Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I hope that at this time of year you are able to have some fun, see the family and get some rest from those projects!

Lets keep our fingers crossed that 2009 will turn out to be a better year for the world, and in particular the hard working IT consultants :)

Have some fun at

I'll post part 3 of the Schema discussion next week


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stars and Snowflakes

Part 2

Continuing on the discussion about OBIEE (Oracle BI EE) structure of the Logical Layer - please read Part 1 before this chapter.

To set the context, The discussion is around your choices in table design in the warehouse and I am only referring to the reporting in OBIEE on the datawarehouse, and your design considerations for Logical Tables, logical Table Sources and Physical Joins in the Physical Layer. Another point to note is that I am not too concerned about the theoretical difference between Snowflakes and Normalised, in the example shown in Part 1 you could call that a Snowflake or a Normalised design. Some have described Snowflakes as semi-normalised stars which is a fair decription, but the important point for the discussion is that there is at least one join between dimensions, which instantly makes it a non-star design, and is on the road to normalisation.

In part three I will look at a mixed model - Logical stars with normalised physical tables.

I do believe the actual dataWarehouse design and ETL routines should follow what you decide in your logical design considerations. Having said that though, I don't think that the whole reporting system can be developed in a linear path, you often have to loop back at each stage when more clarity is found.

And finally, Please join in the discussion by posting your comments.

Now, on with the blog...

From Part 1 some of you may be thinking that I'm advocating that Stars are not always required in the warehouse. Well, I tried to put together a fair case for the use of normalised design as best as I could. Now, lets have a look at the case for a pure star.

Continuing with the Contact example used in part 1, we can redraw the model in a logical and physical pure star.

Running the same report.

And obviously it works, but look at the SQL:


T3489."ATTRIB_11" as c1,

sum(T3517."BLAH_VALUE") as c2

from "W_PERSON_DX" T3489,

"W_PERSON_F" T3517

where ( T3489."ROW_WID" = T3517."CONTACT_WID" )

group by T3489."ATTRIB_11"order by 1

So this time the join is direct in the physical layer, and therefore the server does not add in another table to get the answer.
Is this reduction in joins THE main reason why you design a pure star? Or are there other reasons why star = good?

So on the face of it there is no problem with either method. The star method was very efficient in the query, minimising the number of joins. But at what cost to the ETL process? Here, in this example, none because it joined to an existing key, however if you were talking about say, Account Id, then the mapping would have to look it up and add it to the target table. Of course the Star Transformation in the db will struggle with the normalised schema (or will it – answers on a postcard).

But. I cheated. Twice. Firstly, this is a very simple model, with little data in, so design is not vital.
Secondly, what if I want to do this …..

Part 2A

Let's build a hybrid. Surely we can use a star and introduce some level of normalisation and all will be well? Consider the following design.

The above 'star' has all the physical dimension tables in the single dimension logical table.

We have a logical star. With Physical table sources arranged in a physical star, except we have a few ‘spokes’ around some of the physical dimension tables (this is essentially what mosst people would call a Snowflake!). A common use here would be a ‘List of Values’.

Does it work? and is it 'better'?

There are two considerations

  1. Errors is Analytics generating SQL
  2. Duplication of data.

I'll explore these in part 3.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Stars and Snowflakes


We like to talk about the weather in England, and today it is fine - Sunny and Cold. Here in the West at night you can see all the stars and over in the East they are having light snow falls.
Nature has not yet figured out how to combine a clear, star lit night with snow fall.
You can have one but not the other at the same time.
But can OBIEE defy the laws of nature?

recent debate got me re-thinking about why I design like I do in OBIEE / Siebel Analytics.

Let’s look at the arguments:
There are two main contenders, Star Schema verses Normalised. Inmon vs Kimball. (I’ll not go into the details of these, I’ll assume you know what each looks like.)

Bert Scalzo says in his book on Warehousing "You should not have a star schema with snowflakes in", but he does say 'AVOID snowflakes' which suggests they are not banned completely.

However, many clients I have worked for actively encourage snowflakes. They're not actually requesting them, but they can't see the point of spending lots of money waiting for the warehouse to be ready for reporting. "The data is in there, so just report on it", they say! This is not helped by sales men and women telling clients how easy it is to develop on your existing structure. One client I worked at was convinced that the layers in the database with complex ETL was purely Intellectual stimulus for bored contractors (Who also got paid by the day!).

Then there is the real killer, the POC – Proof of Concept. Certainly proves that you can report on their data without the hassle of ETL, schedules, downtime, etc.!!!

