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Top challenges of an OBIEE to OAC migration

Challenges of OBIEE to OAC migration

Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) software users face a challenge depending on their software version. Most are now outside Oracle’s end-of-support (EOS) window, meaning enhancements and critical security patches are no longer available. OBIEE users have several choices, including migrating to Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC), moving to OAC’s on-prem cousin, Oracle Analytics Server (OAS), or considering other solutions. While OAC may seem like a logical OBIEE migration path, it is not without its challenges. This article describes what is involved in migrating and explains why there may be better options.

About Oracle Analytics Cloud

OAC is a cloud-native service from Oracle that provides all the capabilities of OBIEE and enhanced tools for data visualization (DV), machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP). It provides the same basic functionality as OBIEE, including connecting to various on-prem or cloud-based data sources, data ingestion and modeling, data preparation and enrichment, and access to shared business-friendly visualizations. Organizations considering migrating to OAC should anticipate several challenges.

Time and effort for an OBIEE to OAC migration

New OAC users will need to purchase a subscription. While Oracle provides tools to help migrate to OAC, careful planning is still required. To perform an upgrade, users must be running Oracle or later. Those running older versions must upgrade their on-prem OBIEE environment before performing an upgrade. A migration from OBIEE 11g involves downloading a jar file (Java archive) from OAC and running it on the OBIEE 11g server. The migration tool generates an export file containing the web catalog, the OBIEE RPD file containing existing data models, and security roles. This file can then be uploaded and imported into OAC. The procedure for an OBIEE 12c migration is similar, except that the 12c migration procedure leverages a facility found in newer OBIEE versions for taking snapshots of the environment. Snapshots are stored in an Oracle BI application archive (BAR) file that can be loaded via a script into OAC. 

Assuming that data sources remain as they are, the mechanics of a migration can be performed in a few days. If data sources are also migrated, the effort becomes considerably more complex. Even for simple migrations, careful planning is required. To access on-premises data sources, OAC users must implement Oracle’s VPN service and determine details such as authentication and VPN options. Data connectors will need to be tested and validated. Users will typically want to perform regression testing on various reports and dashboards. They may want to operate OBIEE and OAC in parallel until users become familiar with the new environment.

Cost of upgrading from OBIEE to OAC

To replicate functionality in OBIEE, most organizations will want to subscribe to the enterprise edition of OAC. Depending on their needs, some users may get away with a slightly less expensive data lake edition. Cloud pricing can be a little complex for customers familiar with Oracle’s subscription-based software pricing. Oracle offers both metered and non-metered pricing plans for OAC. With metered pricing (also referred to as Universal Credit Services), users are charged based on actual usage of cloud services and billed accordingly. Non-metered services involve a prepaid subscription. The fixed price nature of non-metered services means that prices will not fluctuate. However, unused services at the end of a 12-month subscription are nonrefundable. 

Charges for running OAC are based on the number of Oracle Compute Unit (OCPU) hours consumed by OAC. An OCPU is roughly equivalent to one core on an Intel® Xeon® CPU. Oracle allows customers to subscribe on a “pay-as-you-go” basis (and pay hourly) or subscribe to a monthly flex plan where OCPUs are offered at a lower equivalent hourly rate. A challenge for new OAC users is that it is hard to forecast costs until they know their usage patterns. Oracle recommends a non-metered plan and pre-purchasing a set number of monthly OCPUs for these customers.

What is the difference between OBIEE and OAC

Besides the fact that OAC is hosted in the Oracle Cloud and OBIEE runs on premises, there are other differences as well. OAC has an updated user interface and provides enhanced data visualization and data preparation features not available in OBIEE. It also provides new augmented analytics and ML capabilities. Standard OBIEE features such as classic BI dashboards and BI publisher reports remain available in OAC. Following a migration, these dashboards and reports will be carried into the OAC environment. Ironically, while organizations can replicate their OBIEE environments in OAC, these similarities can be limiting. The design of OBIEE dates back to its Siebel Analytics and Hyperion heritage after Oracle acquired both of these companies in the early 2000s. While OAC offers several improvements over OBIEE, it also inherits some of the limitations. 

Limitations of OAC

Like many analytic tools, OAC relies on data modeling approaches that have been around for decades. Similar to OBIEE, OAC requires that data be represented in analytics-friendly dimensional models with separate fact and dimensional tables. The challenge for analysts is that source data from business systems such as Oracle Cloud ERP or Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) tends to be stored in a normalized form, typical of transaction-oriented systems. 

Data must be transformed into a dimensional model before loading it into OAC or within OAC itself using built-in data modeler and data flow components. This transformation involves ETL pipelines that add cost, complexity and delays. Pipelines also make it challenging to accommodate new data sources or develop new reports and require skilled data engineers to build and maintain them.

While OAC users can reuse previously developed data models stored in OBIEE RPD files, OAC inherits this limitation. Accommodating new data sources requires new data flows and changes to OAC’s semantic data model — a source of ongoing complexity and expense.

New technologies transforming Oracle analytics

Fortunately, several new technologies can now help avoid the need for complex data modeling and ETL pipelines. These include advances in data connectors, new in-memory analytic techniques, and open cloud-friendly columnar file formats like Apache Parquet. Incorta is a hosted cloud service similar to OAC that takes advantage of these and other innovations to help simplify Oracle BI and application environments and dramatically reduce time to insight. Incorta’s Direct Data Mapping™ technology enables queries against source data in third normal form (3NF), eliminating the need for data reshaping, ETL and aggregations.

How Incorta can help

Incorta is an all-in-one solution that combines data connectors, data processing, data curation, a semantic layer and data analysis, all accessible from a single web interface. For customers still running OBIEE, or those that have already migrated to OAC, Incorta may be worth a look.

Organizations running Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS), Oracle ERP Cloud, or NetSuite can use Data Applications (formerly Blueprints) that include prebuilt data connectors, reports, dashboards and business-friendly data views tailored to each application. Data Applications are offered not only for Oracle, but various third-party business applications, including SAP, Salesforce and others. 

By eliminating the need for traditional ETL pipelines, customers realize several advantages. With Incorta, Oracle BI users can:

  • Improve analyst productivity with self-serve access to the latest data across multiple business applications
  • Map directly to Oracle and third-party data sources, eliminating traditional data modeling, transformation and aggregation to deliver data to the business in record time
  • Achieve new insights with custom dashboards tailored to Oracle business applications featuring multiple types of interactive visuals
  • Lay a modern analytics foundation to support new data sources quickly and realize faster time to value

To get started with a free Incorta Cloud trial and jump-start your analytics, visit