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Created by Edward Roske, Oracle ACE Director in the Hyperion space. An expert on Essbase and Hyperion in general, Edward devotes this space to all the Hyperion news that's fit to blog.Edward Roskehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/04386477801237753018noreply@blogger.comBlogger195125
Updated: 8 hours 5 min ago

7 Signs Your EPM is Lagging Behind Your Competition

Mon, 2016-05-23 13:06
Regardless of industry, regardless of size, regardless of duration, all companies have similar issues in their financial analysis, planning, and consolidation areas. From building budgets to financial reporting, how can CFOs, VPs of Finance, Directors of FP&A and Controllers tell if their FP&A teams are falling behind their competitors? Here are seven signs that your Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) environments are stuck in the last decade:
  1. Strategy is planned verbally or in spreadsheets. While the majority of strategic CFO’s agree that Finance should be looking forward and not backward, most strat planning is done in Excel or worse, out loud in various meetings. There is no modeling unless someone comes up with a bunch of linked spreadsheet formulas. Strategies are agreed to in conference rooms and conveyed at a high-level via email (or they aren’t communicated at all). Strategies are evaluated by whomever has the best anecdote: “well, the last time that happened, we did this…” The only thing worse than not having a solution for strategic planning is not doing strategic planning at all. Speaking of spreadsheets…
  2. Excel is the key enabling technology in your FP&A department. One sure way to tell if your EPM function is falling behind is to ask “what is the single most important tool your department uses when running reports? Performing analysis? Coming up with a strategic plan? Preparing the budget? Modeling business changes?” If the answer to four-out-of-five of those is “Microsoft Excel”, ask yourself if that was by design or if people just used Excel because they didn’t have a better system. Excel is a wonderful tool (I open it every morning and don’t close it until I leave), but it was meant to be a way to look at grids of data. It was not meant to store business logic and it was never meant to be a database. Force your FP&A group to do everything with Excel and expect to be waiting for every answer… and then praying everyone got their formulas right when you make business decisions based on those answers.
  3. There is only one version of the budget. No one really thinks that there’s only one way that the year will end up, but most companies insist on a single version of a budget (and not even a range, but a specific number). Not only are EPM Laggards (companies with EPM trailing behind their peer groups) not planning multiple scenarios, they’re insisting that the whole company come up with a single number and then stick to it no matter what external factors are at play. Ron Dimon refers to scenario plans as “ready at hand plans” waiting to be used once we see how our strategic initiatives are enacted. EPM Laggards not only don’t have additional plans ready, they insist on holding everyone in the organization accountable to one single number, outside world be damned.
  4. Budgets favor precision over timeliness. Your competition realizes that a forecast that’s 95% accurate delivered today is more helpful than a budget that was 98% accurate 6 months ago. Yet EPM Laggards spend months coming up with a budget that’s precise to the dollar and then updating it periodically at a high level. It’s amazing how often FP&A groups end up explaining away budget vs. actual discrepancies by saying “the budget was accurate at the start of the year, but then things happened.” Budgets should be reforecasted continuously whenever anything material changes. Think about it: if you had one mapping app that gave you an estimate of your arrival time to the 1/100th of a second at the time you departed and another mapping app that constantly refined your arrival time as you drove, which one would you choose?
  5. No one takes actions on the reports. Edward’s Rule of Reporting: every report should either lead to a better question or a physical action. If your department is producing a report that doesn’t lead someone to ask a bigger, better, bolder question and doesn’t lead someone to take a physical action, change the report. Or stop producing the report entirely. EPM Laggards spend an inordinate amount of time collecting data and generating reports that don’t lead to any change in behavior. EPM Leaders periodically stop and ask themselves “if I arrived today, is this what I would build?” Half the time, the answer is “no,” and the other half the time, the answer is “if I arrived today, I actually wouldn’t build this report at all.”
  6. Most time is spent looking backwards. Imagine you’re driving a car. Put your hands on the wheel and look around. Notice that most of your visual space is the front windshield which shows you what’s coming up ahead of you. Some of what you see is taken up by the dashboard so you can get a real-time idea of where you are right now. And if you glance up, there’s a small rear-view mirror that tells you what’s behind you. A combination of all three of these (windshield, dashboard, and rearview mirror) gives you some idea of when you should steer right or left, brake, or accelerate. In a perfect EPM world, your time would be divided the same way: most would be spent looking ahead (budgeting and forecasting), some time would be spent glancing down to determine where you are at the moment, and very little would be spent looking backwards since, let’s face it, the past is really difficult to change. In your car, you’d only look at the mirror if you were changing lanes or you were worried about being hit from behind, and business is similar yet most EPM Laggards drive their cars by looking backwards.
  7. Labor is devoted to collecting & reporting and not planning & analyzing. If you spend all of your time gathering data, reconciling data, and reporting on data, you’re answering the question “what happened?” Your competition is spending their time analyzing (“why did this happen?”) and then planning to take action (“what should I do next?”). There is a finite amount of time in the world and sadly, that holds true in our FP&A departments too. If your EPM system is focused on collecting, consolidating, & reporting and your competition has their EPM focused on analyzing, modeling, & planning, who do you think will win in the long run?


What You Can Do
If you look at those seven top signs you’re lagging in your EPM functions and wonder how to improve, the first step is to stop building anything new. While this seems counterintuitive, if you take a tactical approach to solving any one area, you’re going to put in place a single point solution that will need to be thrown away or redone as you get closer to your overall vision for EPM. So what’s step 1? Have an EPM vision. Ask yourself where you want your company to be in three years. What do you want out of consolidation, reporting, analysis, modeling, and planning and how will all of those functions be integrated?

You are not alone. I have seen hundreds of FP&A departments in my time struggle with having a vision for just one area let alone a long-range vision. Even when leadership has a vision, it quite often focuses on system improvements (we’re not sure what to do, so let’s throw technology at it!) rather than try to improve processes too. Thankfully, there is hope and as my good friends at G.I. Joe always say, knowing is half the battle.

More Information
Wednesday, May 25, at 1PM Eastern, I’m holding a webcast to share lessons I’ve learned over the years on how to turn EPM Laggards into EPM Leaders. If you want help coming up with your three year EPM Roadmap, visit http://bit.ly/StrategyWC to sign up. It’s free and you’ll come away with some hopefully valuable ideas on where to go with performance management at your company.

