What is Oracle Analytics Cloud?

Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) is a fully managed cloud-based BI and analytics platform from Oracle. It is designed as a single and complete platform that empowers business users and analysts to ask questions about their data — across any environment and from any device. Oracle Analytics Cloud provides various options for intelligent analysis while being easy to deploy and manage. OAC users do not need to worry about provisioning and managing infrastructure, making it attractive to many organizations.

Some of the core capabilities of Oracle Applications Cloud are:

  • Self-service data access enables users to create visuals to explain their results and share them with colleagues
  • Data preparation and enrichment are built into the analytics cloud platform
  • Business scenario modeling via a modeling engine that provides multidimensional and visual analysis
  • A proactive mobile application that learns routines and delivers contextual insights at the right time and place based on daily activities
  • Enterprise reporting, governance and security, with a semantic layer that maps complex data into familiar business terms so that it can be shared across the organization

How does OAC relate to OBIEE?

Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) is a BI solution developed initially by Siebel Systems and Hyperion Systems, both acquired by Oracle. Oracle has offered OBIEE since the early 2000s, and as a result, there is a significant installed base of OBIEE users. Most installations of OBIEE are on customer premises.

Unfortunately, OBIEE users are facing a migration because Oracle has announced end-of-support for OBIEE. Depending on a customer’s Fusion Middleware versions, most OBIEE users have been out of Oracle’s Error Correction Support (ECS) since December 2021. This means that bug fixes and security patches are no longer available. 

As a result of OBIEE’s end-of-support, Oracle BI users are looking for alternatives. For many, OAC represents a logical migration path. OBIEE users needing to migrate to a different analytics platform have three broad choices. They can migrate to:

  • Oracle Analytics Cloud – A cloud-based successor to OBIEE that offers additional capabilities, especially in areas such as self-service and data visualization features.
  • Oracle Analytics Server (OAS) – Essentially an on-prem version of Oracle Analytics Cloud for customers that prefer to manage their own infrastructure.
  • Third-party cloud-based analytics solutions that deliver similar capabilities to OAC, such as Incorta or other solutions.

Features and benefits of Oracle Analytics Cloud

Some key features and benefits of Oracle Analytics Cloud are as follows:

  • Data preparation – OAC can ingest data from multiple data sources, profiling and cleansing data as it is loaded into the cloud service. Data loads can be triggered manually, or they can run automatically at predetermined intervals. Automated data ingest means that users generally have access to up-to-date data when viewing dashboards or reports.
  • Data flow – OAC also includes data flow features that can be used to transform data and perform aggregations to arrive at business-friendly views suitable for analysis. Data transformations can be performed using ETL tools before loading data into OAC, or they can be performed within OAC using these data flow capabilities.
  • Data visualization – The data visualization features in OAC allow users to create their own data views using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Data visualization in OAC represents a significant advance over the capabilities of OBIEE.
  • Data collaboration – OAC enables users to create reports and visualizations based on source data and share those views with other OAC users. Other users can access these visualizations as long as those users have permission to access the underlying data. This helps boost productivity by enabling users to share insights with colleagues easily.

Components of OAC

Some components of OAC are hosted in the download, while others may be downloaded and run locally — either on a desktop, laptop or mobile device. The major components of OAC are as follows:

  • Business Intelligence Cloud – This component is used to create visualizations in OAC. This functionality is helpful to users who may have used OBIEE previously because OAC can leverage data models created in OBIEE, avoiding re-creating them from scratch. 
  • Oracle Essbase Cloud – Essbase is a distinct cloud-based business analytics solution under the OAC umbrella. Essbase came from Oracle’s acquisition of Hyperion back in 2007. Essbase can be used to create and manage complex multidimensional data models. 
  • Oracle Data Visualization Desktop (DVD) – Oracle Data Visualization Desktop enables users to connect to data residing in the traditional Business Intelligence Cloud and the Oracle Essbase Cloud to create data visualizations. Users can use visualizations locally or optionally publish them back to a Data Visualization Cloud Services (DVCS) where others can access them.
  • Oracle Day by Day – Oracle Day by Day is a mobile app that uses predictive algorithms to present relevant and timely insights depending on the location and whom users share data with.
  • Oracle Smart View – Oracle Smart View is a tool for accessing and integrating Oracle Analytics Cloud BI content with Microsoft Office products.

OAC users can also use an optional BI connector to enable third-party BI tools such as Power BI and Tableau to access data residing in OAC.

Common challenges and OAC limitations

OAC is a step forward in terms of functionality for users that previously ran OBIEE. The fact that it is a hosted service makes it easier to deploy and manage than OBIEE. Despite these benefits, there are challenges with the platform, however:

OAC requires significant data modeling effort

One of the significant limitations of OAC is that it requires that data be represented in a dimensional model, such as a star schema, before it can be queried and analyzed. It shares this limitation with OBIEE. This limitation stems from the original designs of OBIEE and Essbase, which date back to the early 2000s.

As a result, organizations typically need to spend time converting data from its source format, requiring ETL pipeline operations performed outside OAC or using OAC’s data flow capabilities. The result is added cost, delays in obtaining needed business data, and loss of data granularity as data is aggregated to support analytic queries. 

Lack of application-ready dashboards

A second challenge with OAC is related to its dashboarding capabilities. While OAC offers powerful tools to create and share data visualizations, it lacks application-ready dashboards for enterprise applications such as SAP, Salesforce, and even enterprise applications offered by Oracle.

Prebuilt dashboards for Oracle EBS are available using a separate Oracle Business Intelligence Analytics (OBIA) offering. However, data engineers and analysts will find themselves developing their own dashboards for other applications should they proceed with an OAC deployment. 

Developing business-friendly data views for enterprise business applications, given their complex internal table structures, is a complex process. It can take organizations months of effort to build data models and business views applicable to business and analytic users.

Incorta for OAC users

For OAC users, or OBIEE users considering a migration to OAC or OAS, Incorta offers several potential benefits. Incorta is an all-in-one solution that combines data acquisition, data processing, data curation, a semantic layer and data analysis, all accessible from a single web interface. Using Incorta’s data connectors, organizations can easily extract data from Oracle business applications and third-party sources.

Incorta provides all of the benefits of a cloud-hosted OAC environment but sidesteps two of the significant shortcomings of OAC. With Incorta, data is mapped directly to the source on ingest, avoiding the need for traditional data aggregation, reshaping and flattening.

Incorta also makes it exceptionally easy to get productive by quickly extracting business insights from Oracle and third-party business applications. Incorta data applications (formerly Blueprints) include prebuilt reports, dashboards and business-friendly data views prebuilt for Oracle and third-party business applications such as Oracle EBS, NetSuite, Oracle Cloud ERP, SAP, Salesforce and others.

With Incorta, Oracle BI users can:

  • Speed time to value for analytics projects
  • Improve analyst productivity with self-serve access to data from enterprise applications
  • Directly map to Oracle and third-party data sources, eliminating traditional transformation and aggregation steps and delivering data to the business in record time
  • Achieve new insights with prebuilt dashboards tailored to Oracle and third-party business applications featuring multiple types of interactive visuals