Post: The Ultimate Guide to Replacing Oracle Discoverer

The Ultimate Guide to Replacing Oracle Discoverer

Oracle’s Discoverer application was designed as a smart ad hoc query and analysis reporting tool for businesses. In January of 2009, Oracle released a public statement encouraging its users to migrate from Discoverer. Fast forward a decade and organizations are still using this solution, even after Oracle announced Discoverer’s end of life in June 2017.

“No new patches for Discoverer 11gR1 or its E-Business Suite (EBS) Discoverer-based content will be created after June 30, 2017.”

EBS Support Implications for Discoverer 11gR1

Clearly, if your organization has not done so already, it’s time to select a Discoverer replacement solution and begin migrating your reports.

Above, a sample training screenshot featuring video rentals is one reminder of how legacy a product Discoverer actually is.

Why Haven’t Organizations Migrated from Discoverer?

Changing a reporting solution isn’t an easy decision. It’s not an easy project either, especially if you have to manually recreate reports. Many large organizations have created hundreds or thousands of reports using Discoverer, so a project to migrate from them is a significant undertaking; one that impacts many critical departments in an organization.

Businesses don’t always see a benefit from moving off a legacy solution. Replacing existing reports with similar versions generated by another system is time-consuming and not particularly profitable. Oracle’s own replacement reporting options, OBIEE and OTBI, are expensive. And complex. Moving users to these solutions will take a significant amount of training and hand holding. For example, OBIEE offers a Discoverer migration utility, but it does not migrate the end user layer (EUL) that contains the database metadata. A migration project will have to dedicate time to rebuilding the semantic layer for all reports.

Why Do You Need to Migrate from Discoverer?

Nonetheless, if your business is still using Discoverer for ad hoc and operational reporting in Oracle E-Business Suite and/or custom database applications, you need to migrate. Staying on an unsupported legacy product is a risk for a number of reasons:

  • Premier Support is no longer available for Discoverer. If your instance breaks, you have no technical support to fix it.
  • Discoverer does not report against other, non-EBS, data sources. This is critical as organizations increasingly need to report against varied (including cloud) data sources.
  • Because Discoverer does not integrate with Oracle Concurrent Manager, you cannot schedule reports to run on a regular basis.
  • There is an opportunity cost associated with remaining on a legacy tool. More modern and richly-featured ad hoc reporting analysis tools are now available in the market. These products empower users to arrive at analytic insights that benefit their organizations by delivering cost savings, identifying new sources of profit, improving efficiencies, mitigating risk or improving performance.

What Are the Risks from Continuing to Use Discoverer?

  • Unsupported software introduces vulnerabilities. Applying a simple Windows’ patch, for example, might be enough to break Discoverer’s desktop application. Unsupported software is also a likely target for security exploits from hackers. These can result in significant costs to organizations, either from system downtime, external consultant costs, or penalties. The average cost of a data breach in 2018, for example, was put at $148 per stolen record, with an average total cost of almost four million dollars per incident.
  • Incompatibility with modern applications and databases. Discoverer is based on an older, client-server architecture – not browser-based like modern solutions. This can force you to continue to support an older technology stack and prevent you from upgrading servers or moving to the cloud.
  • Organizations that rely on Discoverer are missing out on the future of reporting, as it moves from transactional, operational reporting to robust analytics encompassing new data sources, predictive models, even artificial intelligence.

Orbit is a Preferred Discoverer Replacement

With easy data access, better organizational insights, and one of the fastest times to value in the industry, Orbit is the clear replacement to Oracle’s Discoverer.

Depending on the number of your Discoverer reports in Oracle EBS and custom applications, manual migration by a dedicated team of experts can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. But with a Discoverer replacement like Orbit Analytics paired with adherence to best practices, migration can happen quickly, efficiently and affordably.

Orbit supports multiple system platforms, including Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Fusion, PeopleSoft, Taleo and more. It’s a powerful reporting application for creating simple to complex reports for your organization, delivered with over a thousand pre-built reports encompassing Oracle Financials, Supply Chain, and HRMS.

Orbit connects to multiple databases such as Oracle, MySQL, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server – in fact, any database with a JDBC driver. With an HTML5 front end for a modern, web-based UI, it delivers real-time operational reporting, drill to detail, dashboarding, and ad hoc inquiry capabilities in an integrated business intelligence package.

What Are Some Common Reporting Replacements for Discoverer?

There are a number of replacement options for Discoverer. These include Oracle’s own products OBIEE and OTBI, SAP’s Crystal Reports as well as third party reporting solutions.

OBIEE – Powerful BI for Large Enterprises

Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) is Oracle’s flagship BI platform, offering a rich feature set that includes operational and ad hoc reporting, dashboards, alerting, predictive analytics, scorecard management and in-memory computing. It’s a complex and powerful product, designed for use by large enterprises, but perhaps a less optimal match for organizations that don’t have dedicated staff for technical support, ongoing maintenance and user training. Pricing for this best-in-class product may also be prohibitive for mid-sized and emerging organizations.

The product’s user interface will already be familiar to Oracle users, although (as noted in third party peer review sites) end users may find it challenging to create dashboards and have limited choices for visualizations.

As a BI product, OBIEE requires a data warehouse set up that many Discoverer users may not have in place. In fact, moving from Discoverer to OBIEE is a considerable undertaking. The tool’s Discoverer Migration Assistant does not migrate some joins, optional conditions, item classes, item hierarchies and data hierarchies. That may not impact every Discoverer implementation. However, because workbooks are not migrated, you will need to recreate all reports and dashboards in OBIEE’s presentation layer. Discoverer’s security leveraged EBS Roles and Responsibilities, but because these are not implemented in OBIEE, you will also need to recreate your security layer.  

