Replacing Oracle Discoverer and Leveraging Automation

Life After Oracle Discoverer: Which Migration Path is Right For You?

"Extended Support" for Discoverer ended June 30, 2017 

The general consensus is that Disco music died on July 12, 1979 after the infamous  "Disco Demolition" event hosted by Chicago radio disk jockey Steve Dahl. Though Disco records continued to be released during the early 1980's, mainstream musical taste had already undergone a "lift and shift" to other genres.

Whether you're responsible for creating Excel-esque reports on financials, orders, sales, campaigns, campus activities, etc., or are responsible for administering the data used for reporting, you're probably familiar with Oracle Discoverer. Those who work with Oracle Developer Tools, Oracle E-Business Suite, or Banner ERP have most likely used Discoverer at some point, since it was pre-packaged in each suite.  

Oracle's 20-year-old, ad-hoc querying and analysis reporting tool reached its official end of life on June 30, 2017. Since then, Oracle has been transparent about its strategic direction for business intelligence, which focuses on two platforms; Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) and Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud Service (BICS).

Like the fate of Disco (music), most organizations have moved on to another "genre" known as Self-Service. Self-Service BI and Reporting is an approach to data analytics that enables business users to access and work with corporate data even if they do not have a background in statistical analysis, BI or data mining. Self-service BI tools allow users to filter, sort, analyze and visualize data without involving the organization's BI and IT teams.  

Before your organization embarks on a self-service journey of its own to replace Oracle Discoverer, there are a few questions that need to ask and answer: 

  1. Does it make sense to migrate from a business perspective?
  2. What alternatives are available? How cost-effective are they? Do they satisfy our reporting needs?
  3. How difficult is it to migrate from Discoverer to another platform?
  4. What does the migration process entail?

Continue reading for a breakdown of the Discoverer replacement and migration options and a way to automate the process. 


CONTENTS

Oracle Discoverer Replacement and Migration Options 

Automating the Discoverer Migration Process


Do nothing

"If it's not broken, don't fix it."

Oracle Discoverer still provides the same basic reporting features that many know and have used for years.  So, why fix something that still works?

Here are some things to consider if plan to continue using Discoverer:

  • You can still upgrade to the terminal release 11gR1.
  • If you're using Discoverer with Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) ERP, you can still utilize the pre-packaged integration with the Oracle EBS and EBS Federal Financials module.
  • If you have thousands of reports, the amount of time it would take to migrate is reason alone to stay put. Though, chances are that many of those reports are either duplicate, triplicate, or outdated, so scrubbing down to only the essential reports is an exercise that will help reduce report count and development time.
  • If only a small or insignificant amount of your reporting is done through Discoverer, there likely isn't a need to move to a different platform. 

What happens if you don't migrate? 

  • Loss of support - Oracle's Sustaining Support policy excludes the following:
    • New updates, fixes, security alerts, data-fixes, and critical patch updates
    • New tax, legal, and regulatory updates
    • New upgrade scripts
    • Certification with new third-party products/versions
    • Certification with other Oracle products
  • While your day-to-day reporting and licensing will remain the same, the cost of a few iterations can exceed that of a replacement or migration project.
  • There's potential of failed integration with the latest versions of Oracle E-Business Suite, and any new desktop, browser, or Windows OS updates.
    • You won't be able to integrate Discoverer will Oracle Database 12c or later or any of Oracle's Cloud applications. 
  • The business suffers - the traditional way of building ad-hoc reports has fallen out of favor in place of self-service reporting that allows users to create reports and dashboards from multiple devices without requiring significant involvement from IT. Having access to better tools to track and trend metrics that matter most to the business is critical and can have an impact on the advantage you have over your competitors. 


oracle_bi_logo.png

Oracle BI Foundation Suite / OBIEE

What is BI Foundation Suite?
The Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite provides the industry’s best in class platform for business intelligence, including ad-hoc query and analysis, dashboards, enterprise reporting, mobile analytics, scorecards, multidimensional OLAP, predictive analytics, on an architecturally integrated business intelligence foundation. This enabling technology for custom and packaged business intelligence applications helps organizations drive innovation, optimize operations, simplify IT, and deliver extreme performance at lower total cost of ownership.

