Friday, 4 January 2013

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery - Overview & FAQ

This blog is an attempt to share frequently asked questions and its answers published by Oracle about Oracle Endeca Information Discovery.

What is Oracle Endeca Information Discovery?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery is an enterprise data discovery platform for rapid, intuitive exploration and analysis of data from any combination of structured and unstructured sources.

Endeca Latitude, now called Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, is a technology platform that enables businesses to enhance existing analytic investments by bringing information from many unstructured and structured information sources together.

Why Oracle Endeca Information Discovery?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery enables organizations to extend their existing business analytics investments to unstructured sources – including social media, websites, content systems, files, email, database text, and Big Data - providing unprecedented visibility into data and business processes, saving time and cost, and leading to better business decisions.

With Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, discoverer can:

·        Easily combine structured and unstructured data and metadata to understand key metrics in their relevant context and evaluate new business situations.
·        Ask unanticipated questions of any data through intuitive, flexible, and highly interactive online discovery applications.
·        Mash up and recombine data and visualizations to compose discovery applications.
·        Leverage all of the rich metadata of their data models and the semantic layer as a basis upon which to build discovery applications.
·        Unburden IT from the constant chasing of new requirements and nontraditional data sources for incorporation into the data warehouse, enabling them to deliver fast access to relevant data and self-service to business users while maintaining security, governance, and quality.

What is unstructured data?

Unstructured data has no pre-defined data model and/or does not fit well into relational tables. Typically, there is no identifiable structure – it is text-heavy and generally in freeform text.

A few examples of this type of data are email, documents, presentations, web content and social media. Due to the explosion and proliferation of the internet and social media, unstructured data is growing exponentially – and companies are looking for better ways to manage this data.

In contrast, structured data can be organized and is easily identifiable. Users can search by data type within the actual content. For example, SQL (Structured Query Language) allows user to select specific pieces of information based on columns and rows in a field. Structured data has traditionally been captured and stored by enterprises. For example, information generated by enterprise resource planning and supply chain applications is structured data.

How does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery combine structured and unstructured data?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery makes it easy to extend existing business analytics with unstructured data from beyond the warehouse through Oracle Endeca Server’s flexible data model and metadata layer.

One of the main differentiators of Endeca Server is its flexible data model. as described above, Endeca Server’s key-value store enables the rapid integration of any type of data, whether structured or unstructured, from inside or beyond the confines of the enterprise data warehouse.

Oracle Endeca Server also includes a unique flexible metadata management capability – the View Layer – that enables direct incorporation of semantic definitions from customers’ existing structured BI environments for rapid time to analysis. This enables business users to understand familiar business metrics in the context of additional information from unstructured sources.

Why is Oracle Endeca Information Discovery perfect for social media and other web content?
  
Oracle Endeca Information Discovery is perfectly suited to acquire, store and analyze diverse and unstructured data from modern online sources, such as social media sites, blogs and forums, news sites, consumer reviews, and public data sets.

These sources present three serious challenges for traditional analytics tools: the data is often only accessible via a web service, API, or content crawl instead of traditional SQL; most of the valuable content is human language in text fields or spread across an array of metadata fields; and each source may have diverse and changing schemas. Because this data is inherently unstructured and unpredictable, it's difficult for users to make sense of it. Endeca is designed from the ground up address these challenges by: providing connectivity and text enrichment for a wide variety of structured and unstructured sources; managing content in a key-value store that supports any data type without requiring a universal schema; and providing an intuitive, interactive user interface for searching, exploring, and analyzing this diverse content to quickly surface valuable new insights.

What is text enrichment?

Text Enrichment is the process of deriving structure from unstructured text, applying algorithms to extract entities, concepts, summaries, and sentiment, which are then appended to existing records as new fields. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery provides this capability, along with basic term and
regular expression whitelist tagging.
  
What is sentiment analysis?

Sentiment Analysis is a subset of text enrichment, for deriving a sentiment score and metadata around to what degree the words represent positive, negative, or neutral emotion.


What technology does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery use for text enrichment and sentiment analysis?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery employs the Lexalytics Salience engine to perform text enrichment and sentiment analysis. The integration is implemented as a data manipulator component in Integrator, the out-of-the-box ETL tool.

What content management system connectors are available?

CMS connectors are available for Documentum, Documentum eRoom, Filenet Doc & Image Svs, Filenet P8, Interwoven TeamSite, JSR-170, LiveLink, Lotus
Notes/Domino, and Microsoft SharePoint.

