Oracle – Is anybody using OBIEE (formerly Siebel Analytics) ? What is your experience

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We are in the process of selecting BI stack for our data warehouse. The top contenders are OBIEE = Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (formerly Siebel Analytics) and Microstrategy.

Has anyone worked with OBIEE? Lessons learned? General impressions? Flaws, strengths?

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I've been involved in 20 OBIEE projects for the past 6 years. It's a good ROLAP product. It has a flexible, mostly intuitive UI that end users typically like. HTML, Javascript, and some Flash (charts) is used for presentation. There is a presentation server that runs under a web server (or app server) and the core of the tool, the analytics engine runs separately. Generally speaking the tool generates efficient SQL. Performance overall is generally good, but is dependent on the source data structures and the types of reporting being attempted.

The metadata layer is well designed and extremely (almost to a fault) flexible, though it could stand to be much better documented. The tool expects to work with traditional star schemas. It works well with all the major RDBMSs. It has multi-level caching and is very flexible with authentication, functionality access, and data security. It doesn't do everything I'd like it to do, but taken as a whole, it's a first class application. Most of it's flaws are little things, there really isn't anything major. I'd say from a presentation perspective it's prompting is far weaker than it could be.

It's not a cube tool (though it can source data from cubes) and it's not meant to be a tool for generating massive reports (long lists and massive data sets presented to end users) though it does get used that way. If anything its biggest flaw is probably the cost, but it's probably comparable to all the other enterprise players.

I don't know a lot about Microstrategy, but a friend who has worked with both says it has a great front end and a weak back end. He prefers OBIEE considerably, though he's developer biased. It really is quite easy to build physical, logical, and presentation metadata in the tool. As with all warehouses, the hard work is mostly in the ETL, followed by good BA work and good performance tuning in the DB.

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