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Friday, February 22, 2008

Should I buy an iPhone?!

I have seen more and more iPhones make their way into offices at my clients. I don't trust online surveys and online critiques as much as I trust live people using one. So, I decided to start asking every person I know and that I meet, "How do you like it?"

I asked them, " If you chould change anything about it, what would it be?"
"Any problems?"
"Have you had a better phone?"
"Reception quality?"

I ran the full gauntlet of questions and even got to play with their phones.

Surprisingly, the amount of complaints was VERY minimal. Price being the only downer thus far, and a few people complaining about the EDGE network and how it goes down, and how once in a while a call is dropped when travelling between 2 connection points. That was about it.

All in all, very few negatives and the positives they mentioned FAR surpassed the bad.

Now I have to take the question more seriously, "Will I get one?!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oracle Warehouse Builder OWB 11g New Features Part 6!

This is a continuation from part 5. In part 6, we will discuss a bit more about the installation of OWB 11g, and the install options. Again, thanks to Oracle for providing some of this information to make my posting easier!

Server Install Provides Full Control Center Functionality

The Oracle home of the Oracle Database 11g installation includes the components needed to perform the following tasks for OWB:

  • Deployment and execution of all standard objects
    (tables, dimensions, cubes, maps, and so on)
  • Deployment of process flows
  • Warehouse upgrade
  • Run-time scripting
  • Installation of Oracle Workflow

The OWB server installation includes a small set of files needed to get the Control Center running in the database Oracle home. This allows a fully functioningOWB install directly with the database install.

The directory structure looks like this:

  • Oracle Home/owb
  • Oracle Home/owb/wf

Discoverer deployment is the only task not supported by the OWB server install. For Discoverer deployment, you must perform the stand-alone installation described later.

Stand-Alone..When Do You Need Stand-alone Installation?

The OWB 11g stand-alone installation is required only if you must:

  • Deploy to an Oracle Database 10g, release 2 target
  • Perform Discoverer deployment

The stand-alone DVD is actually bundled with the 11g database pack.

For full functionality, OWB 11g stand-alone must be installed on the database server machine (10g R2 or 11g) into a new Oracle home (separate from the database home).

Using OWB 11g with DB 10g R2

OWB 11g is architected on the assumption that it will be used with Oracle Database 11g. This tight integration includes pre-seeding of the OWBSYS schema in the default database and placing OWB in the same Oracle home as the database.

To use OWB 11g with Oracle Database 10g R2, you must perform a few simple steps:

1. Run SQL script to create OWBSYS.

2. Run SQL script to identify OWB home to Oracle Database 10g R2.

3. Unlock OWBSYS.

4. Enable access to workspaces.

1. Run SQL script to create OWBSYS.

When using Oracle Database 10g R2, you must run a SQL script to create the OWBSYS repository schema that is needed by OWB 11g. (OWBSYS is automatically created during Oracle Database 11g installation, so this step is not needed when using OWB 11g with Database 11g.)

The script /OWB/UnifiedRepos/cat_owb.sql installs the OWBSYS database user that is otherwise automatically created when installing Database 11g.

Note: The method by which you invoke SQL*Plus is important. Do not invoke SQL*Plus from the Start > Programs > Oracle database home folder or the Warehouse Builder folder. Instead, invoke SQL*Plus from Start > Run > cmd.exe. Type the Path command and press Enter.
Verify that Warehouse Builder is near the front of the path statement so that the SQL*Plus session invokes from the Warehouse Builder installation. If not, you may need to temporarily set the path (such as
Path=\bin). Then invoke SQL*Plus as SYS with SYSDBA privileges. For example, at the command line you can type the following:
sqlplus sys/ as sysdba

Connect to SQL*Plus as SYSDBA and issue the following command to create OWBSYS:


Press Enter. You are prompted for a tablespace for the OWBSYS user. Type a table such as users and press Enter.

When this command finishes successfully, you are prompted: “If you are NOT using an OWB installed in the Oracle database home, please now run reset_owbcc_home”.

2. Run SQL script to identify OWB home to Oracle Database 10g R2.

Earlier, you were instructed to install Warehouse Builder in an Oracle home other than the database Oracle home if you are using OWB 11g with Oracle Database 10g R2. To ensure access to the Control Center on the Oracle Database 10g R2 database, run the reset_owbcc_home.sql script and pass in your Oracle home for Warehouse Builder.
Run the script as a system privileged user such as SYS or SYSTEM. For example, type the following command at the command prompt:

SQL> @c:\oracle\OWB_home_11g\owb\UnifiedRepos\reset_owbcc_home;

Press Enter. You are prompted for the full path of the Oracle home for the OWB Control Center install. First read the following note.