What additional skillets are needed to use Oracle Endeca Information Discovery?

The skills required to support an Oracle Endeca Information Discovery deployment are similar to those supporting BI deployments. Typical projects include an ETL developer, data/solution architect, and a team of business analysts, in addition to project managers, stakeholders and end users.

System administrators’ time is required to set up the software environment and ensure it is ready for production use. A difference from typical BI implementations is that iterative Oracle Endeca Information Discovery deployments can be up in days and go live in weeks to months.

What are the key technologies behind Oracle Endeca Information Discovery?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery consists of three major components: Endeca Server, Studio, and Integrator.

Endeca Server is a unique hybrid search/analytical database designed for enabling interactive exploration and analysis of diverse and unstructured data.

Studio is the web application that serves as the user interface for business analysts to quickly assemble interactive component-based applications and for end users to explore and analyze data.

Integrator is the provided ETL tool that loads structured and unstructured source data into Endeca Server; because Endeca Server is an open platform, customers may also use other ETL tools that provide web services connectivity.


What type of analysis is Oracle Endeca Information Discovery designed for?

The core use case for Oracle Endeca Information Discovery is in supporting a users’ need to better understand the data. In expanding analysis inputs beyond structured content to unstructured sources, users can better understand the color and qualitative insights which support quantitative results.

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery enables this type of analysis through Oracle Endeca Server, a hybrid search/analytical database that is specifically optimized for discovery, not reporting or online transaction processing.
Highly scalable, column-oriented, and in-memory – without being memory bound - Oracle Endeca Server supports navigation, search, and analysis of any kind of information including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured content.

What is a hybrid search/analytical database?

Combining an index-based search engine and column-oriented, in-memory analytical database in a single integrated architecture, Oracle Endeca Server was designed from the ground up to meet the needs of an exploratory data discovery user experience across any combination of structured and unstructured data.

How is data represented in Oracle Endeca Server?

One of the main differentiators of Endeca Server is its flexible, self-describing data model. There is no need for IT to define a unified schema before loading and analyzing data. Unlike a relational model, it is a key-value store – a collection of records that each contains its own, potentially unique, collection of attributes – that enables the rapid integration of any type of data, whether structured or unstructured, from inside or beyond the confines of the enterprise data warehouse, without the efforts associated with traditional relational data modeling. The data is not segmented into tables nor is there a universal schema to which all records must conform.

This architecture easily accommodates:

·         Idiosyncratic structure - Records are self-describing, each representing its own possibly unique schema.

·         Multi-valued fields - Fields can have multiple values, creating new possibilities for data representation.

·         Unstructured fields - Native support for text fields of any length.

Does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery require data modeling?

Yes, but it is a substantially different process than traditional relational or dimensional tools. Oracle Endeca Server does not have a pre-defined or rigid data model; instead, it starts as a "blank slate" without data or schema. Data may be added at any time via web services, at which point Oracle Endeca Server examines each ingested record and dynamically creates new attributes in the schema if those attributes have not yet been seen on other records. Each ingested row becomes an “Endeca record”, with each record being uniquely defined by a customizable “record specifier”, akin to a primary key in a database. The model (e.g. schema, data grain) is therefore defined by what you choose to ingest. You also have the option to manually setup the schema and define record specifiers if you would prefer to explicitly control the configuration.

What metadata management capabilities does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery provide?

Oracle Endeca Server also includes a unique flexible metadata management capability – the View Layer – that enables direct incorporation of semantic definitions from customers’ existing structured BI environments for rapid time to analysis. This enables business users to understand familiar business metrics in the context of additional information from unstructured sources.

Unlike traditional semantic layers, it supports incremental definition of metrics, dimensions, and other metadata after data has been loaded into an application. This enables customers to quickly explore and analyze new disparate data sets without spending time up front building a semantic model; users can iteratively grow metadata as understanding of the data matures.

What types of visualizations does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery provide?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery includes a wide variety of drag-and-drop visualization and filtering components, including: Alerts, Bookmarks, Breadcrumbs, Chart, Compare, Crosstab, Data Explorer, Guided Navigation, Map, Metrics Bar, Range Filters, Record Details, Results Table, Results List, Search Box, and Tag Cloud.

What search capabilities does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery provide?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery provides two different, and complementary, types of search:

Value or dimension – search provides type-ahead auto completion that enables users to find attribute values and help disambiguate queries by identifying which attributes contain the search terms. For example, a search for “Houston” may return “City > Houston, TX” and “Company > Houston Drilling Co.”, giving the user the option to choose which she meant. Selecting a result applies that attribute value as a filter to the results.

