November 27, 2009

I think this summarises everything.

Filed under: obia, silly — rmoff @ 12:20

Why did this make me think of the OBIA upgrade documentation?? 😉

via I think this summarizes everything..

[Update December 18, 2013: The lady in the picture is Kathy Sierra]

November 25, 2009

SoOotW and sweep

Filed under: obiee — rmoff @ 14:05

(Sorry for the lame title, but it gives me an excuse to put this picture in 🙂 )

I was really pleased by the response I got from my posting about The state of OBIEE on the web, knowing that it’s not just me goes a long way to keeping my blood pressure down.

The OTN forum is still an unbalanced mix of tosh (is this guy for real?) with the occasional insightful and interesting post or idea such as this really neat one from Joe Bertram about using multiple presentation services on top of the same RPD to give different interfaces to different end devices.

That there is still some good content on OTN being posted, and with OBIEE 11g hopefully around the corner (and thus a whole lot more to discuss!), makes me think that Andriy Yakushyn’s kind offer of hosting a new, moderated, forum could be a good idea.
I discovered Oracle-L the other day which has what I think is a good approach to moderation:

New subscribers to this list are not able to post messages at first. To get this privilege turned on, you must email me. If you are using an anonymous email address, you must identify yourself. I also like to know what city you live in and what company you work for. Please be sure to send the request from the address for which you want the privilege, not from some other address. Please avoid being rude or impatient. Please subscribe to the list before asking for the posting privilege.

This way casual [lazy] fire-and-forget posters with their UGRENT!!! questions are dissuaded, the community becomes more of a community of knowns instead of user2371623 answering user8923713’s question – and important for making everything work, there is no burden on moderator(s) having to vet all posts. Anyone misbehaving can easily be warned or booted, but generally the forum would run itself.
To Joel Garry’s point against moderation, I disagree – to “gangfaq” someone on OTN would simply add to the clutter in the group.

OBIEE application servers, now and future

Filed under: OAS, obiee, obiee 11g, weblogic — rmoff @ 12:24

Oracle have published an interesting doc 968223.1, entitled “Enterprise Deployment of Oracle BI EE on OC4J and App Servers”.

It details the differences between OC4J and OAS which is useful for the current versions of OBIEE. It then also gives a useful heads-up — that WebLogic becomes the App server of choice in the next version of OBIEE

All of this changes in OBI EE 11g where several projects will become absolutely dependent upon an App Server. Within Oracle Fusion Middleware, WebLogic Server will be the application server and OBI EE 11g will be deployed and certified with WebLogic Server.

November 17, 2009

Resolved: sawserver : Error loading security privilege /system/privs/catalog/ChangePermissionsPrivilege

Filed under: config, sawserver — rmoff @ 17:19

Whilst installing OBIA I hit this problem when firing up Presentation Services (sawserver):

Error loading security privilege /system/privs/catalog/ChangePermissionsPrivilege.

A quick search on the forums threw up two posts suggesting a corrupted WebCat.

Since I’d got this webcat fresh out of the box I was puzzled how it could be corrupted.

I did a bit more tinkering (including nosying around in the sawserver log), before realising it was indeed corrupt, and that I was indeed a muppet.

Here’s what happened after copying EnterpriseBusinessAnalytics.zip to my (unix) Presentation Services box:

$unzip EnterpriseBusinessAnalytics.zip 
Archive:  EnterpriseBusinessAnalytics.zip
   creating: root/
   creating: root/
   creating: root/shared/
   creating: root/shared/automotive/
   creating: root/shared/automotive/prompts/
  inflating: root/shared/automotive/prompts/gf_model+model+year+trim  
  inflating: root/shared/automotive/prompts/gf_model+model+year+trim.atr  
  inflating: root/shared/automotive/prompts.atr  
[ lots of files here ]
  inflating: root.atr                

$ls -l
total 110494
-rw-------   1 user   group    37655058 Oct  7 03:44 EnterpriseBusinessAnalytics.zip
drwx------   5 user   group       1024 Sep 18 01:06 root
-rw-------   1 user   group         60 Dec  6  2006 root.atr

Huh? What gives? Where’s my EnterpriseBusinessAnalytics web cat folder?
Well, quite obviously it’s unpacked it without a parent directory name.
That’s easily solved:

$mkdir EnterpriseBusinessAnalytics
$mv root EnterpriseBusinessAnalytics

Then I started up Presentation Services and got the error “Error loading security privilege /system/privs/catalog/ChangePermissionsPrivilege.”

