It’s interesting that the ancient Greeks understood that the revelations of the Oracles were not seen as the objective truth and they were fully aware of the unknowability of the divine. I think everyone went to the Oracle Analytics Partner Forum in Athens with some trepidation about what the future holds for Analytics & the Cloud @ Oracle Corporation. The news is good….

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Tableau’s pretty cool, right? Self service BI for departments tired of waiting for years for the EDW to come online. Connect to the source systems, mash it all together – WOW – we have some BI!!

Nearly – but not quite. Tableau’s absolutely fantastic at getting started – finally, giving departments some good quality BI and getting people away from hacking reports together using Excel & Powerpoint – and for many organisations, that’s enough.

But – there’s a bunch of gotchas.

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Has anyone actually talked to the CFO?

I was running a course last week and a particularly challenging requirement was raised by one of the attendees. No-one in the organisation had been able to work out how to solve it – but we weren’t talking about creating Skynet either – it was a simple request to create a balancing line on a report. The gotcha was that the balancing line needed to be computed on the fly depending on the viewpoint of the report – so was going to take the team quite a bit of effort to build in. More cost and lead time – but with not “that” much apparent benefit either.

The interesting thing was – no one had actually talked to the CFO to understand the background to the request, nor explored any alternative options.

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I’ve recently been using the platform services API a lot – it’s really really powerful to help reduce the TCO – you can dynamically scale the up & down as needs arise – for example, scale it up during batch processing periods to get the batch to run quicker, but scale it back down again during normal BAU.

When you combine that with automated starting & stopping that the API also offers, this creates a compelling TCO!

However – the purpose of this post of to highlight a bug in the PSM Client API documentation. We actually run our own python wrapper rather than use the PSM API Client – but that’s the benchmark. The documentation for the PSM API is here.

A normal PSM command to scale the environment up might be as follows:

psm analytics scale -s OACESSDEV01 -c payload.json

And the contents of the payload file according to the documentation is as follows:

{ "components": 
    { "analytics": 
        { "shape":"oc4", 
        "hosts":["oacessdev01-bi-1"] 
        } 
    } 
}

So this scale command will tell the platform to scale the platform to an OC4 shape – 2x OCPUS, 4x VCPUS. Unfortunately it doesn’t work (it did last month, so it’s obviously a recent change – but a bit of a gotcha if your using this API!) – we get the following error:

Error: 
{ 
    "details":{ 
        "message":"Failed to submit job to for the scale operation.", 
        "issues":[ 
            "[Invalid [analytics] parameter [hosts] contained in request payload.]", 
            "[Invalid [analytics] parameter [shape] contained in request payload.]" 
        ] 
    } 
}

Fortunately we’ve been writing our own wrapper for the API in Qubix Cloudbridge, so we know the insides of the API. The format of the payload file has changed, it now needs to be:

{ "components": 
  { "BI": 
    { "shape":"oc4", 
      "hosts":["oacessdev01-bi-1"] 
    } 
  } 
}

Note the word “analytics” has changed to “BI” – and everything now works!

 

 

Is it time to say goodbye to the RFP?

I spend a good bit of my time writing RFP responses and I don’t mind saying that a little bit of me dies each time a complete one. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t stop doing them and I never put less than 100% effort (If you know me, you know that’s the only way I can work).

But I also know it’ll be really hard for us to win one. It doesn’t matter how much effort I put in. It doesn’t matter what I write. Why is this? Why is simple to answer – but fixing it is a little harder.

We’re in 2017. We’re in the age of the smartphone – the device in your hand isn’t just a bit more powerful than the computers that sent man to the moon – it’s millions of times more powerful. And it costs a few hundred pounds, maybe a thousand (And as I’m also a bit of an engineer and do all my own maintenance on cars – that’s more than I spend on some of my cars).

But we’ve become so used to getting so much for so little and to be made so easy for us – people lose sight of value.

So when I do an RFP response, I’m being honest. I will say yes to everything – because I infer that if you’ve asked if something is possible, you want it, and I’ll make sure we can do it. And if I can’t say yes, there’s no point in responding, because someone else will.

But what about if it IS possible, but the cost benefit to you is low – it won’t save you much time, but it adds a lot to the cost. I can think of a smarter way of doing it instead, but involves a process change rather than a system change – how do I get that across in an RFP? I can’t! I can bring my experience to the table, but I also need to know the specifics of your business and your team to find the best answer and an RFP doesn’t have the scope to do that.

How does a supplier get chosen based on an RFP? The RFP is a box ticking exercise :

The questionnaire

  • Can the product do what we want?
  • Can you implement the product?
  • Can you provide references?
  • Are you the cheapest?

 

 

We probably won’t be the bottom line cheapest. But here’s a promise I can make:

You will get the best value, most stable, appropriately featured and fastest delivered solution.

What do I mean?

Firstly – time to value. We’ll start producing results that add value to the business faster than you can blink!! Well, maybe not blink….but faster than you’ll believe or expect.

Appropriately featured – we’ll focus on the biggest pain points and quick wins first. Let’s have a profound positive impact on the business as quickly as possible! But – always -with a goal – we’ll make sure we’re all agreed on where we’re going and what the target end state is – so that everything we do aligns with short, medium & long term goals.

Fastest Delivery – if there is a shortcut, we know it and can use it. But we also know the traps – and will avoid those too.

So while the headline implementation cost might look a little higher, the time taken for you to get value out of the solution, the long term viability of it in your organisation, the perfomance and the flexibility – we can win every time. If you want a box ticked, the big SI’s can help. But if you want to help transform, improve and accelerate your business – talk to Qubix.

I was in a conference yesterday and there was some lively debate about the pros and cons of APEX vs Oracle Analytics Cloud, OBIEE & BICS. I thought I’d drill in to this a little further and explore what role does Oracle Application Express plays in a Business Analytics environment and should (or could) Application Express be used instead of Oracle Analytics Cloud?

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