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Power BI OBIEE Connectors: The BI Connector Evaluation Guide

1 Introduction

Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), is a traditional BI tool but works great as a data source when connected to advanced data visualization platforms, such as Power BI.

Many organizations using OBIEE are trying out Power BI due to its self-service friendliness, and rich data visualizations – which OBIEE lacks.

Though the OBIEE to Power BI migration is the ideal solution, the project demands a huge budget, at high risk.

On average, it costs $250,000 per Subject Area and could consume about 5 to 6 months. The process is a big one – from reconnecting to data sources, to recreating data relationships, to redeveloping reports and dashboards.

When taking the Excel export route for visualizing OBIEE data with Power BI, the users typically end up spending anywhere between 5 to 10 hours every week. The manual process of export, data refresh, and creating joins is cumbersome.

So, connecting Power BI to OBIEE is the best choice. However, the Power BI OBIEE integration also has its own challenges, especially in choosing the right connector for the integration.

In this blog post, we’ll quickly run you through 6 critical factors for evaluating Power BI OBIEE Connector.

2 List of Power BI OBIEE Connectors

There are currently 3 known ways to connect Power BI to OBIEE. They are –

  1. 2.1. Oracle BI Server ODBC Driver
  2. 2.2. Web Data Connectors
  3. 2.3. BI Connector

Power BI OBIEE connectors' benefits evaluation

Now let’s take a look at each of them in detail.

2.1. Oracle BI Server ODBC Driver

Out of the 3 options, the Oracle BI Server ODBC Driver is the hardest to use.

The driver is affected by poor performance and is unreliable. It demands a lot of technical know-how, and end-users often run into problems. Further, the key fields in the RPD must be exposed for each folder/table analyzed in Power BI, which might result in security issues.

2.2. Web Data Connectors

In the case of Web Data Connectors, Unify BI is the only known connector that can be used for Power BI OBIEE integration. It provides the comfort of reusing your OBIEE joins but is limited to the results of queries that you pre-configure for your analysis.

In other words, it doesn’t connect to your entire data straight from Power BI. Further, Unify BI is prone to Power BI/OBIEE version compatibility issues.

That leaves us with the last option – BI Connector.

2.3. BI Connector

BI Connector is a Power BI certified OBIEE/OAC/OAS Connector. It’s available in both Desktop and Server editions, based on the Power BI client you want to use it in.

Technically, BI Connector is a 64-bit ODBC driver, configured to work in almost all possible scenarios when connecting Power BI to OBIEE.

BI Connector’s reference architecture is depicted below:

BI Connector Reference Architecture for Connecting Power BI to OBIEE and Oracle Analytics
BI Connector’s Reference Architecture

Now let’s jump to the core part of this blog post – 6 critical factors to evaluate a Power BI OBIEE Connector.

3Six Critical Factors to Evaluate Power BI OBIEE Connectors

Power BI OBIEE connectors' benefits evaluation

Here’s the list of the 6 critical factors to evaluate a Power BI OBIEE Connector.

  1. Meets the 5 Must-haves
  2. Meets the 2 Nice-to-haves
  3. Connector’s Security and Ease of Setup
  4. Value created, Cost and time saved
  5. Niche and resources
  6. Free trial and Proof-of-Concept support

Now let’s run them through one by one.

3.1. The 5 Must-have Items Checklist of a Power BI OBIEE Connector

When connecting Power BI to OBIEE, one must check if the connector meets all the 5 basic requirements items in the below checklist:

  1. Must connect to both Subject Areas and Reports
  2. Retain your OBIEE joins for reuse in Power BI
  3. Must work in both Import/Direct Query modes
  4. Compatible with both Power BI Desktop/Server clients
  5. Must avoid any Power BI/OBIEE version compatibility issues

5 must-haves of Power BI OBIEE connectors

Let’s look at each of them briefly.

3.1.1. Must connect to both Subject Areas and Reports

When connecting Power BI to OBIEE, the users want the flexibility to connect to both Subject Areas or Reports. When the users already created a set of reports in OBIEE for analysis, they will stick to connecting to those reports.

However, when they want to analyze a set of data that’s not available in any of their reports, the users demand the flexibility to connect to Subject Areas also directly from Power BI.

Creating a new report with the required set of data and then connecting it to Power BI pretty much defeats the purpose of the connector.