If you can spot my snafu at this point the my only defence is that there was quite a lot of other gumf in the catalog folder, not just the files illustrated above 😀

The solution

Whilst I’d moved the root folder into my webcat folder, I’d neglected to move root.atr – in effect corrupting the web catalog.

So simple, but so frustating!

The solution in this case was to move root.atr into the webcat folder, alongside root.
It’s worth noting that this may not be the solution in all occurrences of this error, it depends on where the corruption has occurred.


The silver lining being a good chance to poke around inside sawserver a bit more and discover gems like this in the logging:

The Oracle BI Presentation Server is proudly running under user: TODO_implement_this

It’s nice that it takes pride in its work, although shame we never get to find out the user’s name 😉

November 12, 2009

Deploying Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition on Sun Systems

Filed under: cluster, obiee, performance, unix — rmoff @ 11:28

A very interesting new PDF from Sun on deploying OBIEE has been published, with discussions on architecture, performance and best practice.

This Sun BluePrints article describes an enterprise deployment architecture for Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition using Sun servers running the Solaris Operating System and Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage systems. Designed to empower employees in organizations in any industry—from customer service, shipping, and finance to manufacturing, human resources, and more—to become potential decision makers, the architecture brings fault tolerance, security, resiliency, and performance to enterprise deployments. Taking advantage of key virtualization technologies, the architecture can be used to consolidate multiple tiers onto a single system to help reduce cost and complexity. A short discussion of the performance characteristics of the architecture using a realistic workload also is included.

The paper’s by Maqsood Alam, Luojia Chen, Chaitanya Jadaru, Ron Graham and Giri Mandalika.

Direct download: Deploying Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition on Sun Systems
Main link (requires Sun registration to download): https://www.sun.com/offers/details/821-0698.xml

November 11, 2009

#Fail: My Oracle Support

Filed under: oracle, rant, support — rmoff @ 15:45

Metalink was retired this weekend and made way for the new My Oracle Support system. It didn’t go as smoothly as it could have done.

This post is going to be a bit of a rambling rant.

Ultimately people, including me, don’t like their cheese being moved (not unless there’s a really runny piece of Camembert at the end of it). That makes it a bit more difficult to discuss because some of people’s complaints will just be geeks being stubborn (and boy, can geeks be stubborn). Arguments descend into minutiae of detail and flash vs DHTML – whilst the bigger picture gets lost.

People especially don’t like their cheese being moved (okay okay enough of the cheese) change to systems that they depend on to do their job. If it were the migration of a blogging website or somesuch then it’d be a bummer, there’d be grumbling about it, but ultimately people would probably be quite sanguine about it. When it comes to a support website though, it has to be available.

If this were a system that we delivered to our users then we’d (hopefully) get laughed out the building and/or strung up. It stinks, and there’s no denying it. Maybe once upon a time the concept was a good one, but somewhere along the line looks overtook functionality and someone in charge forgot that this wasn’t a beauty contest but a support website relied on by many many people for doing their jobs. Some of the new functionality (and it is there) in MOS is quite neat — but I only discover it by accident because most of the time I’m waiting for the s#dding thing to load or respond to a mouse click.

I can understand a marketing agency designing some krazy kool website to sell junk food to kidz using lots of flash and clever code, and the benefit (whizzy effects impressing target audience) outweighs the disadvantage (lower spec’d PCs can’t display it properly or at reasonable speed). But a support website? C’mon! It’s a support website! It should work in Lynx (maybe not quite). It was apparently tested on a 2 gig / 3Ghz PC – I’d suggest that’s hardly standard fare yet.

I want to go to the Oracle support website and get support. I shouldn’t have to attend training or webinars to use a website. If I do, then the website’s badly designed. Seriously. And enough with the rambling waffly emails already. I get enough emails everyday that any communication about Metalink/MOS needs to be clear and concise. It doesn’t need BS in it about a “Leveraging the personalized, proactive, and collaborative support capabilities […] reduce the time you spend maintaining Oracle solutions” (literal quotation).