What is OBIEE?
Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) is a component of BI Foundation Suite that allows users to create interactive dashboards and so forth. BI Foundation Suite / OBIEE is part of Oracle's strategic road map for business intelligence.

Features

  • OBIEE is geared more towards a management and executive-level audience
  • IT help is required to build dashboards and reports
  • OBIEE is often selected because clients already own the license and can spin it up faster than implementing and migrating to another application.
  • It can be interfaced directly with Oracle EBS, Fusion, and Forms, which makes it an ideal choice for Oracle customers running Discoverer.
  • Organizations that require management-focused analytics and dashboards tended to choose OBIEE, while those looking for day-to-day operational reporting gravitated towards other (non-Oracle) applications.

While OBIEE delivers what it promises, An army of reporting tools for executives and end users alike, it's important to consider the time, cost, and effort required before, during, and after implementation and Discoverer migration.

Migration from Discoverer to OBIEE


Image: Discoverer to OBIEE Conversion Process
discoverer-to-obiee-migration-process.png

Considerations when migrating from Discoverer to OBIEE
  • Complex migration from Discoverer to OBIEE
    • There are no tools available to automatically migrate Discoverer workbooks, so all queries need to be re-created from scratch.
  • The End User Layer (EUL) can be migrated automatically using Oracle's Discoverer Metadata Conversion Assistant.
    • Converted elements: business areas, simple, complex, and custom folders, columns, joins, conditions, and hierarchies.
  • Many Discoverer elements cannot be migrated as there is no equivalent in OBIEE.
    • Non-migrated elements: item classes, summary folders, optional conditions, complex folders (either dimensions or based on complex folders), and hierarchies based on complex folders. Click to read the full list.
  • Licensing: each "pack" is licensed separately
    • BI Server, BI Answers, BI Interactive Dashboards, BI Delivers, BI Publisher, Oracle Real-Time Decision Server, Oracle Scorecard and Strategy Management, and/or Oracle Data Visualization.
    • The cost to license OBI or Essbase may not provide due diligence if you require a composite of features not limited to a single application. See Oracle Technology Global Price List
  • Training: There is a considerable learning curve in OBIEE, which requires learning multiple tools and aspects of business intelligence in order to make it work well together.
  • Maintenance and Support: After migrating off Discoverer, a substantial amount of RPD modeling work and dashboard preparation is required for end users to start utilizing OBIEE. Additionally, maintenance and support will require hiring additional resources.


tableau-logo

Tableau

Tableau's powerful packaged BI offering allows users to drag and drop to analyze data, connect to data in a few clicks, and visualize and create interactive dashboards with a few more.

Features

  • Easy to use for non-technical users and does not require programming knowledge or extensive training to learn.
  • Can be connected to many different data sources to import and use data.
  • Subscription-based licensing can help organizations optimize costs
  • Ability to deploy Tableau in the Cloud or on a local server
  • Ideal for data visualization

Migrating from Discoverer to Tableau

Considerations when migrating from Discoverer to Tableau
  • In our experience, the primary reasons for selecting Tableau have ranged from the amount of available features, data visualizations, scalability via ease-of-upgrade, and affordable licensing.
  • We have used our automated "ennSight" tool to extract and migrate Discoverer reports to Tableau.
  • The migration process is almost identical to that of Power BI (see 4. Migrating from Discoverer to Power BI)

A comparison of a Sales Orders report before and after migrating from Discoverer to Tableau:
discoverer-tableau-sales-order-example


power-bi-logo

Microsoft Power BI

Over the course of the last few years, Microsoft has continued to beef up its Power BI analytics tool. Power BI has ascended from a middle-of-the-road solution to one of the leading business intelligence and analytics platforms available in the market today.

