BI & Warehousing

Rittman Mead at OUG Norway 2018

Rittman Mead Consulting - Mon, 2018-03-05 04:45
Rittman Mead at OUG Norway 2018

This week I am very pleased to represent Rittman Mead by presenting at the Oracle User Group Norway Spring Seminar 2018 delivering two sessions about Oracle Analytics, Kafka, Apache Drill and Data Visualization both on-premises and cloud. The OUGN conference it's unique due to both the really high level of presentations (see related agenda) and the fascinating location being the Color Fantasy Cruiseferry going from Oslo to Kiev and back.

Rittman Mead at OUG Norway 2018

I'll be speaking on Friday 9th at 9:30AM in Auditorium 2 about Visualizing Streams on how the world of Business Analytics has changed in recent years and how to successfully build a Modern Analytical Platform including Apache Kafka, Confluent's recently announced KSQL and Oracle's Data Visualization.

Rittman Mead at OUG Norway 2018

On the same day at 5PM, always in Auditorium 2, I'll be delivering the session OBIEE: Going Down the Rabbit Hole: providing details, built on experience, on how diagnostic tools, non standard configuration and well defined processes can enhance, secure and accelerate any analytical project.

If you’re at the event and you see me in sessions, around the conference or during my talks, I’d be pleased to speak with you about your projects and answer any questions you might have.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Spring into action with our new OBIEE 12c Systems Management & Security On Demand Training course

Rittman Mead Consulting - Mon, 2018-02-19 05:49

Rittman Mead are happy to release a new course to the On Demand Training platform.

The OBIEE 12c Systems Management & Security course is the essential learning tool for any developers or administrators who will be working on the maintenance & optimisation of their OBIEE platform.

Baseline Validation Tool

View lessons and live demos from our experts on the following subjects:

  • What's new in OBIEE 12c
  • Starting & Stopping Services
  • Managing Metadata
  • System Preferences
  • Troubleshooting Issues
  • Caching
  • Usage Tracking
  • Baseline Validation Tool
  • Direct Database Request
  • Write Back
  • LDAP Users & Groups
  • Application Roles
  • Permissions

Get hands on with the practical version of the course which comes with an OBIEE 12c training environment and 9 lab exercises.
System Preferences

Rittman Mead will also be releasing a theory version of the course. This will not include the lab exercises but gives each of the lessons and demos that you'd get as part of the practical course.

Course prices are as follows:

OBIEE 12c Systems Management & Security - PRACTICAL - $499

  • 30 days access to lessons & demos
  • 30 days access to OBIEE 12c training environment for lab exercises
  • 30 days access to Rittman Mead knowledge base for Q&A and lab support

OBIEE 12c Systems Management & Security - THEROY - $299

  • 30 days access to lessons & demos
  • 30 days access to Rittman Mead knowledge base for Q&A

To celebrate the changing of seasons we suggest you Spring into action with OBIEE 12c by receiving a 25% discount on both courses until 31st March 2018 using voucher code:


Access both courses and the rest of our catalog at

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Confluent Partnership

Rittman Mead Consulting - Mon, 2018-02-12 09:14


Here at Rittman Mead, we are continually broadening the scope and expertise of our services to help our customers keep pace with today's ever-changing technology landscape. One significant change we have seen over the last few years is the increased adoption of data streaming. These solutions can help solve a variety of problems, from real-time data analytics to forming the entire backbone of an organisation's data architecture. We have worked with a number of different technologies that can enable this, however, we often see that Kafka ticks the most boxes.

This is reflected by some of the recent blog posts you will have seen like Tom Underhill hooking up his gaming console to Kafka and Paul Shilling’s piece on collating sailing data. Both these posts try and use day to day or real-world examples to demonstrate some of the concepts behind Kafka.

In conjunction with these, we have been involved in more serious proofs of concepts and project with clients involving Kafka, which no doubt we will write about in time. To help us further our knowledge and also immerse ourselves in the developer community we have decided to become Confluent partners. Confluent was founded by the people who initially developed Kafka at LinkedIn and provides a managed and supported version of Kafka through their platform.

We chose Confluent as we saw them as the driving force behind Kafka, plus the additions they are making to the platform such as the streaming API and KSQL are opening a lot of doors for how streamed data can be used.

We look forward to growing our knowledge and experience in this area and the possibilities that working with both Kafka and Confluent will bring us.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Real-time Sailing Yacht Performance - Getting Started (Part 1)

Rittman Mead Consulting - Fri, 2018-01-19 03:54

In this series of articles, I intend to look at collecting and analysing our yacht’s data. I aim to show how a number of technologies can be used to achieve this and the thought processes around the build and exploration of the data. Ultimately, I want to improve our sailing performance with data, not a new concept for professional teams but well I have a limited amount of hardware and funds, unlike Oracle it seems, time for a bit of DIY!

In this article, I introduce some concepts and terms then I'll start cleaning and exploring the data.


I have owned a Sigma 400 sailing yacht for over twelve years and she is used primarily for cruising but every now and then we do a bit of offshore racing.

In the last few years we have moved from paper charts and a very much manual way of life to electronic charts and IOS apps for navigation.

In 2017 we started to use weather modelling software to predict the most optimal route of a passage taking wind, tide and estimated boat performance (polars) into consideration.

The predicted routes are driven in part by a boat's polars, the original "polars" are a set of theoretical calculations created by the boat’s designer indicating/defining what the boat should do at each wind speed and angle of sailing. Polars give us a plot of the boat's speed given a true wind speed and angle. This in turn informs us of the optimal speed the boat could achieve at any particular angle to wind and wind speed (not taking into consideration helming accuracy, sea state, condition of sails and sail trim - It may be possible for me to derive different polars for different weather conditions). Fundamentally, polars will also give us an indication of the most optimal angle to wind to get to our destination (velocity made good).

The polars we use at the moment are based on a similar boat to the Sigma 400 but are really a best guess. I want our polars to be more accurate. I would also like to start tracking the boats performance real-time and post passage for further analysis.

The purpose of this blog is to use our boats instrument data to create accurate polars for a number of conditions and get a better understanding of our boats performance at each point of sail. I would also see what can be achieved with the AIS data. I intend to use Python to check and decode the data. I will look at a number of tools to store, buffer, visualise and analyse the outputs.

So let’s look at the technology on-board.

Instrumentation Architecture

The instruments are by Raymarine. We have a wind vane, GPS, speed sensor, depth sounder and sea temperature gauge, electronic compass, gyroscope, and rudder angle reader. These are all fed into a central course computer. Some of the instrument displays share and enrich the data calculating such things as apparent wind angles as an example. All the data travels through a proprietary Raymarine messaging system called SeaTalk. To allow Raymarine instruments to interact with other instrumentation there is an NMEA-0183 port. NMEA-0183 is a well-known communication protocol and is fairly well documented so this is the data I need to extract from the system. I currently have an NMEA-0183 cable connecting the Raymarine instruments to an AIS transponder. The AIS transponder includes a Wireless router. The wireless router enables me to connect portable devices to the instrumentation.

The first task is to start looking at the data and get an understanding of what needs to be done before I can start analysing.

Analysing the data

There is a USB connection from the AIS hub however the instructions do warn that this should only be used during installation. I did spool some data from the USB port, it seemed to work OK. I could connect directly to the NMEA-0183 output however that would require me to do some wiring so will look at that if the reliability of the wireless causes issues. The second option was to use the wireless connection. I start by spooling the data to a log file using nc (nc is basically OSX's version of netcat, a TCP and UDP tool).

Spooling the data to a log file

nc  -p 1234 2000 > instrument.log

The spooled data gave me a clear indication that there would need to be some sanity checking of the data before it would be useful. The data is split into a number of different message types each consisting of a different structure. I will convert these messages into a JSON format so that the messages are more readable downstream. In the example below the timestamps displayed are attached using awk but my Python script will handle any enrichment as I build out.

The data is comma separated so this makes things easy and there a number of good websites that describe the contents of the messages. Looking at the data using a series of awk commands I clearly identify three main types of messages. GPS, AIS and Integrated instrument messages. Each message ends in a two-digit hex code this can be XOR'd to validate the message.

Looking at an example wind messages

We get two messages related to the wind true and apparent the data is the same because the boat was stationary.


These are Integrated Instrument Mast Wind Vain (IIMWV) * I have made an assumption about the meaning of M so if you are an expert in these messages feel free to correct me ;-)*

These messages break down to:

  1. $IIMWV II Talker, MWV Sentence
  2. 180.0 Wind Angle 0 - 359
  3. R Relative (T = True)
  4. 3.7 Wind Speed
  5. N Wind Speed Units Knots (N = KPH, M = MPH)
  6. A Status (A= Valid)
  7. *30 Checksums

And in English (ish)

180.0 Degrees Relative wind speed 1.9 Knots.

Example corrupted message


Looks like the message failed to get a new line. I notice a number of other types of incomplete or corrupted messages so checking them will be an essential part of the build.

Creating a message reader

I don't really want to sit on the boat building code. I need to be doing this while traveling and at home when I get time. So, spooling half an hour of data to a log file gets me started. I can use Python to read from the file and once up and running spool the log file to a local TCP/IP port and read using Python socket library.

Firstly, I read the log file and loop through the messages, each message I check to see if it's valid using the checksum, line length. I used this to log the number of messages in error etc. I have posted the test function, I'm sure there are better ways to write the code but it works.

