:


In this article we've seen how stream transactions from a RDBMS such as Oracle into Kafka and out to a target such as Elasticsearch, utilising the Kafka Connect platform and its standardised connector framework. We also saw how to validate and audit the pipeline at various touchpoints, as well as a quick look at accessing the JMX metrics that Kafka provides.

This article was also posted on the Confluent blog, head over there for more great Kafka-related content!

Categories: BI & Warehousing

OTN Appreciation Day: OBIEE's Export to Excel Functionality

Tue, 2016-10-11 04:11

Only kidding…. Do you know that almost any transformation doable in excel can be achieved in OBIEE, probably faster and with zero impact on your local workstation?

Cat Million Rows Image credit https://twitter.com/fomin_andrew/status/749305992198881281

Why bothering downloading data to Excel when you have pivot tables, conditional formatting and a huge variety of graphs with drilling/action capabilities all in OBIEE. A platform where analysis can be shared by passing a single URL instead of emailing huge XLS files?

Sometimes however there is a good reason to export to excel, like when preparing a presentation on top of OBIEE data/analysis. The following are the possible ways of achieving the OBIEE/Excel integration:

  • Dashboard and Analysis can be exported to excel with a single click
  • A BI Publisher version of a dashboard can be created and used by default when exporting
  • Excel can be linked via Smartview to a single Analysis: Data and Visualisations can be downloaded and refreshed upon request with configurable parameters.
  • Excel can directly query the BiServer Subject Areas via Smartview.
  • Excel version of Dashboard and Analysis can be delivered by email via Agents.

An important note, Oracle published "OBIEE - New Features, Export Guidance And Recommendations For Working With Microsoft Office (Doc ID 1558070.1)". This Document contains recommendations on how to provide the export to Excel depending on the output data volume. The document was written for OBIEE but the same suggestions apply to almost any OBIEE version available.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

OTN Appreciation Day: Oracle Data Integrator 12c - Flexibility

Mon, 2016-10-10 22:49

As you may already know by now, it’s OTN Appreciation Day! The idea was thought up by Oracle ACE Director Tim Hall to give thanks to the Oracle Technical Network that we all love and use on a daily basis (see #ThanksOTN on Twitter).

The focus for these blog posts is not only to give thanks to OTN, but also to generate some interesting conversation around different features of various Oracle products. One of my favorite features of Oracle Data Integrator 12c is its flexibility. This isn’t necessarily a single feature of the product, but more of an overall assessment of ODI as a whole. Let me breakdown a few of the features that make ODI flexible and easy to adapt. Note: I actually mentioned a couple of these in my previous blog post, “Oracle Data Integrator 12c: Getting Started - What is ODI?”, but why not point them out again?

Knowledge Modules

The typical main goal of Oracle Data Integrator is to develop mappings that use on or more source datastores to load one or more target datastores. These mappings can have many different components that join, filter, aggregate or transform the data before it reaches its final destination. Logically, this is completed in ODI by dragging lines between boxes and configuring properties for each component.

The physical implementation of a mapping is set to use one or more Knowledge Modules to generate the code or objects required for specific loading and integration types. These KMs are code templates that use the ODI Substitution API to fill in the mapping metadata based on the logical implementation. The great part is that these KMs can be easily customized and modified to fit your data integration needs! Your environment doesn’t have to conform to the tool, you get to make the tool conform to your environment.

"But wait!", says the current ODI developers. “We can’t modify Component Knowledge Modules.” Yes, that’s a true statement. The current ODI 12c version has two types of KMs: Template and Component. The former have been in the product since inception and are easily customizable while the latter are more of a black box. But, as announced at Oracle OpenWorld last month, a brand new, highly extensible Knowledge Module framework, and the ability to edit all KMs, is coming soon!


If Knowledge Module customization doesn’t give you the flexibility necessary to perform specific actions in your data integration project, we also have ODI Procedures. These objects are used to execute a specific set of code for any sort of task. With so many different technologies accessible via ODI, you can write nearly any bit of code to execute. Procedures are often used for exception handling, file processing, and all types of scripting via Jython or Groovy. These objects just add to the ultimate flexibility of Oracle Data Integrator.