3.1.2. Retain the OBIEE joins for reuse in Power BI

When connecting Power BI to an OBIEE Subject Area, the users must have the ability to retain the relationships already created in OBIEE.

If the connector doesn’t solve the problem of retaining the joins, the users will have to recreate the joins from scratch in Power BI, which is cumbersome again.

3.1.3. Must work in both Import and Direct Query Modes

The users have preferences. Hence, the user convenience factor plays a major role in choosing between the Import and Direct Query modes, when connecting Power BI to any data source, leave alone OBIEE.

Some users are comfortable with the Import mode, while others don’t want to hit the refresh button every time they open up a report.

3.1.4. Compatible with Power BI Desktop/Server clients

The connector must work with both Power BI Desktop and Server clients based on the customer’s needs.

In most cases, the creators usually use the Desktop edition for developing the reports and publish them to the server for user consumption.

If the connector doesn’t work with any of the editions, then the connector can be merely used for firefighting in ad-hoc scenarios.

The user adoption of the connector will be low if the connector didn’t work seamlessly in both the Desktop and Server clients.

3.1.5. Avoid Power BI/OBIEE Version Compatibility issues

Though most organizations are using OBIEE 12c, some organizations still stick to 11g.

On the Power BI end, the users are quite crazy about the latest versions, as Power BI comes up with a release almost on a monthly basis.

Hence, the connector must work in any OBIEE/Power BI version without running into any version compatibility issues.

If your connector doesn’t meet any of the above 5 items, you’re probably staring at a showstopper.

Of course, one can manage to navigate all these scenarios with plenty of coding, but the end-users are usually dissatisfied with such complex solutions.

Given the purpose of using Power BI over OBIEE, such complex coded solutions defeat the purpose of using Power BI.

Currently, BI Connector is the only connector that checks all the items in the 5 must-haves, and can be set up in 5 minutes with ease.

3.2. Checks the boxes of the 2 Nice-to-haves also

2 nice-to-haves of power bi obiee connectors

While BI Connector is the only connector to have met all the 5 must-haves of a Power BI OBIEE Connector, it also meets the additional nice-to-haves with ease.

In this section, we’ll discuss the following 2 nice-to-haves –

  1. Power BI Certified OBIEE Connector
  2. Connect to OAC/OAS also

3.2.1. Power BI Certified OBIEE Connector

Some organizations have strict internal policies that stop them from using unauthorized solutions.

BI Connector, as a Power BI certified OBIEE connector is battle-tested. The connector passed several stringent test cases and scenarios created by the Power BI team.

3.2.2. Connect to OAC and OAS also

Many organizations using OBIEE have switched to Oracle Analytics products to overcome OBIEE’s limitations in terms of self-service data visualization.

Some users, despite their organization switching to Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) or Oracle Analytics Server (OAS), prefer Power BI over them, as they are already acquainted with it, and reluctant to switch and learn a new tool.

In that case, BI Connector still helps! Yes, BI Connector can be used to connect Power BI not only to OBIEE but also to OAC and OAS, at no additional cost.

3.3. Connector’s Security, and Ease of Setup

connector must have a secure, no-code setup

The Oracle BI ODBC Driver, as pointed out earlier, requires the presentation and business layers of your OBIEE exposed. It is not easy to set up or use as well.

The Web Data Connector is relatively secure and easy to use (except that you can only access the result of predefined queries in Power BI), compared to the Oracle BI ODBC option.

BI Connector is secure and is easy to download, install and use. The connector is no-code friendly, and users can get started with the connector in 5 minutes. Let’s see why below.

In BI Connector, the users just require the following information to set it up.

  1. OBIEE Server URL – The same OBIEE URL the users enter in a web browser to access their OBIEE account. It can be an HTTP or HTTPS URL.
  2. Port number – The server’s port number.
  3. OBIEE Credentials – The users must enter their OBIEE credentials to set up the DSN. These credentials ensure the user can access only the data they are authorized to access in your OBIEE end. However, the necessary data access privileges must be configured in the Power BI server end, like it is done for any other data source.
  4. Subject Area/Reports selection – The users must mandatorily enter the specific Reports/folders URL if they want to analyze OBIEE reports data. The users are not required to make the Subject Area selection mandatorily. However, it is recommended in case the user has access to a huge number of Subject Areas.

Is your OBIEE configured in a Single Sign-On (SSO) environment?