Another project I know of is full of snowflakes, and just like the real thing, each one is unique! Again the client is happy with the design because works for the current reports.

Up until now I have been a convert to the Star Schema, slavishly making sure every table fitted the philosophy, but I need to keep the client happy, which effectively means developing cheaper. When they send their development offshore they also tend to abdicate from significant design decisions, they just want the system up and running as quickly and cheaply as possible. But that’s life, this is the new game, get over it. Compete.

Before I revisit my design principles, Can Siebel Analytics/OBIEE really cope with snowflakes? Or is it smoke and mirrors? The answer depends upon whether you are looking at a Logical Level or Physical, and how well you implement a snowflake.

On first glance you look at the Business Model and Mapping Layer as a pure Logical Level. You normally have logical tables, arranged in a logical star. And in this logical layer the training documents have always decreed that you have a star.

But can you use another logical model? What would happen if you tried to organise your logical tables in a snowflake? Do you get an error when you check for consistency? No? Why not? Surely OBIEE does not understand snowflakes and it should tell you if there is a bad design!?.
Lets have a look at a snowflake, or normalised, logical layer.

Here we have one dimension joining to the fact, and two other dimension joining to it.

So, running a report,
First the list from W_PERSON_D on its own,

Now add the Fact,

NO problem!

Including normal aggregation

Now we add one of the ‘flakes’

And still no problem.

But what if we only query the Flake (W_PERSON_DX) and the fact?

The result is …..

It works !!!

Here is the SQL being produced.

select T519."ATTRIB_11" as c1,
sum(T547."BLAH_VALUE") as c2
"W_PERSON_D" T301,
where ( T301."ROW_WID" = T519."ROW_WID" and T301."ROW_WID" = T547."CONTACT_WID" )
group by T519."ATTRIB_11"
order by 1

It added in the W_PERSON_D table all by itself.
Remember there is no join between PERSON_DX and PERSON_F, not physically and not logically.

So, a normalised set of tables arranged with the joins in normal form does work.

So why bother with stars?

(part2 to follow)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Here we go again

Maybe I was a little hasty with the last message.

I think I was caught up in the hype of the moment.

Can you imagine flying all the way to San Francisco, having to stand in a queue for hours along with a bunch of IT execs, and then go through a boring HP advert for an hour. After that, and all the rumour mill, anything would have sounded great.

And on the face of it the new Hardware seemd exciting enough. Oracle is pretty good as it is, put on a box designed specifcally for it and it'll be great.

But then you finally remember that we have been here before. Does anyone remember the Net PC? Larry had a great idea that we would all use computers that were just shells. All the power and storage was on the web. Sorry but we are still 10 years away from the reality on that one.
Does anyone remember the previous Oracle forray into Hardware with Dell? There are plenty of commentators around this week who do (have look at the Oracle BI blogs).

The truth is that this 'Xbox' is not their first attempt (despite their claiming it is), and Oracle has a poor track record when getting involved with hardware.

Why the previous efforts failed I do not know, but I do know that the major outsourcing companies will not fall over themselves to get the 'HP' boxes in. Can you imagine IBM really telling their clients to go out and buy this?

Let hope Oracle have learnt their lesson, and find some way for everyone to win, not just the end client in theory.

BTW Didyou notice the new layout. I'm starting a campagn for all BI blogs to use this style :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

X Marks the spot

So after all the hype it turns out that Oracle X is their first forray into the hardware market.

Nothing to do with OBIEE?

Well, maybe this is the best thing to happen for the product we all love. Having a faster platform to run the Oracle OLAP and OLTP databases should mean that Analytics runs faster (provided the network is up to the job).

Without improving the hardware all the OBIEE product innovations will be for nothing. Users will not put up with advanced reports that take 10 minutes to run.

Mind you, faster kit will probably lead to lazy code, poor index strategies and over large databases, so we'll slow down again soon enough!

So, as consultants we will all be looking for the dream project : Oracle X, 11g databases, Good clients, excellent project management ad all done in the same time zone!!

Dream on.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Urgent Requirement

Filled the roles now. Thanks.

Hi there,

we have an urgent need for the following:

- technical Consultant for Siebel Marketing 7.8 (OBI knowledge would be superb)
- Oracle DB Admin

Start date: yesterday
Duration: think at least 3 weeks – probably up to a year
Salary: up for negotiation, but I think 100 Euro / hour should be ok.
Fancy a stint in Munich while the Oktober-Fest is only a stone’s throw away from your desk ;-) or do you know anybody who could be up for it?

email if you are available (perhaps you worked at Lehmans!)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Talking about users

A funy thing happened on a recent project (not saying which one but security was a TOP priority)

The rpd used LDAP to authenticate the users. The developers (me!) had a user set up in the rpd to do the dev work.
When then rpd was pubished to Production, my username was deleted. The Admiinstrator still existed with a diff password.
The LDAP did not contain, nor would the rules allow for, an account called 'Administrator'

So the rpd was very safe in Production. Problem is that no-one can log in to Answers and make ANY changes to the webcat. No new groups, no changing privileges. nothing.

how funny.

