Case Study: Electric Generation & Transmission Utility

Case Study: Electric Generation & Transmission Utility

Client Summary

A generation and transmission electric utility serving member-owned co-ops in Kentucky provides electricity to more than 1.2 million residents in 87 counties. The Electric Utility has been running a legacy business intelligence system with dashboards focused on financial data to look at actual versus budgeted dollars, analyze costs, and research questions from accounting and other departments. Based in rural Kentucky, where internet connectivity can be questionable at times, the Electric Utility places a high value on 24/7 reliability and stability.

The Project

The Electric Utility originally bought Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) in part because it enabled them to have centralized, consolidated reporting that provided a consistent source of truth. The system included a large number of dashboards and significant customizations. Over the years they had turned to exporting out the data and using other tools to do their reporting. Users were asking for additional analytic capabilities and had begun experimenting with other tools.

The Electric Utility realized the system needed to be upgraded, and the logical solution was to stay with Oracle and get current. They wanted to capitalize on the investment in their existing data warehouse and OBIEE dashboards, reports, and customizations, while being able to explore data in new ways using the ad-hoc and Data Visualization (DV) capabilities in the Oracle Analytics Server (OAS) platform. With public internet reliability questionable, the Electric Utility chose to use Oracle Analytics Server, using their own private internet lines rather than connectivity to the Oracle Cloud.

The Vlamis Solution

The Electric Utility needed an experienced partner who could help them determine the optimal migration path. Based on our previous projects in Oracle Business Intelligence and Analytics, Vlamis was identified as that ideal partner. For this project, because of constraints introduced by COVID-19, the Vlamis team completed all work remotely, even when installing software. As Vlamis already was accustomed to working remotely whenever practical, this was an easy transition. Vlamis was always available for questions and completed the project on time and on budget.

After meetings with the Electric Utility, Vlamis determined that a two-part migration path would be best. By migrating the front end first, the Electric Utility could see the benefits of Data Visualization (DV) before investing in the more costly data warehouse and ETL migration and BI Applications upgrade.

The Front-End Migration was an upgrade from Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) 11.1.1.9 to Oracle Analytic Server (OAS) and involved the following steps:

  • Install the OAS software and migrate the legacy OBIEE dashboards as-is.
  • Keep all existing dashboard customizations intact.
  • Work with the Electric Utility to ensure dashboards and data were properly validated.
  • Once validation was complete, migrate from OBIEE 11.1.1.9 to OAS 5.5.
  • Keep the Oracle 12c on-premise database the same.
  • Present the enhanced capabilities of Data Visualization to key stakeholders.

The success of the first migration and the addition of an easy-to-use Data Visualization interface convinced the Electric Utility to take the next step and upgrade BI Apps as soon as possible. A presentation and recording about the front-end migration can be found on Vlamis.com.

The Back-End Migration upgraded Oracle BI Applications (OBIA) from version 11.1.1.10.1 (10.1) to version 11.1.1.10.3 (10.3), positioning the Electric Utility on a supported platform that takes advantage of the upgraded technology. It involved the following steps:

  • Migrate BI Apps (including customized mappings) to 10.2.
  • Migrate BI Apps (including customized mappings) to 10.3.
  • Migrate ODI to 12c.

A summary view of the complete upgrade is shown inFigure 1:

Figure 1

 

On Time and On Budget

The front-end migration took roughly three weeks to complete from the time that Vlamis had access to the Electric Utility’s server. This project was delivered on time and within budget.

The BI Apps migration project took roughly an additional two months and similarly was delivered on time and within budget.

Benefits

With the completion of this project, Vlamis provided the following benefits to the Electric Utility:

  • Ability to retire old hardware.
  • Painless, seamless process with no loss of functionality and no change to navigation.
  • Updated interface with clean, modern look appreciated by users.
  • Software now supported by Oracle for many years.
  • Electric Utility can standardize on using ODI 12c for all their ETL, simplifying maintenance.
  • Performance and reliability, similar to what they had with OBIEE.
  • Data visualization now built in, providing a platform for true ad hoc analysis.
  • Users are now excited to use the new capabilities of Data Visualization in OAS.

Technologies Implemented

  • Oracle Analytic Server (OAS) 5.5
  • Oracle WebLogic Server 12.2.1.4.
  • Oracle 12c Database (on-premise)
  • BI Apps 11.1.1.10.3
  • ODI 12c

The Future

Now comfortably settled on a new platform, the Electric Utility is looking forward to the future and considering what Data Visualization (DV) capabilities might do for them. Possible future steps include:

  • Putting formulas in the RPD file instead of the reports and analyses themselves.
  • Creating new dashboards using DV.
  • Reconsidering the benefits of ad hoc capabilities now that they have DV.
  • Introducing a new audience to measures and dimensions.
  • Considering the possibilities presented by machine learning, mashups, maps, etc.
  • Eventually moving toward data in a diagnostic and even predictive manner.

 

For the Electric Utility, this migration and upgrade has been a worthwhile move. Premier support for Oracle BI Apps (OBIA) 10.3 is assured through at least 2031, positioning the Electric Utility well both now and far into the future.

 

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