Features

  • Features include "out of box" data modeling and self-service analytics.
  • Ideal for predictive modeling and reporting
  • Seamless transition for those familiar with Microsoft products (Azure, Office 365, Excel, etc.): Power BI uses existing Microsoft systems (Excel, SQL, Azure) for building data visualizations.
  • Cost-effective licensing for Power BI Professional, and a free version is bundled into Office365.
  • Self-service (web, tablet, mobile access) and easy to use ,
  • Ideal for non-technical users, rather than data analysts.
  • Performance can become slow when handling bulk data (as a workaround, use direct connections rather than the import functionality).
  • Security options are somewhat limited compared to other platforms.

Migrating from Discoverer to Power BI

In our experience, after helping four clients successfully migrate from Discoverer to Power BI, this is the least complicated path and it can be done without having to rebuild your existing reports. The migration process itself must be done manually but you can automate the extraction process in Discoverer using a tool like ennSight. A US subsidiary of a global semiconductor manufacturer was able to migrate from Discoverer to Power BI using this tool and automation approach without any loss of data or rebuild. 

Click here to read a use case on migrating from Discoverer to Power BI.


Image: Example Customer Details report in Discoverer and Power BI
discoverer-power-bi-customer-details-report-example
Image: Sample Sales Orders report in Discoverer and Power BI
image-discoverer-power-bi-comparison2 

Considerations when migrating from Discoverer to Power BI
  • The Discoverer to Power BI migration path is the least intensive in terms of cost, time, and resources. In many cases, we have helped clients migrate from Discoverer to Power BI in conjunction to an internal Windows OS, desktop, or hardware upgrade, or Office365 migration project. These initiatives can be executed simultaneously without exceeding budget or requiring a significant commitment from client resources (should the client decide to hire a third party consulting company to lead the migration).
  • Power BI has a very low learning curve, which makes it easier for non-technical users to transition from Discoverer.
  • Once the SQL is extracted from Discoverer, it can be manually migrated into Power BI. Power BI does not allow users to automatically import bulk, raw SQL.
  • We recommend migrating the Discoverer reports "as-is" into Power BI, so they match the same output in Discoverer. This will help reduce errors during testing and migration, and allow the business users to enhance the reports in Power BI however they see fit.
  • Power BI Professional version is required to import the SQL of your Discoverer reports. This cannot be done in the free version. Power BI Pro enables users to share data, security details, roles, and access information.


microsoft-ssrs-logo

Microsoft SSRS

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a server-based reporting solution that customers deploy on their own premises for creating, publishing, and managing reports, then delivering them to users via web browser, mobile device, or as an email. SSRS offers mobile and paginated reports, as well as a modern web portal to access all reports in one location.

Key Features

  • Provides a Report Builder tool for end users to design and format simple reports
  • Interfaces directly into Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Role-based security: strong on-premise security control
  • Requires purchasing SQL Server licenses
  • Supports ad hoc reports
  • Installation, configuration, and management can be cumbersome
  • Lacking in report visualization capabilities compared to other platforms (i.e. Power BI)

Migrating from Discoverer to SSRS

Migrating to SSRS follows a path similar to Power BI and Tableau. There is no automated utility or tool available to import the reports from Discoverer to SSRS, so migration is done manually. The only utility available to automatically extract the reports from Discoverer is our ennSight tool. We recently helped one of the top ranked colleges in the US migrate from Discoverer to SSRS in 8 weeks without having to rebuild any of its reports. 


Image: Automated Migration Process from Discoverer to SSRS

discoverer-ssrs-migration-process-diagram


 

 

Click here to read a use case on migrating from Discoverer to SSRS

Considerations when migrating from Discoverer to SSRS
  • Don't make front-end enhancements to the reports until migrating and deploying them in SSRS. This will help you avoid additional re-work and errors, plus you have more flexibility to manipulate the data and create dashboards in SSRS if you're only working with the same tabular layout that existed in Discoverer. 
  • Test, test, and test the migrated reports before deploying to Production. During this part of the process, feedback from the business users is critical to ensure that the reports function and perform as expected. In our experience, this is also the optimal time to enhance front-end of the reports in SSRS.
  • If you own a license for Power BI, you can use it to augment the analytics and visual effects of the converted SSRS reports.


cognos-logo

Cognos

IBM's BI and performance management software suite, Cognos, allows business users to easily extract and analyze data and build reports.