#DEF Function to test message
 def is_message_valid (orig_line):

  #check if hash is valid
  #set variables
  x = 1
  check = 0
  received_checksum = 0
  line_length = len(orig_line.strip())

  while (x <= line_length):="" current_char="orig_line[x]" #checksum="" is="" always="" two="" chars="" after="" the="" *="" if="" "*":="" received_checksum="orig_line[x+1]" +="" orig_line[x+2]="" #check="" where="" we="" are="" there="" more="" to="" decode="" then="" #have="" take="" into="" account="" new="" line="" line_length=""> (x+3):
        check = 0

      #no need to continue to the end of the 
      #line either error or have checksum

    check = check^ord(current_char)
    x = x + 1; 

  if format(check,"2X") == received_checksum:
    #substring the new line for printing
    #print "Processed nmea line >> " + orig_line[:-1] + " Valid message" 
    _Valid = 1
    #substring the new line for printing
    _Valid = 0

  return _Valid

Now for the translation of messages. There are a number of example Python packages in GitHub that translate NMEA messages but I am only currently interested in specific messages, I also want to build appropriate JSON so feel I am better writing this from scratch. Python has JSON libraries so fairly straight forward once the message is defined. I start by looking at the wind and depth messages. I'm not currently seeing any speed messages hopefully because the boat wasn't moving.

def convert_iimwv_json (orig_line):
 #iimwv wind instrumentation

 column_list = orig_line.split(",")

 #star separates the checksum from status
 status_check_sum = column_list[5].split("*")
 checksum_value = status_check_sum[1]

 json_str = 
 {'message_type' : column_list[0], 
 'wind_angle' : column_list[1], 
 'relative' : column_list[2], 
 'wind_speed' : column_list[3], 
 'wind_speed_units' : column_list[4], 
 'status' : status_check_sum[0], 
 'checksum' : checksum_value[0:2]}

 json_dmp = json.dumps(json_str)
 json_obj = json.loads(json_dmp)

 return json_str

I now have a way of checking, reading and converting the message to JSON from a log file. Switching from reading a file to to using the Python socket library I can read the stream directly from a TCP/IP port. Using nc it's possible to simulate the message being sent from the instruments by piping the log file to a port.

Opening port 1234 and listening for terminal input

nc -l 1234

Having spoken to some experts from Digital Yachts it maybe that the missing messages are because Raymarine SeakTalk is not transmitting an NMEA message for speed and a number of other readings. The way I have wired up the NMEA inputs and outputs to the AIS hub may also be causing the doubling up of messages and apparent corruptions. I need more kit! A bi-direction SeaTalk to NMEA converter.

In the next article, I discuss the use of Kafka in the architecture. I want to buffer all my incoming raw messages. If I store all the incoming I can build out the analytics over time i.e as I decode each message type. I will also set about creating a near real time dashboard to display the incoming metrics. The use of Kafka will give me scalability in the model. I'm particularly thinking of Round the Island Race 1,800 boats a good number of these will be transmitting AIS data.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Using MDX for Generated Members in Essbase Reports

Tim Tow - Thu, 2018-01-11 18:30

There are times when Essbase users may need to see an ad-hoc collection of members aggregated together in Essbase, and that isn’t always an easy task.  If it were an aggregation that is needed on a recurring basis, the Essbase administrator may add an alternate hierarchy to assist.  Other times, users might just create a spreadsheet with the desired members in different rows or columns and use Excel formulas to add them together.  In this blog post, I will cover a third option, the use of MDX to create dynamically-generated members, how to run them in Smart View, and how to make them much easier to use in Dodeca.

In order to illustrate how dynamically-generated members can be used, let’s consider an example using the Sample Basic database.  Here is a simple quarterly income statement query that I will use as the basis for this blog post:

    {[Year].Children, Year} on COLUMNS,
    Hierarchize(Descendants([Profit]), POST) ON ROWS
    ([Market].[New York], [Product].[Colas], Actual)

The results from this simple query look like this:

This MDX is pretty straightforward, but what if you wanted to see how New York and Connecticut would look if they were combined?  This is the question that a generated member can return for you.

Generated members in MDX are created using the WITH MEMBER clause.  Moreover, the generated member can then be used anywhere a normal member can be used, even in a slicer dimension (or what we would call a ‘page field’ in the classic Essbase add-in or a point-of-view in Smart View).  Here is the query modified to use the new generated member:

    [Market].[SelectedMarkets] AS 'SUM({[New York], [Connecticut]})'
    {[Year].Children, Year} on COLUMNS,
    Hierarchize(Descendants([Profit]), POST) ON ROWS
    ([Market].[SelectedMarkets], Colas, Actual)

The results from this query look like this:

So far, so good, but there are a couple of things to note.  First, the member displayed in the POV is not a real member; that is to be expected.  This leads to the second thing in that you cannot refresh the query as an ad-hoc analysis; the dynamically generated member name will be replaced with the dimension member name in its place.

To go even further, what if you want to have multiple generated members?  In that case, the syntax is easy as you just continue with another MEMBER clause:

    [Market].[SelectedMarkets] AS 'SUM({[New York], [Connecticut]})'
  [Product].[SelectedProducts] AS 'SUM({[Colas], [Grape]})'
    {[Year].Children, Year} on COLUMNS,
    Hierarchize(Descendants([Profit]), POST) ON ROWS
    ([Market].[SelectedMarkets], [Product].[SelectedProducts], Actual)

The results of this query look like this:

The syntax for creating and using generated members is not that difficult, but there are a couple of things that make it a bit more difficult than it should be for end users to use this approach.

First, any time end users start having to deal with scripts of any kind, the level of complexity goes up exponentially.  As one of my mentors used to say, “The difference between zero lines of code and one line of code is much greater than the difference between one line of code and a hundred lines of code”.  In other words, it is hard to get users to deal with code of any kind.

Second, once an end user has to ‘write a line of code’, or script in this case, then they assume the responsibility for it being correct.  As there are differing levels of comfort and skill among users, the risk of error goes up.

Finally, when users use a script like the one used in this example, they have to type in the correct member names or, again, risk error. Here is the new MDX dialog in Smart View showing where users type in the MDX including the member names.

To make it much easier for end users, Dodeca does a couple of things.  First, Dodeca developers can configure reports to use MDX without the end user ever having to know that MDX is powering the report ‘under-the-covers’.  Further, Dodeca has flexible Point-of-View selectors that allow the end user to simply pick which members they want to use in the query.

Dodeca report developers use tokens as a sort of substitution variables in the script.  The tokens are replaced in the script at run-time by the members selected by end users.  Here is the same script with tokens in place of the hard-coded values:

  [Market].[SelectedMarkets] AS 'SUM({[T.Market]})'
    [Product].[SelectedProducts] AS 'SUM({[T.Product]})' 
    {[Year].Children, Year} on COLUMNS,
    Hierarchize(Descendants([Profit]), POST) ON ROWS
    ([Market].[SelectedMarkets], [Product].[SelectedProducts], Actual)

The Dodeca Essbase Scripts editor has tools to help the report developer create and test MDX scripts.  Here are the Test Tokens available in the editor that allow developers to simulate the values plugged in by the Point-of-View selectors:

And the script itself in the scripts editor which has built-in testing facilities:

Finally, here is a Dodeca view that utilizes the tokenized MDX query and allows users to easily select the members they want dynamically aggregated and the report is produced without the risk of error.

Let me know if you would like to learn more about Dodeca and how it could help your company.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Why Cloud? The reason changed in 2017…twice

Look Smarter Than You Are - Fri, 2018-01-05 10:13
In 2017, the predominant reason companies considered moving to the Cloud changed multiple times. While the “how” tends to shift frequently, seeing the “why” fundamentally shift twice in one year was fascinating (though not quite as fascinating as yesterday when LinkedIn suggested I might know both Jessica Alba and Ashton Kutcher).

The Cloud will save us money
2017 started off with companies moving to the Cloud to save money. This makes sense in a theoretical sense: you pay-as-you-go for your software instead of all up-front, you don’t have to buy your own servers, there’s no need to do installations, and there’s no IT staff needed to handle the frequent maintenance that an on-premises solution requires.

But while that’s 100% correct in the abstract (any new company would buy Cloud first before ever considering an on-prem product), there’s a sunk cost issue with existing solutions: companies already paid for all their software (minus the annual “support maintenance”), they already bought their servers, someone already installed the software, and there’s an existing staff dedicated to maintaining servers that has plenty of other things they can be doing once they stop dealing with the drudgery of daily maintenance activities. While there’s money to be saved with new solutions, and there’s definitely money to be saved in the long-run on converting existing implementations to the Cloud, the short-term savings are trumped by the sunk cost fallacy.

As companies started moving en masse to the Cloud, a compelling new motivation began appearing in Spring of 2017.

Let’s make our server someone else’s problem
Companies began realizing that servers and data centers are a huge headache: a distraction from their core competencies. Trying to make sure servers stay up and running whenever we need to access them shouldn’t be any more of a focus than starting our car: the engine should always work and if it doesn’t, someone far more qualified than we are should fix it.

All of a sudden, people were going to the Cloud so they never had to deal with their servers again: uptime was assumed, patches were someone else’s problem, and backups just happened. And as this happened, the Cloud became more like Google: when was the last time you pondered where Google’s servers are located or when the last time was that Google did a backup? And the reason you don’t invest brain power into Google maintenance thought experiments is that it’s Google’s problem. While the Cloud may be causing someone else sleepless nights keeping those servers up and running, that someone is not making their problem your problem.

So, we spent the next several months of “The Year of the Cloud” (trademark pending) going to the Cloud so we never had to deal with our servers again.

Power to the People!
In late 2017, organizations going to the Cloud began to notice something weird: business people were starting to own their own systems and access their data directly. A noble aim long desired by users everywhere, this has heretofore been impossible because on-premises systems take a lot of effort to administrate. It took consultants or IT personnel to build the systems, modify them, and in the end, those same people controlled access to the systems.

The Cloud changed all that: with a new focus on end users and self-service, the power to change things (add an account, build a new report, modify a form, create new analysis) moved to the people who are the first to know when a change needs to be met. At first, I thought this self-service paradigm would increase the workload on the business, but it turns out that they were having to do all the requesting of the changes anyway and quickly making those changes themselves was far faster. Why should I have to make a request to see my own data rather than just go wander through it on my own (preferably on a mobile device)?

And so we ended 2017 with a new drive – a new “why” – of the Cloud. Give the power to the people. The other reasons aren’t lost: they just took a backseat to the new user-first world of the Cloud. Now when someone asks me “why should our company move to the Cloud?”, I tell them “because it gives your business people the power to make better business decisions faster.”

At least, that’s my answer at the start of 2018.