They were told, but Security is very important don't you know!.

(btw The obvious solution they woud not entertain was to have a user in the rpd that also existed in the LDAP, which was a member of the Admin group.
The work around that should have used is an Initialisation block to poulate a WEBGROUPS variable that included a high level group, such as Web Administrators.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Multi User

Having been put off by the multi user dev environment in previous tests I was reluctant to use it in a 7.8 environment.

However, so far so good. provided everyone plays the game properly then it should be safe to dev across multiple sites.

But there is a catch.

The trick is to get your Projects right to 'Check-out'. But of course you get a chicken and egg situation. You need the rpd set-up first to create the projects!

I'll let you figure that one out.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Actuate Anyone?

Another reuqest.

Hi guys,
There is an actuate requiement in central london for 3-4 weeks,immediate start, if you know anyone, please let me know.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Australia Anyone

We had a call in the night from Australia. They must be desparate to call long distance.

Anyway, get in touch with them direct if you fancy the gig

Their original email =>
We are after a number of Siebel Analytics consultants in Australia and we can get visas for you. The requirements are as follows:
We have 3 positions: 1 Sydney, 2 in Melbourne and 1 contract role in New Zealand.
The roles will require experience with the complete life cycle of Data warehousing with SQL, Oracle or Terradata.

Please respond to this e-mail if you would like to know more about these positions or if you know of any one who would be interested.

Kind Regards,
Alex Blake Consultant IT & T
Total Resource Solutions
25-27 Brisbane Street
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Tel: +61 2 8705 8500Fax: +61 2 9326 9844

Friday, July 25, 2008

Analytics Developer Required

Yes, we are recruiting for a UK based Analytics consultant.

More on the Reporting side, but with strong links to the rpd developers.

This worldwide implementation needs someone to start soon for a one year contract. Working for Majendi in the south of England.

Pay is 50 - 60 k for the right candidate.

You have to be legal to work in the Uk and here already please.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More work coming online

Still nothing in the UK but some work is out there in the US and Europe (Mainly Germany and Netherlands)

Here' one from Gerald

I am urgently looking for experienced Siebel Business Analyst / Funstional consultants and Siebel Technical consultants who have experience with the latest Siebel 8.0 for an upgrade project based in the Netherlands.This is an opportunity to work on a new projEct from the initial blueprint right through to Go live .Please see a brief outline belowSiebel Functional Consultant / Business Analyst - SIEBEL 8.O EXPERIENCE REQUIRED - Our Client a high profile blue chip Organisation requires an experienced Siebel CRM 8.0 Functional consultant / Business analystfor a 9 month project in the Netherlands. The Siebel Business Analyst /functional consultant will be involved in the conception and requirements gathering for a Greenfield Siebel 8.0 implementation. The Ideal Siebel Functional consultant MUST have Siebel CRM 8.0 experience solid exposure to discoverer with fluent Dutch (though not paramount) language skills. This role will include business Case development customer centric strategy definition, business channel integration, functional requirements analysis template building then deployment. You will have proven excellent experience in requirements gathering for Siebel Finance projects. This is a very urgent requirement so please send CV's for immediate attention or telephone Gerald for more information. This is a fantastic opportunity to join a long term and challenging Siebel project. Montash Limited acts as an employment agency/business. No terminology in this advert is intended to discriminate on the grounds of age, and we confirm that we will gladly accept applications from persons of any age for this role.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Conditional, Data-Driven Action Link

The initial release of this functionality was seen as a positive step towards tighter integration of the Siebel and Analytics applications. Since then, many versions onward the functionality has moved on little and there are still limitations which continue to frustrate developers.

The 'so-called' increased usability of action links available in v7.8.x onwards is buggy and doesn't provide the same 'mouse-over' information when choosing the custom data format route (accessed via the 'Data Format' tab for the column in the request); so personally, I prefer the custom data format. The syntax can take a little getting used to, but is straightforward to manipulate once you understand the components.

Current limitations aside (such as the inabilty to target child applets in Siebel), a little more intelligence can be added at the request level to make your action links conditional, based on the data you return in your request.