Note: In the following example, observe the required use of the forward slashes (/) even when using a Windows machine. Note also that your response with the full path must be case sensitive. Be sure to enter the drive letter in uppercase (such as C:) and follow the case sensitivity of the folder names in the path of the Oracle home for OWB. Your response should be similar to the following example:


Press Enter.

Important note: If you specify the path to the OWB Oracle home incorrectly (using backward slashes or incorrect case sensitivity), the reset_owbcc_home.sql script finishes without apparent errors. However, when you later use the Repository Assistant to create a workspace and users, the process fails.

3. Unlock OWBSYS.

After creating OWBSYS, you must unlock the OWBSYS account and reinstate its password if the strong password option is enabled on the database. Proceed with the SQL*Plus commands to unlock the OWBSYS account and assign a password (also named OWBSYS):

alter user OWBSYS account unlock;

alter user OWBSYS identified by OWBSYS;

The requirements explained above are also mentioned in the OWB 11g Installation Guide documentation, in the section titled “Hosting the Repository on Oracle Database 10g Release 2.”

For each Warehouse Builder client installation, enable access to the workspaces hosted on your Oracle Database 10g R2 database.

4. Enable Access to Workspaces

By default, Warehouse Builder 11g, release 1 clients are set to connect to workspaces hosted on an Oracle 11g database. That is, the Warehouse Builder repository is assumed to be hosted on an Oracle 11g database.

To enable access to an Oracle Database 10g R2 repository and its workspaces, alter the file /owb/bin/admin/Preference.properties. If the file does not exist, you can create it based on the example file available in the same directory, Preference.properties.tmp.

In the preference properties file, add the REPOS_DB_VERSION_ALLOWED property and set its value to Oracle 10g, Oracle 11g. (This property may already be present.)

And that's all for part 6. Hopefully, this allows users to get OWB 11g installed in their preferred format! Thanks again to Oracle for providing some of the info contained above. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. Part 7 will cover Repository Assistant Workspace Changes, and how logging in, managing users and targets, and other features have changed!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What is BAM and what does it have to do with Oracle?

I've heard the term tossed around quite a bit. BAM. I've heard it used in many different ways, some wrong, some VERY wrong, and a few right. So, with an audience reading, here is what I have gathered, read, researched, and know about BAM and what Oracle is doing with it:

“BAM defines the concept of providing real-time access to critical business performance indicators to improve the speed and effectiveness of business operations.”
-The Gartner Group

OK, so going off of that 'authoritative' quote, let us break this down.
  • BAM is largely born-of, and is reshaping, two previously distinct technology markets:
    • Analytics and decision making of Business intelligence market
    • Real-time and business process linkage of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)
  • BAM focuses on what is happening, not what has, or might happen
  • BAM sits in-between the historical and analytical focus of BI and the forward business planning of Corporate Performance Management

BAM applications monitor day-to-day business processes such as customer orders, insurance claims and supply chain operations. BAM products are typically driven by process models. This is very different from data-driven ETL applications, which have little or no knowledge of business processes. (Aside: it is worth mentioning that strategic and tactical performance management is also likely to become business process driven in the future.)

As a BAM server tracks operational events, it maintains these events in a cache that is used by a reporting and analysis engine running under the control of the BAM server. The analysis engine can access existing business intelligence and data warehouse information to put the operational events being tracked into a business context and produces scorecards of operational business performance. The BAM environment, however, also provide the ability to do more detailed analysis and mining of information in the analytics engine.

The key benefit of a BAM environment is that operational processes can be monitored and exceptions acted on in close to real time.

Another recent trend in BI analysis tools has been to add a performance management capability that enables business users to compare the analytics produced during BI processing to actual business goals and forecasts (i.e., it puts BI into a business context). Performance management products extend the use of BI from measuring business performance to managing it. This is termed as Business Analytics. The actionable intelligence produced by these products is presented in the form of drillable scorecards that employ formal or informal methodologies to document business goals and initiatives. Some performance management products also provide rules-driven facilities to send alerts to business users when thresholds defined by the user are, for example, not achieved. Alerts reduce the amount of time business users spend in accessing and analyzing data, and reduce the reaction time required to identify and fix business problems.
BI and Business Analytics tools enable business users to react to business situations after they occur. Their predictive analytics tools component adds techniques such as data mining and forecasting to a business intelligence framework. These techniques help users to become more proactive in managing the business. In some cases, predictive tools are used to provide the business context (e.g., rules, forecasts) for the scorecards and alerts used by performance management tools.