Java API

Last, but definitely not least, we have the ODI SDK Java API. Using the SDK, we can perform nearly every action that can be completed via ODI Studio. That’s a huge amount of flexibility! Now if there is a batch creation of objects or change necessary, I can write a few lines of Groovy code, execute the script, and it’s all completed in seconds rather than days of manual work. Take a look at a couple of examples I’ve posted in the past, adding columns to a set of ODI Datastores and creating Interfaces (in ODI 11g) based on a SQL query. Any chance I get I try to use the ODI SDK to make my development life just that much easier.

There you have it, my favorite feature of Oracle Data Integrator 12c - flexibility. I hope you all have a great OTN Appreciation Day and thanks for reading! And of course, #ThanksOTN!

Categories: BI & Warehousing


Sat, 2016-10-08 13:20

I've just attended my first user group in Poland, the very-excellent POUG. This was the first international version of the conference, having been run previously just within Poland. Based on these two days, I would say it was a resounding success! There was a great atmosphere there, really engaged and enthusiastic. The size of the event, friendliness, and fun made it a very welcoming one, and reminded me a lot of my first ever conference that I attended (back in 2010!), the Rittman Mead BI Forum.

I travelled out to Warsaw on the Thursday, and attended the speakers dinner. It's always nice to see familiar faces and meet new ones - as well as enjoy some jolly good food. The next morning I went for a run at the nearby park, enjoying the sunrise over the water

Good morning Warsaw! #POUG https://t.co/aHAuYonlhE pic.twitter.com/LYgU50bIei

— Robin Moffatt (@rmoff) October 7, 2016

The conference had two tracks, focussing primarily on the database but with some BI content too, as well a talk about property graphs. The first session I attended was also one of my favourites. It was "DBA, Heal Thyself: Five Diseases of IT Organizations and How to Cure Them", presented with great humour and energy by Jim Czuprynski. Some of the uncomfortable truths about mistakes made in the field of IT were laid bare, with no prisoners taken! Whilst it was based on the database, much of it was applicable to OBIEE. Things like reliance on bespoke scripts, avoidance of new features, and general ignorance in the field were covered. You can find an article on the topic from Jim here.

After Jim's session was Hans Viehmann talking about Property Graphs. I wrote an article that was published on OTN just last week about this and it was great to get chance to meet Hans, and hear him speak.

I skipped the next session to do a bit of slide polishing and geek chat with Christian Berg, before getting lunch - which was really good:

Just a light lunch at #POUG pic.twitter.com/B3Bntf1JCU

— Robin Moffatt (@rmoff) October 7, 2016

After lunch was OBIEE presentations in both tracks, by Christian Berg, and Kiran Taylor. I sat in on Christian's "Fifty shades of #fail", which is a fun walk through some of the many ways that OBIEE gets done wrong.

My talk, "(Still) No Silver Bullets - OBIEE 12c Performance in the Real World" was the last of the day. I've given this talk quite a few times now, but still enjoy delivering it each time. The topic's one I've spent so much time working on and find so interesting, that it never gets stale! You can find the slides here and set of related links here.

.@rmoff - OBIEE performance in the real world - where is it slow? - #POUG pic.twitter.com/IanRoHBX2G

— Kiran Tailor (@KiranTailorUK) October 7, 2016

The day finished with the POUG After Party, which was at a bar in the center of Warsaw. Good beer, good food, good music - and plenty of geek talk! I really have to take my hat off to the organisers of POUG, they did a great job.

#POUG #bagpipes pic.twitter.com/ZC8WGwq8Z6

— Robin Moffatt (@rmoff) October 7, 2016

The second day of POUG brought more good presentations. I got to see Neil Chandler speak, about execution plans and how they can vary - and how to ensure they don't unless you want them too. It was really interesting, and took me back a few years to when I last looked in-depth at this kind of stuff. After Neil was Jim again, talking about analytic functions. Most of these I knew about, but one that was new to me (and I'll definitely be using) was the PERCENT syntax for FETCH FIRST - very neat.