Record search provides advanced full text search across any single or combination of fields, leveraging a variety of configurable term matching and relevancy ranking algorithms to retrieve results for display and analysis. Additional out-of-the-box features like automatic spell correction, “did you mean?” suggestions, stemming, and synonym matching ensure that users can find what they need, even if they don't know how to ask for it.

What languages does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery support?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery (EID) has been optimized to support ingest, display, full search, navigation and text enrichment for the English language. In addition, EID provides language packs for French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese enabling search capabilities. Currently, all product interfaces are provided in English only.

Does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery support enterprise security policies?

Yes. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery is built to seamlessly integrate with the existing security infrastructure and quickly extend data governance and security policies. Authentication is made easy for users (as well as IT) since it can integrate with a variety of standard enterprise authentication systems, including Active Directory, LDAP, and Single Sign On (SSO) and also support secure encryption of its network communications through SSL. Equally important is the ability to restrict access to different levels of data. Access to information can be restricted by application, view (page/component) or data type (row level).


Is Oracle Endeca Information Discovery part of Oracle BI Foundation Suite?

No. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery is a separately licensed product.

How does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery complement
my existing BI investments?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery extends and leverages these investments to incorporate unstructured data, adding important contextual information to business analysis. Users leverage all of the rich metadata of their data models and the semantic layer as a basis upon which to build discovery applications. An example usage scenario would be, combining warehouse sales data with Twitter, Facebook, warranty claim, and other customer feedback data for new types of market analysis.

We don’t run Oracle BI. Can we still benefit from Oracle Endeca Information Discovery?

The diversity of supported data sources is strength of Oracle Endeca Information Discovery. It supports all the types of data supported by Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite, including DW solutions, OLAP, MOLAP, OLTP solutions, as well as unstructured sources. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery excels in providing “speed of thought” exploration and analysis across such diverse sources. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery can provide the benefits of data discovery with or without the foundation of Oracle BI.

Can we use Oracle Endeca Server as a data source for my existing BI tools?

Yes. Oracle Endeca Server exposes web services for querying its data. Note that these services are designed for many smaller interactive queries over filtered data, rather than large-scale bulk export of entire data sets.

How does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery leverage Oracle BI Applications?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery enhances existing business intelligence applications by extending analysis to unstructured sources and supporting exploratory data analysis. Customers get to leverage all of the rich metadata of the BI applications as a basis upon which to build discovery applications.


Is Oracle Endeca Information Discovery compatible with Exalytics?

Yes, Oracle Endeca Information Discovery is certified on Exalytics. Exalytics is the ideal hardware for Oracle Endeca Information Discovery’s CPU and memory-intensive workload.


What are the benefits of running Oracle Endeca Information Discovery on Exalytics?

Exalytics provides an ideal platform for Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, with 40 cores of processing power and 1TB of RAM. With Oracle Endeca Server’s multithreaded parallel query evaluation, in-memory column storage, and dynamic in-memory cache, it can take full advantage of this state-of-the-art hardware.

Can I run Oracle Endeca Information Discovery and Oracle BI Foundation Suite on the same Exalytics machine?

Yes. Depending on the size of the implementation, customers may wish to either explicitly partition the Exalytics machine to control resource allocations, or purchase additional Exalytics machines in order to ensure each platform has sufficient resources for the workload.

What is Big Data?

Big Data has several definitions that generally encompass at least three characteristics: Volume (the amount of data), Variety (the diversity of sources and structures) and Velocity (the speed of data change). Some definitions include a fourth characteristic: Value (a nod to the fact that most Big Data sources are of uncertain informational value and therefore companies are unsure what to do with it).

What benefits does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery provide in the area of Big Data?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery’s primary benefit with respect to Big Data is in solving the problem of Big Variety – relevant data sources for business analysis have never been more diverse, and an increasing share of this information is unstructured. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery combines and exposes the relationships between these data in new ways, guiding users to uncover new insights.

How does Oracle Endeca Information Discovery compare to Hadoop?

Oracle Endeca Information Discovery and Hadoop are highly complementary technologies. While Hadoop is designed for large scale distributed management and batch processing of huge data unstructured volumes, and Oracle Endeca Information Discovery is designed for interactive end user exploration and analysis of structured and unstructured data, they both share a similar flexible data model. This makes it straightforward to combine subsets of data from Hadoop with other diverse data sources in Oracle Endeca Information Discovery.

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