This might be performed using a CASE statement, but more complex functions could provide a range of results to use for your action links. For example column A contains your data, column B your conditional action link. The basic function syntax for column B would be as follows:

CASE Column A
WHEN = 1 THEN 'Action Link 1'
WHEN = 2 THEN 'Action Link 2'
ELSE 'Action Link 3'

So you have your basic conditional navigation here, but its important to get the syntax right for each action link created. Ultimately you want this to resolve correctly for the custom data format.

With a standard action link, normally 3 elements are provided in the custom data format: View, Applet and Row Id. In this case, you will provide all 3 elements as one string from column B and amend the data format slightly.

The string will need to be correctly 'escaped' for both Analytics to recognise it as a string, but also for it to resolve correctly using the javascript function NQSWENav, referenced when creating action links.

- Char(39) : SQL escape character for single quotes
- || : double pipes used by analytics here to concatenate strings
- , : commas separate the 3 arguments normally used in action links

Char(39)||'Order Entry - Line Items View (Sales)'||Char(39)||','||Char(39)||'Order Entry - Order Form Applet'||Char(39)||','||Char(39)||Order."Row Id" ||Char(39)

Notice you're adding 2 single quotes each time, the 1st one will be removed by the analytics server leaving the second one when using the javascript function. Add this string after the 'THEN' portion of your CASE statement. For each different condition in the CASE statement add the action link functionality using this syntax replacing the view, applet and row id arguments each time.

Your statement will probably looks something like this:

CASE Column A
WHEN = 1 THEN Char(39)||'Order Entry - Line Items View (Sales)'||Char(39)||','||Char(39)||'Order Entry - Order Form Applet'||Char(39)||','||Char(39)||Order."Row Id" ||Char(39)
WHEN = 2 THEN Char(39)||'All Service Request across Organizations'||Char(39)||','||Char(39)||'Service Request List Applet'||Char(39)||','||Char(39)||"Service Request"."Row ID"||Char(39)
ELSE Char(39)||'All Activity List View'||Char(39)||','||Char(39)||'Activity List Applet - Basic - No Toggle'||Char(39)||','||Char(39)||Activity."Activity Id"||Char(39)

Now that you've got your CASE statement, open the 'Format Column' portion of the request and go to the 'Data Format' tab. Make sure the 'Override Default Data Format' is checked and select 'Custom Data Format' from 'Treat Text As' drop-down list. In the 'Custom Text Format' add the following syntax:

@[html]"<a href=\"javascript:NQSWENav("@"); \">"More..."</a>"

- @ : refers to the contents of the column
- NQSWENav : the javascript function used to navigate to the Siebel application

It is recommended not to display the column contents, in this case it will be quite long, rather provide a meaningful link prompt (e.g. 'More...', 'Link...'), but this is entirely personal preference.

Look at the results of the request to check you've got the syntax right, then run it from your integrated application (Siebel/Analytics) to see those action links in action.

N.B. For those new to action links, it is the Row Id column from the base table which is required (not any other identifier) for action links to work correcly.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I give in

Well Mr Brown, you finally got your way. I have just taken delivery of a new car to get to the office, and I bought the smallest cheapest, funniest little thing you can get.


35 quid to tax, cheap insurance and runs forever on a tank of petrol. I cant say that I did it to be green, I just can't afford Mr Brown fuel taxes every day.
Well done - you win. Til I shut down business in the UK and move to Switzerland!!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Is that It?

They say that technology happens in waves. They being Gartner and the like.

You get early adopters, then rapid growth in popularity, a peak of excitment then a long decline. Drawn on a digram, representing, say, adoption, it's like a big wave.