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

Learn About Hyperion & Oracle BI... 5 Minutes at a Time

Fri, 2015-11-27 14:13
Since early 2015, we've been trying to figure out how to help educate more people around the world on Oracle BI and Oracle EPM. Back in 2006, interRel launched a webcast series that started out once every two weeks and then rapidly progressed to 2-3 times per week. We presented over 125 webcasts last year to 5,000+ people from our customers, prospective customers, Oracle employees, and our competitors.

In 2007, we launched our first book and in the last 8 years, we've released over 10 books on Essbase, Planning, Smart View, Essbase Studio, and more. (We even wrote a few books we didn't get to publish on Financial Reporting and the dearly departed Web Analysis.) In 2009, we started doing free day-long, multi-track conferences across North America and participating in OTN tours around the world. We've also been trying to speak at as many user groups and conferences as we can possibly fit in. Side note, if you haven't signed up for Kscope16 yet, it's the greatest conference ever: go to kscope16.com and register (make sure you use code IRC at registration to take $100 off each person's costs).

We've been trying to innovate our education offerings since then to make sure there were as many happy Hyperion, OBIEE, and Essbase customers around the world as possible. Since we started webcasts, books, and free training days, others have started doing them too which is awesome in that it shares the Oracle Business Analytics message with even more people.

The problem is that the time we have for learning and the way we learn has changed. We can no longer take the time to sit and read an entire book. We can't schedule an hour a week at a specific time to watch an hour webcast when we might only be interested in a few minutes of the content. We can't always take days out of our lives to attend conferences no matter how good they are.  So in June 2015 at Kscope16, we launched the next evolution in training (epm.bi/videos):


#PlayItForward is our attempt to make it easier for people to learn by making it into a series of free videos.  Each one focuses on a single topic. Here's one I did that attempts to explain What Is Big Data? in under 12 minutes:

As you can see from the video, the goal is to teach you a specific topic with marketing kept to an absolute minimum (notice that there's not a single slide in there explaining what interRel is). We figure if we remove the marketing, people will not only be more likely to watch the videos but share them as well (competitors: please feel free to watch, learn, and share too). We wanted to get to the point and not teach multiple things in each video.

Various people from interRel have recorded videos in several different categories including What's New (new features in the new versions of various products), What Is? (introductions to various products), Tips & Tricks, deep-dive series (topics that take a few videos to cover completely), random things we think are interesting, and my personal pet project, the Essbase Technical Reference.
Essbase Technical Reference on VideoYes, I'm trying to convert the Essbase Technical Reference into current, easy-to-use videos. This is a labor of love (there are hundreds of videos to be made on just Essbase calc functions alone) and I needed to start somewhere. For the most part, I'm focusing on Essbase Calc Script functions and commands first, because that's where I get the most questions (and where some of the examples in the TechRef are especially horrendous). I've done a few Essbase.CFG settings that are relevant to calculations and a few others I just find interesting.  I'm not the only one at interRel doing them, because if we waited for me to finish, well, we'd never finish. The good news is that there are lots of people at interRel who learned things and want to pass them on.

I started by doing the big ones (like CALC DIM and AGG) but then decided to tackle a specific function category: the @IS... boolean functions. I have one more of those to go and then I'm not sure what I'm tackling next. For the full ever-increasing list, go to http://bit.ly/EssTechRef, but here's the list as of this posting: 
To see all the videos we have at the moment, go to epm.bi/videos. I'm looking for advice on which TechRef videos I should record next. I'm trying to do a lot more calculation functions and Essbase.CFG settings before I move on to things like MDX functions and MaxL commands, but others may take up that mantle. If you have functions you'd like to see a video on, shoot an email over to epm.bi/videos, click on the discussion tab, and make a suggestion or two. If you like the videos and find them helpful (or you have suggestions on how to make them more helpful), please feel free to comment too.

I think I'm going to go start working on my video on FIXPARALLEL.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Oracle Exalytics X4-4 - Bigger, Better, Stronger

Sun, 2014-09-28 11:49
X4-4 - Same price as the X3-4 but with more powerThe big announcement about it is today at OpenWorld (it would be awesome if they mentioned it during the Intel keynote tonight), but the Exalytics X4-4 is actually available now.  It's the same price as the X3-4 ($175,000 at list not including software, maintenance, tax, title, license, yada yada).  This does mean the X3 is - effective immediately - no longer available, but then again, since the new one is the same price, I'm not sure why anyone would want the older one.  No word yet on if you can upgrade an X3 to an X4, but since they did offer an upgrade kit from X2 to X3 (though I never heard of anyone buying it), I'm guessing there will be one for those wanting to make an X3 into an X4.
X4-4 SpecsThe main improvement over the X3 is the number of cores: it's still 4 Intel chips, but those chips all now have 15 cores on them, meaning the X4 has 60 cores compared to the X3's 40 cores.  Here are the important details:

  • 4 Intel Xeon E7-8895v2 processors running at 2.8 - 3.6 GHz
  • 8 - 60 cores (capacity on demand, more on this in a second)
  • 2 TB of RAM
  • 2.4 TB of PCI flash
  • 7.2 TB of hard disk running at 10K RPMs (not that fast these days)
  • 2 Infiniband ports running at 40 Gb/s
  • 4 Ethernet ports running at up to 10 Gb/s
Cool Thing 1: Variable Speed & Cores

You probably heard about this last July.  Oracle worked with Intel to design a line of their Xeon E7-889x chips specifically for Oracle.  What we didn't realize until we saw it show up on the X4 spec sheet was that the chips were going in the Exalytics X4.  Simply put, on the fly, Exalytics can vary how many cores it uses and when it's fewer cores, the speed goes up.  If it's running 15 cores per chip, Intel sets the speed to 2.8 GHz.  If it's only using 2 cores per chip the speed goes all the way to 3.6 GHz (a GHz is one billion clock ticks per second).


But wait, you math geniuses say.  Isn't 3.6 * 2 less than 2.8 * 15 (so why wouldn't Oracle just always leave all 60 cores on at the slower speed)?  Well, yes, if you're actually using all those cores, and this is where you know the chip was apparently designed for Essbase (though it did premiere in Exadata first).  As much as I love my Essbase, there are still transactions that end up single threading (or using far less than the available cores on the box).