  • Can be used with relational and multidimensional data sources from vendors like Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft.
  • High cost to license, maintain, and support as opposed to Microsoft BI.
  • Not effective for real-time reporting
  • Requires assistance from IT to build reports and dashboards

Migrating from Discoverer to Cognos

Cognos does not provide an automated utility to migrate reports from Discoverer to Cognos. The traditional way to migrate from Discoverer to Cognos is to re-create the reports in Cognos. This can be costly both from a time and resources perspective. 

The SQL of the Discoverer reports can be extracted automation and then migrated to Cognos. A private university recently migrated from Discoverer to Cognos in a few weeks and automatically extracted the SQL of the reports from Discoverer.

Click here to read a use case on migrating from Discoverer to Cognos


Image: Sample Discoverer report output after being migrated to Cognos
image-discoverer-cognos-comparison
Considerations when migrating from Discoverer to Cognos
  • Often overlooked is the amount of training required to start using a new platform. In our experience, clients that were already using Cognos internally or within a different business unit were able to transition from Discoverer faster than those that were not. This point may seem like common sense, but the business users need to be comfortable and competent in using the platform, and IT needs to be know how to support it.
  • Converting parameterized and cross-tab reports is complicated. As a workaround, the parameterized reports can be built through “Prompt Value” to get the parameter value for all the reports.
  • You do not have to migrate every report into Cognos. If you've extracted the report metadata from Discoverer, you can import it and build reports in Cognos whenever required.
  • Test, test, and test the migrated reports before deploying to Production. During this part of the process, feedback from the business users is critical to ensure that the reports function and perform as expected.

 

Automatically Extracting and Migrating Discoverer Reports to other platforms

ennSight

Understanding the highly-manual, cost, time, and resource-intensive nature of Discoverer migrations, ennVee developed a proprietary tool that we apply to automate the migration process. Using our "ennSight" accelerator, we automatically identify and extract the SQL of all reports from Discoverer before migrating them to your platform of choice. Through automation, the extraction time is reduced by 50% and the entire migration is completed in 2-10 weeks (based on the number and complexity of the reports to be migrated).


Image: Automated "As-is" Oracle Discoverer Migration Process

automated-oracle-discoverer-migration-process-diagram


 Image: ennSight Target Platforms
 
discoverer-migration-target-platforms
 
Power BI, Power Query, SSRS, Tableau, Qlikview, Oracle APEX, OBIEE*, MicroStrategy*, Pentaho, Open Source.
*Additional rebuild is required for OBIEE and MicroStrategy, as some elements can not be migrated from Discoverer.

Features & Benefits

  • Automatically identifies all Discoverer reports by owner, last time the report was ran, etc.
  • Automatically extracts Discoverer Reports, Infrastructure, Folders, Calculations, Filters, Workbooks, Sheets, Conditions, Joins, Classes, Hierarchies, Business Rules, Security, and Roles.
  • Speeds up the extraction of reports from Discoverer by 50%
  • Helps you reduce your total report count by consolidating duplicates and retiring obsolete reports.
  • Includes zero-dollar assessment: conversion timeline, fixed-bid pricing, roadmap, and prioritized migration plan.

Click here to download the ennSight solution sheet


Additional Resources


Free Migration Assessment + Proof-of-Concept

Sign up for a free 1-week Discoverer migration assessment and POC. 

At the end of the assessment, you will receive a detailed list of all Discoverer reports, a customized project plan, and 1 report converted to your platform of choice.  

Get a free assessment

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June 05, 2017 Automation, Business Intelligence, Discoverer Migration, OBIEE, Oracle Discoverer, Power BI, Tableau, Discoverer to SSRS, Discoverer to Cognos, Discoverer to Power BI, Self Service Reporting, Discoverer to OBIEE, Discoverer to Tableau Leave a comment

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