Great stuff from @JimTheWhyGuy at #POUG. FETCH FIRST I knew… but now I know you can use PERCENT with it too. Cool! pic.twitter.com/f10yoz8yge

— Robin Moffatt (@rmoff) October 8, 2016

The audience at POUG seemed to be predominantly DBAs and database developers, and this kind of talk is just great for spreading awareness of new functionality that is going to make people's jobs easier, and their code run faster. The final talk of the morning was from Martin Widlake, presenting a great discussion about efficient and maintainable bulk processing with SQL and PL/SQL. With his very accessible and engaging presentation style, Martin's talk was an extremely pragmatic and valuable one. Everyone loves a deep-dive geekout on system internals (don't they??), but arguably the most value to the widest section of the audience comes in learning, or being reminded of, how to code and design systems well.

Even without lots of BI content, I found the conference very useful. Whilst Oracle CBO internals may not be my day to day work, many of the topics discussed in a database context can easily be transplanted to the BI world. Performance is performance. Diagnostic approaches are tool-agnostic. As well as the presentations, the opportunity to exchange ideas and war-stories with other experts in the industry (over a beer, usually…) is the kind of thing you just don't get from reading the manuals or a bunch of PDFs.

So that was POUG, and all too soon time return home. Bravo to the organisers of POUG, and here's hoping they run the conference again next year!

Well that was it for #poug. So long @POUG_ORG and thanks for all the fish! pic.twitter.com/mv9Es95yfr

— Christian Berg (@Nephentur) October 8, 2016
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Oracle Data Integrator 12c: Getting Started - What is ODI?

Tue, 2016-10-04 20:28

There is something about sharing stories with others about the technology you love that gets the blood flowing. I have written blog posts and articles, presented sessions at conferences, and recorded podcasts and tech tips about Oracle Data Integrator over the years. And it’s been a blast! But one thing I find is that I’m always drawn to sharing the difficult or overly technical aspects of ODI, often writing about integration with GoldenGate or strange quirks in the product that I’ve had to overcome for my clients. In a sense, that’s why you’re reading, right? The Rittman Mead blog has always been about solving the difficult problems with Oracle technologies and sharing that knowledge in a simple and easy to understand format. But what about a true “getting started” type of article?

I think it’s time for a refresher on Oracle Data Integrator. What is ODI? How has it evolved over the years and where is it going? And, of course, how do you get started with Oracle Data Integrator? I plan to share what I love about ODI and hope to get some folks interested in this great product as well. If you want to learn even more, I’d love to have you join me or one of my colleagues at one of our ODI 12c bootcamps. We’ll dig deep into the details and answer all of your questions about data integration. But until then, let’s get started with a little about where Oracle Data Integrator came from.

History of ODI

Oracle Data Integrator was the product of an acquisition that Oracle made in late 2006. Back then, Oracle already had a data integration tool for developing ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) mappings, Oracle Warehouse Builder (OWB). At the time, OWB was delivered with the Oracle Database license, which made it the go-to data warehouse development tool for Oracle developers. In October of 2006, Oracle announced that they had acquired a French data integration company called Sunopsis who focused their product on E-LT (Extract, Load, Transform) rather than the traditional ETL.

What did that mean for OWB? The “standard” (and free with the Oracle DB) ETL development platform for Oracle was now in competition with a new product, Oracle Data Integrator. ODI was a separate license cost and resided in the Fusion Middleware stack, outside of the database. As you might imagine, OWB’s days were numbered. With the possibility to sell additional software licenses and the uprising of Fusion Middleware and Fusion Applications (of which ODI was a big part of), eventually Warehouse Builder was to be merged with Data Integrator.

The data integration product from Sunopsis became Oracle Data Integrator 10g after the acquisition. In August 2010, Oracle made their first updates to ODI with the release of Oracle Data Integrator 11g. This version moved ODI into the framework utilized by other products such as Oracle SQL Developer and JDeveloper, and introduced new features such as the JEE Agent and the ODI Console. While the 11g version was a step up from ODI 10g, it was still not widely regarded as a typical ETL development tool. The concept of Interfaces being a single unit of work for ETL versus the usual flow-based mapping approach found in most ETL tools, including OWB, led to a slower adoption rate. It took several years, but finally Oracle Data Integrator went flow-based with the release of ODI 12c, integrating some of the best features from Oracle Warehouse Builder into the current ODI product. In late 2013, the initial version of ODI 12c was made available to the public. Besides the switch to flow-based mappings, ODI 12c has also included integration with big data sources and targets, lifecycle management capabilities, many performance enhancements, and a migration utility for those moving from OWB.