Say I'm running a massive allocation and despite my best efforts (and FIXPARALLEL), it's still single threading or running at 8 CPUs or fewer.  In this case, Exalytics is now smart enough to talk to those impressive new E7-8895v2 chips, scale down to as few cores as are actually needed, and in the process, up the clock speed for the remaining cores.  Take that, commodity hardware.  This really is the killer feature that makes Exalytics do something no other server running Essbase can do.

On a side note, Intel seems to be dropping the power on the non-used cores to nearly zero when not in use meaning the power consumption of your Exalytics box actually lowers on-demand.  So if your boss won't sign off on your new Exalytics X4, tell her she hates the planet.

Cool Thing 2: You Don't Need BIFS
Per the current Engineered Systems Price List (buried down in note 13), you longer have to purchase BIFS (BI Foundation Suite) to buy Exalytics (either the X4 or T5).  You can now own BIFS, OBIEE, Essbase+, or Hyperion Planning+ without having to get a VP to sign off for a special exemption.  That's right, Planning people preferring to purchase pure premium power, you can now buy Exalytics.  With this change, I presume that any new Planning customer looking for the best user experience will be buying Exalytics X4 along with Planning.

Also buried in the footnotes, you apparently can now buy Exalytics for as few as 20 named users.  Last time I checked (and I don't read every edition of the footnotes, haters who think I have no life), the minimum was 100 named users.

What's Next: HFM on Exalytics
We heard about it on the opening developer's day at Kscope: HFM should finally run on Exalytics in version 11.1.2.4 (which we're hoping to see by the end of 2014).  I'm not sure if it will run on both the T5 (Solaris) and the X4 (Linux) by year-end, but Linux is almost a given.  That said, I don't work for Oracle, so don't base any buying decisions on the belief that HFM will definitely run on the X4.  Just when it happens, be pleasantly surprised that you can now consolidate all your major Oracle Business Analytics apps together.

So any T5 news?  Not at the moment. It's still available running it's 128 cores with 4 TB of RAM (and other cool things) so if you're looking for major horsepower and server consolidation, look to the T5.

I'll be updating this post after the OpenWorld keynote to include any new Exalytics news but if you hear any other Exalytics updates in the meantime, post it in the comments.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

Oracle Tours Africa and the Middle East

Sun, 2014-06-15 11:33
Happy Father's Day, everyone!  I got up early this morning to write about my recent experience traveling the world on Oracle's behalf.  I got to attend the first annual Oracle Technology Network tour of Africa and the Middle East.  It made 2 stops in North Africa (both in Tunisia), 2 stops in Saudi Arabia, and the final stop was in Dubai, UAE.

Tariq Farooq first mentioned the idea of doing a MENA (Middle East & North Africa) tour to me in Beijing last fall.  He asked if I'd be willing to travel half-way around the world to speak to people in English that primarily spoke French and Arabic, and I - of course - said "yes."  Here's Tariq being interviewed by Lillian Buziak at Collaborate 2014 (audio is a bit difficult to hear):


I had two reasons for wanting to go: I do love educating/evangelizing for Oracle EPM, BI, and Business Analytics.  The possibility of reaching new audiences for the first time was exciting. My other reason for going was that I wanted to experience totally different cultures than I ever have before.  I've spoken on 5 continents (now 6 after this tour and I'm anxiously awaiting the OTN Tour to Antarctica) before and have seen presented everywhere from a women's college in Mumbai that was 95F with no air conditioning in the presentation room to a ballroom in the Philippines that had 3 simultaneous English sessions going on (in one room!) all happily observed by smiling Filipinos.  From China to India to Australia to Germany, I have seen some amazing slices of life, but nothing prepared me for the differences I saw on this tour.

In each of the sections below, I have linked the header to a blog from my new best German friend, Bjoern Rost.  He blogged after every stop and unlike me, he actually understood all the Oracle RDBMS sessions on the tour.  Visit http://portrix-systems.de/blog/author/brost/ to see his entertaining blog posts.  (Warning: though I think Bjoern is hilarious, being German, you may find his posts to be 'not funny.'  German humor is an acquired taste.)

I left for the first stop, Tunisia, on Memorial Day (in the USA), May 26, 2014...




Tunisia, May 27To get to Tunisia in time for my session, I left Dallas. Texas at 10AM on Monday, flew to JFK (New York City), flew to Rome, flew to Tunis, and had a nice car waiting for me at the airport compliments of our hosts in Tunisia.  I landed at 10:30AM on Tuesday and considering I was flying to Africa, I felt that the trip went by quickly.  I made it through customs in Tunis in about 15 minutes, walked out the front door of the hotel, and was in an entirely different world.

Speaking in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia had done absolutely nothing to prepare me for Africa.  The closest thing I could compare it to in my life (but the comparison does not do it justice) was the cities of India: chaotic, dirty, cramped, foreign, and chaotic (worth mentioning again).  Now take all that, remove the cows, and make it Muslim.

My host picked me up in a nice car and we began the hour drive to Beja where the conference was being held.  We passed mounds of trash piled up in the center of the roads though thankfully the heat (high was ~75F when I arrived) didn't make the place smell horribly.  Traffic laws seemed to be non-existent, but it moved fairly quickly being in the middle of the day.  I loved looking out the window at the shops along the road and carts selling watermelon approximately every 100 feet (I was told by my host that it was watermelon season).

We left the city about 20 minutes after I got in the car and I was suddenly in Tuscany.  At least, it looked like Tuscany: fields of amber waves of grass, wide open spaces, wildflowers, lakes, olive groves, country life, gorgeous hills... truly one of the most beautiful countrysides I've seen in my entire life.  Since I had been traveling for over a day, the pleasant scenery soon lulled me to sleep.


My driver woke me up when we got to the technical university in Beja. I walked in to find Tariq trying to explain Oracle Enterprise Manager to a bunch of college students who didn't seem to understand databases let alone Oracle.  I tried to hide in one of the back seats, but Tariq immediately called me up on stage to answer a question about how to develop optimal databases.

