The Unfinished Business of Business Intelligence

The Unfinished Business of Business Intelligence


First in a Four-part Series

When an IT group considers enterprise-class Business Intelligence (BI) platforms, the first concern is to fulfill the functional requirements of the business. However, the scope of the effort required to deliver that BI functionality to the end users is often underestimated.

This four-part series of posts discusses several key points that go into answering the question: “Once we’ve procured the BI product with the necessary features, how will we effectively deliver those features to the business?”

Building the team: Who needs to participate and when

While it is clear that an enterprise BI deployment will involve numerous areas of corporate infrastructure, the specific types of expertise, areas of ownership, and –very importantly – the sequence in which these areas need to be engaged, are not always obvious. A good example is determining when the DBAs need to get involved.

For some BI products, little or no DBA participation is required until after the BI platform has been deployed, at which point the business application team works with the DBAs on issues of schema construction and optimization. For other BI products – such as OBIEE – the DBAs need to be involved before the BI platform can even be installed, due to the need for a database to hold special operational metadata.

Based on a virtualized, disaster-recoverable environment, the deployment timeline is divided into three phases.  Below is a list of when each key participant is needed,  along with the not-so-obvious questions to ask.

The next post in this series will pick up at Phase Two of this list:

Phase One – Getting Up and Running

Virtualization Administrator

  1. Can VM snapshots be taken and to what extent?
  2. Is High Availability (HA) an option?
  3. Can the application team access VM performance statistics?
  4. How has the BI vendor addressed virtual CPU core counts in the deployment of other apps in this environment?

OS Platform Administrator

  1. What are the baseline/standard OS builds currently available in terms of OS revision, patches and packages?
  2. Can a custom build be created; how difficult will it be and how long will it take?

Database Administrator

  1. Can query execution plan and other tracing be turned on quickly?
  2. Can user account/schema creation and authorization be delegated to application team members?
  3. Which DB instances are available and what else is running on them; how are they tuned?

Part Two of this series will present the rest of this list, covering the last two phases: Phase Two: Bracing for the worst and Phase Three: Scaling out and fortifying the deployment.

We’ll then discuss the infrastructural steps to be taken and pitfalls to be avoided in the section: Anticipating delivery challenges: Start at the edges and work inward.

Part Three will discuss security in the section: On a need to know basis: Securing the content and the data, and Part Four will discuss the scaling and on-going operation of the enterprise BI platform in the sections: Anticipating success: Making the BI platform capacity keep pace with demand and The facts of Life: The software will break, and at the worst possible time.


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