Oracle BI Cloud Service (BICS) Access Options: Remote Data Connector (RDC) Overview and Configuratio

As more organizations move their business intelligence (BI) environments to the cloud, loading and accessing enterprise data will become as important as the front-end visualizations.  Oracle’s BI Cloud Service (BICS) offers several options for those data requirements that go beyond simple data upload. Each has a specific purpose, features, benefits, and limitations. Only one option allows data to remain on-premise for querying by BICS: Remote Data Connector (RDC).

Rather than moving data to the cloud, RDC enables a secure connection to on-premise data sources for analysis and visualization. RDC utilizes the BI Server Data Gateway running in the BICS environment to provide secure access to on-premise data using private/public key pairs and SSL communication.  The primary benefit of RDC is that it preserves the investment in the technology used to house and load on-premise data warehouses.  It offers a hybrid approach to transitioning to a cloud-based analytics environment without having to also migrate the entire data environment as well.

RDC enables analyses in BICS to connect directly to an on-premise Oracle database following proper configuration of the on-premise firewall, security, and WebLogic installation.  When an analysis is executed in BICS, a SQL request is generated and transmitted to the on-premise WebLogic server.  WebLogic passes that SQL onto the associated database, compresses the resulting dataset, and then returns that result to BICS where it is presented in a visualization view.

This provides organizations with very large on-premise data warehouses the ability to use BICS as a front end without having to duplicate the same data in the cloud.

A Remote Data Connector setup requires the following mandatory components:

  1. The Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) BI Administration client tool that is used to create the RPD must be version only. This is due to the RDC requiring the JDBC (JNDI) Data Source option for the connection to work. The configured RPD will be “lifted-and-shifted” to the BICS environment while maintaining RDC connections at the physical layer

  2. The on-premise database can be Oracle, Teradata, SQL Server, or DB2

  3. The on-premise environment must have either a configured WebLogic server or Apache Tomcat server. While prior versions of WebLogic should work, the latest version would be preferred

  4. The on-premise WebLogic server must be accessible externally via the necessary networking, security and firewalls configuration. In the RPD, the port defined in the physical connection must accurately route to the WebLogic server port

One important item to understand is that once a “lift-and-shift” of the RPD is performed in the BICS environment, any previous connections to the co-located database ‘Schema Service’ will not be accessible.  The on-premise RPD data model will replace the Schema Service repository and will not be able to connect to Schema Service database objects.

The following diagram produced by Oracle illustrates how the RDC environment works:

Consider the following before implementing an RDC solution:

Network performance will become a much greater factor in the execution time of analyses and visualizations.   Large query result sets transferred over the network will likely introduce latency challenges.

The hybrid approach to BICS data access typically requires significant assistance and support from a customer’s network support team.  There may be resistance to RDC based on corporate policies related to opening up access to internal databases from external sources.

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