Not long after I got there, we broke for lunch.  Our hosts took us to a traditional Tunisian restaurant in downtown Beja.  They were kind enough to make me vegetarian food.  Lunch is apparently a sacred event not-to-be-hurried in Tunisia, so we made it back to the university over 2 hours after we left, fully satiated.

I volunteered to give a session introducing Big Data and Analytics to the college kids, because I felt that it required little technical background.  It seemed to go over well.  My favorite part was when I told a joke about the differences in social media sites and only 10 people laughed.  The people on either side of those 10 then asked them to repeat in Arabic and French what I had said, which caused those people to laugh.  They then shared it around the room and it was like a disease vector of laughter that took 2 minutes to make it around to the 150+ students in the room.  In case you haven't seen it, here's essentially what I said out-loud:
After the sessions were over, I asked one of the professors why everyone listened so intently if they had no background in Oracle.  I mentally wondered if it was because I was an awesome presenter bringing the gospel of Oracle to the future of Africa.  I was told "they didn't understand a lot of what you were saying, but they love listening to people speak English."  So much for my future African disciples.
Our hosts offered to drive us to Dougga, the so-called "best preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy."  It sounded like an exaggeration, but it was actually an understatement. Dougga was once a "small" Roman town on the fringes of the empire... and the miles of town are for the most part still there.  We arrived shortly after they closed the gates for the day.  Our hosts got out of the front car in our 4-car caravan to talk to the guards.  I was in the last car and saw an interesting polite dialog when our hosts started pointing to my car.  I waved back.  The guard smiled and raised the gates for our caravan to enter.  I wondered if bribing had occurred, so I asked how we got in after hours.  Our gracious hosts explained that I was renowned historian, Edward Roske, a visiting professor from the United States of America whose sole purpose for being in Tunisia was to see the Dougga ruins.  They said I should take lots of pictures and walk around looking officially important.  I discovered later that they weren't kidding: they really did tell this to the guard, so I took at least 50 pictures and took some very official selfies to help sell my renowned historian status.




The ruins were truly majestic.  Every time I came around a bend, there was another temple, theatre, circus, road, market, tunnel, column, arch, statue, or something else 2,000 years old to be seen.  It is all in a semi-wild state with no borders separating the ruins from the countryside.  There were even wildflowers growing in the central square:
My favorite moment of the entire trip occurred when I broke away from the rest of our group to go explore some arches on the edge of the ruins.  I went to take a picture of one of the doorways, and I got photobombed:
I went through the doorway to discover a local sheepherder grazing his sheep right in the ruins:

They started on the edge of the ruins but eventually the herder marched his sheep right down the center of the 2,000 year old road leading through Dougga.  Tariq decided to join their herd:
I can't stress enough how amazing this site is.  I would encourage people to visit Tunisia if for no other reason than to see Dougga and Carthage.  You have never felt Roman society like you can wandering around the ancient town with only sheep to keep you company.

Eventually, the guards at the entrance (the only guards in the place, so far as we could tell) came to find our renowned historian group because they wanted to go home.  We stayed the night in the Golden Tulip Hotel in Carthage which was a 4-star hotel for under $200 USD per night.  I recommend it to anyone.  The next morning, the OTN MENA 5 (Tariq, Mike Ault, Bjoern, me, and Jim Czuprynski) headed for the flight to Cairo then on the Riyadh.


Saudi Arabia, May 29-31While the Islam is a part of the culture in Tunisia, Islam is the culture in Saudi Arabia.  I have never seen a country more dominated by a single religion than Saudi Arabia.  It is one of the most difficult places in the world to get a visa (they suspended tourist visas 5 years ago) and it's even harder for a non-Muslim like me.  I spent 4 hours clearing customs which gave me a lot of time to study up on what I was in for.

My guidebook (and several websites) told me about all the things I wasn't allowed to do, say, or maybe even think when I got to Saudi.  Here's what I was told versus what actually happened:
- Muslims everywhere.  Yes, 100% true.  They have calls to prayers everywhere and we had to stop presenting when it was time for prayer.  The whole city stops, for that matter, when it's prayer time.  I was lucky enough to be in a public park for evening prayer one day.  The sounds of the call to prayers across the city were beautiful.

- Traffic fatalities.  90% true.  Saudi apparently has the highest incidence of traffic fatalities in the world because traffic laws are more like traffic vague suggestions only to be followed if everyone has plenty of time and sort of feels like it.  I was prepared to almost die every time I got in a car, and while I saw no deaths, I saw multiple car accidents of the fender bender type each day I was in Saudi.  At one point, we were stopped at a red-light to make a left turn.  With traffic coming from both directions in front of us, a car behind us who wanted to make a left-hand turn felt that our stopping was delaying his day.  He didn't honk or behave rudely in any way: he just drove around us and made the left-turn on the red into oncoming traffic.  No one seemed annoyed at the man for doing it.
- Pornography.  100% nonexistent in Saudi.  They even go through the magazines in the shops and black out with a sharpie anything that's considered too revealing (shoulders, waists, knees, etc.).  They also sharply monitor the web and block out any site deemed inappropriate (including Bing.com with safe search set to anything but strict).
- Pictures of other people.  0% true.  I was told before I went that Muslims do not believe in having images taken of people.  What I actually found was the most selfie-absorbed culture I've ever seen, and I live in America with a teenage child.  I couldn't walk 10 feet at the Riyadh or Jeddah events without someone taking a picture.  I was also told that you couldn't take pictures of public buildings or in public buildings (like the national museum).  Totally untrue: people were taking pictures of just about anything except women.
- Women being covered.  100% true.  All the women wore black abbeyahs at all times.  You're not allowed to film them or talk to them.  That said, I didn't see that many.  Both the events in Riyadh and Jeddah were male-only.  We did see women in the public places particularly near retail outlets and in the city parks & museums.
- Men wearing suits.  25% true.  For the most part, the men wore traditional dress shirts and head coverings.  I wore a suit (no tie) which considering it was 110F+, was quite a sacrifice.  My fellow presenters wore ties in addition to their suits which proves they're more willing to sacrifice for the cause of Oracle.
- No alcohol. 100% true but weird.  The first night I got to Riyadh, I opened my minibar to find... a Budweiser.  Closer examination revealed it was a "Budweiser NA" signifying no alcohol.  Every restaurant we went to offered us "Saudi champagne" or "Saudi wine" which apparently means alcohol-taste without any actual alcohol.  Since I hate the taste of alcohol, I didn't think non-alcoholic alcohol would taste any better, so I avoided it.
- No narcotics.  100% true so far as I was willing to test it.  I actually panicked during customs at the thought that maybe I had some prescription drug in my laptop bag that had a narcotic in it.  Narcotics are a capital crime in Saudi, and I spent most of my 4 hours wondering if Ambien counts as a narcotic.  Luckily for me, I wasn't executed for sleep aid smuggling.