Now that we’re caught up with that brief history lesson, let’s look at how ODI is able to differentiate itself from competitors.

What Makes ODI Different?

I alluded to Oracle Data Integrator’s use of ELT (Extract, Load, and Transform) earlier, but what does that mean - and why are the letters in the acronym ETL out of order? The main difference is in the architecture.


Oracle Data Integrator is built to pushdown the transformation work to the source or target datasource. This means there is no need for a middle tier ETL engine to perform transformations, as many of the traditional ETL tools employ. In fact, in most implementations the ODI agent, which performs orchestration of the ETL processes, simply sends the code to the target server to be executed. This architecture allows ODI to use the power of the target datasource to execute the transformations. Why waste the processing power of your Oracle Database when it’s built for this type of SQL execution?

Knowledge Modules
The concept behind Knowledge Modules (KMs) is quite simple. In a nutshell, KMs are generic code templates that are applied to an ODI mapping and use a substitution language to input metadata from within the mapping to produce executable code at runtime. If you want to change the physical implementation of your mapping, say switching from an insert-only “append” integration method to an incremental update approach, you can simply switch the Knowledge Module applied to that particular mapping. KMs can even be customized or created from scratch to suit your specific data integration needs, adding to the overall flexibility of the tool.

Customization and Flexibility
The Knowledge Modules are just one aspect of Oracle Data Integrator that can be customized. With KMs, you can change how your mappings are physically implemented allowing for the ultimate flexibility. But it’s not just mappings, an object called a Procedure in ODI will allow any bit of code or command line call to be made using nearly any type of technology: Groovy, Jython, OS commands, Oracle SQL, MySQL, SQL Server…the list goes on and on. The great part about customizing Oracle Data Integrator is that you can make it adapt to your data warehouse - and not the other way around. Too often companies must adopt a “standard” because it is built into the software they use rather than a good business practice. Thankfully, that’s not the case with ODI.

Beyond customization within the Oracle Data Integrator objects, you can also access the application backend via the ODI SDK Java API. With this level of access, you can perform almost every task that can be completed within ODI Studio. Imagine, you need to create 400 source to staging mappings, all one-for-one column mappings. With the ODI SDK, and less than 50 lines of code, you can create them all in about 5 seconds! The power of the SDK is generally found when there is a need for a batch creation or modification of objects. But it’s not only those cases where the SDK shines, you can also perform actions such as automation of code deployment or even create a development quickstart for your standard mappings, all with custom code building ODI objects.

As you might have noticed, I’m a big fan of Oracle Data Integrator 12c. This is just the first of many in the “Oracle Data Integrator 12c: Getting Started” series. Up next, we’ll really look at how to go about getting started with ODI 12c. As always, please feel free to send me an email or message on twitter - or comment below - if you have any questions. And if I missed your favorite feature of Oracle Data Integrator, please share in the comments!

Categories: BI & Warehousing

All You Ever Wanted to Know About OBIEE Performance…but were too afraid to ask

Mon, 2016-10-03 06:19

At the Polish Oracle Users Group (POUG) conference this week I'm presenting one of my favourite talks, [Still] No Silver Bullets - OBIEE Performance in the Real World. This presentation is based on the shared experiences of myself and my Rittman Mead colleagues helping our clients diagnose and - most importantly! - fix their OBIEE performance problems. Performance is something that's interested me for a long time, and my very first conference presentation back in 2010 was on how to test OBIEE performance. Since then I've written and collected a lot of material on the subject, which I thought would be useful to present here as a handy one-stop reference.

OBIEE Performance - testing and optimisation

This series of blog posts goes into great detail on the specifics of testing, and diagnosing, OBIEE performance. Topics such as how to define an "OBIEE report" are covered in depth, along with a discussion of the tools available to carry out performance testing of OBIEE and monitor the results. There's also a whole post on optimisation (frequently called 'tuning') and a hefty rant against some of the common anti-patterns that we see adopted when it comes to troubleshooting poor performance.

  1. Introduction
  2. Test - Define
  3. Test - Design
  4. Test - Build
  5. Execute
  6. Analyse
  7. Optimise
  8. Summary and FAQ

If you ever encounter the unqualified advice "To fix your OBIEE performance problems, enable BI Server caching", then run!

