Oracle recently unveiled its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business intelligence offering called Business Intelligence Cloud Service, or BICS. The Performance Architects team is very excited about the introduction of this solution, as we believe BICS takes a big first step towards bridging the gap between departmental BI solutions that don’t scale well and those behemoth, legacy enterprise-wide BI solutions that offer reporting and some analytics, but don’t offer functionality needed to work with new data storage and data visualization technologies.
This is more than just an evolution of the on premise Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) solution; it is a new platform altogether. The offering is appealing to both existing OBIEE on premise customers as well as new customers, but it is important to know the differences between the two offerings.
BICS is comprised of two main components: the BI server service and a single schema Oracle database. BICS applications can only query from data stored in this single schema Oracle database. There is no support for connecting directly to an on premise database such as a data warehouse or online transaction processing (OLTP) system. For static data sources, BICS provides an upload utility to move data into the cloud database. This is acceptable for departmental solutions, but for enterprise-wide applications with large data sources, what are the options for loading?
For large data loads, and automation thereof, BICS turns to application programming interfaces (APIs) and tools like SQL Developer. The latest versions of SQL Developer allow for a “Cloud Connection” option:
Using secure file transfer protocol (FTP) credentials provided as part of BICS, database developers can create a connection to their cloud Oracle database. Then, they can create “Carts” in SQL Developer which contain table definitions and data required for their BICS applications. These Carts are then deployed to the BICS cloud database using the cloud connector. SQL Developer also allows for command line scripting.
For existing OBIEE customers, here’s a synopsis of the differences between on premise and BICS:
In addition to these differences, I wanted to point out a few other items for those familiar with on premise OBIEE. BICS does not have a feature like Agents as of now for scheduling. As far as the BICS version of the RPD, features like physical source aliasing are not supported, while multiple key joins and variables are supported. Oracle Essbase is not supported as a data source; Oracle BI Publisher is not an option for report development; and the Oracle BI Mobile App Designer is not supported either, although content is viewable through Oracle BI Mobile HD (although we’ve heard rumors through the grapevine that all of these will be addressed shortly in coming versions!). In terms of code migration, BICS offers a snapshot capability which bundles the model, report content, and security together; a big improvement over on premise.
For more information on BICS, register for Performance Architects’ upcoming webinar entitled, “Oracle’s Business Intelligence Cloud Service (BICS) Overview and Demonstration” on December 10, 2014 at 3:30 PM EST and visit https://cloud.oracle.com/business_intelligence.
Author: Michael Bender, Performance Architects