After the worst customs experience of my entire life at the airport in Riyadh, I got to the Marriott hotel for about 4 hours sleep before the day was to begin.  I got to go up to the concierge floor for an elaborate breakfast and a great view of the Riyadh skyline.

The Riyadh venue was spectacular.  The hosts (eSolutions) put on one of the best events I've ever attended on an OTN tour.  From the venue to the signage to the elaborate Lebanese food lunch to the photographer to the videographer to the speaker gifts, it was all top-notch.  Like in Beja, I presented on "Taming Big Data with Analytics" to an enthusiastic audience.  There were about 75 (all male) people there including several male children of the attendees.  They were some of the best behaved children I have ever seen even though some were elementary school age.
I got introduced at one point as "Edward Roske from the United States, a rich man who did not inherit his business from his father."  That was unique and though it left me speechless, the audience seemed very impressed at my ability to become head of a business without my father having to die first.

After the conference, our hosts took us to the National Museum.  Like much of Riyadh, it looks like it was built in the last 5 years, and in the case of a museum, this worked very well.  Since they built it all at once (versus many amazing museums around the world that were created over hundreds of years), it was able to tell a complete story from the beginning of the universe up through today (as opposed to just having rooms of collections).  It was a very Muslim-centric view of history, but I found the educational aspects fascinating.  The sign on the way in said no photography, but since the massive museum apparently only had 4 people working in it (all at the front desk), everyone ignored it.  I found a cube in the first hall that seemed Essbase-like.

My favorite exhibit was a scale model of Mecca and Medina as viewed at night.  Being non-Muslim, I will never see Mecca, so this is as close as I will ever get:
After the museum, our hosts took us to Kingdom Centre, the tallest building in Saudi Arabia (for now).  It has 30+ open stories at the top with a skybridge connecting them.  Here's a view from the ground of the building (notice the necklace like architecture with the bridge on top) and a view from the building of the ground:

Our hosts took us to dinner (which was unfortunately a meat-on-a-stick restaurant, unfortunately for me since I'm a vegetarian).  Since I wasn't able to eat much, I got to talk at length to the CEO of eSolutions.  He was a fascinating man who told me all about how Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Coast Community is ready for analytics and reporting.  He was a former Pakistani military man, but his love of country and family shined through in everything he said.

The following morning, we journeyed to Jeddah over on the Red Sea coast of Saudi near Mecca.  The weather was like Riyadh except with crazy humidity.  It reminded me of Houston on the hottest day of summer.  We were in Jeddah for less than 24 hours so I don't admittedly have a ton to say about it.  I saw nothing more than the airport, the drive to/from the hotel, the venue where we presented, and a fast casual restaurant (more tasty Lebanese food!) where we had dinner.

The venue was small since it was a half-day event and lightly attended.  I did ask if I could present on a different topic since I had gotten a bit bored talking Big Data all the time.  This time, I spoke on "In-Memory Databases" which is a hot topic these days thanks to the SAP guys saying "Hana" at least once every sentence.  After the morning event, the OTN MENA 5-1 (Bjoern went straight to Dubai since there weren't enough speaker slots in Jeddah) headed for the airport for the flight to the United Arab Emirates.  Getting out of Saudi took 2 minutes at Customs which goes to show, I guess, that they're a lot happier to get rid of you than let you in.

Dubai UAE, June 1I honestly don't know where to begin with Dubai.  It is truly one of the most amazing cities on Earth and almost indescribable to anyone who hasn't actually witnessed it.  My flight landed on Saturday evening in the largest airport I think I've ever seen.  Clearing customs took minutes then I headed for the cleanest (and probably newest since it just opened in 2009) train system in the world.  The view from the Dubai Metro was stunning.  If Riyadh looks like it was built in the last 10 years, Dubai looks like it was built in the last 10 minutes.  It reminds me of New York City if they took out all the advertising, 90% of the people, and any building under 1,000 feet tall.


I was lucky enough to stay at a hotel in the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (by far: the Burj is over 200 stories tall at over 2,500 feet).  The Burj sets all kinds of "tallest" records including the tallest outdoor observation deck.  Here's a view of several buildings below that are all over 1,000 feet tall (with an Edward in it for perspective).

My room had a view of the Dubai Fountains.  No offense, Vegas, but these fountains put the Bellagio fountains to shame. They're more agile, faster, better lit, larger, and frankly, classier. And if you're staying in the hotel in the Burj Khalifa, you can listen to the fountain music through the TV:


At the base of the Burj Khalifa is the Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world (you hear a lot in Dubai of "that's the largest _____ in the world").  It's 3-4 times the size of Mall of America if that puts it in perspective.  It has over 1,200 shops, over 150 restaurants, and some of the strangest (yet up-scale) stores you've ever seen.  There was one selling full-size metal camels, for instance (these were the only camels I saw on my trip).  I ate at the Dubai Mall every day I was in Dubai and felt I could eat there every day for a year without repeating an entree.  I am normally not a fan of malls, but I loved the Dubai Mall.  It wasn't crowded and the people that were there kept to themselves.  This could actually be said about everywhere in the Middle East: the people are nice, but they keep to themselves.  For an introvert like me, it's heaven.  You can be alone in a crowd.


The first full day I was there, I presented in the morning, burned my feet on the sands of a beautiful beach at lunch, and was skiing in the afternoon.  Yes, skiing.  The Mall of the Emirates (another mall that dwarfs anything we have in the USA) is not only massive, it has its own indoor ski resort inside.  It's not a tiny ski hill either: it's 1,200 feet long with three separate runs (a blue/intermediate run, a green/beginner run, and a small terrain park).  They also have lots of other fun activities to do including a penguin exhibit, ziplining over the ski hill, sledding, and large transparent hamster balls to roll down the hill in.