Well, the OBIEE wave formed and a whole bunch of consulting firms have got there surfboards out. But has the wave already crashed onto the beach?
I tend to use the job market as an indicator of the projects and skills in demand.
Five years ago when we started our Analytics consultancy, there were 1-2 new jobs per week advertised for Siebel Analytics consultants (pre-runner to OBIEE). That grew over the next couple of years to approx 6 real jobs per day. Although there would be 20 adverts, lots were agencies fishing for CV's, others were two agencies with the same job. We knew most of the projects in the UK, as there were not that many. As the market grew so did our business, life was very busy.
The reason for our success was getting trained people onboard. This cost a fortune, as Siebel controlled the training closely, charged high prices, and refused to allow others to publish training material.
Then along came Oracle and bought Siebel, renaming the product and heavily marketing OBI (EE and others).
At first this killed the market off. Uncertainty over Oracle intentions, and re-organisations in the salesforce meant that new sales were low and new projects went to other products.
Momentum was returned to the Oracle Business Intelligence set of products and the wave got going again. Six months ago there were dozens of jobs on the internet and companies were snapping up OBIEE.
I also look at the competition in the marketplace. When we started the business there were two companies in the UK who offered Siebel Analytics consulting, us and Innoveer. Slowly this increased, but mainly in mainland Europe. The UK market was too small and specialised for major investment. Customer Systems, Rossett Stone, Abbusys, ClearPeaks, and a bunch of offshore other companies set about the our market. These were good small companies, run by hard working specialist who know the Siebel product well and added the Analytics skills. I know all these people having worked, with, for and in competition with, on dozens of projects. These people invested a great deal in the hope of a growing market - they joined the curve on the way up!
When Oracle finally got it's act together they completly opened the market up. Publishing deals were allowed, other companies could run training (Including us), the software was made freely available for development, marketing activity went through the roof -the last UKOUG Business Intelligence conference was wall to wall Oracle presentations (I hope we get some variety tomorrow).
This led to an enormous influx of consultancies suddenly interested in the OBI product set. Competition became fierce, but we kept winnning work based upon REAL experience, and due to the fact we stick to what we know, OBIEE and Siebel Analytics Applications. Rates droppped and every independent consultant was putting Oracle BI on their CV. Desperate for experience they were killing the normal rates for contractors and undermning the credibility of the product.
(There are still dozens of high profile firms out there pretending to be experts in OBIEE - ask them how many real projects they have done)
Then along came a market confidence knock.
Due to a credit crunch, fuel prices, or whatever, the floor dropped out of the market. Search today on Jobserve for OBIEE jobs and ONE comes back. It pays really bad and has been open for months, and is in Edinburgh (not too bad in the summer). Search for Siebel Analytics and you get 2 jobs, in Switzerland and France.
I have a good network with the other independent experienced Analytics consultants based in the UK. They are manily working overseas in Europe (thankfully a good Euro-GBP rate at the moment). I know of several individuals that are looking, and will be available soon. Is there an over supply of Analytics /OBIEE experts?
There are a couple of roles that have not been advertised recently but one is not paying enough for a an expert with the level of experience they need, and the other will probably be filled by the available consultants on the market without the need to advertise.
So, has the wave crashed on the beach??
One theory is that projects are on hold or cancelled.
One factor may be reduced Oracle sales (have to wait and see on that one).
I think a huge factor is the type of customer that would normally implement OBIEE. They're big, normally very big. OBI can be expensive to buy (unless you go for the cheaper packages) and be expensive to implement. Maybe the budgets are tight this year, but these companies normally have large outsourcing deals with the major IT/Consulting firms - IBM, Accenture, CSC, TCS, HP, CapGemini, Deloitte, etc, and most of these firms are begining to compete on price - get the work offshore and charge peanuts. Until now the skills have been in short supply. I have worked for every one of the above, filling a gap in their knowledge. But now they have set-up their Indian operations and the skills are getting there (not as good as ours abviously!). My last project manager at CSC has been sent to India to manage the operation.
So my conclusion is that the number of projects are down, the number of consultants available are up, and the offshore model is beginning to bite.
Time to stop surfing and get the Kite board out!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Long Time no see...

Nearly four weeks in the Carribean really slows you down. You get used to the slow pace of life. Breakfast at the marina cafe takes until lunchtime, Lunch takes hours, and dinner takes all night. Sailing at 5 miles per hour from glorious beach to fabulous snorkling bay is a steady, casual affair, best done one hand on the wheel and a cool beer in the other.

Just as well really, because if I was in a hurry then downloading and installing the Oracle BI software would be driving me mad. I am on day three of night and day downloading. I have a fast broadband and a new laptop, but I have dozens of large files to get, unzip and install.

I started by getting VMware, installing a 50GB virtual machine, then setting up Windows Server 2003, including the updates, then downloading all the relevent Oracle files. There are hundreds of them. Database installs, BI platform (OBIEE, informatica, BI Publisher), EBS files, samples, and BI Apps. I'm mainly interested in the 7.9.5 Analytics for CRM plus HRM and Financials analytics. I'm not even sure if I will bother with the Essbase stuff.

One of the reasons for setting up a whole environment is for a client presentation next week, but the other is that there are rumours that the HR BI Apps repositories are in need of some improvement. This doesn't surprise me if it's true, we have had lots of interesting days with the CRM Analytics, but I would have thought that Oracle have had enough time to get these 'pre-packaged' apps sorted out. Trouble is, they still seem to be unsure what to do about ODI vs Informatica (and what about OWB). At the last UKOUG conference the product development people still had no clear direction on this.