As an OBIEE user I’ve already been using My Oracle Support after Metalink3 was discontinued a few months ago. After that migration I raised several non-technical SRs reporting various problems, and almost always got a response with the implication that I was doing something wrong or needed helping, rather than the impression that I’d reported a bug which needed fixing.
Somehow, and I’d have hoped this would come from within the organisation, bugs reported by customers need to go straight to Dev, rather than the customer fobbed off. And I was fobbed off without a doubt. Next time I shall not bother reporting problems because it’s not worth the time I spend on it.

Sr. Customer Support Manager Chris Warticki at Oracle has blogged about the cutover:

There’s another blog from Support here.

OUG survey

OUG are running a survey until 19th Nov:

Last weekend, Oracle closed the current Metalink service and migrated the users to My Oracle Support.
UKOUG has had reports from its membership and from across EMEA of a number of problems in this migration.
In order to enter into dialogue with Oracle on this, we would appreciate it if you could complete the following very short survey.

You can find the survey here

Footnote – non-flash My Oracle Support

There is a non-flash version of My Oracle Support at http://supporthtml.oracle.com. However from where I am I can’t login directly (see errors below)

You might be able to get in indirectly on this link.

Clicking the Home link when going in on this link or trying to login from http://supporthtml.oracle.com gives 500 Internal Server error on IE and “Recursive error in error-page calling for /secure/error.jspx, see the application log for details. ” in FireFox.

Looking at http://supporthtml.oracle.com and having used the flash version for a while now the non-flash version looks pretty similar. More effort’s gone into its appearance than I’d expect for a site that’s been knocked out in HTML as a purely-functional alternative to the main flash site.
It’s evidently not fully functional yet but I wonder if someone’s taken the wise idea to do the rewrite in non-flash and will ditch the flash version at some point in the future?

Follow up

It looks like things are stabilising a bit, although I still get inconsistent results when using supporthtml.oracle.com.

Some more blogs about the problems:

November 6, 2009

OBIEE clustering – specifying multiple Presentation Services from Presentation Services Plug-in

Filed under: load balancing, OAS, obiee, sawserver, unix — rmoff @ 12:00


Whilst the BI Cluster Controller takes care nicely of clustering and failover for BI Server (nqsserver), we have to do more to ensure further resilience of the stack.

A diagram I come back to again and again when working out configuration or connectivity problems is the one on P16 of the Deployment Guide. With this you can work out most issues for yourself through simple reasoning. Print it out, pin it to your wall, and read it!

As a reminder, when a user calls up the address for Answers or Dashboards the flow goes :

  1. web browser
  2. web serve r (eg OAS – Apache)
  3. app server (eg OAS – OC4J) -> BI Presentation Services Plug-in (“analytics”)
  4. BI Presentation Services
  5. (BI Server)
  6. (Database)

With clustering we are aiming to spread the load as much as possible. This gives us resilience if a component fails and capacity as the work is shared out.

This posting examines how to configure step 3 on the above list (BI Presentation Services Plug-in) to work with multiple BI Presentation Services.

From the Deployment Guide:

BI Presentation Services Plug-ins route session requests to BI Presentation Services instances using native protocol. The connections are load balanced using native load balancing capability.

BI Presentation Services receives requests from BI Presentation Services Plug-in […]. Although an initial user session request can go to any BI Presentation Services in the cluster, each user is then bound to a specific BI Presentation Services instance.

Be aware that “BI Presentation Services” is not the same as “BI Presentation Services Plug-in”:

  • “BI Presentation Services” is sawserver, a service in its own right.
  • “BI Presentation Services Plug-in” is a java servlet called analytics deployed within a J2ee application server.
    • There is also a version for IIS using ISAPI. This article is only about the j2ee version. The configuration principles should remain the same for the ISAPI plugin though.


To configure the j2ee plug-in, do the following:

  1. Locate web.xml found in $J2EE_home/applications/analytics/analytics/WEB-INF
    • See note below regarding this path as it is contrary to that given in the Deployment Guide on p35
  2. Create a backup of the web.xml file
  3. By default the file will have two sets of init-params. Remove these:
  4. Add in a new init-param in place of the two you removed, specifying your Presentation Services hosts and ports (syntax is host:port) in a semi-colon delimited list
  5. Save your modified web.xml file
  6. Restart your application server
    • In OAS you can use opmnctl restartproc
  7. Login to Answers and test that it works
  8. Stop one of your Presentation Services (sawserver)
  9. Refresh Answers. You’ll probably get a 500 Internal Server Error.
    • If you check the application.log it shows that it can’t connect to the Presentation Services (because you’ve just stopped it, duh!)
  10. Refresh Answers again in a minute or two. You should get Presentation Services back, but from a different instance.
    • Does anyone know where this period is defined, eg is it a timeout setting, multiple failed connection attempts?
  11. Work through all your Presentation Services servers, stopping and starting the service on each to ensure each is being picked up

How do you know which Presentation Services you’re using?