What’s the next shift?
Each year, I conduct a global survey of Business Analytics. Last year, I asked over 250 companies how they were doing in the world of reporting, analysis, planning, and consolidation.  If you want to see where the next shift is coming from before it happens, I’m unveiling the results of this year’s survey on a webcast January 31, 2018, at 2PM Eastern, where you’ll learn how your BI & EPM (Business Intelligence & Enterprise Performance Management) stacks up against the rest of the world. To register, go to:

If you have any questions, ask them in the comments or tweet them to me @ERoske.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Windows 10 Update Killed Essbase On My Laptop!

Tim Tow - Thu, 2018-01-04 00:32

Like many Essbase consultants and developers, I run Essbase server on my Windows 10 laptop. It was a lengthy ‘Creator’s Update’ Windows update and, once it was complete, Essbase was dead on my machine. So, what do I do? First, I didn’t panic; us pilots have a way of not panicking when things don’t go as planned. We have several people internally who had this happen to them over the past several months and we fixed it each time, so there was nothing to worry about.

The root cause was that my OPMN service, which runs Essbase, was gone. This happened on the other machines we have that experienced that in the past, so I went to talk with one of our resident infrastructure gurus, Jay Zuercher. I remembered there was a command that I could run to recreate the service; Jay had the command filed away somewhere and within a couple of minutes, he sent it to me:

SC CREATE "OracleProcessManager_epmsystem1" binPath="C:\oracle\middleware\epmsystem11r1\opmn\bin\opmn.exe -S -I c:\oracle\middleware\user_projects\epmsystem1”
I ran this command – as an administrator – and then went into services to set the service to start automatically and start the service running. That did not, however, result in Essbase coming back to life. Next, I looked at the Essbase logs and noted several issues having to do with security. Initially, I thought there may have been due to an issue with Shared Services, but then I remembered about the fairly common Essbase issue regarding a corrupted essbase.sec file. I don’t know if the corruption was related to the Windows Update, but the timing sure was suspect. I replaced the essbase.sec file with a backup copy and I was back in business.

Hopefully this doesn’t happen to you when you update Windows but, if it does, perhaps this blog post will make your recovery quick and painless.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Introducing Pixel Perfect Reporting in Oracle Analytics Cloud

Tim Dexter - Wed, 2017-12-20 08:30


For all you BI Publisher fans, here is the good news - BI Publisher is now available with Oracle Analytics Cloud !!

Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) is a scalable and secure public cloud service that provides a full set of capabilities to explore and perform collaborative analytics for your enterprise. You can take data from any source, explore with Data Visualization and collaborate with real-time data. It is available in three flavors - Standard Edition, Data Lake Edition and Enterprise Edition, with Standard Edition giving the base ability to explore data, Data Lake Edition allowing insights into big data, and Enterprise Edition offering the full platter of data exploration, big data analytics, dashboard, enterprise reporting, Essbase etc. Refer to this documentation for additional details on different editions.

With OAC 17.4.5 Enterprise Edition, now you can create pixel perfect report and deliver to a variety of destinations such as email, printer, fax, file server using ftp or WebDAV, Webcenter Content and Content & Experience Cloud. The version of BI Publisher here is

If you have used BI Publisher On-prem, the experience will be very similar feature wise and look-and-feel wise, and therefore you will find it easy to get on-board. If you are new to BI Publisher, you will now be able to create pixel perfect and highly formatted business documents in OAC such as Invoices, Purchase Orders, Dunning Letters, Marketing Collateral, EFT & EDI documents, Financial Statements, Government Forms, Operational Reports, Management Reports, Retail Reports, Shipping Labels with barcodes, Airline boarding passes with PDF417 barcode, Market to Mobile content using QR code, Contracts with fine-print on alternate page, Cross-tab reports, etc.

You can connect to a variety of data sources including BI Subject Areas, BI Analysis and RPD; Schedule your report to run once or as a recurring job; and even burst documents to render in multiple formats and be delivered to multiple destinations.


Can we move from BI Publisher on-prem to BI Publisher on OAC?

Well yes, you can. You will have to understand your on-prem deployment and plan accordingly. If your data can be migrated to OAC, that will be the best otherwise you can plan to extend your network to Oracle Cloud allowing OAC to access your on-prem data. The repository can be migrated by archiving and unarchiving mechanism. User data management will be another task where application roles from On-prem will need to be added to OAC application roles. Details on this will be coming soon.


Benefits of BI Publisher on OAC

First of all OAC comes with many great features around data exploration and visualization with advanced analytics capabilities. BI Publisher compliments this environment for pixel perfect reporting. So now you have an environment that is packed with Industry leading BI products providing an end-to-end solution for an enterprise. 

Managing Server instances will be a cake walk now, with just few clicks you will be able to scale up/down to a different compute shape or scale out/in to manage nodes in the cluster, saving you both time and money.

Many self service features to manage reports and server related resources.


What's new in BI Publisher

BI Publisher in OAC includes all features of and has the following new features in this release:

Accessible PDF Support (Tagged PDF & PDF/UA-1) New Barcodes - QR Code and PDF417 Ability to purge Job History Ability to view diagnostic log for online report Widow-orphan support for RTF template


So why wait? You can quickly check this out by creating a free trial account here. Once you login, you are in OAC home page. To get to BI Publisher you need to click on the Page Menu on right side top of the page and then select option "Open Classic Home". BI Publisher options are available under Published Reporting in the classic home page.

For further details on pixel perfect reporting, check the latest Oracle Analytics Cloud Documentation.


Stay tuned for more updates on upgrade and new features !

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Rittman Mead at UKOUG 2017

Rittman Mead Consulting - Mon, 2017-12-04 02:58

For those of you attending the UKOUG this year, we are giving three presentations on OBIEE and Data Visualisation.

Francesco Tisiot has two on Monday:

  • 14.25 // Enabling Self-Service Analytics With Analytic Views & Data Visualization From Cloud to Desktop - Hall 7a
  • 17:55 // OBIEE: Going Down the Rabbit Hole - Hall 7a

Federico Venturin is giving his culinary advice on Wednesday:

  • 11:25 // Visualising Data Like a Top Chef - Hall 6a

And Mike Vickers is diving into BI Publisher, also on Wednesday

  • 15:15 // BI Publisher: Teaching Old Dogs Some New Tricks - Hall 6a

In addition, Sam Jeremiah and I are also around, so if anyone wants to catch up, grab us for a coffee or a beer.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

The Biggest Change to Reporting & Analysis in 2018 Won’t Be the Cloud

Look Smarter Than You Are - Wed, 2017-11-29 12:43
Screenshot from

Companies spent most of 2017 either preparing their journey to the Cloud, getting started on moving their applications to the Cloud, or hoping the whole Cloud thing would go away if we just ignored it long enough (like my late fees at Blockbuster). But in the end, the Cloud isn’t revolutionary: the Cloud just means someone else is managing your server for you. While it’s nice that your servers are now someone else’s problem, there is an actual revolution happening in reporting & analysis and it’s a technology that’s been around for decades.
The Future of Reporting & Analysis Can Also Take Selfies
Up to this point, mobile has been an afterthought in the world of reporting & analysis: we design for a laptop first and if something ends up mobile-enabled, that’s a nice-to-have. The commonly held belief is that mobile devices (phones, tablets) are too small of a footprint to show formatted reports or intricate dashboards. That belief is correct in the same way that Microsoft Outlook is way too complex of an application to make reading emails on a mobile device practical… except that most emails in the world are now read on a mobile device. They’re just not using Outlook. We had to rethink of a smaller, faster, easier, more intuitive (sorry, Microsoft) way of consuming information to take email mobile.

Reporting & analysis will also hit that tipping point in 2018 where we ask ourselves simply “what questions do I need answered to make better business decisions faster?” and then our phones will give us exactly that without all the detail a typical report or dashboard provides. Will mobile analytics kill off desktop applications? No more than the desktop killed off paper reports. They all have their place: paper reports are good for quickly looking at a large amount of formatted information, desktops will be good for details (Excel will live on for the foreseeable future), and mobile will take its rightful place as the dominant form of information consumption.
Forget the Past and Pay Attention to the Present
The greatest thing about mobile is that everyone has their phone less than six feet from them at all times [you just glanced over at yours to see if I’m right]. But would you ever look at your phone if your screen took a month to update? Traditional reports are very backwards-looking. Your typical Income Statement, for instance, tells you how you spent the last year, it sometimes tells you about the upcoming forecast, but it rarely tells you, “am I making money at this moment?” Just like the dashboard of a car would be awfully useless if it gave you last month’s average gas tank reading – hey, I was 75% full in December! – mobile reports won’t be for looking at historically dated information. Instead, we’ll look to mobile to give us just the information we need to take physical actions now.
But Why is 2018 the Year of Mobile Analytics?
Quite simply, we didn’t have the technology to support our decisions until now. While we could take reports or dashboards and interact with them on mobile devices, we don’t want to actually perform analytics on our phones. We want the computers doing the analysis for us. While we’ve had data mining for years, it was relegated to high-priced data scientists or not-so-highly-paid analysts.

We now have artificial intelligence that can look through our data 24/7 and with no guidance from us, determine what drivers correlate with which results. Machine learning can then determine which information it delivers do we truly find useful. And so we don’t have to dig through all the results to find out what the system is trying to tell us, the mobile analytics apps in 2018 will convert complex information into natural language. It will simply tell us in plain English (or your language of choice), “I looked through all your information and here are the things you need to be aware of right now.”

While that may seem like distant promises to many people, it’s here now. At Oracle’s OpenWorld 2017 conference, there was an amazing demonstration of everything I mentioned in the last paragraph. The audience was even more amazed when told that all that functionality would be in Oracle Analytics Cloud before OpenWorld 2018. I’m sure the employees of Microsoft, Tableau, QlikView, and others are either busy working on their own technological magic or they’re busier working on their resumés.
Am I Ready for the Future?
Start finding out at EPM.BI/Survey. Each year, I conduct a global survey of Business Analytics. Last year, I asked over 250 companies how they were doing in the world of reporting, analysis, planning, and consolidation.  To participate in this year’s survey, go to EPM.BI/Survey and spend 15 minutes answering questions about your State of Business Analytics that you maybe haven’t thought of in years. In exchange for filling in the survey, you’ll be invited to a webcast on January 31, 2018, at 1PM Eastern, where you’ll learn how your BI & EPM (Business Intelligence & Enterprise Performance Management) stacks up against the rest of the world.