For around $50 USD, you get a lift ticket, ski pants, ski jacket, boots, skis, and poles for 2 hours.  A full-day pass is only around $15 USD more but I opted for 2 hours.  (You can only ski indoors in Dubai so much, obviously.)  There were at most 15 people skiing, but there were hundreds of people from the Middle East paying their $50 to ride up and down the ski lift basking in the glory of being cold.  The whole place is chilled to around 23F and the snow is glorious: it's soft and velvety because they actually make it snow indoors every night (unlike the ice blowers we use for man-made "snow" in the USA).  I skied for my full 2 hours without a break and I loved that I was so cold by the end that I had to go back into the mall and get a soy hot chocolate at Starbucks.

I had too many amazing experience to recount (and this is already seeming a bit like an advertisement for Dubai) but the most fundamentally changing experience of my trip was a visit to a mosque in Dubai.  Hosted by an eloquent British Muslim woman in a black abbeyah, she spent an hour educating a group of Westerners all about Islam.  I was taken aback by how... peaceful their religion is.  She covered the 5 pillars of Islam in a way that made me understand 1,000,000,000+ Muslims far better than I ever have.  I think that if everyone in the Western world could attend that one hour I did, we would have a level of cultural understanding that would ease a ton of our current fears.  They let us take lots of pictures and even let us video them doing 5 minutes of prayers.  It was moving and if you are ever in Dubai, make sure you visit the Jumeirah Mosque during one of their visitation hours (it's free unlike most everything else in Dubai).

My final presentation was in Dubai and it was a bittersweet end to a whirlwind week.  Every single day was spent traveling, speaking, or both, so it was nice to finally have a break.  That said, I will consider the other members of the OTN MENA 5 to be friends for life and I miss them already.  As I finished my presentation on Big Data (for the third time on the trip), I looked out at the anxious faces in the audience and realized that I would miss the Muslim world far more than I ever expected to.  

If there's ever a 2nd OTN tour of the Middle East, Africa, or both, sign me up.  Until then, thank you for letting me be a part of the most inspirational, educational tour I've ever experienced.

Categories: BI & Warehousing

My Friend, Mike Riley, Has Cancer

Mon, 2013-12-16 08:18
I found out this summer that one of my best friends - one of the entire Hyperion community's best friends - has cancer. This is his story.

But first, a mea culpa:
In 2008, I Was An IdiotBack in early 2008, I wrote a blog entry comparing Collaborate, Kaleidoscope, and OpenWorld.  In this entry, I said that Collaborate was the obvious successor to the Hyperion Solutions conference and I wasn't terribly nice to Kaleidoscope.  Here's me answering which of the three conferences I think the Hyperion community should attend (I dare you to hold in the laughter):
Now which one would I attend if I could only go to one?Collaborate. Without reservation. If I'm going to a conference, it's primarily to learn. As such, content is key.I actually got asked a very similar question on Network 54's Essbase discussion board just yesterday (apparently, it's a popular question these days). To parrot what I said there, OpenWorld was very, very marketing-oriented. 80% of the fewer than 100 presentations in the Hyperion track were delivered by Oracle (in some cases, with clients/partners as co-speakers). COLLABORATE is supposed to have 100-150 presentations with 100+ of those delivered by clients and partners.In the interest of full-disclosure, my company, interRel, is paying to be a 4-star partner of COLLABORATE. Why? Because we're hoping that COLLABORATE becomes the successor to the Solutions conference. Solutions was a great opportunity to learn (partying was always secondary) and I refuse to believe it's dead with nothing to take it's mantle. We're investing a great deal of money with the assumption that something has to take the place of Hyperion Solutions conference, and it certainly isn't OpenWorld.Is OpenWorld completely bad? Absolutely not. In addition to the great bribes, it's a much larger conference than COLLABORATE or ODTUG's Kaleidoscope, so if your thing is networking, by all means, go to OpenWorld. OpenWorld is the best place to get the official Oracle party line on upcoming releases and what not. OpenWorld is also the place to hear better keynotes (well, at least by More Famous People like Larry Ellison, himself). OpenWorld has better parties too. OpenWorld is also in San Francisco which is just a generally cooler town. In short, OpenWorld was very well organized, but since it's being put on by Oracle, it's about them getting out their message to their existing and prospective client base.So why aren't I recommending Kaleidoscope (since I haven't been to that either)? Size, mostly. Their entire conference will have around 100 presentations, so their Hyperion track will most likely be fewer than 10 presentations. I've been to regional Hyperion User Group meetings that have more than that (well, the one interRel hosted in August of 2007 had 9, but close enough). While Kaleidoscope may one day grow their Hyperion track, it's going to be a long time until they equal the 100-150 presentations that COLLABORATE is supposed to have on Hyperion alone.If you're only going to one Hyperion-oriented conference this year, register for COLLABORATE. If you've got money in the budget for two conferences, also go to OpenWorld. If you're a developer that finds both COLLABORATE and OpenWorld to be too much high-level fluff, then go to Kaleidoscope.


So, ya, that entry may live in infamy.  [Editor's Note: Find out a way to delete prior blog posts without anyone noticing.]  Notice that of the three conferences, I recommended Kaleidoscope last and dared to say that it would take them a long time until they had 100-150 sessions like Collaborate.  Interestingly, Collaborate peaked that year at 84 Hyperion sessions, and Kaleidoscope is well over 150 Business Analytics sessions, but I'm getting ahead of myself.


In 2008, Mike Riley Luckily Wasn't An Idiot
I had never met Mike Riley, but he commented directly on my blog.  He was gracious even though I was slamming his tiny little conference in New Orleans:
Hyperion users are blessed with many training opportunities. I agree with Edward, the primary reason for going to a conference is to learn, but I disagree that Collaborate is the best place to do that. ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Collaborate, and OpenWorld all have unique offerings. 

