Sunday, 5 February 2012

Agility Acquired

Together with well-designed ODS (operational data storage) or Data Warehouse, OBIEE is a comprehensive, reliable and scalable BI solution. Users get information in variant ways, operational reporting, dashboard, scorecard, ad-hoc analysis, what-if analysis, proactive alerting, mobile, etc. It can grow quickly and smoothly . From Gigabyte to Terabyte, from single server to cluster, from disk to In-Memory, hundreds or thousands  users can access business information concurrently.

But what about Agility? Can I quickly perform data navigation without going through the modeling practice in DW or BI Server? What if my data is volatile and includes unstructured or semi-structured information? Is that possible to have analysis via search? All these request for quick and "good enough" analysis from business have been giving OBIEE hard time. Now, these challenges can gracefully addressed by a new member of Oracle BI : Endeca Information Discovery. It will complement Oracle's BI solution by providing agile data discovery on structured and unstructed information.

Endeca Information Discovery(EID) helps organization quickly explore all relevant data. You may have sales transactions from OLTP database, departmental forecast data from Excel files, customer survey result in word documents and product review articles on public websites/forums. Traditionally you have to model those data into relational star schema or multi-dimensional cubes before start to create reports and dashboards to answer provided questions from business. Some valuable information may not be included in analysis because the underlying data is unstructured and too hard to be modeled.

With EID, user can quickly consolidate data and perform data discovery in the style of navigating and searching. With no need to carefully create the logical and physical model, the MDEX engine (data storage of EID) enable users to centralize different information together, structured and unstructured, while keeping association between them. Then from Endeca Studio (browser based end-user layer), users can simply explore the data by searching key words or clicking through different attributes (think them as columns in dimensions), or create reports and charts in old ways. EID helps business to reveal answers to questions like "What is the sales revenue of my Top 5 products that my customers describe online with certain key words such as green, economic, etc?"  "What are the other most contributing attributes such as "product color", "customer demography" for those Top 5 products?"

Below is the architecture of Endeca Information Discovery:
At a glance, it looks similar to the structure of traditional OBIEE. However, there are major differences from end-user's perspective. Unlike creating reports via choosing columns from tables in subject areas, EID users are able to quickly explore the data with the combination of traditional and agile approaches:

Endeca Information Discovery is an exciting complement of Oracle's current BI solution. The agility acquired   enables the business to analyze information with much wider spectrum and faster speed . Finally the "invisible world" in business can be possibly seen and contribution to daily business decision making. 

In the coming blog posts, I will gradually scratch the surface of EID and show you the details behind the scene of Oracle's new Agile BI.

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