With Oracle announcing that PeopleSoft will end support for all Crystal Reports following the end of Premier Support for 9.1 applications, customers are now evaluating multiple reporting tools to take advantage of the new reporting and analytic capabilities that PeopleSoft offers.

Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher (BI Publisher) is the obvious choice.

It is included in the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise, and Oracle JD Edwards Enterprise and also it is released as a stand-alone product.

Many customers have implemented BI Publisher as a stand-alone/part of their Enterprise systems to author, manage and deliver reports and critical business documents as it is easy to create and maintain highly formatted documents.

Here we discuss, why customers need to migrate to Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher (BI Publisher) and how automation can speed up the process while preserving the functionality of the original PeopleSoft reports.

Why BI Publisher?

Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher (BI Publisher, formerly XML Publisher) is an enterprise reporting solution. It separates the data extraction process from the report layout, which enables customers to design and create report layout templates with the more common desktop applications of Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat, rendering XML data based on these templates.

BI Publisher reports can be generated in many formats (PDF, RTF, Excel, HTML, and so on) in many languages from a single template. You can also create lightweight interactive management reports by use of highly intuitive drag and drop style web-based layout editor.

BI Publisher offers the following benefits:

1) Pre-integrated with Oracle – Works seamlessly with Oracle business intelligence solutions, Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, JD Edwards Enterprise One, Oracle Hyperion Planning, and Oracle Application Express (APEX).
2) Separate data logic, layout & translation – which is easier to maintain and provides greater flexibility and reuse. You can support multiple language templates against a single data set
3) Better Managed – BI Publisher can have multiple layouts for a single dataset, thereby reducing the number of reports.
4) Highly formatted and interactive – Users can view a report in interactive mode for lightweight analysis and generate pixel-perfect reports
5) Improved performance – It is based on the W3C XSL-FO standard and can handle extensive data.
6) Flexible layout editor – Helps you to easily create report layouts directly in a web browser or with familiar desktop tools, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, or Adobe Acrobat.
7) Connectivity to any data source – You can create reports from virtually any data source with a JDBC connection, including web services, HTTP XML feeds, and file data source.
8) Scheduling and bursting – Schedule a single report (with personalized content) to be delivered to multiple destinations via multiple output formats.
9) Hot-pluggable – Integrates with custom applications via web services or Java APIs.

Migration approach with automation

Enterprise BI platforms use a variety of reports that can affect the migration approach. The reports can be migrated in a big bang or a phase-wise or a business-wise approach. The high-level migration strategy needs to be defined for an effective reports migration.

The following methodology can be adopted for the report conversion:

1) Analysis – In the analysis, the existing BI platform and the PeopleSoft Crystal reports are understood from a technical and functional perspective along with the possibilities for customization and consolidation. There could be huge manual effort and time involved to compare and analyze a large list of reports. DataTerrain automation tool has built in the logic and criteria to compare the reports from a large set of reports and provide insight into similar reports that could be consolidated and also the complexity of the reports, which could be done in minutes saving cost and time.

2) Solution definition – A high-level migration approach is defined. The pilot reports and the proof of concept for migration and validation are finalized. The target environment is set up.

3) Migration – The existing Crystal report layout is converted to an RTF Template, and the existing PS Query is either used as-is or customized for the new reports. This effort would require a thorough knowledge of both PeopleSoft Crystal reports and Oracle BI Publisher and also significant manual effort to create the layout with the same look and feel of the source report. DataTerrain automation tool understands both the PeopleSoft Crystal reports and Oracle BI Publisher code and hence able to map the features one-to-one and convert the reports in a fraction of time the manual effort takes. The reports re-validated and moved for further testing.

The converted RTF Template from the automation tool is uploaded to the PeopleSoft Server, and it will be available as BI Publisher Process Type in the PeopleSoft environment, which can be accessed using the Application Engine. The End User can now run the converted BI Publisher report using the Process scheduler as similar to the existing Crystal report in PeopleSoft.

4) Rollout – The migration activity is performed in a development environment. Once the validation is completed, the reports would be moved to a Pre-production environment for Business user acceptance and should be moved to production on their sign-off.

Migration from PeopleSoft Crystal reports to Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher can be achieved by an automated process. A thorough understanding of the drivers for the migration and the pros and cons of each migration scenario will help plan and define the migration approach.

DataTerrain adds value to each stage of the migration through the automation and best practices from analysis phase where each report is analyzed for all the elements to determine the complexity and migration issues upfront, to migration and rollout phases were the conversion time drastically reduced using the automation tool.

Contact DataTerrain Today for Automated Report Conversion

Deploying Automation tools not only brings in the advantages of speed, costs, and quality but also preserves years of efforts in designing the report sections/layouts when migrating to Oracle BI Publisher reports. If you’re interested in learning more, contact the team at DataTerrain via our online contact form here.