Is It Time to Upgrade to OBIEE?

Is It Time to Upgrade to OBIEE?

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The OBIEE challenge for BI managers is deciding whether or not to upgrade OBIEE and, if so, when to do it. It is a matter of balance between keeping the existing reporting environment up-to-date and minding other factors such as budget, testing effort, risk mitigation, and expertise on hand.

Even though there can be separate decision-making by infrastructure and BI teams, I believe that the OBIEE team should decide on the necessity of patching — except for critical security updates, when the infrastructure team might make that call.

That said, it is important for both teams to work together to understand the available upgrades. Even though Oracle publishes a list of fixed bugs, managers may find it difficult to decide whether it’s worthwhile to go ahead with a patching, The patches often provide a mix of enhancements to the existing functionality (such as new chart type), bug fixes (such as Excel export or support for non-IE browsers), and stability improvements (eliminating BI server crashes under certain circumstances). For that reason, the development team needs to be involved to help make the transition.

OBIEE Patch management has turned into a critical BI application management activity which requires thorough planning and crisp execution, especially with environments that are complex, heavily-customized, or mission-critical.

When considering an upgrade, there are a few recommendations to have in order before deciding whether to proceed with patching or wait for the next one. First, study the patch availability notice which accompanies the release. Patches are named in 11.1.1.7.XXXXXX format, where XXXXXX includes a two-digit year, month, and day, such as 11.1.1.7.140225. This notice supplies all necessary details about the patch including version compatibility, order in which to apply the patch during migration from other versions, and additional information for Exalytics users. BI managers may want to ask the development team to analyze the “Bugs Fixed” note to assess whether the upgrade would be beneficial to the activities of the BI team and whether there are any risks associated with the upgrade. This should help in creating the OBIEE upgrade plan documents.

The next step includes upgrading OBIEE in a separate patching environment and going through a full testing cycle. This  might include such elements as: full regression Presentation Serer test on most of all of the reports, customization elements (such as banners, style sheets, and custom images embedded into the reports), RPD development test (checking that existing development flow would not be broken, including MUDE if necessary). This will boost management confidence in the patch as well as catch any unexpected items (such as a bug fix breaking existing functionality or dashboard formatting).

The final step includes rolling the patch out to your environment. Whether one has 10 or 1000 OBIEE server instances, the upgrade team must be fully prepared to execute the upgrade plan and fulfill the defined success criteria.

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