If you have any questions, ask them in the comments or tweet them to me @ERoske.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Garbled display while running FMW installer on Linux

Amardeep Sidhu - Sat, 2017-11-18 04:56

A colleague faced this while running FMW installer on a Linux machine. The display appeared like this








This thread gave a clue that it could have something to do with fonts. So I checked what all fonts related stuff was installed.

[root@someserver ~]# rpm -aq |grep -i font
[root@someserver ~]#

stix-fonts looked suspicious to me. So I removed that with rpm -e stix-fonts.

That actually fixed the issue. After this the Installer window was displaying fine.


Categories: BI & Warehousing fails with CRS-2101:The OLR was formatted using version 3

Amardeep Sidhu - Sat, 2017-11-18 04:33

Got this while trying to install RAC on Redhat Linux 7.2. fails with a message like

ohasd failed to start
Failed to start the Clusterware. Last 20 lines of the alert log follow:
2017-11-09 15:43:37.883:
[client(37246)]CRS-2101:The OLR was formatted using version 3.

This is bug 18370031. Need to apply the patch before running

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

Rittman Mead Consulting - Tue, 2017-11-07 06:41
Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

Evaluating KSQL has been high on my to-do list ever since it was released back in August. I wanted to experiment with it using an interesting, high velocity, real-time data stream that would allow me to analyse events at the millisecond level, rather than seconds or minutes. Finding such a data source, that is free of charge and not the de facto twitter stream, is tricky. So, after some pondering, I decided that I'd use my Thrustmaster T300RS Steering Wheel/Pedal Set gaming device as a data source,

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

The idea being that the data would be fed into Kafka, processed in real-time using KSQL and visualised in Grafana.

This is the end to end pipeline that I created...

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

...and this is the resulting real-time dashboard running alongside a driving game and a log of the messages being sent by the device.

This article will explain how the above real-time dashboard was built using only KSQL...and a custom Kafka producer.

I'd like to point out, that although the device I'm using for testing is unconventional, when considered in the wider context of IoT's, autonomous driving, smart automotives or any device for that matter, it will be clear to see that the low latency, high throughput of Apache Kafka, coupled with Confluent's KSQL, can be a powerful combination.

I'd also like to point out, that this article is not about driving techniques, driving games or telemetry analysis. However, seeing as the data source I'm using is intrinsically tied to those subjects, the concepts will be discussed to add context. I hope you like motorsports!

Writing a Kafka Producer for a T300RS

The T300RS is attached to my Windows PC via a USB cable, so the first challenge was to try and figure out how I could get steering, braking and accelerator inputs pushed to Kafka. Unsurprisingly, a source connector for a "T300RS Steering Wheel and Pedal Set" was not listed on the Kafka Connect web page - a custom producer was the only option.

To access the data being generated by the T300RS, I had 2 options, I could either use an existing Telemetry API from one of my racing games, or I could access it directly using the Windows DirectX API. I didn't want to have to have a game running in the background in order to generate data, so I decided to go down the DirectX route. This way, the data is raw and available, with or without an actual game engine running.

The producer was written using the SharpDX .NET wrapper and Confluent's .NET Kafka Client. The SharpDX directinput API allows you to poll an attached input device (mouse, keyboard, game controllers etc.) and read its buffered data. The buffered data returned within each polling loop is serialized into JSON and sent to Kafka using the .NET Kafka Client library.

A single message is sent to a topic in Kafka called raw_axis_inputs every time the state of one the device's axes changes. The device has several axes, in this article I am only interested in the Wheel, Accelerator, Brake and the X button.

    "event_id":4300415,         // Event ID unique over all axis state changes
    "timestamp":1508607521324,  // The time of the event
    "axis":"Y",                 // The axis this event belongs to
    "value":32873.0             // the current value of the axis

This is what a single message looks like. In the above message the Brake axis state was changed, i.e. it moved to a new position with value 32873.

You can see below which inputs map to the each reported axis from the device.

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

Here is a sample from the producer's log file.


You can tell by looking at the timestamps, it's possible to have multiple events generated within the same millisecond, I was unable to get microsecond precision from the device unfortunately. When axes, "X", "Y" and "RotationZ" are being moved quickly at the same time (a bit like a child driving one of those coin operated car rides you find at the seaside) the device generates approximately 500 events per second.

Creating a Source Stream

Now that we have data streaming to Kafka from the device, it's time to fire up KSQL and start analysing it. The first thing we need to do is create a source stream. The saying "Every River Starts with a Single Drop" is quite fitting here, especially in the context of stream processing. The raw_axis_inputs topic is our "Single Drop" and we need to create a KSQL stream based on top of it.

CREATE STREAM raw_axis_inputs ( \  
     event_id BIGINT, \
     timestamp BIGINT, \
     axis VARCHAR, \
     value DOUBLE ) \
 WITH (kafka_topic = 'raw_axis_inputs', value_format = 'JSON');

With the stream created we can we can now query it. I'm using the default auto.offset.reset = latest as I have the luxury of being able to blip the accelerator whenever I want to generate new data, a satisfying feeling indeed.

ksql> SELECT * FROM raw_axis_inputs;  
1508693510267 | null | 4480290 | 1508693510263 | RotationZ | 65278.0  
1508693510269 | null | 4480291 | 1508693510263 | RotationZ | 64893.0  
1508693510271 | null | 4480292 | 1508693510263 | RotationZ | 63993.0  
1508693510273 | null | 4480293 | 1508693510263 | RotationZ | 63094.0  
1508693510275 | null | 4480294 | 1508693510279 | RotationZ | 61873.0  
1508693510277 | null | 4480295 | 1508693510279 | RotationZ | 60716.0  
1508693510279 | null | 4480296 | 1508693510279 | RotationZ | 60267.0  
Derived Streams

We now have our source stream created and can start creating some derived streams from it. The first derived stream we are going to create filters out 1 event. When the X button is pressed it emits a value of 128, when it's released it emits a value of 0.

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

To simplify this input, I'm filtering out the release event. We'll see what the X button is used for later in the article.

CREATE STREAM axis_inputs WITH (kafka_topic = 'axis_inputs') AS \  
SELECT  event_id, \  
        timestamp, \
        axis, \
        value \
FROM    raw_axis_inputs \  
WHERE   axis != 'Buttons5' OR value != 0.0;  

From this stream we are going to create 3 further streams, one for the brake, one the accelerator and one for the wheel.

All 3 axes emit values in the range of 0-65535 across their full range. The wheel emits a value of 0 when rotated fully left, a value of 65535 when rotated fully right and 32767 when dead centre. The wheel itself is configured to rotate 900 degrees lock-to-lock, so it would be nice to report its last state change in degrees, rather than from a predetermined integer range. For this we can create a new stream, that includes only messages where the axis = 'X', and the axis values are translated into the range of -450 degrees to 450 degrees. With this new value translation, maximum rotation left now equates to 450 degrees and maximum rotation right equates -450 degrees, 0 is now dead centre.

CREATE STREAM steering_inputs WITH (kafka_topic = 'steering_inputs') AS \  
  SELECT  axis, \
          event_id, \
          timestamp, \
          (value / (65535.0 / 900.0) - 900 / 2) * -1 as value \
  FROM    axis_inputs \
  WHERE   axis = 'X';

If we now query our new stream and move the wheel slowly around dead centre, we get the following results

ksql> select timestamp, value from steering_inputs;

1508711287451 | 0.6388888888889142  
1508711287451 | 0.4305555555555429  
1508711287451 | 0.36111111111108585  
1508711287451 | 0.13888888888891415  
1508711287451 | -0.0  
1508711287467 | -0.041666666666685614  
1508711287467 | -0.26388888888891415  
1508711287467 | -0.3333333333333144  
1508711287467 | -0.5277777777777715  
1508711287467 | -0.5972222222222285  

The same query while the wheel is rotated fully left

1508748345943 | 449.17601281757845  
1508748345943 | 449.3270771343557  
1508748345943 | 449.5330739299611  
1508748345943 | 449.67040512703136  
1508748345959 | 449.8214694438087  
1508748345959 | 449.95880064087896  
1508748345959 | 450.0  

And finally, rotated fully right.

1508748312803 | -449.3408102540627  
1508748312803 | -449.4369420920119  
1508748312818 | -449.67040512703136  
1508748312818 | -449.7390707255665  
1508748312818 | -449.9725337605859  
1508748312818 | -450.0  

Here's the data plotted in Grafana.

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

We now need to create 2 more derived streams to handle the accelerator and the brake pedals. This time, we want to translate the values to the range 0-100. When a pedal is fully depressed it should report a value of 100 and when fully released, a value of 0.

CREATE STREAM accelerator_inputs WITH (kafka_topic = 'accelerator_inputs') AS \  
SELECT  axis, \  
        event_id, \
        timestamp, \
        100 - (value / (65535.0 / 100.0)) as value \
FROM    axis_inputs \  
WHERE   axis = 'RotationZ';  

Querying the accelerator_inputs stream while fully depressing the accelerator pedal displays the following. (I've omitted many records in the middle to keep it short)

ksql> SELECT timestamp, value FROM accelerator_inputs;  
1508749747115 | 0.0  
1508749747162 | 0.14198473282442592  
1508749747193 | 0.24122137404580712  
1508749747209 | 0.43664122137404604  
1508749747225 | 0.5343511450381726  
1508749747287 | 0.6335877862595396  
1508749747318 | 0.7312977099236662  
1508749747318 | 0.8290076335877927  
1508749747334 | 0.9267175572519051  
1508749747381 | 1.0259541984732863  
1508749753943 | 98.92519083969465  
1508749753959 | 99.02290076335878  
1508749753959 | 99.1206106870229  
1508749753959 | 99.21832061068702  
1508749753975 | 99.31603053435114  
1508749753975 | 99.41374045801527  
1508749753975 | 99.5114503816794  
1508749753990 | 99.60916030534351  
1508749753990 | 99.70687022900763  
1508749753990 | 99.80458015267176  
1508749754006 | 100.0

...and displayed in Grafana

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

Finally, we create the brake stream, which has the same value translation as the accelerator stream, so I won't show the query results this time around.