It’s true that ODTUG is a smaller conference, however that is by choice. At every ODTUG conference, the majority of the content is by a user, not by Oracle or even another vendor. And even though Collaborate might seem like the better buy because of its scale, for developers and true technologists ODTUG offers a much more targeted and efficient conference experience. Relevant tracks in your experience level are typically consecutive, rather than side-by-side so you don’t miss sessions you want to attend. The networking is also one of the most valuable pieces. The people that come to ODTUG are the doers, so everyone you meet will be a valuable contact in the future.

It’s true, COLLABORATE will have many presentations with a number of those delivered by clients and partners, but what difference does that make? You can’t attend all of them. ODTUG’s Kaleidoscope will have 17 Hyperion sessions that are all technical. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a member of ODTUG for eight years and this is my second year as a board member. What attracted me to ODTUG from the start was the quality of the content delivered, and the networking opportunities. This remains true today.

I won’t censor or disparage any of the other conferences. We are lucky to have so many choices available to us. My personal choice and my highest recommendation goes to Kaleidoscope for all the reasons I mentioned above (and I have attended all three of the above mentioned conferences).

One last thing; New Orleans holds its own against San Francisco or Denver. All of the cities are wonderful, but when it comes to food, fun, and great entertainment there’s nothing like the Big Easy. 
Mike was only in his second year as a board member of ODTUG, but he was willing to put himself out there, so I wrote him an e-mail back.  In that e-mail, dated February 10, 2008, I said that for Kaleidoscope to become a conference that Hyperion users would love, it would require a few key components: keynote(s) by headliner(s), panels of experts, high-quality presentations, a narrow focus that wasn't all things to all people, and a critical mass of attendees.

At the end of the e-mail, I said "If Kaleidoscope becomes that, I'll shout it from the rooftops.  I want to help Kaleidoscope be successful, and I'm willing to invest the time and effort to help out.  Regarding your question below, I would be more than happy to work with Mark [Rittman] and Kent [Graziano] to come up with a workable concept and I think I'm safe in saying that Tim [Tow] would be happy to contribute as well.  For that matter, if you're looking for two people to head up your Hyperion track (and enact some of the suggestions above), Tim and I would be willing (again, I'm speaking on Tim's behalf, but he's one of the most helpful people on planet Hyperion)."


K(aleido)scope
Kaleidoscope 2008 ended up being the best Hyperion conference I ever attended (at the time).  It was a mix of Hyperion Solutions, Arbor Dimensions, and Hyperion Top Gun.  With only 4 months prep time, we had 175 attendees in what then was only an Essbase track.  Though it was only one conference room there in New Orleans, the attendees sat in their seats for most of a week and learned more than many of us had learned in years.

After the conference, Mike and the ODTUG board offered Tim Tow a spot on the ODTUG board (a spot to which he was later elected by the community) to represent the interests of Hyperion.  I founded the ODTUG Hyperion SIG along with several attendees from that Kaleidoscope 2008. I eventually became Hyperion Content Chair for Kaleidoscope and passed my Hyperion SIG presidency on to the awesome Gary Crisci.  In 2010, Mike talked me into being Conference Chair for Kaleidoscope (which I promptly renamed Kscope since I never could handle how "kaleidoscope" violated the whole "i before e" rule).  Or maybe I talked him into it.  Either way, I was Conference Chair for Kscope11 and Kscope12.

During those years, Mike worked closely with the Kscope conference committee in his role as President of ODTUG.  Mike rather good-naturedly ("good-natured" is, I expect, the most commonly used phrase to describe Mike) put up with whatever crazy thing I wanted him to do. In 2011, he was featured during the general session in several reality show parodies (including his final, climactic race with John King to see who got to pick the location for Kscope12).  I decided to up the ante in 2012 by making the entire general session about him in a "Mike Riley, This Is Your Life" hour and we found ourselves laughing not at Mike, but near him.  It included Mike having to dance with the Village Persons (a Village People tribute band) and concluded with Mike stepping down as President of ODTUG...

... to focus his ODTUG time on being the new Conference Chair for Kscope.  Kscope13 returned to New Orleans and Mike did a fabulous job with what I consider to be Hyperion's 5 year anniversary with Kscope.  Mike was preparing Kscope14 when I got a phone call from him.  I expected him to talk over Kscope, ODTUG, or just to say hi, but I'll never forget when Mike told me he had stage 3 rectal cancer.  My father died in 2002 of colorectal cancer, and the thought that one of my best friends was going to face this was terrifying... and I wasn't the one with cancer.

I feel that the Hyperion community was saved by Mike (what would have happened if we had all just given up after Collaborate 2008 was a major letdown?) and now it's time for us to do our part.  Whether you've attended Kscope in the past or just been envious of those of us who have, you know that it's the one place per year that you can meet and learn from some of the greatest minds in the industry.


Mike Helped Us, Let's Help Him
Kscope is now the best conference for Oracle Business Analytics (EPM and BI) in the world, and Mike, I'm shouting it from every rooftop I can find (although I wish when I climbed up there people would stop yelling "Jump!  You have nothing else to live for!").  I tell everyone I know how much I love Kscope, and on behalf of all the help you've given the Hyperion community over the last 5 years, Mike, it's now time for us to help you.

After many weeks of chemo, Mike goes into surgery tomorrow to hopefully have the tumor removed.  Then he has many more weeks of chemo after that. He's a fighter, but getting rid of cancer is expensive, so we've set up a Go Fund Me campaign to help offset his medical bills.  If you love Kscope, there is no one on Earth more responsible for its current state than Mike Riley.  If you love ODTUG, no one has more fundamentally changed the organization in the last millennium than Mike Riley.  If you love Hyperion, no one has done more to save the community than Mike Riley.  

And if after reading this entry, you love Mike for all he's done, go to http://bit.ly/HelpMike and donate generously, because we want Mike to be there at the opening of Kscope14 in Seattle on June 22.  Please share this entry, and even if you can't donate, send Mike an e-mail at mriley@odtug.com letting him know you appreciate everything he's done.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Competitors, Welcome to Our Webcasts

Wed, 2013-10-30 13:35
I was happy to be a part of Oracle's EPM Showcase yesterday in New York City.  It was a half-day event (plus a happy hour) that had Oracle giving a keynote followed by two 90-minute breakout session timeslots (with two sessions happening concurrently).  I was speaking during the first timeslot on Hyperion DRM (Data Relationship Management) along with Nikki from Verizon and Erin Lineberry from interRel.  In my talk, I described how companies need a single system of record for hierarchies and explained how DRM was a really good fit particularly with the new data governance module in 11.1.2.3.
There were partners in my session, and I had no problem at all with it.  After all, this was a conference open to anyone and I am a firm believer that when people learn more, the whole community benefits.  This is what motivates me to write all of my books, cause believe me, it's not for the money (Google "Starving Authors" before you ever think to make money writing).  I also speak at way too many events around the world each year from tiny user groups to massive conferences like Kscope, Collaborate, and OpenWorld with no concerns that my sessions are primarily filled with Oracle partners looking to improve.

