By TopDown Team
April 6th, 2011
Have ODI, will…
Many companies are struggling to embrace the new Hyperion software products Oracle releases each year. The current “Information Now” age has created a need for supporting technologies, and Oracle has been quick to respond. Oracle Data Integrator (a.k.a. “ODI”) is one of these technologies. Introduced a few years ago, Oracle acquired ODI as a “light” ETL tool from Sunopsis, which then started to be bundled into the Hyperion suite. It was designated as the Hyperion Application Link (a.k.a. “HAL”) replacement.
Companies have been slow to make the migration from HAL to ODI, and new Hyperion adopters are struggling to understand how to incorporate this tool into their long-term EPM strategy. Both are starting to realize the impact of their delayed reaction. With the recent release of ODI 11g, the integration of ODI into newer toolsets such as ERPi, and the coupling of ODI with Warehouse Builder (called “ODI-EE”), Hyperion clients are jumping on the bandwagon. They are recognizing the benefit ODI provides as a long-term solution for the Hyperion product suite.
What can one do with ODI?
ODI is actually an E-LT tool, an “extract, load and transform” tool. It can take data from a source system (i.e. data warehouse, flat file, etc.), load it to a staging area, transform it, and then load it into a target system (i.e. Hyperion Planning, Hyperion Essbase, etc.). It is not meant to replace enterprise-wide ETL tools such as Informatica, but it can handle many of the same routines and is a perfect fit for Oracle product suites like Hyperion.
And, it is so much more than that.
In addition to its many Hyperion uses, ODI has hooks into other types of systems, like SAP ERP/BW, PeopleSoft, and JDE, and can be coupled with operating system commands. It also has the intellect to deal with complex data issues like Change Data Capture. The intelligent architecture has allowed this tool to become a universal go-between for multiple technologies. In addition, the native Jython code can be customized, giving you added flexibility beyond the standard out-of-the-box components.
Practical applications of this tool in the Hyperion world (from real life projects) include the ability to:
- Automate metadata loads into Hyperion Planning and Essbase
- Automate data loads into Hyperion Essbase
- Extract metadata from Hyperion Essbase
- Automate EIS routines
- Automate Essbase routines via MaxL
- Manipulate flat files
- Export data from relational data sources to a flat file format
- Capture and trap errors
- Schedule ODI processes
- Send out success/failure emails after processes complete
In addition, the optional web front-end and security module allows users to access the tool with no client installation required.
Is ODI an exact replacement for HAL?
ODI is very similar to HAL in that it contains modular objects that can be strung together to create an encapsulated integration. From my experience, it can do all of the things that HAL can do, and more—some transformations may need to be manipulated in a different way. For instance, there is no Translation Manager object as there used to be in HAL, or an IF/Then object; you will have to use relational tables/views or files to perform the same set of processes. You will find that having relational coding knowledge is key to manipulating data and working with mappings in ODI.
And you will have to be patient. ODI is its own tool with a different set of rules (and nuances). After working with it to create some simple interfaces, you will learn to love its strengths.
Where can I learn more about ODI?
For those still getting over the ODI hump, Oracle’s Getting Started guides are the recommended places to start. They will give you a straight-forward introduction to the tool with several use cases. In addition, the official Oracle ODI website is a great starting resource. Finally, the ODI Oracle By Example exercises offered (login required) will give you detailed instructions on walking through some simple ODI constructs.
In summary, ODI may seem a little scary at first. But once you understand how to integrate it into your long-term EPM solution, you will find yourself relying on it. Amongst many of its benefits, ODI creates efficiency by offering itself as a wrapper for Hyperion automation, while also protecting your environment by creating much needed bullet-proofing for human mistakes.