Some news from OBIEE world

1. Just like everyone else, I got excited about Content Accelerator Framework. Christian Berg posted about it here “OTN: CAF” and Venkat posted about it on his blog as well content accelerator framework. Unfortunately, it’s only going to work with version which hasn’t been released yet. It’s a good step forward though, as the developer community has waited for such a tool for quite some time now. I’ve seen numerous service requests on Metalink asking Oracle about such functionality.

The most interesting thing about this sitation is that I was going to post about various issues of maintaining several OBIEE environments on the same day. And on the same day, I got the same assignment – to figure out a better and newer way to parallely run development, issue maintenance fixes (such as adding new users), and keep environments in sync.

2. OBIEE OTN forum has become a very competetive place – frequently questions are answered within minutes. mma1709 (please let me know if that’s ok to state your name), Christian Berg and Naresh Meda have gained Pro Status. Congratulations! Please keep up the good work!

3. OBIEE Job market. Judging from Dice –  it’s down. I’ve been tracking Dice’s posts using OBIEE keyword for a few months now. It’s been declining steadly for past few months (not a big surprise really, since the total job postings fell from 90+k to 48k).  For OBIEE the number went from 300 in fall 2008 to 186 today. Some of the postings are clearly for the same positions (through different vendors). Again, I’m sure that there’s always a project for someone with relevant OBIEE experience and skills, however, I’m sure that it hurts less experienced folks as companies are trying to reduce staff. Also, the situation is decreasing rates as desperation forces some people and companies to work for less. Stability is more important than a higher paycheck these days, so some companies use it as an excuse to lower salary / rate. Moreover, hurting financial sector makes it difficult to start new capital IT projects.  I’m unwilling to predict the future at this time, however, I’d like to say that – if you have the right skills and personality – do not be afraid – this time might be an opportunity.

Important skills for an OBIEE developer?

Part 1

Initially, I was going to write about whether or not the ETL skills are important for a BI developer, however, I’ve significantly broadened the focus of the post since.

There were few articles that have kept my attention for a while – discussion of the skill-sets that business intelligence developers should have. The articles are “Functional Expertise in a Technical BI Consultant” by Jeff McQuigg and “What Skills Does an Oracle BI Developer Need in 2009?” by Mark Rittman (I think I’ve mentioned that one before). I have a big respect and admiration of both experts and have found inspiration in their blogs and forum posts (both OTN and Toolbox). They both list multiple skills that intersect (such as ETL, database, and dimensional modelling). I think the difference between the articles is that Mark is putting the emphasis on application tools (Hyperion Applications, BI Applications, OWB, and others) while Jeff is emphasizing the importance of the general knowledge of BI and DWH concepts such as dimensional modelling and ETL backed up by OBIEE tools proficiency.

“Domain experience in BI, Data Warehousing, BI Tools, Dimensional Modeling, ETL, BI Apps, etc. is what you should be focusing on…”

I should add that Mark also mentions the importance of possessing various applicable skills, however, I felt that he was more elaborate about software applications.

“In addition to these product skills, you also needed to have a fair bit of database knowledge, partly because all of these tools worked directly with database data, so you had to know your indexing, materialized views, explain plans and so on…”

My only two additions to both lists would be web development and html/css skills for front-end OBIEE customization. It might not be very complex, but I’ve had a few instances where clients have asked me to work on such things as changing Answers text / links, modifying some style sheets, and revamping the Dashboard look.  The other skill is LDAP security and various SSO implementations.

One thing is clear – there’re many technologies, tools, and concepts that a good BI consultant should be comfortable with. Not only that, he/she should be proficient in critical thinking, information search, and just-in-time learning flexibility – being able to learn new tools/concepts on the fly.  I don’t even mention such items as communication skills, attention to detail, dressing appropriately – since those are given for those who’re working in an enterprise scene.

Christian Berg (an OBIEE and Hyperion expert)  has recently started a blog of his own and called it hekatonkheires, which apparently means “three giants who possessed a hundred and fifty hands”. I think it’s a very good description of someone working with OBIEE (Siebel Analytics).

(to be continued…)

Comments are appreciated as usual.

Adrian Ward and Rittman Mead merger

OBIEE powerhouses – Majendji (Adrian Ward – original Siebel Analytics blogger) and Rittman Mead have merged. I am very happy for both parties and I am sure that this merger will work out great. Congratulations!(I actually made sure that it wasn’t posted on April 1st)

Official links:

Direct Query Security Options

This is an interesting one. I can see what they’ve tried to accomplish with that, however, to me it sounds as hammering nails with a golden watch. The whole point of OBIEE is to isolate users from PL/SQL and make their life easier. That’s why I get surprised that there’re always numerous questions regarding using stored procedures in OBIEE on OTN forums.

I wonder if you are using many direct query requests at all in your systems?

Someone has been investigating the Direct Query security options under the Admin menu, Manage Privileges in Analytics.

They wish to allow Web Administrators to be able to write direct query requests, and want users to only be able to run the requests and not be able to modify the SQL/Criteria tab.

They have accomplished this by setting the “Issue SQL Directly” option to Web Administrators only, the “Edit Direct Database Requests” option to Web Administrators only, and the “Execute Direct Database Requests” to All Users. This works fine. Now what they want to allow the users to modify the requests but only be able to view the Results tab. The idea here is to not let the users modify the SQL (criteria tab), but to allow them to build pivot tables and charts off of the dataset.

Is this possible? What security need to be set to accomplish this? And the answer was

This is not currently possible