BI Server caching can be brilliant for providing the "icing on the cake" of a well-built system, giving that extra little performance boost. Where BI Server caching is a bad idea is when it is used to "paper over the cracks" of a fundamentally poorly-built OBIEE system. If the foundations are rotten, gold-plating the building on top is not going to do anything to improve things in the long run. If your OBIEE performance is bad, you need to get to the bottom of why and then rectify it. Using caching to mask it only "brushes the problem under the carpet", storing up the same problem or worse for the future as your system usage increases.

With that caveat made, here are two articles that explain how to best use BI Server caching:

You can also watch a "Two-Minute Tech Tip" that I recorded on the subject: Oracle Business Intelligence Server Caching 2MTT

[Still] No Silver Bullets - OBIEE Performance in the Real World

As presented previously at OOW, OUGF, UKOUG, OUG Scotland, and POUG. Newly updated for OBIEE 12c.

OBIEE Performance Analytics: Analysing the Impact of Suboptimal Report Design

This article has been published on Oracle Technical Network (OTN), and examines in detail what happens when there's sub-optimal design in the implementation of an OBIEE system. Disks fill up, IO bandwidth is exhausted, the server is overworked - and performance suffers.

Performance Analytics Service

The Rittman Mead Performance Analytics Service is the result of our deep understanding of the OBIEE stack, performance optimisation theory, and numerous client engagements. We understand why performance is so crucial to the success of an OBIEE project. We know how OBIEE works, how to diagnose performance issues -- and how to fix them!

Our Performance Analytics Service offers a free baseline Performance Analytics Report for your current OBIEE system, using data to demonstrate where your performance issues lie and prioritising the areas in which to focus investigation. Building on this baseline report, we also offer a detailed Performance Analytics Report. This is prepared by one of our expert OBIEE performance consultants based on deep analysis and understanding of your specific OBIEE implementation and performance pain-points. Not only do we diagnose the specific issues, but we demonstrate the relative effort involved to rectify each one and the expected performance benefit that each will yield.

To provide powerful monitoring and diagnostics for the performance of your system we built the OBIEE Performance Analytics Dashboards. These give a full-stack view of the metrics that can impact performance of your OBIEE reports. This gives you the information needed to accurately diagnose issues when they arise, as well as perform historical analysis. Have a look at these videos to see exactly how the dashboards can help, and get in touch with us to request a demo!

(if Youtube is blocked, you can also download them here : 1, 2, 3)

Product Documentation

The documentation for OBIEE includes very useful sections on OBIEE performance that are worth reading:

Tuning Guide

Oracle has published white papers available through My Oracle Support that detail further options available within the OBIEE stack for tuning performance. In a blog article I do somewhat grumble about these papers and how they can be misused ("oooh here's a knob that I can fiddle with") if taken without proper context and diagnostics. In the right hands, however, they are useful reference for some of the more advanced configuration settings and their impact on performance.

See also page 13 of this document for good advice on working with exports to Excel from OBIEE: Doc ID 1558070.1

General Performance Resources

OBIEE Performance is nothing particularly fancy. The problems are the same as any other stack; just different components. The standard principles apply, and that is why I'd strongly recommend reading these articles as they give a fantastic background to the world of performance diagnostics and optimisation.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

OBIEE12c - Upgrading to Version

Thu, 2016-09-22 10:36


The new version of OBIEE 12c, to be exact, is out, so let’s talk about it. It’s my intent that after reading this, you can expect some degree of comfort in regards to possibly doing this thing yourself (should you find yourself in just such a circumstance), but if not, feel free to drop us a line or give us a ring. It should be noted that Oracle documentation explicitly indicates that you’re going to need to upgrade to OBIEE version, which is to say you’re going to have to bring your 11g instance up to 12c before you can proceed with another upgrade. A colleague here at RM and I recently sat down to give the upgrade process (click there for the Oracle doc) a go on one of our hosted windows servers, and here’s the cut and dry of it. The examples throughout will be referencing both Linux and Windows, so choose how you’d like. Now, if you’ve gone through the 12c install process before, you’ll be plenty familiar with roughly 80% of the steps involved in the upgrade. Just to get this out of the way, no, it’s not a patch (in the sense that you’re actually going through the OBIEE patching process using OPatch). In fact, the process almost exactly mirrors a basic 12c install, with the addition of a few steps that I will make darn sure we cover in their entirety below. Speaking of which, I’m not going to do a play-by-play of the whole thing, but simply highlight those steps that are wholly unfamiliar. To provide some context, let’s go through the bullet points of what we’ll actually be doing during the upgrade.