I'm beginning to think that there is rooom for some competition on the pre-built Apps front. Question is, how much effort should I put into this, and should we try an Open Source model?
Then there is the choice of subject. Marketing and Forecasting needs some pre-built work (two clients I know wanted it), but now maybe HR.

Mind you, it'll be a few weeks before I get round to anything. Maybe I should jst start the downloads and head back to the beach!

Let me know what you think of the pre-built ETL, DAC and rpd's.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

BI Conference Afternoon session

Hold that last thought. Apparently Excel is central to BI!

The roadmap for BI (including Hyperion) was actually very good at keeping me awake after lunch.

The 11g features of OBIEE are good, and should be out before May next year. There were hundreds of updates and improvements, which I will write about tomorrow when I have had time to digest them (and my dessert).

The conference was a sell out, with a huge number of end user companies, but what was interesting was the companies which were not there. No Big integrators - no IBM, o Accenture, no TCS, no EDS. and no Agencies. There were the usual small integrator, Eclectic, SolStone, Majendi, RittmanMead, etc. This just underlined my view that the little guys have all the knowledge, experience and capability and yet the big guys have the marketing clout.

For me it was a great success. I went with three objectives
  1. Find out where the Analytics Applications are going
  2. Find out what developments are being made in the OBIEE platform
  3. Get on the beta program for 11g

The answer is that Informatica is still fully part of the Applications, as is DAC (for now). Development is being concentrated on the new Analytics.

The OBIEE platform is getting better and better and the new flash graphs are a bit of fun.

I have the email of the guy for the beta program :)

I also learnt more about the Data Mining tool. Something I will learn more about I think.

I will be off on Holiday for three weeks. Sailing around the Caribbean.

See you when I get back.

Hot news from th BI conference

Firstly, Lunch at the conference is excellent. Well done Radisson!

Secondly, Frank says that we should ditch Excel for BI, it's destructive!

Most importantly. Oracle now has true data mining capability. I've seen it here and it works. If you thought SAS was the only solution, think again.

BTW, Informatica and DAC are still going strng. They do have plans to have ODI run in parallel but nothing concrete out there yet.

more as I find out.

I'm off to get some pud

Monday, March 17, 2008

And Ross joins in

I have just noticed that Ross Goodman at Ecelectic is blogging, so I'll add him to the blogroll.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Not really my thing.. but ..

Just to show you I can be nice!.

A note from a friendly agent.


I am looking for an Application Developer (Middleware) consultant for a highly prestigious Dutch client based in The Netherlands. You will be working as a software specialist for customer, where Application Support is the main focus. Middleware and Applications as Oracle Application Server, Apache Tomcat, Oracle Portal Server, Siebel and Oracle E-Business Suite are the basic items that need to be supported on day to day bases. This will vary from incident-resolving to security, health checks and problem analysis until performance and tuning. In the role as a software specialist professional you work with a variety of people and skills in a team where you all support and back-up each other in case of escalation and where the pro-active job is to prevent these incidents and escalations. Adding value by developing tools of automation is highly appreciated. I am looking for someone who has strong in Oracle application server, Oracle E-Business and UNIX. You will be working in a large team of about 8 consultants where there will be an opportunity to learn new skills and techniques. Dutch speaking role -
please send CV for full details and immediate interviews.
Kind Regards
Jill Jill Lund
Senior Recruitment Consultant
Best People Ltd

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rate Card

I keep meaning to put the rate card on the Majendi website.

If anyone is interested this is what we charge. (all in GBP)

Senior Consultant - 800 plus expenses
Consultant - 750 (expenses included in home country, add on for Europe)
Junior Consultant- 250 plus expenses

What are the levels?

Senior Consultants have 4 years of Analytics / OBIEE expereince. They have at least 6 projects implementing new or upgrading systems. They can lead the reporting part of any Siebel Implementation and take personal responsibity to ensure the client is happy with the deployment. They will also have other skills, e.g. unix.

Consultants are qualified from Oracle University and have worked alongside the Senior consultants on large projects. They have been working on at least 3 projects and demonstrated a high skill level to the seniors.

Junior consultants are qualified from Oracle University but have only worked ont he internal Majendi project. They are not sent out alone, but always in an assisting role with a senior.

Where are we based?

UK -London
UK -Manchester
UK - Glasgow

Germany - Munich
Switzerland - Geneva

South Africa - All

We need more staff, more freelance consultants, and more partners with related skillsets, e.g. Senior Siebel experts, eBusiness Experts, etc.