  • üBAM adds real-time information to Business Intelligence
  • ü
  • üBusiness Intelligence adds information context to BAM
Both BI and BAM address the needs of monitoring business processes to enhance operations efficiency. The key differentiator relates to the how quickly the business needs to react to an event or process exception. Business problems that require near real-time information access and analytics can be best solved using BAM.

BAM furthers the BI cause by:
1. Embedding key analytics (computed in real-time) in day-to-day business processes
2. Correlating heterogeneous events and patterns to compute causalities, aggregates and thresholds, based on end-user preferences
3. Delivers the analyzed information and alerts in real-time to the users when and where the information matters
4. Providing a platform for structured and collaborative problem resolution
Using a loan as an example, BAM can send an alert to indicate a number of loans have been made in a specific area. This is very useful information, but becomes more useful when used with BI to see what the impact of these loans have on an organization's exposure in different markets. BI can put the results of BAM into a broader context and make the decision process a more informed one.

It may be that as an organization, analysis results show exposure is becoming too skewed toward a specific market. As a result of this analysis, the BAM thresholds for sending alerts can be adjusted. You make the rules, you set the thresholds, you learn real-time when these thresholds are at or near being hit.

Who uses BAM?? (click any picture to enlarge)

There will be a part 2 of this article shortly which will explore the technical and business challenges of implementing BAM. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Oracle Warehouse Builder OWB 11g New Features Part 5!

This is a continuation from part 4. In part 5, we will discuss a bit about the installation of OWB 11g, and how it is easier and differs from the previous counterparts. Again, thanks to Oracle for providing some of this information to make my posting easier!

Overall, the installation of OWB 11g is greatly simplified in an Oracle Database 11g environment. When you install the core Oracle Database 11g, you get the OWB back end: a pre-seeded repository schema and workflow.

Without the requirement of SYSDBA privileges (as we previously mentioned in other postings), you can make a sandbox repository and start exploring the OWB tool immediately! This was not necessarily so in the 10g versions!

Three types of OWB 11g installation possibilities can be:

  • Server installation as part of the Oracle Database 11g installation
  • Stand-alone installation using the stand-alone DVD bundled with the 11g database pack
  • Stand-alone installation for Oracle Database 10g R2 using special scripts
  • Note: Installing to Oracle Database 10g R2 requires running two special SQL scripts and a few extra steps

OWBSYS Is Part of Database 11g Installation

As part of the database installation scripting, the OWBSYS schema is seeded as part of these starter databases:

  • General Purpose
  • Transaction Processing
  • Data Warehouse

During installation, all of the necessary system privileges, object privileges, and roles are granted to the OWBSYS schema. The script that creates OWBSYS is located at: ../owb/UnifiedRepos/cat_owb.sql


So after database installation, OWB is ready to use. Because the necessary privileges and roles are granted, no DBA or SYSDBA credentials are required when creating workspaces.

Note: The schema does not hold a complete repository/workspace in its pre-seeded form. You must still define your workspaces, workspace owners, and users. Also, OWBSYS is locked by default. As will be explained later, you must unlock it if you are using OWB 11g with Oracle Database 10g R2.

OWB as a Custom Database Option

For custom databases, OWB is an option in the Database Configuration Assistant user interface. With the OWB option selected, these database options are enabled:

  • Oracle OLAP
  • Oracle JVM
  • Oracle XML DB
  • Oracle Intermedia
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager Repository

Now that we have a brief overview of the install options, next time we will look more in depth at the OWB 11g server install, the OWB 11g standalone install, and if the post doesn't get TOO long, we'll also discuss using OWB 11g on a 10gR2 Oracle Database and all the gotchas that come with that! I know that will be heavily requested just simply because some people want to use OWB 11g but don't want to upgrade their database just yet from 10gR2 to 11g! Until next time....

Monday, February 4, 2008

Lesson learned: New England Patriots and your fans...

cheaters, you got what you deserved. :)

18-0 with 1 GIANT mistake. :)