BI Connector currently supports the following SSOs and will provide a custom solution, in case you’re using a different one.

1. Windows Native Authentication
2. Oracle Access Manager (OAM)
3. Oracle e-Business Suite (EBS)
4. WebAuth
5. WebAuth (with SAML)

For more information on how BI Connector connects Power BI securely to OBIEE, read this whitepaper – BI Connector Security Overview for connecting Power BI to OBIEE and Oracle Analytics.

3.4. Value Created, Time and Cost Saved

Power BI OBIEE connectors' benefits evaluation

In this section, we’ll compare the value created, the cost, and the time savings achieved with BI Connector against the alternative options.

The OBIEE to Power BI Migration costs $250,000/subject area migrated on an average, and it takes about 6 months to complete migrating one subject area.

The Excel Export option directly costs $0, but the time (5 to 10 hours on an average) spent on the cumbersome process of manual export, creating joins, etc, when monetized, could roughly cost about $10,000/user/year.

The Oracle BI Server ODBC driver has no additional cost. But it’s not reliable either, and fuels data security concerns. Further, the users face a hard time making the connector work consistently.

The Unify BI (Web Data Connector) works pretty well compared to the Oracle BI Server ODBC driver, but is prone to version compatibility issues, and limits the data accessed in Power BI (only the results of pre-configured queries can be accessed in the Power BI end).

BI Connector gets the job done seamlessly without any difficulties. The users can set BI Connector up themselves in minutes, and get started right away. The licenses are priced based on the number of CPU cores in the On-premise Gateway (starting at 8 cores).

Therefore, the only potential competition for BI Connector is the migration option. The migration option has a marginal advantage over BI Connector in terms of value. However, BI Connector is far ahead of the migration option in the cost and time front.

The approximate cost of 700 BI Connector desktop licenses is the same as the average cost spent on migrating 1 subject area.

Furthermore, BI Connector connects Power BI to your OBIEE, in a matter of 5 minutes, and you’re all set to visualize your OBIEE data in Power BI. But on the other hand, the migration project could consume about 5 years, if you have 10 subject areas.

When you’re looking for an optimized solution at all fronts – be it value, cost, or time, BI Connector is the best choice for connecting Power BI to OBIEE, OAC, and OAS.

3.5. Niche and Resources

Niche focused, resource-rich connector

If you use Oracle BI Server ODBC Driver or the Web Data Connector, you could have access to limited resources that help in the overall setup, but no additional resources for specific challenges.

Further, the companies that created those solutions don’t have a niche focus on your specific problem of Power BI OBIEE integration.

BI Connector’s sole focus is on addressing a specific problem for the past few years – simplifying OBIEE data visualization.

Every BI Connector features added in the years is a continual improvement driven by user requirements and feedback.

The BI Connector Team successfully faced and troubleshot hundreds of problems in the niche of connecting modern data visualization tools to OBIEE.

Here’s a small proof of our deep knowledge and expertise in this niche –

9 Best Practices for Connecting Power BI to OBIEE, OAC, and OAS

Reference Architecture for Connecting Power BI to OBIEE and Oracle Analytics

DIY Tips to Improve Query Performance When Connecting Power BI to OBIEE via BI Connector

You can find a lot more resources specific to Power BI OBIEE integration here.

And guess what? BI Connector is still on the quest for perfection, hunting down most of the minor, rare corner cases reported by users in this niche.

3.6. Free Trial and Proof-of-Concept Support

BI Connector Proof of concept, free trial, support

Nobody wants to make a decision in the dark. So, let’s look at the free trial and support aspects of the 3 Power BI OBIEE Connectors.

If you’re using OBIEE, you have access to the Oracle BI Server ODBC driver right away, but you may incur additional costs for support.

For the web data connector, you have a free trial, with limited support resources.

BI Connector offers a fully-featured 30-day free trial, no credit card required.

BI Connector also helps you with your proof-of-concept when you try the connector.

You may also schedule a no-fee demo with us and watch BI Connector in action.

Further, when you download the free trial, you also get instant access to BI Connector’s complimentary onboarding.

You always have BI Connector’s knowledge base that gives you instant access to the step-by-step installation guide, and user guide resources for each specific scenario you may face.

You may also reach out to our support team at [email protected]. The BI Connector team usually replies within a day or even jumps on a Zoom call right away to support you.

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