OTBI – Transactional BI for Oracle Cloud

Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence (OTBI) is an Oracle BI product for OLTP reporting against Fusion (Oracle Cloud) apps only. While a good option for cloud-only environments, it may be less optimal for organizations that need to report on a variety of cloud and on-premises data sources. OTBI is not an ad hoc or self-service reporting solution. Its report creation interface is somewhat rigid and outdated, using a wizard instead of a more modern drag and drop interface.

Because OTBI does not come with an inventory of prebuilt reports, a migration project will need to budget time to recreate all Discoverer reports and dashboards. OTBI also requires another Oracle product, BI Publisher, for report bursting and distribution and pixel perfect reporting.

SAP Crystal Reports – A Legacy Reporting Solution

Crystal is another popular reporting solution with a long lifespan. Organizations that have an existing Crystal implementation may think it’s a good idea to consolidate reporting in the tool. However, Crystal has a number of critical drawbacks:

  • Lack of self-service functionality. End users need to know how to write SQL, or need a dedicated technical resource to create reports.
  • Security is report, not role-based, and cannot leverage your existing SSO authentication.
  • It offers limited drill-down and data visualization functionality with an overall dated user interface; designers are desktop, not web-based.
  • Most importantly, Crystal is reaching its end of life. SAP has already announced the end of mainstream and maintenance support for this product.

Other Reporting Solutions

Orbit is one of several modern alternatives to Discoverer. The many benefits of modern reporting and analytics solutions in general (and Orbit in particular) include:

  • Cost savings compared to Oracle’s pricing.
  • Data source agnostic – Orbit can report against any data source with a JDBC driver. That includes MySQL, SQL Server, DB2 and more.
  • A more modern, web-based product updated regularly to add new features and functions.

It is worthwhile, as part of a Discoverer migration project, to talk to one or more third party analytics vendors before committing to an enterprise BI product that may be more complex or expensive than you need.

Before You Choose a Third Party Reporting Replacement for Discoverer, Ask Vendors These 12 Questions

  1. Is report migration automated, or will each report need to be manually migrated? A manual migration process will take months or longer, depending on the volume of reports that need to be recreated. Ask about what quantity of reports are migrated typically.
  2. How many organizations have you partnered with to replace Discoverer? Look for an organization with deep experience migrating from Discoverer. Ask how many people from your team will need to be dedicated to this project, and what the average time to value will be for the migration.
  3. Does your solution offer an intuitive, modern user interface? Users will continue to depend on Discoverer if they cannot navigate a new reporting solution. Your Discoverer replacement should be fully responsive and allow for web-based report creation.
  4. What other applications and databases can your solution integrate with and report on? Today’s organizations store data in an increasing variety of data sources – data warehouses, data lakes, other relational databases, NoSQL files, even Excel spreadsheets. Your reporting solution should integrate with all your other data sources to save time and deliver a complete view of organizational metrics. Ask about the process for adding a new data source to report on.
  5. How customizable is your solution? Does the solution integrate with other applications and does it respect your existing security down to the individual row level?
  6. Does your solution require a data warehouse? Some third party solutions require ETL into a data warehouse to create reports. This requires additional servers, processing, and technical support, and does not provide real-time analytics. A better option is a data virtualization layer that allows for reporting on data sources in real time.
  7. What kind of downtime will we encounter during the migration process? Users need their reports on a daily basis. Ask if the solution provides standard, prebuilt reports, or if you will have to rebuild all your reports from the ground up.
  8. Will you be able to edit converted reports? Not every migration tool will allow this.
  9. Does your solution include enhancements to query performance? Modern database query engines offer flexible, intelligent query paths to improve response times.
  10. Is your solution completely web-based and responsive? Today’s users want fully responsive user interfaces that let them access analytics anywhere and from any device.
  11. What is the update schedule for your product? Are patches cumulative? Ask what the process is to install an update, is it a simple drag and drop procedure, or does it require more work. How much down time will the application have during this process?
  12. How does your solution help us mature our reporting and analytics? Not every solution is forward facing. When replacing Discoverer, look to extend your reporting beyond operational to full-featured analytics. Modern solutions add additional functionality like self-service, scheduling, metadata management, and drilldowns.

Best Practices for Migrating from Discoverer

  • Audit reports and reduce your report inventory as much as possible prior to migration. Look at report run statistics to determine which reports are critical and which are not. Typically, reports that have not been run within the past year will not be good candidates for re-creation.
  • Set benchmarks for the new reporting application performance, for example, to measure query speeds against Discoverer.
  • Estimate at least one team member should be dedicated to the migration project. A typical project can take about ten weeks.
  • Set up a timeframe during which reports are generated from both systems, and ensure they are checked regularly for discrepancies.
  • Finally, don’t neglect training end users on your new reporting solution. Offer group classes, designate departmental SMEs, set up a user-accessible training environment, and create short instructional videos.

On-demand webinar: Revolutionize Your Oracle Discoverer Reporting to Maximize ROI

You need to migrate from Discoverer, while ensuring continuity of your current reporting and choosing a solution that best aligns with the future needs of your organization. In this webinar, you will learn about:

  • Key factors to consider when thinking through the unique reporting needs of your business
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the different Discoverer replacement tools and technologies offered by Oracle and other third-party applications
  • Potential challenges as well as best practices for migrating from Discoverer

Access this webinar now.

White Paper: Replacing Discoverer in Oracle EBS and Custom Applications

For many years Oracle Discoverer was a critical reporting component for enterprise ERP applications. However, now that support of Oracle Discoverer has ended, organizations have an opportunity to enhance their operational reporting.

This white paper covers some important BI and reporting tools in the Oracle space, and the migration process for Oracle Discoverer reports from Oracle E-Business Suite towards new technologies.

Download this white paper now.

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