CREATE STREAM brake_inputs WITH (kafka_topic = 'brake_inputs') AS \  
SELECT  axis, \  
        event_id, \
        timestamp, \
        100 - (value / (65535 / 100)) as value \
FROM    axis_inputs \  
WHERE   axis = 'Y';  

Braking inputs in Grafana.

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

Smooth is Fast

It is a general rule of thumb in motorsports that "Smooth is Fast", the theory being that the less steering, accelerator and braking inputs you can make while still keeping the car on the desired racing line, results in a faster lap time. We can use KSQL to count the number of inputs for each axis over a Hopping Window to try and capture overall smoothness. To do this, we create our first KSQL table.

CREATE TABLE axis_events_hopping_5s_1s \  
WITH (kafka_topic = 'axis_events_hopping_5s_1s') AS \  
SELECT  axis, \  
        COUNT(*) AS event_count \
FROM    axis_inputs \  
GROUP BY axis;  

A KSQL table is basically a view over an existing stream or another table. When a table is created from a stream, it needs to contain an aggregate function and group by clause. It's these aggregates that make a table stateful, with the underpinning stream updating the table's current view in the background. If you create a table based on another table you do not need to specify an aggregate function or group by clause.

The table we created above specifies that data is aggregated over a Hopping Window. The size of the window is 5 seconds and it will advance or hop every 1 second. This means that at any one time, there will be 5 open windows, with new data being directed to each window based on the key and the record's timestamp.

You can see below when we query the stream, that we have 5 open windows per axis, with each window 1 second apart.

ksql> SELECT * FROM axis_events_hopping_5s_1s;  
1508758267000 | X : Window{start=1508758267000 end=-} | X | 56  
1508758268000 | X : Window{start=1508758268000 end=-} | X | 56  
1508758269000 | X : Window{start=1508758269000 end=-} | X | 56  
1508758270000 | X : Window{start=1508758270000 end=-} | X | 56  
1508758271000 | X : Window{start=1508758271000 end=-} | X | 43  
1508758267000 | Y : Window{start=1508758267000 end=-} | Y | 25  
1508758268000 | Y : Window{start=1508758268000 end=-} | Y | 25  
1508758269000 | Y : Window{start=1508758269000 end=-} | Y | 25  
1508758270000 | Y : Window{start=1508758270000 end=-} | Y | 32  
1508758271000 | Y : Window{start=1508758271000 end=-} | Y | 32  
1508758267000 | RotationZ : Window{start=1508758267000 end=-} | RotationZ | 67  
1508758268000 | RotationZ : Window{start=1508758268000 end=-} | RotationZ | 67  
1508758269000 | RotationZ : Window{start=1508758269000 end=-} | RotationZ | 67  
1508758270000 | RotationZ : Window{start=1508758270000 end=-} | RotationZ | 67  
1508758271000 | RotationZ : Window{start=1508758271000 end=-} | RotationZ | 39  

This data is going to be pushed into InfluxDB and therefore needs a timestamp column. We can create a new table for this, that includes all columns from our current table, plus the rowtime.

CREATE TABLE axis_events_hopping_5s_1s_ts \  
WITH (kafka_topic = 'axis_events_hopping_5s_1s_ts') AS \  
SELECT  rowtime AS timestamp, * \  
FROM    axis_events_hopping_5s_1s;  

And now, when we query this table we can see we have all the columns we need.

ksql> select timestamp, axis, event_count from axis_events_hopping_5s_1s_ts;  
1508761027000 | RotationZ | 61  
1508761028000 | RotationZ | 61  
1508761029000 | RotationZ | 61  
1508761030000 | RotationZ | 61  
1508761031000 | RotationZ | 61  
1508761028000 | Y | 47  
1508761029000 | Y | 47  
1508761030000 | Y | 47  
1508761031000 | Y | 47  
1508761032000 | Y | 47  
1508761029000 | X | 106  
1508761030000 | X | 106  
1508761031000 | X | 106  
1508761032000 | X | 106  
1508761033000 | X | 106  

This is the resulting graph in Grafana with each axis stacked on top of each other giving a visual representation of the total number of events overall and total per axis. The idea here being that if you can drive a lap with less overall inputs or events then the lap time should be faster.

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

Calculating Lap Times

To calculate lap times, I needed a way of capturing the time difference between 2 separate events in a stream. Remember that the raw data is coming directly from the device and has no concept of lap, lap data is handled by a game engine.
I needed a way to inject an event into the stream when I crossed the start/finish line of any given race track. To achieve this, I modified the custom producer to increment a counter every time the X button was pressed and added a new field to the JSON message called lap_number.

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

I then needed to recreate my source stream and my initial derived stream to include this new field

New source stream

CREATE STREAM raw_axis_inputs ( \  
     event_id BIGINT, \
     timestamp BIGINT, \
     lap_number BIGINT, \
     axis VARCHAR, \
     value DOUBLE ) \
 WITH (kafka_topic = 'raw_axis_inputs', value_format = 'JSON');

New derived stream.

CREATE STREAM axis_inputs WITH (kafka_topic = 'axis_inputs') AS \  
SELECT  event_id, \  
        timestamp, \
        lap_number, \
        axis, \
        value \
FROM    raw_axis_inputs \  
WHERE   axis != 'Buttons5' OR value != 0.0;  

Now when I query the axis_inputs stream and press the X button a few times we can see an incrementing lap number.

ksql> SELECT timestamp, lap_number, axis, value FROM axis_inputs;  
1508762511506 | 6 | X | 32906.0  
1508762511553 | 6 | X | 32907.0  
1508762511803 | 6 | X | 32909.0  
1508762512662 | 7 | Buttons5 | 128.0  
1508762513178 | 7 | X | 32911.0  
1508762513256 | 7 | X | 32913.0  
1508762513318 | 7 | X | 32914.0  
1508762513381 | 7 | X | 32916.0  
1508762513459 | 7 | X | 32918.0  
1508762513693 | 7 | X | 32919.0  
1508762514584 | 8 | Buttons5 | 128.0  
1508762515021 | 8 | X | 32921.0  
1508762515100 | 8 | X | 32923.0  
1508762515209 | 8 | X | 32925.0  
1508762515318 | 8 | X | 32926.0  
1508762515678 | 8 | X | 32928.0  
1508762516756 | 8 | X | 32926.0  
1508762517709 | 9 | Buttons5 | 128.0  
1508762517756 | 9 | X | 32925.0  
1508762520381 | 9 | X | 32923.0  
1508762520709 | 9 | X | 32921.0  
1508762520881 | 10 | Buttons5 | 128.0  
1508762521396 | 10 | X | 32919.0  
1508762521568 | 10 | X | 32918.0  
1508762521693 | 10 | X | 32916.0  
1508762521803 | 10 | X | 32914.0  

The next step is to calculate the time difference between each "Buttons5" event (the X button). This required 2 new tables. The first table below captures the latest values using the MAX() function from the axis_inputs stream where the axis = 'Buttons5'

CREATE TABLE lap_marker_data WITH (kafka_topic = 'lap_marker_data') AS \  
SELECT  axis, \  
        MAX(event_id) AS lap_start_event_id, \
        MAX(timestamp) AS lap_start_timestamp, \ 
        MAX(lap_number) AS lap_number \
FROM    axis_inputs \  
WHERE   axis = 'Buttons5' \  
GROUP BY axis;  

When we query this table, a new row is displayed every time the X button is pressed, reflecting the latest values from the stream.

ksql> SELECT axis, lap_start_event_id, lap_start_timestamp, lap_number FROM lap_marker_data;  
Buttons5 | 4692691 | 1508763302396 | 15  
Buttons5 | 4693352 | 1508763306271 | 16  
Buttons5 | 4693819 | 1508763310037 | 17  
Buttons5 | 4693825 | 1508763313865 | 18  
Buttons5 | 4694397 | 1508763317209 | 19  

What we can now do is join this table to a new stream.

CREATE STREAM lap_stats WITH (kafka_topic = 'lap_stats') AS \  
SELECT  l.lap_number as lap_number, \  
        l.lap_start_event_id, \
        l.lap_start_timestamp, \
        a.timestamp AS lap_end_timestamp, \
        (a.event_id - l.lap_start_event_id) AS lap_events, \
        (a.timestamp - l.lap_start_timestamp) AS laptime_ms \
FROM       axis_inputs a LEFT JOIN lap_marker_data l ON a.axis = l.axis \  
WHERE   a.axis = 'Buttons5';    

Stream created

ksql> describe lap_stats;

 Field               | Type
 ROWTIME             | BIGINT
 ROWKEY              | VARCHAR (STRING)

This new stream is again based on the axis_inputs stream where the axis = 'Buttons5'. We are joining it to our lap_marker_data table which results in a stream where every row includes the current and previous values at the point in time when the X button was pressed.

A quick query should illustrate this (I've manually added column heading to make it easier to read)

ksql> SELECT lap_number, lap_start_event_id, lap_start_timestamp, lap_end_timestamp, lap_events, laptime_ms FROM lap_stats;

36 | 4708512 | 1508764549240 | 1508764553912 | 340   | 4672  
37 | 4708852 | 1508764553912 | 1508764567521 | 1262  | 13609  
38 | 4710114 | 1508764567521 | 1508764572162 | 1174  | 4641  
39 | 4711288 | 1508764572162 | 1508764577865 | 1459  | 5703  
40 | 4712747 | 1508764577865 | 1508764583725 | 939   | 5860  
41 | 4713686 | 1508764583725 | 1508764593475 | 2192  | 9750  
42 | 4715878 | 1508764593475 | 1508764602318 | 1928  | 8843

We can now see the time difference, in milliseconds ( LAP_TIME_MS ), between each press of the X button. This data can now be displayed in Grafana.

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

The data is also being displayed along the top of the dashboard, aligned above the other graphs, as a ticker to help visualize lap boundaries across all axes.