  1. First, we’ll make sure we have a server appropriate, supported version of java installed (8_77 is the lowest version) and that this guy corresponds to the JAVA_HOME you’ve got set up.

  2. Next, we’ll be running the install for the WebLogic server into a NEW oracle home. That’s right, you heard me. A. new. oracle. home.

  3. After that, we’ll be running a readiness check to make sure our OBIEE bits won’t run into any trouble during the actual upgrade process. This checks all OBIEE components, including those schemas you installed during the initial install process. Make sure to have your application database admin credentials on hand (we’ll talk about what you need below in more detail). The end of this step will actually have us upgrade all those pieces the readiness checker deems worthy of an upgrade.

  4. Next, we’ll reconfigure and upgrade our existing domain by running the RECONFIGURATION WIZARD!!!!! and upgrade assistant, respectively.

  5. Lastly, we’ll start up our services, cross our fingers, hold onto our four leaf clovers, etc.. (just kidding, at least about that last part).

Before we begin, however, let’s check off a few boxes on the ‘must have’ list.

  • Download all the files here, and make sure you get the right versions for whatever kind of server your version of OBIEE hangs out in. The java version will be 8_101 which will work out just fine even though the minimum needed is 8_77.

  • Get those database credentials! If you don’t know, drop everything and figure out how you’re going to access the application database within which the OBIEE 12c schemas were installed. You’ll need the user name/pass for the SYS user (or user with SYS privileges), and the database connection string as well, including the service name, host, and port.

  • Make sure you have enough disk space wherever you’re installing the upgrade. The downloads for the upgrade aren’t small. You should have at least 150GB, on a DEV box, say. You don’t want to have to manage allocating additional space at a time like this, especially if it involves putting in a ticket with IT (wink wink)! Speaking of which, you’ll also need the server credentials for whichever user 12c was installed under. Note that you probably don’t need root if it was a linux machine, however there have been some instances where I’ve needed to have these handy, as there were some file permission issues that required root credentials and were causing errors during an install. You’ll also need the weblogic/obiee admin user (if you changed the name for some reason).

  • Lastly, make sure you’re at least a tad bit familiar with both the path to the oracle and to the domain home.


After downloading the version of Java you need, go ahead update it via the .rpm or .exe, etc… Make sure to update any environment variables you have set up, and to update both the JAVA_HOME variable AND the PATH to reference the new Java location. As stated above, at the time of this blog, the version we used, and that is currently available, is 8_101. During the upgrade process, we got a warning (see below) about our version not being 8_77. If this happens to you, just click Next. Everything will be alright, promise.

Java Version Warning


Did you click the link to the upgrade doc yet? If not, do so now, as things are about to get kind of crazy. Follow along as we walk through the next steps if you’d like. First, stop services and disable the SSL like it tells you to. Then, start OBIEE services back up and then run the infrastructure jar (java -jar fmw_12. for the WebLogic server install. Again, I’m not going to go pic by pic here as you can assume most everything resembles the initial 12c install process, and this part is no different. The one piece of this puzzle we need to focus on is establishing a new oracle home. After skipping those auto updates, move onto step 3 where we are, in fact, going to designate a new oracle home. You’ll see that, after completing the WebLogic install, we’ll have a bunch of updated feature sets, in addition to some new directories in our oracle home. For example, if your original home is something like:


change it to:

New Oracle Home

when it asks you to enter a new one.

Breeze through the rest of the steps here, and remember to save that response file!


Unzip both of the fmw_12. files, making sure that your OBIEE install files are in the same directory. For windows, this will be the executable from the first zip file, and the zip file from the second part of disk 1. Execute the binary (on linux) or .exe, going through the usual motions and then in step 3, enter the NEW oracle home for In the example above, it would be:


for Linux, and likewise, for Windows:

Enter Existing Oracle Home

Again, there isn’t too much to note or trap you here beyond just making sure that you take special care not to enter your original oracle home, but the one you created in the previous section. Proceed through the next steps as usual and remember, save your response file!


