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Art of BI: Upgrading OBIEE – Do It Yourself or Hire It Out?

Author: Christian Screen | | April 26, 2017

Oracle released the latest version of OBIEE — Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 12c ( — in October 2016. This version offers a number of new features and considerable improvements over the previous versions of OBIEE.

You may be an existing OBIEE user who is actively thinking of upgrading your OBIEE installation to You might have several questions about upgrading, such as:

  1. What are the steps involved in the upgrade?
  2. Should I commit internal resources for this upgrade?
  3. Should I consider saving time by using outside sources for the upgrade?

We’ll cover all of these in this blog post and help you decide the best course of action for completing your upgrade. First, let’s discuss the three possibilities in terms of the current version of OBIEE that you are using:

  1. Upgrading from OBIEE 10g to OBIEE 12c
  2. Upgrading from OBIEE 11g with a version lower than to OBIEE 12c
  3. Upgrading from OBIEE 11g with a or higher to OBIEE 12c
  4. Upgrading from OBIEE to the latest version of OBIEE 12c

For now, let’s look at an overview of the steps involved in upgrading to OBIEE 12c. The assumption here is that you are on the version.

An Overview of an OBIEE upgrade

Essentially, the OBIEE upgrade process is an out-of-place upgrade. This means that OBIEE 12c will be installed separately on your system and the existing artifacts of OBIEE 11g will be exported to an export bundle file and imported into the new installation of OBIEE 12c.

Here are the steps involved in the upgrade from a very broad standpoint:

  1. Ensuring that OBIEE prerequisites are met
  2. Generating a BI migration tool .jar file
  3. Exporting existing artifacts to an export bundle
  4. Importing the export bundle into OBIEE 12c
  5. Validating the overall OBIEE deployment with the Oracle BI Baseline Validation Tool

With this in mind, consider the following question: Should you handle the upgrade by committing internal resources to the project on a do-it-yourself (DIY) basis, or should you invest in a company like Datavail to help with the OBIEE upgrade process?

There are both advantages and disadvantages to the DIY approach. These are discussed below.

Advantages of the DIY approach

1. Upgrade process is simplified and based on an out-of-place method
The upgrade to OBIEE is based on an out-of-place method — more commonly known as a clean install. As opposed to an in-place upgrade, an out-of-place upgrade will not overwrite the existing RPD, catalog and other OBIEE       artifacts.

In the worst-case scenario, if something does go wrong, the installation and upgrade can be reattempted.

2. Reduced cost
Looking at it from one perspective, using an internal team to manage the OBIEE upgrade process may reduce the cost, as there is no need to hire external technical resources. However, if you do not have the internal resources to conduct the upgrade, there will be some training required. Datavail offers a full catalog of Oracle BI 12c training and recommends it as part of our Oracle BI upgrade implementations for continuity of the project. Additionally, it is worth considering how many internal man hours will be required to complete the upgrade and how much your employees are being paid. It could actually cost less to hire out the work when looked at from this perspective.

3. More control over the process
You may prefer to have your hands involved in every step of the process. If this is the case, handling the upgrade internally may be more comfortable. Or if significant upgrade expertise already exists on your team, it makes sense to take full advantage of that.

Disadvantages of the DIY approach

1. Troubleshooting upgrade issues
In spite of the fact that the migration/upgrade process for OBIEE 12c is well defined, issues will arise and errors will take place. Such errors and issues — that can occur during the export and import processes for instance — may not be something you’re staffed to handle. They can also result in schedule overruns, draining of resources, and burnout. Having an outside resource handle it can reduce frustration and bolster productivity on more important projects.

2. Initial low costs of DIY approach may be offset once project kicks off
A DIY approach for an OBIEE migration using internal resources may result in unforeseen issues that come up during the upgrade process. These issues could extend the time-commitment of your DBAs or developers and even require you to bring in external resources anyways to solve problems you didn’t anticipate.

A specialized team brings with it the ability to assess the current installation, plan the upgrade process, and preempt many issues — ensuring that the OBIEE upgrade proceeds in an orderly manner and is completed on-schedule.

3. Inadequate employee training
If your technical team has not completed an Oracle BI upgrade before, or if there is concern that their skillset may not be adequate to take on a project this large, hiring a vendor can save you a lot of headaches. Additionally, if you hire Datavail, we have the ability to train your technical and business teams on the new OBIEE 12c software so they understand the new features and how to manage them.

4. Complicated migration paths
If you are on OBIEE, then the migration path to OBIEE 12c is a single-step migration. However, if you are using an earlier version of OBIEE, it becomes more complicated.

 For instance, if you are using OBIEE 10g, there are three upgrades that technically need to be carried out:

    •  from 10g to
    • patch to
    • upgrade to OBIEE 12c

Chances of issues arising in such a scenario increase and it is highly advisable to use an external partner for the migration.

Hiring a Firm to Manage Your Upgrade to OBIEE 12c

Considering the difficulties of the DIY approach, you might consider the advantages of using a third-party vendor such as Datavail to help you get going on 12c as soon as possible. Some of the reasons organizations choose Datavail to assist with their upgrades include:

Experience: It’s comforting to work with a provider who has been through dozens of upgrades like this and knows what to expect.

Assessment: An analysis of the current system and expected needs yields insight into how to customize the setup for your particular needs. It also generates benchmarks for evaluating the performance of the new system.

License Migration: It can be difficult to know what your rights are regarding your Oracle licenses and tricky to negotiate a continuation or migration of those rights. Datavail knows what to look for and what to say when negotiating license renewals or migrations with Oracle.

Datavail’s experience in OBIEE upgrades extends to several industries. Our recent case study with a human resource placement firm with offices in 39 countries involved an upgrade from Oracle 11g to 12c. We successfully completed the upgrade on-time with minimal interruptions and continued to assist with the design of reports and dashboards as well. We also provided training to ensure the team had the means to continue its work independently.

Datavail is a specialized IT services company focused on Data Management with solutions in BI/DW, analytics, database administration, custom application development, and enterprise applications. We provide both professional and managed services delivered via our global delivery model, focused on Microsoft, Oracle and other leading technologies.


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