What Projects do we work on?

The bigger the better. Leading Pharmaceuticals, National Telecoms providers, Military, National Transport Carriers, Global FMCG, National Postal Companies, Power Generator Providers, Very large Banks, Electronics manufacturers and many smaller companies and government organisations too.
Every single customer of ours will provide a positive reference.

Do we negotiate? Never. There is more work than we can shake a stick at. Maybe we should charge more.

If you are freelancing, make sure you are paid your worth. If not, come to Majendi. We are not an agency. Agencies have an important role in matching people to projects too, and we work with the best of them, e.g. SCOM, Aston Carter. We are specialist consultancy that knows OBIEE, and how companies can implement it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Groups Please

I have had lots of new members sign up to my OBIEE group on linked in, most of which have some relationship with the product.

I am rejecting anyone who is an agency recruiter or just a professional networker.

The next step will be to develop the OBI portal which will provide resources for OBIEE professionals. This is planned for mid March.

If you haven't joined us please go to

The main reason for networking is so that we can share useful information. It is amazing how many projects I have worked on where I needed staff and they come via an agency and yet i could have employeed people directly, for more money!! Use your network. If you are looking for OBIEE work just get in touch. I wont spread your details around, but I may know of a project that you may be suitable for. Do not leave your current job to go contracting without giving me a call. I can help. You know who you are!!

On the subject of groups, I think I should join the following groups

IOUG (International Oracle User Group)
OAUG (Oracle Applications User Group)
Oracle BI Network

If you have the link please send it on.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Need a loopback Adapter

This took me ages to find

If you need to install Oracle database on a Vista Machine then this may help.

1) start device manager
2) right-click top node
3) add legacy hardware
4) select Netwrok Adaptor
5) select Microsoft6) select Loopback adapter

This was from an original post at

Also useful was

Friday, February 15, 2008


Probably already covered elsewhere, but I had this lying around from my book notes (Many Thanks to ed Higgins)

These are the executables you can find in the bin directory.

Nb. Siebel support recommends the following executables are not used without prior knowledge or consulting technical support first.


Previously known as Analytics Scheduler, nothing much has changed, the Job Manager is used to schedule iBots for Oracle delivers and provides an interface to check progress of batches and records details of failures, it can also be used to schedule scripted jobs including triggering workflows in integrated applications, writing data to the database and triggering statistics updates in the database.

Prior to using the Job Manager, the user needs to run from C:\OracleBI\server\Schema, this creates the tables for the scheduler, alternative versions are provided for most major databases.
Next one must create an entry in TNSNAMES.ora for the Data Source Name, launch the Job Manager from the Programs menu or Administration and add the connection details in Scheduler Configuration, for non-Oracle databases use windows ODBC and create a DSN.


This command line tool executes SQL script on the database and can be used for Cache Seeding operations, it is not recommended that it be used directly as these jobs can be run through Job Manager, it is also recommended by Oracle that remote access tools such as TELNET or remote desktop are disabled on the server running presentation services as direct access to nQcmd.exe constitutes a security risk.


nQLogViewer.exe is a utility and part of the analytics installation and resides in the 'Analytics install dir'/Bin directory. It's essentially a parsing tool that allows you to extract info from the NQQuery.log.

The particulars of the utility are:------------
Command: nQLogViewer -u -f -o -s -r

= Analytics user
= NQQuery.log to examine
= File to send results to
= ID of user logon session (unique per user logon/logoff session)
= ID of specific request from an Analytics Web Client sessionNQQuery.log

excerpt:+++administrator: 100: 101: ----2002/05/31 10:53:03 timestampExample to see only those entries under session ID 100:nQLogViewer -f c:\nquire\Log\NQQuery.log -o c:\nquire\Log\NQQuery_session100.log -s 100


No longer used in Oracle BI


This utility allows the changing of analytics user passwords from the command line.


This is the Analytics Server process and must be running for analytics to function, it appears as a service in Windows (Siebel Analytics Server or Oracle BI Server), and is controlled by the Server Manager process in a UNIX environment.


The executable can be called in a Unix script and stops the Analytics/BI server.

I'm not convinced these are still valid in the OBIEE world but are for Analytics 7.x

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

OC4J as a Service

Following the last post on stopping oc4j from automatic running, you may want to run oc4j as a service, so that is can be added to a batch file that starts all the analytics services.

