Saturday, December 31, 2011

My first set of Oracle Products

I started working with Oracle back in 1993 and my first project involved working with Oracle 5, Forms 2.3 and for reports RPT.

The Oracle Database and tools were very simple back then, but there was lots of “features” to work around.

Check out this video, for a short demo of Oracle 5 and Forms 2

What version of the Oracle Database do I need ?

Oracle has recently made available a very useful webpage that that lists the functionality available for each version of the 11g Database. So before you decide which version of the database to purchase, check out this webpage.

Friday, December 23, 2011

i-BI : A new name for real BI

I’ve been working in the BI and related fields since the mid 90s. Over the past number of years I’ve gotten a little bit confused about what Business Intelligence (BI) really means.  Maybe it’s just a bit of old age kicking in way too early.

It seems to me that the term Business Intelligence has been hijacked by a large number of companies and software vendors. It seems that every “reporting tool” has been re-labelled into a Business Intelligence tool, without providing any really intelligence features. You are still just a reporting tool with no real intelligence features. Yes you do have some nice graphics that can be used instead of just listing numbers. But that is not Business Intelligence.

Business Intelligence is going beyond what these tools are capable off. Most of the skills and abilities for BI comes from the people who are doing it, not the tools. In reality you will need to use a number of tools or to write some custom code to help you gain the extra bit of insight into your data. The “reporting tools” can then deliver the results.

Also Ralph Kimball said a long time ago that the skills of someone working in the DW/BI area was that they needed to be half-DBA and half-MBA.

A quote that I heard recently from the Predictive Analytics World Conference, was “You need to be able to ask the right question”. This is to ensure that you can frame your analytics projects correctly and be able to measure the results.

I think that this question was key back in the mid 90s when I started out in the BI field and I still think it applies to all areas of BI.  The thing that we have lost in BI is the real intelligence part of it.

So I’m proposing a new name for really BI. It is intelligent-Business Intelligence (i-BI).

Lets differentiate between BI and the real intelligent BI work.

What do I mean by intelligent BI (i-BI) ?  What I mean area skills in Data Warehousing, Time Series Analysis, Advanced Analytics, Data Mining, Predictive Analysis, solving or addressing real business problems, etc.

Or maybe I’m just wrong and have missed some developments in BI over the past 16+ years. Or maybe I’m becoming a bit too cynical.

What do you think ?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Article for Oracle Scene–Due 13th Jan

As we approach Christmas, many of us will be looking forward to a few days holidays/vacation. During this period we may start thinking about some techniques or methods that we discovered over the past 12 months or about things we need to find out more on, over the coming months.

One thing to consider is to write an article on these techniques or methods, for Oracle Scene.  The next due date for submitting articles is 13th January.

For more details and ideas check out my webpage Oracle Scene

Make sure you check out the Article Guidelines and Submission Details

I hope to write an article based on the presentation I gave at the UKOUG Conference in Birmingham.

The most common question that I get asked is ‘how long should it be?’.  The length of an article can be anything from half a page, up to 4 or 5 pages long.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Updating your ODM (11g R2) model in production

In my previous blog posts on creating an ODM model, I gave the details of how you can do this using the ODM PL/SQL API.

But at some point you will have a fairly stable environment. What this means is that you will know what type of algorithm and its corresponding settings work best for for your data.

At this point you should be able to re-create your ODM model in the production database. The frequency of doing this update is dependent on number of new cases that you have. So you need to update your ODM model could be daily, weekly, monthly, etc.


To update your model you will need to:

- Creating a settings table for your model
- Create a new ODM model
- Rename your new ODM model to the production name

The following examples are based on the example data, model names, etc that I’ve used in my previous post.

Creating a Settings Table

The first step is to create a setting table for your algorithm. This will contain all the parameter settings needed to create the new model. You will have worked out these setting from your previous attempts at creating your models and you will know what parameters and their values work best.

-- Create the settings table
CREATE TABLE decision_tree_model_settings (
    setting_name VARCHAR2(30),
    setting_value VARCHAR2(30));

-- Populate the settings table
-- Specify DT. By default, Naive Bayes is used for classification.
-- Specify ADP. By default, ADP is not used.
    INSERT INTO decision_tree_model_settings (setting_name, setting_value)
    VALUES (dbms_data_mining.algo_name,       
    INSERT INTO decision_tree_model_settings (setting_name, setting_value)
    VALUES (dbms_data_mining.prep_auto,dbms_data_mining.prep_auto_on);

Create a new ODM Model

We will need to use the DBMS_DATA_MINING.CREATE_MODEL procedure. In our example we will want to create a Decision Tree based on our sample data, which contains the previously generated cases and the new cases since the last model rebuild.

        model_name          => ‘Decision_Tree_Method2',
        mining_function     => dbms_data_mining.classification,
        data_table_name     => 'mining_data_build_v',
        case_id_column_name => 'cust_id',
        target_column_name  => 'affinity_card',
        settings_table_name => ‘decision_tree_model_settings');

Rename your ODM model to production name

The model we have create created above is not the name that is used in our production software. So we will need to rename it to our production name.

But we need to be careful about when we do this. If you drop a model or rename a model when it is being used then you can end up with indeterminate results.