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

Anomaly Detection

A common use case when performing real-time stream analytics is Anomaly Detection, the act of detecting unexpected events, or outliers, in a stream of incoming data. Let's see what we can do with KSQL in this regard.

Driving Like a Lunatic?

As mentioned previously, Smooth is Fast, so it would be nice to be able to detect some form of erratic driving. When a car oversteers, the rear end of the car starts to rotate around a corner faster than you'd like, to counteract this motion, quick steering inputs are required to correct it. On a smooth lap you will only need a small part of the total range of the steering wheel to safely navigate all corners, when you start oversteering you will need make quick, but wider use of the total range of the wheel to keep the car on the track and prevent crashing.

To try and detect oversteer we need to create another KSQL table, this time based on the steering_inputs stream. This table counts steering events across a very short hopping window. Events are counted only if the rotation exceeds 180 degrees (sharp left rotation) or is less than -180 degrees (sharp right rotation)

CREATE TABLE oversteer WITH (kafka_topic = 'oversteer') AS \  
SELECT  axis, \  
        COUNT(*) \
FROM    steering_inputs \  
WHERE   value > 180 or value < -180 \  
GROUP by axis;  

We now create another table that includes the timestamp for InfluxDB.

CREATE TABLE oversteer_ts WITH (kafka_topic = 'oversteer_ts') AS \  
SELECT rowtime AS timestamp, * \  
FROM oversteer;  

If we query this table, while quickly rotating the wheel in the range value > 180 or value < -180, we can see multiple windows, 10ms apart, with a corresponding count of events.

ksql> SELECT * FROM oversteer_ts;  
1508767479920 | X : Window{start=1508767479920 end=-} | 1508767479920 | X | 5  
1508767479930 | X : Window{start=1508767479930 end=-} | 1508767479930 | X | 10  
1508767479940 | X : Window{start=1508767479940 end=-} | 1508767479940 | X | 15  
1508767479950 | X : Window{start=1508767479950 end=-} | 1508767479950 | X | 20  
1508767479960 | X : Window{start=1508767479960 end=-} | 1508767479960 | X | 25  
1508767479970 | X : Window{start=1508767479970 end=-} | 1508767479970 | X | 30  
1508767479980 | X : Window{start=1508767479980 end=-} | 1508767479980 | X | 35  
1508767479990 | X : Window{start=1508767479990 end=-} | 1508767479990 | X | 40  
1508767480000 | X : Window{start=1508767480000 end=-} | 1508767480000 | X | 45  
1508767480010 | X : Window{start=1508767480010 end=-} | 1508767480010 | X | 50  
1508767480020 | X : Window{start=1508767480020 end=-} | 1508767480020 | X | 50  
1508767480030 | X : Window{start=1508767480030 end=-} | 1508767480030 | X | 50  
1508767480040 | X : Window{start=1508767480040 end=-} | 1508767480040 | X | 50  
1508767480050 | X : Window{start=1508767480050 end=-} | 1508767480050 | X | 50  
1508767480060 | X : Window{start=1508767480060 end=-} | 1508767480060 | X | 47  
1508767480070 | X : Window{start=1508767480070 end=-} | 1508767480070 | X | 47  
1508767480080 | X : Window{start=1508767480080 end=-} | 1508767480080 | X | 47  
1508767480090 | X : Window{start=1508767480090 end=-} | 1508767480090 | X | 47  
1508767480100 | X : Window{start=1508767480100 end=-} | 1508767480100 | X | 47  

This data is plotted on the Y axis (we're talking graphs now) on the "Steering inputs" panel in Grafana. The oversteer metric can be seen in red and will spike when steering input exceeds 180 degrees in either direction.

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

Braking too Hard?

Another anomaly I'd like to detect is when maximum brake pressure is applied for too long. Much like the brake pedal in a real car, the brake pedal I'm using has a very progressive feel, a fair amount of force from your foot is required to hit maximum pressure. If you do hit maximum pressure, it shouldn't be for long as you will most likely lock the wheels and skid off the race track, very embarrassing indeed.

The first thing to do is to create a table that will store the last time maximum brake pressure was applied. This table is based on the brake_inputs stream and filters where the value = 100

CREATE TABLE max_brake_power_time \  
WITH (kafka_topic = 'max_brake_power_time') AS \  
SELECT  axis, \  
        MAX(timestamp) as last_max_brake_ts \
FROM    brake_inputs \  
WHERE     value = 100 \  
GROUP by axis;  

A query of this table displays a new row each time maximum brake pressure is hit.

ksql> SELECT axis, last_max_brake_ts FROM max_brake_power_time;  
 Y | 1508769263100
 Y | 1508769267881
 Y | 1508769271568

Something worth mentioning is that if I hold my foot on the brake pedal at the maximum pressure for any period of time, only one event is found in the stream. This is because the device only streams data when the state of an axis changes. If I keep my foot still, no new events will appear in the stream. I'll deal with this in a minute.

Next we'll create a new stream based on the brake_inputs stream and join it to our max_brake_power_time table.

CREATE STREAM brake_inputs_with_max_brake_power_time \  
WITH ( kafka_topic = 'brake_inputs_with_max_brake_power_time') AS \  
SELECT  bi.value, \  
        bi.timestamp, \
        mb.last_max_brake_ts, \
        bi.timestamp - mb.last_max_brake_ts AS time_since_max_brake_released \
FROM    brake_inputs bi LEFT JOIN max_brake_power_time mb ON bi.axis = mb.axis;  

For each row in this stream we now have access to all columns in the brake_inputs stream plus a timestamp telling us when max brake power was last reached. With this data we create a new derived column bi.timestamp - mb.last_max_brake_ts AS time_since_max_brake_released which gives a running calculation of the difference between the current record timestamp and the last time maximum brake pressure was applied

For example, when we query the stream we can see that maximum pressure was applied at timestamp 1508772739115 with a value of 100.0. It's the row immediately after this row that we're are interested in 99.90234225 | 1508772740803 | 1508772739115 | 1688.

Again, I've manually added column headings to make it easier to read.

ksql> SELECT value, timestamp, last_max_brake_ts, time_since_max_brake_released FROM brake_inputs_with_max_brake_power_time;

98.53513389 | 1508772739100 | 1508772733146       | 5954  
98.82810711 | 1508772739100 | 1508772733146       | 5954  
99.02342259 | 1508772739115 | 1508772733146       | 5969  
99.51171129 | 1508772739115 | 1508772733146       | 5969  
99.70702677 | 1508772739115 | 1508772733146       | 5969  
100.0       | 1508772739115 | 1508772733146       | 5969  
99.90234225 | 1508772740803 | 1508772739115       | 1688  
99.51171129 | 1508772740818 | 1508772739115       | 1703  
99.12108033 | 1508772740818 | 1508772739115       | 1703  
97.65621423 | 1508772740818 | 1508772739115       | 1703  
96.58197909 | 1508772740818 | 1508772739115       | 1703  
95.41008621 | 1508772740818 | 1508772739115       | 1703  
94.43350881 | 1508772740818 | 1508772739115       | 1703  
93.65224689 | 1508772740818 | 1508772739115       | 1703  
93.35927367 | 1508772740818 | 1508772739115       | 1703  
92.87098496 | 1508772740834 | 1508772739115       | 1719  
92.38269626 | 1508772740834 | 1508772739115       | 1719  
91.11314564 | 1508772740834 | 1508772739115       | 1719  
90.62485694 | 1508772740834 | 1508772739115       | 1719  
90.42954146 | 1508772740834 | 1508772739115       | 1719  
89.35530632 | 1508772740834 | 1508772739115       | 1719  
87.89044022 | 1508772740834 | 1508772739115       | 1719  
87.40215152 | 1508772740850 | 1508772739115       | 1735  
86.52323186 | 1508772740850 | 1508772739115       | 1735  

Remember, that while an axis is held at the same value, 100.0 in this case, no more events will appear in the stream until the value changes again. This is why we are interested in the row preceding the maximum value, this row is telling us how long the value of 100.0 was applied for. In this case the time it was held for was 1688 milliseconds. Notice that on subsequent rows the value increases, but we are not interested in those rows. In order to isolate what we want, we need another table. This new table takes our previously created stream, brake_inputs_with_max_brake_power_time and groups it by the last_max_brake_ts column. For each grouping we then get the MIN(time_since_max_brake_released).

CREATE TABLE hard_braking WITH ( kafka_topic = 'hard_braking') AS \  
SELECT  last_max_brake_ts, \  
        MIN(time_since_max_brake_released) AS time_spent_at_max_brake_ms \
FROM    brake_inputs_with_max_brake_power_time \  
GROUP BY last_max_brake_ts;  

When we query this table, while stepping hard on the brake pedal for a few seconds at a time, we get the information we want. We can see the timestamp for when maximum brake pressure reached and for how long it was sustained.

ksql> SELECT last_max_brake_ts, time_spent_at_max_brake_ms FROM hard_braking;  
1508775178693 | 1360  
1508775178693 | 1360  
1508775183334 | 1000  
1508775183334 | 1000  
1508775187709 | 422  
1508775187709 | 422  
1508775187709 | 422  
1508775187709 | 422  
1508775187709 | 422  
1508775187709 | 422  
1508775187709 | 422  
1508775191256 | 1344  
1508775191256 | 1344  
1508775191256 | 1344  
1508775195850 | 1687  
1508775195850 | 1687  
1508775195850 | 1687  
1508775200662 | 1922  
1508775200662 | 1922  
1508775200662 | 1922  
1508775200662 | 1922  

Here's what the above data looks like when visualised in Grafana. The bottom graph is showing when maximum brake pressure was hit and on for how long it was sustained. I've set a threshold against the graph of 1 second so any extreme braking is clearly identifiable - if you're that hard on the brakes for that long, you're probably going to end up in the scenery.

Taking KSQL for a Spin Using Real-time Device Data

The Tale of 2 Laps

After putting it all together, it's time to take to the track and see how it looks. This video shows 2 complete laps onboard with the Caterham Seven 620R around Brands Hatch in the UK. The first lap is a relatively smooth one and the second is quite ragged. Notice that the first lap ( lap 68 ) is quicker overall than the second ( lap 69 ). On lap 69, I start to drive more aggressively and oversteer spikes start to appear in the steering input graph. Lap 69 also has significantly more events overall than lap 68 as a result my more exuberant ( slower ) driving style. You'll also notice that maximum brake pressure is reached a couple of times on each lap, but for no longer than the threshold of 1 second on each occurrence.