This is where it can get a bit confusing!

The images that you see rendered on the page are local to the BI Presentation Services Plug-in. So if you muck around with the files in /res you can tag the login page with the server that analytics plugin is running on. If you’re not using web server load balancing then this will always be the web server that you’re connecting to.

The web catalog is specified by the BI Presentation Services instance. Once your clustering is setup then obviously you must share or replicate your web catalog. However whilst setting up the plugin->presentation services connectivity it might be an idea to have separate instances. Set up the default dashboard on login simply to show the Presentation Sevices server name as a text box (hardcode it). Do this for each server. You can go and check the actual Request in the web catalog on each server’s file system to make sure you’re on the right one.


  • BI Presentation Services Plug-in:
    •  $J2EE_home/application-deployments/analytics/home_default_group_1/application.log
    • Also available through OAS’s Enterprise Manager, click Logs link top right and navigate to the analytics Application
  • BI Presentation Services:
    • $OracleBIData/web/log/sawlog0.log

Common errors

500 Internal Server Error

Servlet error: An exception occurred. The current application deployment descriptors do not allow for including it in this response. Please consult the application log for details.

BI Presentation Services Plug-in has thrown an error, and you should check its logfile (see below).

analytics: Servlet error java.net.ConnectException: Connection refused

The BI Presentation Services Plug-in is trying to connect to a Presentation Services and can’t. Either you’ve specified the wrong host or port details in the web.xml, or Presentation Services (sawserver) is not running.

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

This typically means that the BI Presentation Services Plug-in is not running. Check in OAS that the analytics application is started

Bonus – shared config

In researching this I found an interesting point in the release notes. You can specify the analytics configuration in a shared config file using the oracle.bi.presentation.sawbridge.configFilePath param-name.

On a clustered setup with shared filesystem you can therefore have one file listing the Presentation Services servers to use, and reference this from each analytics config.

Ref: Configuring Oracle BI EE Using an EAR File

web.xml location

The Deployment Guide p35 states that the web.xml for java servlet is $OracleBI_HOME/web/app/WEB-INF. However, in my experience this should actually be $J2EE_home/applications/analytics/analytics/WEB-INF.

The table on p97 in the Infrastructure Installation and Configuration Guide concurs with this, and shows different locations for web.xml. The difference is whether your installation using IIS or OAS/OC4J.

So for OAS/OC4J web.xml is $J2EE_home/applications/analytics/analytics/WEB-INF, and for IIS’s ISAPI plugin it is $OracleBI_HOME/web/app/WEB-INF

November 3, 2009

Advanced Googling for OBIEE information

Filed under: Google, obiee, oracle — rmoff @ 15:23

Want to find all PDFs from Oracle about OBIEE?

site-.oracle.com filetype-pdf obiee - Google Search_1257257786312

There’s some interesting ones that this turned up on Oracle’s public FTP. In particular:

(There’s also PowerPoint files on there including this one but Google doesn’t seem to index them)

You can use Google’s Advanced Search page to build similar queries:

Google Advanced Search_1257257700042

You can also use Google Alerts so that any time a new entry matching your search criteria is added in Google’s index you get notified of it either by email or on an RSS feed:

Google Alerts_1257258029069


Google Is Your Friend, and powerful ally 😀

CAF installation video

Filed under: caf, catalogmanager, obiee — rmoff @ 12:25

Christian Screen has done a nice video explaining the CAF installation, and has promised a deep-dive followup which I’m looking forward to.
Click here for the article

November 2, 2009


Filed under: timemanagement — rmoff @ 14:04

A brilliant posting here from Jonathan Lewis on the subject of Experts.
He in turn is quoting Chen Shapira: “DBAs are under a lot of pressure not to be experts.”. Read the sentence again, as it took me a minute to figure out.
He’s writing in the context of an Oracle DBA but I think it’s equally applicable to those working with an looking after installations of OBIEE et al.

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