What I suggest you do, is to pick a time of the day when your production software is not doing any data mining. You should drop the existing mode (or rename it) and the to rename the new model to the production model name.


and then


Monday, December 19, 2011

Oracle Analytics Update & Plan for 2012

On Friday 16th December, Charlie Berger (Sr. Director, Product Management, Data Mining & Advanced Analytics) posted the following on the Oracle Data Mining forum on OTN.

“… soon you'll be able to use the new Oracle R Enterprise (ORE) functionality. ORE is currently in beta and is targeted to go General Availability in the near future. ORE brings additional functionality to the ODM Option, which will then be renamed to the Oracle Advanced Analytics Option to reflect the significant adv. analytical functionality enhancements. ORE will allow R users to write R scripts and run them inside the database and eliminate and/or minimize data movement in/out of the DB. ORE will provide R to SQL transparency for SQL push-down to in-DB SQL and and expanding library of Oracle in-DB statistical functions. Packages that cannot be pushed down will be run in embedded R mode while the DB manages all data flows to the multiple R engines running inside the DB.

In January, we'll open up a new OTN discussion forum specifically for Oracle R Enterprise focused technical discussions. Stay tuned.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the new Oracle R Enterprise, in 2012. In particular I’m keen to see what additional functionality will be added to the Oracle Data Mining option in the DB.

So watch out for the rebranding to Oracle Advanced Analytics

Charlie – Any chance of an advanced copy of ORE and related DB bits and bobs.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Recent Wood Carvings

I’ve managed to get enough time over the past couple of days to finish some wood carvings that I started a couple of months ago.

IMG_0773An Angel for the Christmas Tree (beech)

IMG_0775A name plate for the house (beech)

IMG_0776A Sun face for the shed door (Ash)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oracle Big Data Videos

Mark Townsend, Database Product Manager at Oracle gave a presentation on Big Data at the UKOUG conference and used the following videos to illustrate how a company can evolve their Big Data into useful and meaningful information.

Big Data – The Challenge

Big Data – Gold Mine or just Stuff

Big Data – Big Data Speaks

Big Data – Everything You Always Wanted to Know

Big Data – Little Data

Monday, December 12, 2011

My UKOUG Presentation on ODM PL/SQL API

On Wednesday 7th Dec I gave my presentation at the UKOUG conference in Birmingham. The main topic of the presentation was on using the Oracle Data Miner PL/SQL API to implement a model in a production environment.

There was a good turn out considering it was the afternoon of the last day of the conference.

I asked the attendees about their experience of using the current and previous versions of the Oracle Data Mining tool. Only one of the attendees had used the pre 11g R2 version of the tool.

From my discussions with the attendees, it looks like they would have preferred an introduction/overview type presentation of the new ODM tool. I had submitted a presentation on this, but sadly it was not accepted.  Not enough people had voted for it.

For for next year, I will submit an introduction/overview presentation again, but I need more people to vote for it. So watch out for the vote stage next June and vote of it.

Here are the links to the presentation and the demo scripts (which I didn’t get time to run)

My Presentation

Demo Script 1 – Exploring and Exporting model

Demo Script 2 – Import, Dropping and Renaming the model. Plus Queries that use the model

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ireland table at Focus Pub tonight

Today (Monday 5th Dec) is the first day of the UKOUG Conference in Birmingham.

Tonight we have the Focus Pubs session starting at 8:45pm. This year we have a Ireland table for all of the Irish people at the conference to gather at and to meet.

I’ll be there so drop along and say hello.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I’m an Oracle ACE

At 5:20pm today (Friday 2nd December), I received an email from the Oracle ACE program.  I had been nominated for the award of Oracle ACE.

“You have been chosen based on your significant contribution and activity in the Oracle technical community.  Like your fellow Oracle ACEs, you have demonstrated a proficiency in Oracle technology as well as a willingness to share your knowledge and experiences with the community.”

I am so honoured, considering the experts from around the world that are members of the Oracle ACE program.

The Oracle ACE Award is issued by the Oracle Corporation and the award is made to people who are know for their strong credentials in the Oracle community as enthusiasts, advocates and technical knowledge.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Oracle Big Data & Analytics Sessions at UKOUG Conference

There are a number of BIG Data and Analytics presentations at the UKOUG Conference in Birmingham (4th Dec – 7th Dec).

I’ve worked my way through the agenda grids for each day of the conference and I’ve come up with the following list.  If you are interested in BIG Data and Analytics these presentations are a must see

Monday 12:15-13:15 Exadata Live – Graham Wood – Hall 7A
5th Dec    
Tuesday 9:00-10:00 Big Data-Are you ready – Mark Townsend – Hall 1
6th Dec 10:10-10:55 Who’s afraid of Analytic Functions – Alex Nuijten – Hall 5
  11:15-12:15 Analysing Your Data with Analytic Functions – Carl Dudley – Hall 9
  16:40-17:40 Mobile Analytics using OBIEE 11g – Jon Mead – Exec Room 1
Wednesday 9:00-10:00 Oracle 11g Database Automatic Parallelism – Joel Goodman – Hall 9
7th Dec 15:20-16:05 How to Deploy your Oracle Data Miner in a Live Environment - me