KSQL is awesome! Although it's only a developer preview at this point, it's impressive what you can get done with it. As it evolves over time and mirrors more of the functionality of the underlying Streams API it will become even more powerful, lowering the barrier to entry for real-time stream processing further and further. Take a look at the road map to see what may be coming next.

Oh, and I recently discovered on the #KSQL community Slack group, that you can execute KSQL in Embedded Mode right inside your Java code, allowing you to mix the native Streams API with KSQL - very nice indeed !

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Presenting at Cloud day event of North India Chapter of AIOUG

Amardeep Sidhu - Mon, 2017-11-06 05:47

I will be presenting a session titled “An 18 pointers guide to setting up an Exadata machine” at Cloud Day being organized by North India chapter of AIOUG. Vivek Sharma is doing multiple sessions on various cloud and performance related topics. You can register for the event here 


Categories: BI & Warehousing

ksplice kernel updates and Exadata patching

Amardeep Sidhu - Sun, 2017-11-05 11:32

If you have installed some one off ksplice fix for kernel on Exadata, remember to uninstall it before you do a kernel upgrade  eg regular Exadata patching. As such fixes are kernel version specific so they may not work with the newer version of the kernel. 

Categories: BI & Warehousing

ORA-15040 ORA-15042 with EXTERNAL redundancy Diskgroup

Amardeep Sidhu - Fri, 2017-11-03 12:57

A colleague was working on an ASM issue (Standalone one, Version on AIX) at one of the customer sites. Later on, I also joined him. The issue was that the customer added few news disks to an existing diskgroup. Everything went well and the rebalance kicked in. After some time, something happened and all of a sudden the diskgroup was dismounted. While trying the mount the diskgroup again, it was giving

ORA-15032: not all alterations performed
ORA-15040: diskgroup is incomplete
ORA-15042: ASM disk "27" is missing from group number "2"

Here is the relevant text from the ASM alert log

ORA-27063: number of bytes read/written is incorrect
IBM AIX RISC System/6000 Error: 19: <strong>No such device</strong>
Additional information: -1
Additional information: 1048576
WARNING: <strong>Write Failed</strong>. group:2 disk:27 AU:1005 offset:0 size:1048576
Fri Nov 03 10:55:27 2017
Errors in file /u01/app/oracle/diag/asm/+asm/+ASM1/trace/+ASM1_dbw0_58983380.trc:
ORA-27063: number of bytes read/written is incorrect
IBM AIX RISC System/6000 Error: 19: No such device
Additional information: -1
Additional information: 4096
WARNING: Write Failed. group:2 disk:27 AU:0 offset:16384 size:4096
NOTE: cache initiating offline of disk 27 group DATADG
NOTE: process _dbw0_+asm1 (58983380) initiating offline of disk 27.3928481273 (DISK_01) with mask 0x7e in group 2
Fri Nov 03 10:55:27 2017
WARNING: Disk 27 (DISK_01) in group 2 mode 0x7f is now being offlined
WARNING: Disk 27 (DISK_01) in group 2 in mode 0x7f is now being taken offline on ASM inst 1
NOTE: initiating PST update: grp = 2, dsk = 27/0xea27ddf9, mask = 0x6a, op = clear
ERROR: failed to copy file +DATADG.263, extent 1952
GMON updating disk modes for group 2 at 36 for pid 9, osid 58983380
ERROR: Disk 27 cannot be offlined, since diskgroup has external redundancy.
ERROR: too many offline disks in PST (grp 2)
ERROR: ORA-15080 thrown in ARB0 for group number 2
Errors in file /u01/app/oracle/diag/asm/+asm/+ASM1/trace/+ASM1_arb0_57672234.trc:
ORA-15080: synchronous I/O operation to a disk failed
Fri Nov 03 10:55:27 2017
NOTE: stopping process ARB0
WARNING: Disk 27 (DISK_01) in group 2 mode 0x7f offline is being aborted
WARNING: Offline of disk 27 (DISK_01) in group 2 and mode 0x7f failed on ASM inst 1
NOTE: halting all I/Os to diskgroup 2 (DATADG)
Fri Nov 03 10:55:28 2017
NOTE: cache dismounting (not clean) group 2/0xDEB72D47 (DATADG)
NOTE: messaging CKPT to quiesce pins Unix process pid: 62128816, image: (B000)
NOTE: dbwr not being msg'd to dismount
Fri Nov 03 10:55:28 2017
NOTE: LGWR doing non-clean dismount of group 2 (DATADG)
NOTE: LGWR sync ABA=124.7138 last written ABA 124.7138
NOTE: cache dismounted group 2/0xDEB72D47 (DATADG)
SQL> alter diskgroup DATADG dismount force /* ASM SERVER */ 

At this stage disk 27 was not readable even with dd. So that means something is wrong with the disk. Since it is an external redundancy diskgroup not much can be done until the disk becomes available.

Speaking to the storage team cleared the air. One that the disk had gone offline at storage level so that is why even dd was not able to read it. Two that all these disks were thin provisioned (over provisioning of the storage space to improve the utilization; similar to over provisioning of CPU cores in the Virtualization world) from the storage. This particular disk 27 was meant for some other purpose but got wrongly allocated to this diskgroup. The actual space available in the pool (of this disk) was less than what was needed. The moment disks were added to the diskgroup, the rebalance kicked in and ASM started writing data to the disk. Within few minutes space became full and the storage software took the disk offline. Since ASM couldn’t write to the disk, the diskgroup was dismounted.

Fortunately, in the same pool, there was another disk that was still unused. So the storage guy dropped that disk and it freed up some space in the pool. He brought this disk 27 online after that. Diskgroup got mounted and the rebalance kicked in again. Finally, we dropped this disk and the rebalance started again. Once the rebalance completed, disk was free to be taken offline.


Categories: BI & Warehousing

KSQL: Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

Rittman Mead Consulting - Wed, 2017-10-18 10:18
 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

Few weeks back, while I was enjoying my holidays in the south of Italy, I started receiving notifications about an imminent announcement by Confluent. Reading the highlights almost (...I said almost) made me willing to go immediately back to work and check all the details about it.
The announcement regarded KSQL: a streaming SQL engine for Apache Kafka!

My office today... not bad! #sea

— Francesco Tisiot (@FTisiot) August 7, 2017

Before going in detail, lets try to clarify the basics: what is KSQL? Why was it introduced and how does it complement Kafka?

What is KSQL?

We have been writing about Kafka several times, including my recent blogs were I was using it as data hub to capture Game of Thrones tweets and store them in BigQuery in order to do sentiment analysis with Tableau. In all our examples Kafka has been used just for data transportation with any necessary transformation happening in the target datastore like BigQuery, with the usage of languages like Python and engines like Spark Streaming or directly in the querying tool like Presto.

KSQL enables something really effective: reading, writing and transforming data in real-time and a scale using a semantic already known by the majority of the community working in the data space, the SQL!

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

KSQL is now available as developer preview, but the basic operations like joins, aggregations and event-time windowing are already covered.

What Problem is KSQL Solving?

As anticipated before, KSQL solve the main problem of providing a SQL interface over Kafka, without the need of using external languages like Python or Java.
However one could argue that the same problem was solved before by the ETL operations made on the target datastores like Oracle Database or BigQuery. What is the difference then in KSQL approach? What are the benefits?

The main difference in my opinion is the concept of continuous queries: with KSQL transformations are done continuously as new data arrives in the Kafka topic. On the other side transformations done in a database (or big data platforms like BigQuery) are one off and if new data arrives the same transformation has to be executed again.

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

So what is KSQL good for? Confluent's KSQL introduction blog post provides some use cases like real time analytics, security and anomaly detection, online data integration or general application development. From a generic point of view KSQL is what you should use when transformations, integrations and analytics need to happen on the fly during the data stream. KSQL provides a way of keeping Kafka as unique datahub: no need of taking out data, transforming and re-inserting in Kafka. Every transformation can be done Kafka using SQL!

As mentioned before KSQL is now available on developer preview and the feature/function list is somehow limited compared to more mature SQL products. However in cases where very complex transformations need to happen those can still be solved either via another language like Java or a dedicated ETL (or view) once the data is landed in the destination datastore.

How does KSQL work?

So how does KSQL work under the hood? There are two concepts to keep in mind: streams and tables. A Stream is a sequence of structured data, once an event was introduced into a stream it is immutable, meaning that it can't be updated or deleted. Imagine the number of items pushed or pulled from a storage: "e.g. 200 pieces of ProductA were stocked today, while 100 pieces of ProductB were taken out".
A Table on the other hand represents the current situation based on the events coming from a stream. E.g. what's the overall quantity of stocks for ProductA? Facts in a table are mutable, the quantity of ProductA can be updated or deleted if ProductA is not anymore in stock.

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

KSQL enables the definition of streams and tables via a simple SQL dialect. Various streams and tables coming from different sources can be joined directly in KSQL enabling data combination and transformation on the fly.

Each stream or table created in KSQL will be stored in a separate topic, allowing the usage of the usual connectors or scripts to extract the informations from it.

KSQL in Action Starting KSQL

KSQL can work both in standalone and client-server mode with the first one aimed at development and testing scenarios while the second supporting production environments.
With the standalone mode KSQL client and server are hosted on the same machine, in the same JVM. On the other side, in client-server mode, a pool of KSQL server are running on remote machine and the client connects to them over HTTP.

For my test purposes I decided to use the standalone mode, the procedure is well explained in confluent documentation and consist in three steps:

  • Clone the KSQL repository
  • Compile the code
  • Start KSQL using local parameter
./bin/ksql-cli local
Analysing OOW Tweets

I'll use for my example the same Twitter producer created for my Wimbledon post. If you notice I'm not using the Kafka Connect, this is due to KSQL not supporting AVRO formats as of now (remember is still in dev phase?). I had then to rely on the old producer which stored the tweet in JSON format.