Run the readiness checker from:

NEW_ORACLE_HOME/oracle_common/upgrade/bin/ua -readiness

This next series of steps will take you through all the schemas currently deployed on your application database and confirm that they won’t explode once you take them through the upgrade process. In step 2 of 6, make sure that you’re entering the port for EM/Console (9500 by default). Remember when I said you’re going to need the DB credentials you used to install 12c in the first place? Well here’s where we’re going to use them. The readiness checker will guide you through a bunch of screens that essentially confirms the credentials for each schema installed, and then presents a report detailing which of these will actually get upgraded. That is to say, there are some that won’t be. I really like this new utility as an extra vote of confidence for a process that can admittedly be oftentimes troublesome.

Readiness Checker

Readiness Report

Once you’ve validated that those schemas ready for update, go ahead and stop OBI12c services using the EXISTING oracle home.

Pro tip: they’ve made it super easy to do this now by just pointing your bash_profile to the binaries directory in OBIEE’s bitools folder (ORACLE_HOME/user_projects/domains/bi/bitools/bin). After logging this entry in your profile, you can simply type start.sh or stop.sh to bring everything up or down, not to mention take advantage of the myriad other scripts that are in there. Don't type those paths out every time.

I digress… After the services come down, run the upgrade assistant from within the NEW oracle home, as below:

Citing the previous example:


After bringing up the install dialogue box, move on to step 2, and select the All Schemas Used by a Domain option (as in the example above), unless of course you’d like to hand select which ones you’d like to upgrade. I suppose if you were thinking about scrapping one you had previously installed, then this would be a good option for you. Make sure the domain directory you specify is from your existing/old 12c instance, as below:

Upgrade Assistant-Existing Domain

Move through the next series of steps, which are more or less self explanatory (no tricks here, promise), once again validating connection credentials until you get to step 12. As always, save the response file, select Upgrade, and then watch the magic happen,….hopefully. Congratulations, you’ve just updated your schemas!

Schema Update Protocol Complete


Like I said before, I won’t be covering every single step of this process i.e, doing the map viewer portion, which means you’ll have to still consult the…oracle, on some of this stuff. That being said, don’t gloss over backing up the map viewer file..you have to do it. This is simply an attempt to help make the upgrade process a little easier to swallow and hopefully make some of the more confusing steps a bit clearer. Moving on. Guess what? It’s time to run another series of dialogue boxes. Beats the heck out of scripting this stuff though, I guess. Open up the RECONFIGURATION WIZARD!!!!! as instructed in the documentation, from the location within your NEW oracle home. The first step will prompt us for the location of the domain we want to upgrade. We want to upgrade our existing 12c domain (the old one). So type that in/browse for it. Right now.

Enter Existing Domain Home

Validate your java version and location in step 3 and then click your way through the next few screens, ensuring that you’ve at least given your stamp of approval on any pre-filled or manually filled entries in each dialogue box. Leave step 7 alone and click Next to get to the screen where we’re actually going to be starting the reconfiguration process. Click through and exit the RECONFIGURATION WIZARD!!!!!

Validate Java

Configuration Celebration

Don’t forget to restore the map viewer config file at this point, and then launch the configuration assistant again, this time selecting the All Configurations Used By a Domain option in step 2. Make sure you’ve entered the location of the existing 12c domain in this step as well, and NOT the one created under the new oracle home.

Enter Proper Domain

Click through the next steps, again, paying close attention to all prompts and the location for the map viewer xml file. Verify in step 7 that the directory locations referenced for both domain and oracle map viewer are for the existing locations and NOT those created by the install of the update.

Correct Location Verification Affirmation


You can now boot up ssl (as below) and then start OBIEE services.

DOMAIN_HOME/bitools/bin/ssl.sh internalssl true

Note: if you have tnsadmin or ldap.ora, place copies under NEW_ORACLE_HOME/network/admin

You can ignore the new oracle home created at this time, as, in my opinion, we’re going to have to do something similar for any following updates
for 12c. What did you think of the upgrade process and did you run into any issues? Thanks so much for reading, and as always, if you find any inconsistencies or errors please let us hear about them!

Categories: BI & Warehousing