Are You an Oracle Ostrich? Don’t Ignore the Hidden Costs of Replacing Discoverer
With extended support of Oracle Business Intelligence Discoverer ending this June, some organizations still have their heads in the sand when it comes to replacing the popular reporting tool. While some companies are staying with unsupported Discoverer for now, others are moving to recommended Oracle successors like Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE). Each option comes with hidden costs that your company should evaluate, which we’ll explore here.
The High Price of Doing Nothing
Unless your company has a policy against using discontinued software (and many do), continuing with Discoverer seems like a reasonable option on the surface. You’ve got a large set of reports seemingly just the way you want them―although it may be an inefficient and redundant report library that needs consolidating. Once reports are created (usually by IT), everyone’s generally happy with running and modifying reports from the tool’s user layer. Also, you may not have had to submit a support ticket on Discover for some time, so the software seems stable.
The problem with burying your head is that you may be deep enough to get stuck in a bad position. If your company upgrades to a new version of Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) or Windows 10, for example, and it’s not compatible with Discoverer or introduces a bug, Oracle isn’t responsible for making it work. It’s now your responsibility to keep it running, and many programmers won’t be motivated to maintain or develop the increasingly-obsolete Discoverer skill set for doing so long term.
The bottom line on doing nothing? You are in a reactive position, waiting for the brakes to fail on old software, with no new parts available. You could find yourself stranded―searching for a replacement―during a critical month- or year-end close process.
Overkill Systems with Multiple Cost Layers
If you’re trying to be proactive and find a supported reporting tool, Oracle’s primary recommendation is OBIEE. Standard Oracle Reports and Report Manager will still be available, but these tools aren’t able to provide in-depth or highly-customized reports without significant effort.
OBIEE is a strategic BI tool that provides a web platform with attractive dashboards and sophisticated capabilities suitable for the C-level. While OBIEE license costs may not seem unrealistic for some organizations, they are the tip of the iceberg for ongoing OBIEE expenses. Here are some of the hidden costs you shouldn’t ignore when evaluating OBIEE:
- Extended implementation – Because of its complexity, OBIEE can take six to 12 months―or more―to implement. Unfortunately, if the project doesn’t deliver results and the right reports in this timeframe, some companies actually abandon OBIEE after all the cost and expense, as happened with utility provider ActewAGL. And, you have to consider you are treading on thin ice if relying on Discoverer during the interim.
- Data warehouse (and day-old data) – To use OBIEE, you may need to create a data warehouse. This means OBIEE reports will require time-consuming exports of data to the warehouse, so you’ll end up with day-old static data and not real-time reports you can drill into.
- Consulting resources and/or BI programmers – Consulting resources for a BI project are often double or more the software licensing costs. This is because OBIEE programmers must intimately understand Oracle’s 30,000 plus tables due to the way OBIEE retrieves and stores data. You’ll either be stuck with consulting costs for creating and maintaining reports, or have to hire a high-dollar BI programmer long term.
- Lengthy report conversion – Converting a Discoverer report to OBIEE isn’t automated and can take up to eight steps―per report. This is costly, as you’re usually relying on consultants.
- Security – OBIEE has its own security profiles outside of Oracle EBS, and it takes time to map and reconcile the two, which can be critical when you are hiring or letting people go. Security changes in EBS can often be overlooked in OBIEE, allowing an unauthorized employee to gain access to sensitive data.
- Too many bells and whistles – A survey of more than 250 Oracle customers showed that 72 percent of OBIEE users claim they don’t fully exploit the tool. Many just want fast transactional and ad hoc reporting―and even creating that basic type of report can take up to a year in OBIEE.
After evaluating these hidden costs in terms of what your organization truly needs, it might make the most sense to look for a reporting tool that provides the real-time aspects of Discoverer, without both the obvious and hidden costs of OBIEE. Data security and automated conversion of Discoverer reports are other features to look for in a new tool. By doing so, you’ll approach your reporting project with a clear view of the best option.
Author: Tom Williams
Territory Manager, Excel4apps