For my tests I've been filtering the tweets containing OOW17 and OOW (Oracle Open World 2017), and as mentioned before, those are coming in JSON format and stored in a Kafka topic named rm.oow. The first step is then to create a Stream on top of the topic in order to structure the data before doing any transformation.
The guidelines for the stream definition can be found here, the following is a cutdown version of the code used

CREATE STREAM twitter_raw ( \  
  Created_At VARCHAR, \
  Id BIGINT, \
  Text VARCHAR, \
  Source VARCHAR, \
  Truncated VARCHAR, \
  User VARCHAR, \
  Retweet VARCHAR, \
  Contributors VARCHAR, \
  ...) \
WITH ( \  
  kafka_topic='rm.oow', \
  value_format='JSON' \

Few things to notice:

  • Created_At VARCHAR: Created_At is a timestamp, however in the first stream definition I can't apply any date/timestamp conversion. I keep it as VARCHAR which is one of the allowed types (others are BOOLEAN, INTEGER, BIGINT, DOUBLE, VARCHAR, ARRAY<ArrayType> and MAP<VARCHAR, ValueType>).
  • User VARCHAR: the User field is a JSON nested structure, for the basic stream definition we'll leave it as VARCHAR with further transformations happening later on.
  • kafka_topic='rm.oow': source declaration
  • value_format='JSON': data format

Once created the first stream we can then query it in SQL like

select Created_at, text from twitter_raw  

with the output being in the form of a continuous flow: as soon as a new tweet arrives its visualized in the console.

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

The first part I want to fix now is the Created_At field, which was declared as VARCHAR but needs to be mutated into timestamp. I can do it using the function STRINGTOTIMESTAMP with the mask being EEE MMM dd HH:mm:ss ZZZZZ yyyy. This function converts the string to a BIGINT which is the datatype used by Kafka to store timestamps.

Another section of the tweet that needs further parsing is the User, that as per the previous definition returns the whole nested JSON object.

"name":"Francesco Tisiot",
"location":"Verona, Italy","url":"",

Fortunately KSQL provides the EXTRACTJSONFIELD function that we can then use to parse the JSON and retrieve the required fields

I can now define a new twitter_fixed stream with the following code

create stream twitter_fixed as  
  select STRINGTOTIMESTAMP(Created_At, 'EEE MMM dd HH:mm:ss ZZZZZ yyyy') AS  Created_At, \
    Id, \
    Text, \
    Source, \
    ..., \
    EXTRACTJSONFIELD(User, '$.name') as User_name, \
    EXTRACTJSONFIELD(User, '$.screen_name') as User_screen_name, \
    EXTRACTJSONFIELD(User, '$.id') as User_id, \
    EXTRACTJSONFIELD(User, '$.location') as User_location, \
    EXTRACTJSONFIELD(User, '$.description') as description \
  from twitter_raw

An important thing to notice is that the Created_At is not encoded as BigInt, thus if I execute select Created_At from twitter_fixed I get only the raw number. To translate it to a readable date I can use the STRINGTOTIMESTAMP function passing the column and the data format.

The last part of the stream definition I wanted to fix is the settings of KEY and TIMESTAMP: a KEY is the unique identifier of a message and, if not declared, is auto-generated by Kafka. However the tweet JSON contains the Id which is Twitter's unique identifier, so we should to use it. TIMESTAMP associates the message timestamp with a column in the stream: Created_At should be used. I can defined the two above in the WITH clause of the stream declaration.

create stream twitter_with_key_and_timestamp \  
as \  
select * from twitter_fixed \  
with \  
(KEY='Id', TIMESTAMP='Created_At');

When doing a select * from twitter_with_key_and_timestamp we can clearly see that KSQL adds two columns before the others containing TIMESTAMP and KEY and the two are equal to Created_At and Id.

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

Now I have all the fields correctly parsed as KSQL stream, nice but in my previous blog post I had almost the same for free using Kafka Connect. Now It's time to discover the next step of KSQL: tables!

Let's first create a simple table containing the number of tweets by User_name.

create table tweets_by_users as \  
select user_screen_name, count(Id) nr_of_tweets \  
from twitter_with_key_and_timestamp \  
group by user_screen_name  

When then executing a simple select * from table we can see the expected result.

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

Two things to notice:

  • We see a new row in the console every time there is a new record inserted in the oow topic, the new row contains the updated count of tweets for the screen_name selected
  • The KEY is automatically generated by KSQL and contains the screen_name

I can retrieve the list of tables define with the show tables command.

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

It's interesting to notice that the format is automatically set as JSON. The format property, configured via the VALUE_FORMAT parameter, defines how the message is stored in the topic and can either be JSON or DELIMITED.


When grouping, KSQL provides three different windowing functions:

  • Tumbling: Fixed size, non overlapping. The SIZE of the window needs to be specified.
  • Hopping: Fixed size, possibly overlapping. The SIZE and ADVANCE parameters need to be specified.
  • Session: Fixed size, starting from the first entry for a particular Key, it remains active until a new message with the same key happens within the INACTIVITY_GAP which is the parameter to be specified.

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

I can create simple table definition like the number of tweets by location for each tumbling session with

create table rm.tweets_by_location \  
as \  
select user_location, \  
count(Id) nr_of_tweets \  
from twitter_with_key_and_timestamp \  
group by user_location  

the output looks like

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

As you can see the KEY of the table contains both the user_location and the window Timestamp (e.g Colombes : Window{start=1507016760000 end=-})

An example of hopping can be created with a similar query

create table rm.tweets_by_location_hopping \  
as \  
select user_location, \  
count(Id) nr_of_tweets \  
from twitter_with_key_and_timestamp \  
group by user_location;  

With the output being like

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

It's interesting to notice that each entry (e.g. Europe North, Switzerland) is listed at least three times. This is due to the fact that in any point in time there are three overlapping windows (SIZE is 30 seconds and ADVANCE is 10 seconds). The same example can be turn into the session windows by just defining WINDOW SESSION (30 SECONDS).

The windowing is an useful option, especially when combined with HAVING clauses since it gives the option to define metrics for real time analysis.
E.g. I may be interested only items that have been ordered more than 100 times in the last hour, or, in my twitter example in user_locations having a nr_of_tweets greater than 5 in the last 30 minutes.


So far so good, a nice set of SQL functions on top of data coming from a source (in my case twitter). In the real word however we'll need to mix information coming from disparate sources.... what if I tell you that you can achieve that in a single KSQL statement?

 Streaming SQL for Apache Kafka

To show an integration example I created a simple topic known_twitters using the kafka-console-producer.

./bin/kafka-console-producer --topic known_twitters --broker-list myserver:9092

Once started I can type in messages and those will be stored in the known_twitters topic. For this example I'll insert the twitter handle and real name of known people that are talking about OOW. The format will be:



FTisiot,Francesco Tisiot  
Nephentur,Christian Berg  

Once inserted the rows with the producer I'm then able to create a KSQL stream on top of it with the following syntax (note the VALUE_FORMAT='DELIMITED')

create stream people_known_stream (\  
screen_name VARCHAR, \  
real_name VARCHAR) \  
WITH (\  
KAFKA_TOPIC='known_twitters', \  

I can now join this stream with the others streams or tables built previously. However when trying the following statement

select user_screen_name from rm.tweets_by_users a join PEOPLE_KNOWN_STREAM b on a.user_screen_name=b.screen_name;  

I get a nice error

Unsupported join logical node: Left: io.confluent.ksql.planner.plan.StructuredDataSourceNode@6ceba9de , Right: io.confluent.ksql.planner.plan.StructuredDataSourceNode@69518572  

This is due to the fact that as of now KSQL supports only joins between a stream and a table, and the stream needs to be specified first in the KSQL query. If I then just swap the two sources in the select statement above:

select user_screen_name from PEOPLE_KNOWN_STREAM a join rm.tweets_by_users b on a.screen_name=b.user_screen_name;  

...I get another error

Join type is not supportd yet: INNER  

We have to remember that KSQL is still in developer beta phase, a lot of new features will be included before the official release.

adding a LEFT JOIN clause (see bug related) solves the issue and I should be able to see the combined data. However when running

select * from PEOPLE_KNOWN_STREAM left join TWEETS_BY_USERS on screen_name=user_screen_name;  

Didn't retrieve any rows. After adding a proper KEY to the stream definition

as select screen_name , \  
real_name from  people_known_stream \  
PARTITION BY screen_name;  

I was able to retrieve the correct rowset! Again, we are in early stages of KSQL, those fixes will be enhanced or better documented in future releases!


As we saw in this small example, all transformations, summaries and data enrichments were done directly in Kafka with a dialect very easy to learn for anyone already familiar with SQL. All the created streams/tables are stored as Kafka topics thus the standard connectors can be used for sink integration.

As mentioned above KSQL is still in developer preview but the overall idea is very simple and at the same time powerful. If you want to learn more check out the Confluent page and the KSQL github repository!

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Incremental ETL : Streaming via Micro-Batch

Dylan's BI Notes - Wed, 2017-10-11 23:40
A modern analytic application takes the approach of streaming data to perform the similar process as the traditional data warehousing incremental ETL. Actually, if we look into Spark Streaming in details, the concept of streaming in Spark and Incremental ETL are the same: Spark Streaming is a Micro-Batch based streaming. Each micro-patch is much like […]
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Incremental ETL – The last refresh date

Dylan's BI Notes - Wed, 2017-10-11 15:31
There are multiple ways to model the last refresh date. In OBIA, DAC and Informatica based ETL, the last refresh date is maintained within DAC. It is maintained at the level of the source tables that populates the data. Oracle BI DAC User Guide > About Refresh Dates and DAC’s Incremental Load Strategy In OBIA […]
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Use Bit to represent groups

Dylan's BI Notes - Wed, 2017-10-11 03:17
Here I am providing an alternate approach of supporting group membership in MySQL. It is a common seen requirement that a group may have multiple members and a person may be added to multiple groups.  This many to many relationship is typically modeled in an intersection table. When the group membership is being used as […]
Categories: BI & Warehousing


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