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OBIEE Project Log, Part 1: Operating Systems

Welcome to my Oracle BI Project Log series. This will be an open ended series related to decisions made and lessons learned in a live Perficient project. I will be focusing on the technology questions which should be generic to any OBIEE implementation.

Which Operating System Should We Use?

If a client has a strong preference for a particular operating system this question is a simple matter of confirming which version of the desired operating system is certified with the version of OBIEE 11g. Sometimes, however, a client will ask a frighteningly simple question, “What operating system do you recommend we use?” This simple question, while demonstrating a great deal of trust, also puts quite a burden on a consultant to weigh all of the options.

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The Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition 11g Release 1 Certification Matrix spreadsheet is the definitive guide to the platform options available, but it does little to explain the benefits and disadvantages for each. I will be pointing out the decisions made on my project and what I learned about the impacts of these decisions. It may perhaps go without saying, but be sure to confirm you are using the latest version of the Certification Matrix before proceeding with your hardware and software purchases.

  • Microsoft Windows – This is perhaps the simplest implementation option. Every component of the Oracle BI stack is available on Windows. This even includes the various client tools. Windows has a high level of user adoption meaning there is a large online community answering questions and solving problems.
  • Linux – The enterprise versions of Linux don’t come for free, but the open nature of Linux is very attractive to many companies. Linux servers use the same hardware as Windows servers with generally improved performance for components that require a larger number of concurrent threads…such as Oracle BI.
  • Oracle Solaris and IBM AIX – With proprietary hardware and a higher initial cost of ownership these options are generally used only if the client already has the necessary infrastructure in place. Both options have strong merits, but come at a steep cost and steep learning curve as opposed to Linux and Windows.

It is important to bear in mind that non-Windows implementations require a Windows server to facilitate the installation of Oracle BI Applications components. The Installation Guide for Informatica PowerCenter Users Release explains this clearly in section 4.1 on pages 4-2 & 4-3.

Typical Topology for an Oracle BI Applications Deployment
(click on image for full sized version)
Machine A is a machine that has installed Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, on which you run the Oracle BI Applications installer to install the Oracle BI Applications files.

Note: The [Windows] instance of Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition does not need to be the functional version of Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition that you will use to deploy dashboards in your live system. This instance is only required to enable the Oracle BI Applications installer to install the Oracle BI Applications files onto a machine.

Since this is a Project Log post it wouldn’t be fair to close without revealing what we chose. We chose a heterogeneous approach with some components on Oracle Linux Server release 5.6 (64-bit) and some components on Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition (64-bit).

Why did we choose this approach? Here is the reasoning behind how we assigned each of these components.

  • Oracle Fusion Middleware (aka Oracle Business Intelligence) – We chose Linux in order to gain the most bang for our CPU-based licensing buck. We also received a strong recommendation from Perficient’s Oracle Technology practice’s based upon their experience deploying WebLogic Server and related components. That group has been deploying these components for many more years than those of us in the Oracle Business Intelligence practice. Trust the experts!
  • Oracle Database – We chose Linux primarily due to the historical schedule of releases on Linux x86-64 platforms as opposed to Windows x64 platforms. Release Schedule of Current Database Releases [ID 742060.1] (available on Oracle Support) describes how Oracle became available on Linux x86-64 seven months sooner than on Windows x64. The delay was shorter for Oracle, Windows x64 was only three months behind Linux x86-64.
  • Oracle Data Warehouse Administration Console – We chose Windows based on compelling evidence that Windows is the primary development platform for the DAC. The Installation Guide for Informatica PowerCenter Users Release states on page 4-37.

    The DAC Server can run on Linux, but it must first be installed on a Windows machine, then copied over to a Linux machine, as described in the steps below. Oracle does not provides an installer for DAC on UNIX.

  • Informatica PowerCenter – We choose Windows because of the restriction that the DAC Server must be installed on the same machine as the Informatica PowerCenter Server. The Installation Guide for Informatica PowerCenter Users Release states on page 4-8.

    PowerCenter Services and the DAC Server must be co-located on the same machine

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