Oracle BI Foundation Suite encompasses enterprise reporting, dashboards, ad-hoc analysis, multi-dimensional OLAP, scorecards and predictive analytics in one integrated platform. This is a very large suite of products, and Oracle provides ample documentation. So there is little point drilling down into details here, and we will focus on architectural issues.
Data visualization is hot right now and Oracle has responded by adding numerous new visualization modes in its BI toolkit. These include ‘recommended visualization’ for specific data and intent, performance tiles to give prominence to a metric or set of metrics, waterfall diagrams often used in pricing analysis, map views and many, many others. It easily competes with the new generation of visualization tools, but is of course just a single feature of a much broader capability.
Oracle Exalytics is a combination of hardware and software that facilitates very high levels of analytics performance. This is an in-memory machine with built-in analytics capability that addresses BI, predictive analytics, data mining and Enterprise Performance Management needs. The Oracle BI suite takes advantage of the Exalytics speed, and it is claimed at least that use of Oracle Exalytics can reduce cost of ownership – but we have to take Oracle’s word for that.
Oracle Essbase provides an OLAP solution and can be implemented on the Exalytics platform for performance improvements.
The Oracle Exadata Database Machine is a large scale, scalable data warehousing and OLTP database platform. Exalytics complements Exadata by providing analytics capability.
These various database platforms clearly need to be configured for individual organization requirements. But the diversity of function provides a rich set of configurations, and Oracle is one of only two or three supplier who can match this flexibility.
Other components of the BI suite include BI Publisher. This provides a web based platform for authoring, managing and delivering interactive reports, dashboards and other forms of formatted information.
Oracle BI Suite Standard is aimed at small to medium size organizations, and Scorecards and Strategy Management support execution of strategy by cascading goals down to individual workers and departments.
All-in-all this is a comprehensive BI environment with many, many configuration options. The improved visualization capability keeps Oracle competitive with newer technologies, but within the context of a broader architecture.