So, to Run OC4J as a windows service

If you want to run oc4j as a windows service download the open source tool named JavaService.exe from which can create Windows Services for Java Programs, adjust and execute the following command:
javaservice -install "Oracle BI: OC4J Service" "D:\jdk1.5.0_09\jre\bin\client\jvm.dll" -XX:MaxPermSize=128m -Xmx512m "-Djava.class.path=d:\OracleBI\oc4j_bi\j2ee\home\oc4j.jar" -start oracle.oc4j.loader.boot.BootStrap -description "Oracle BI Oc4J Service"

Now you can add to your 'net start' commands batch file.

Credit to Andreass in the Majendi team for this.

UPDATE: Venkat has also blogged on this subject, including some screen shots.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Auto running OC4J

I kept meaning to do a brief note on the issue of OC4J automatcally running when you start windows. I'm sure you all know how to stop it, but just on case check out

Thursday, February 07, 2008

And another thing

You wait ages for a blog to come along, then three turn up at once.

I just had to mention the WHOPPING great rpd that I had to investigate the other day.

It was 50 MB.

Supplied by Oracle as part of the 7.9 Applications install.

It's not that it takes ages to load and edit in the Admin tool, it's just a nightmare to figure out which bits belong to which Licence option. I need to write some UDML scripts to deal with the different packs. Maybe one of you lot already have some to send me :)

Is the future here already?

Have a look at the Oracle whitepaper on OBIEE and SOA. It's the future you can read about while getting on with maintaining your 7.7 Siebel reporting (Actuate) system.

Don't let people tell you otherwise - Oracle Business Intelligence is the future - what? including OWB? are you mad. You wait, when Larry gets back from his next sailing trip someone will have written some SAS like functions - or maybe just bought SAS!!!

So are Informatica getting ready to be bought out. The rumours have started and speculation is rife. Just imagine what will happen if someone else buys Informatica and oracle have to re-write all those ETL applcations. Come to think about it, that's not a bad idea. Maybe this time they will do better.


Thanks Bill. Thanks for the new windows system. not.

I bought a new laptop last week, it's a Vostro 1700 from Dell. Very good spec, loads of memory, fast cpu etc, but also including Vista.

I went to install my copy of OBIEE and it refused, so it's not backwards compatable. So I tried the latest version (download biee_windows_x86_101332_disk1) and it installed fine, except it didn't recognise my IIS, so i only got the oc4j.

Opening up the paint dashboard all looked fine so I prepared some data for a demo to my latest client. I created the demo data in Excell and Access, modified the paint rpd to include the new data. The demo was in an auditorium full of managers! (gulp)

Off to the site I went on a train from Copenhagen (at 5am!!). The journey was three hours so I thought I would walk through the steps I was going to give in the presentation. Opening the dashboard was fine, then clicking on the Answers link I was asked to log in again. Loggin in again I was then presented with a screen saying that I was not logged in!!
Clicking on the Admin link gave the same issue. In fact almost every link required you to log in again.

With 20 minutes to go before the presentation I had re-installed the software twice, searched google, IT Toolbox and the forums, and pulled out most of my hair.
Finally I gave up, thinking that if I ran for it I could just get back to the train before they realised I was gone :)

Luckily I still had the install disks for and I borrowed someones laptop with XP on. I Installed the system and fired up OBI EE with 30 seconds to spare.

The presentatin went ahead without any problems.



Why Bother?

My next rant will be about Networking, Client Credit, Being in business, and Project Managment. Watch this space.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy New Year? ummm, we'll see.

A few random thoughts for OBIEE and life at the keyboard...

A few years ago we used to write javascript to refresh the screen, based upon an input value. In APEX we can put some code into the header " meta http-equiv="refresh" content="60"", so I thought why not put it in an OBIEE report. The issue is where? Has anyone had a go at this?

I saw this the other day from Ahmad Alkhmous

Restricting the Number of Rows returned in a request:-
Click on the filter icon on any column in answers
Click on Advanced-> Convert filter to SQL
Write "Rcount(1)< N" ... N is the number of rows you want to see

Whats this then?

Not OBIEE but could help

Top 10 keyboard Shortcuts in Windows
CTRL N.................New window
CTRL Z.................Undo
CTRL Y.................Redo
ALT F4.................Close current application (if all are closed, will present shut down options)
WINDOWS D..............Show desktop (also WINDOWS M = minimise all)
CTRL A.................Select all
CTRL F.................Find
CTRL C.................Copy
CTRL V.................Paste
ALT TAB................Switch between windows
and a bonus one..
SHIFT F3...............(Word only) Toggle selected text between caps and lower case

A bit of fun..
I love this paper plane throwing game. Enjoy!

Want to keep the kids amused?

Word Searches

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?


The Cowes

The Cowes
Cowes Racing