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OBIEE 11g Upgrade - Some Key Considerations

Guest post by
Karan Chadha, Associate Consultant, Infosys

 

OBIEE 11g was launched amidst much fanfare in mid 2010 and the feedback since then has been fairly positive. Owing to this success, the market is seeing a lot of traction towards OBIEE 11g upgrade. I was a part of one such upgrade project and based on my understanding I am sharing a few key considerations:

  • Why should an organization upgrade to OBIEE 11g?
  • How automated is the upgrade and how much of manual effort is involved?
  • What would be the tentative timelines to complete the upgrade?

Why should an organization upgrade to OBIEE 11g?

The superiority of OBIEE 11g is primarily on three accounts. First, it has a more robust architecture employing Web Logic Server and Fusion Middleware Control leading to improved scalability, performance and administrative ease. Second, it offers a host of powerful features like Scorecards, Action Framework, Geospatial Analytics and integration with iPad/iPhone making it one of the most comprehensive BI suites in the market. Third, it offers richer and enhanced visualizations leading to better user experience.

Despite a long list of benefits that OBIEE 11g has on offer, it is critical not to jump to an upgrade. The key is to have a thorough evaluation of the new features of 11g against the strategic objectives and BI usage patterns of the organization. This will help in determining the benefits that business could expect out of an upgrade. With OBIEE 11g upgrade being effort and cost intensive, this evaluation will ensure that a valid business case is proposed and an organization's return on its BI investment is maximized. OBIEE 11g upgrade may be inevitable at some stage but not obvious right away.  

How automated is the upgrade and how much of manual effort is involved?

The upgrade utility that Oracle provides upgrades the RPD and the Web Catalog automatically. Anything lying beyond these two components requires a manual upgrade. Some key components which fall under this category are:

  • UI Components like Banner, Logo, Brand line and font to name a few are driven by CSS and HTML files which lie beyond the RPD and Web Catalog. Copying the content of these files from one version to another is also not feasible since the structure of these files is different across versions.
  • Various Configuration Tags in InstanceConfig and NQSConfig files are also required to be manually added or modified and copying the content across versions is not feasible, again, due to the difference in structure of these files in both versions.
  • Other Miscellaneous Components like Clustering, Scheduler Schema (requires configuration in Enterprise Manager), and Custom Messages also require manual intervention.

Prima facie, it might seem that the upgrade is predominantly automated. But the seemingly automated portion involves a lot of manual effort primarily due to two reasons. First, OBIEE 11g being structurally different to 10g leads to certain aberrations (for instance, the new charting engine employed by 11g necessitating rework on several graphs or certain metadata warnings in 10g becoming errors in 11g). Second, the upgrade process is far from perfect resulting in defects and anomalies. The corollary of the second point is that extensive testing is required to ensure all objects are working the way they should. Taking these factors into consideration, a lot of manual effort is required especially to upgrade a complex environment.

What would be the tentative timelines to complete the upgrade?

The timelines could vary from just a couple of days to 10-12 weeks depending upon the complexity and size of the environment. While upgrading a vanilla 10g environment with the default 'Paint' RPD may take only 1-2 days, upgrading a complex environment could be a 10-12 weeks job (considering a 3-4 member team). To sum it up, the timelines will depend on the number of subject areas, reports and dashboards, number of new features configured, level of UI customizations, and the overall complexity of the environment. A 2-3 day assessment exercise of the environment should give us the answer.

Comments

Hi Karan, Congratulations on your new entry. An informative article.

Oracle has done a good job in bringing down the complexity of upgrade in the latest version, OBI 11.1.1.6.

As you rightly mentioned, with a good number of success stories behind, OBIEE 11g is gaining some traction. Once the proposal on upgrade is acceptetd, one will have to decide whether to go for a big bang approach of upgrading a stable mission critical application with power users using it frequently or go with a 4-6 week PoC along with a study to come up with an objective assessment of preparedness and benefits in order to manage the end users' expectations better.

Another important aspect that plays a key role in the upgrade is the amount of time the Business users are willing to wait before going in full force with the BAU activities or change requests. In dynamic organizations, change is the only constant. With every subsequent release, the application gets metamorphosed and it is the responsibility of the technology function to get a buy-in from Business for a "WINDOW" where BAU activities need to be managed (such that only critical CRs are accepted) to accomodate the upgrade process. This ensures that retro fitment of the latest changes does not become a complex project in itself post upgrade.

Can expect more on "Planning the upgrade" as we move forward.

Regards,
S L K Prasad Thanikella

Thanks Prasad for your comment. On your point regarding choosing between Big Bang or PoC approach, we had gone for the second option. We had done a demo upgrade a good 4 months before we started with the actual upgrade. This approach surely helped us manage user expectations better. On your second point, in our case there was no production freeze even for a single day. So we have been running a weekly incremental upgrade to keep 11g dev in sync with the 10g environment. This means that the users are free to go ahead with BAU activities while the upgrade is in process. Will surely talk about planning the upgrade in my next post.

Hi Karan/Prasad,
Need a help here
Which is the stable and recommended version for OBIEE, 11.1.1.5 or 11.1.1.6

Subject: Infosys Blogs, Guest Post From Blogger - sandralynn

Hello,

My name is sandralynn, as an avid reader of Infosys Blogs. I was wondering do you accept guest posts on Infosys Blogs? It's for a OBIEE, so it would be a perfect fit for your blog.

Let me know if you are interested. I already know your blogging style, plus I understand what your readers love... as I am one.


Look forward to hearing from you,
sandra lynn

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