Security Topics in Oracle Business Intelligence (OBIEE)

There are 4 important topics we should discuses about, they are:

1. Define security in the repository.
2. External table authentication.
3. LDAP authentication.
4. Database authentication.

Define security in the repository: In the Oracle BI Administration tool we can create users and groups to define permissions and authentication. We then grant permissions to users and groups.
Note: The privileges which are exclusively granted to a user have precedence over group’s privileges. Also, in case of a conflict the least restrictive privileges apply.

LDAP Authentication: Many compnies prefer implementing LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) server authentication. many clients uses ADSI (Active Directory Service Interface) for their projects.

When asked about how LDAP is set up you can say that, in the security manager create an LDAP server. For this in security manager we go to Action> New> LDAP Server. This brings us to LDAP Server dialog box, where we fill in the parameters like Name, Host Name, Port No., LDAP Version (Default 3), Base DN, Bind DN in general settings. We also define settings in Advanced tab where we fill in Connection Time-Out, Domain Identifier, Enable/Disable SSL etc.

We then created an LDAP initialization block, which was associated with the LDAP Server. Here, we define USER as our system variable which is mapped to LDAP uid.
Note: We can also use LDAP server only to import user and group definitions. This is used when we don’t want external authentication by LDAP.

External Table Authentication:To implement this we have to create a table in the database which will have columns to define users, password, and groups, log level, display name, etc. information to define security and privileges. To use this table for authentication in OBIEE we created a new connection pool in the physical layer to connect to this db/table. Then we have to create an initialization block using the newly defined connection pool for this table. We then defined the initialization string (e.g. select username, password, lognumber, groupname from auth_table where username = ‘:USER’ and password = ‘:PASSWORD’). We then defined the corresponding variables (e.g. USER, PASSWORD, LOGLEVEL, GROUP etc.). We have to make sure that the order of variables is same as the initialize.

Database Authentication: We first make changes in our NQSConfig.ini file. In the security section, we specify our authentication database. Then we create users in the repository which are same as the users in our database. We assign these users privileges. We import this database in the physical layer of our repository using the DSN of that particular database. For this particular connection pool we set up a non shared logon. This connection pool will now be used to connect to the database. If you are able to connect, then you are authenticated successfully.

How to Choose The Best Business Intelligence Solution For Microsoft Dynamics AX

Business Intelligence for Dynamics AX – What is the Best Solution?

This question will be asked every day by thousands of Dynamics AX users and many of their AX partners. There is not one answer to this question as it really depends on many factors like size of the company, do you already use a kind of BI tool, your preferred platform like SQL Server or Oracle and many more. Without any doubt, a Business Intelligence Solution without an underlying data warehouse is doomed for problems, at least in the long run. Some of your options are:

1. Build your own data warehouse and Business Intelligence Solution with Microsoft BIDS

2. Use embedded Business Intelligence by Microsoft in Dynamics AX

3. Purchase a pre-packaged Business Intelligence Solution which is tailored for Dynamics AX

4. Purchase a drag and drop data warehouse tool which auto-generates your SQL code and also builds your OLAP cubes and select an Analysis tool of your choice.

A few comments to these four options:

Microsoft BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio) is a great development environment for SQL Server experts to create a SQL Server based data warehouse and OLAP cubes. So if you have the experts in-house and want to spend the time and money, this is an option, but be aware of the complexity of BIDS, the time it takes to create a BI solution with it and the dependency on these experts, either in your own company or externally.

Microsoft Dynamics AX offers pre-packaged BI components like OLAP cubes for a variety of AX modules. But be aware that they are not based on a true data warehouse which means any integration of external data sources or changes in dimensions/measures/KPI’s is possible, but complicated and needs experts again. It is generally not a good idea to integrate Business Intelligence into ERP. There are many pre-defined Dynamics Business Intelligence Solutions around, like ZAP, iQ4bis, Profitbase, Brio, Qlikview, Targit and many more. All of them have their benefits to implement a BI solution for Dynamics relatively fast. The only reservation I have is, that they either don’t offer a true data warehouse as the underlying technology forces you to use their propriety front-end tool or both. The price difference for these tools varies from $15,000 to $100,000+

In my opinion, option 4 of the above list will give you the best results and highest flexibility. There are not a lot of tools around which helps you to create a flexible and ERP independent data warehouse and also creates the OLAP cubes with little effort and is front-end agnostic. Why not start with technology you already use like SQL Server, Excel and SharePoint and then look into Analytics tool later.

Is It Time for Business Intelligence?

In recent times we have been facing new challenges such as process re-engineering, 2000, ERP (enterprise resource planning), more recent business intelligence, balanced scorecard, CRM (customer relationship management), SCM (supply chain management) between other acronyms but surely each and every one of them had and have their justification to break into the coveted market of information technologies.

In the following lines I will try to find the answer to the question of business intelligence.

Business intelligence refers to the grouping of granular information for distribution to the directors of the business lines in order to find among other things for example, sales trends, consumer habits and metrics to define the performance of the company and to generate an action.

Many solution providers have launched fabulous tools including Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Cognos, Business Objects to name a few not necessarily in order of importance and which are best known in the local market and clear is that investments are not cheap considering the economic crisis and its earlier investments in ERP’s and 2000. These solutions cover much of what the concept entails.

But why now is the time for business intelligence?

I think companies have become more analytical than before due mainly to three impacts that companies have suffered in the way of addressing problems and finding solutions:

• Process Re engineering.
• ERP’s and embedded systems.
• Competitive business line and ready.

Re-engineering has taught us to use metric and make a constant assessment of the results, the ERP and integrated systems have allowed us to have the power to take the pulse of the company and verify real-time performance and ultimately the competitive labor market has allowed employees to have better prepared and less traumatic relationship with information technologies.

The business lines have been mainly this impact and this has allowed them to evolve. They have spread the good management practices and do not by intuition but backed metrics and acute analysis of trends, patterns, behaviors, monitor the critical control factors, and so on.

Found in lines of business, employees who have completed specialized courses, masters, MBA (master of business administration), or people who have gone through profound processes of change using information technology and customer profiles for analytical excellence of a solution business intelligence.
Business Intelligence offers for this new business line access to large volumes of information that will answer selected questions, which may be presented in very sophisticated ways without the intervention of programmers and / or systems analysts.

It is obvious that if your organization does not have a business line ready for this challenge, this experience becomes a nightmare or perhaps a “opportunity” to promote another acronym of many that will appear in this dynamic market of information technologies.