After my session was over, there was one more timeslot for the day and since I didn't want to sit in the hall for 90 minutes, I went to Huron Consulting Group's (they're the company that bought Blue Stone) session on the future of Planning.  It sounded more interesting than Hackett's session which was my other possibility and I saw that one of the speakers was Mike Nader who is a great presenter.  If nothing else, I would get to hear Mike's engaging take on the world since he joined Blue Stone.  I sat in the room in the back row (there were plenty of extra seats, but I wanted to leave the good seats for potential customers).

Right as the session was about to start, Rick Schmitt from Huron (Blue Stone) came over to me and asked me to leave.  I was curious why since I was an official attendee at the event and he said that they were going to be talking over "some proprietary stuff."  I assumed he meant his slides at the beginning on the Blue Stone acquisition or "why Blue Stone is the best at XYZ," so I offered to leave for the first few slides.  I don't need nor want competitive info and I certainly didn't want to make him nervous during his sales pitch.  He said that no, they were going to share lots of proprietary info throughout the session and he didn't want competitors in the room during their session at all.

Rather embarrassed but more bemused, I smiled, gathered my things, and walked out of the room.  I sat in the hall for a while wondering what cool things I was missing and feeling jealous of the 50 clients that got to hear from Blue Stone.  (There's nothing like being excluded from something to make you want it more.)  As I sat there, I pondered my own stance on information sharing.  Personally, I believe that if the community as a whole gets better - if the community learns more - the quality of Hyperion implementations will rise.  Satisfaction with Oracle EPM will rise, and as the reputation of Hyperion gets better, the Hyperion market will grow which benefits the entire community: customers, Oracle, and partners.

And it made me ask what I could be doing better.

So starting effective immediately, all of the public webcasts interRel does (and we did over 100 webcasts last year) will be open to everyone.  That's right: competitors, please come join our webcasts and we'll share all the information that we spend months putting together with you.  You've always had access to our books, our sessions at user groups, our presentations at conferences, and now you have access to our webcasts too.  I hope that this starts a trend: I strongly encourage our competition to open up their sessions and webcasts to anyone who wants to attend.  Don't be afraid: if you're good at what you do, you shouldn't be afraid to help the competition get better too.  Information is meant to be free and to point out the obvious, if the Hyperion market gets bigger from happier clients telling everyone they know to buy Hyperion, your potential customer base gets bigger too.

Our next webcast is Thursday, October 31.  It's on how Smart View is finally an awesome replacement for the Essbase Excel Add-In and I hope to see a ton of our competition on the webcast.  Visit http://bit.ly/iRWebcasts to register.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Exalytics - Version X3-4 is Here

Tue, 2013-07-16 21:15
I've mentioned before that the Exalytics X3-4 was nearly available (the first clue was when it hit the engineered system price list back on June 4).  It was talked about at-length during the Kscope13 Sunday Developer's Symposium and... it's finally here.


Hardware Upgrades
  • RAM.  Doubling from 1 terabyte to 2 terabytes.  This will help everything on the box but those of us running Essbase now have even more RAM to use for making RAM drives.
  • Flash.  Exalytics now comes standard with 2.4 TB of flash.  I mentioned this earlier as an upgrade option to the Exalytics X2-4, but it now is native to the X3-4.  As mentioned in my earlier article, flash impacts Essbase performance far more than OBIEE (which isn't as disk I/O intensive).  Having .25 millisecond read latency (what these flash drives are rated) means there's virtually no seek time finding values in an Essbase cube on disk.  I'm expecting most Essbase customers will put their physical cubes on the flash drives and then quickly load them into a RAM drive upon start up (which has better performance than reading into the Essbase caches for each database).
  • Hard Drive.  They are upping the traditional hard drives from 3.6 TB to 5.4 TB.  It still has 6 physical drives in it, but they are going from 600GB drives to 900GB drives. [Updated on 8-25-2013.]
The cores (still 40) stay the same... for now.  At some point, someone is going to start hitting these limits and they're probably up the cores and I wouldn't be surprised if they went 100% flash drives in a future release.

Software
X3-4 supports OBIEE 11.1.1.7, Endeca 3.0, Essbase 11.1.2.3, and any Linux-allowed Hyperion EPM product on 11.1.2.3.  They also strongly imply that there are some Essbase optimizations in 11.1.2.3 that only work on Exalytics, but I haven't found them yet to verify.  Regardless, Exalytics X3-4 is the best engineered system you can currently buy for Essbase, bar none.

Pricing: $175,000
The X2-4 was $135,000 for the hardware (software sold separately), but to add-on flash, you paid an additional $35,000 giving us a real price for X2-4 of $170,000.  The new box is $175,000... and for that additional $5,000, they double the RAM and increase the hard drives 50%.  In other words, you're getting a hell of a deal.  For what is literally $40,000 more in total, you're getting 1 TB more of RAM, 2.4 TB of really good flash, and 1.8 TB of additional hard drive.

What if I Already Bought an X2-4?
First of all, congratulations.  You're really smart, despite what your high school guidance counselor said.  To upgrade your X2-4 to an X3-4, you can buy an upgrade kit!  The upgrade kit (to get flash and the 1 TB of RAM) does cost $105,000 though.  So your X2-4 with an upgrade to an X3-4 will end up costing you $240,000 in total.  Oracle will support your X2-4 under their lifetime support policy even though it is being phased out.  

Availability
You can order an X3-4 now.  I haven't seen one actually ship yet, but it was just officially launched yesterday.  While I think you can still buy the X2-4 until the end of this quarter (August 31, 2013), I'm not at all sure why you would.  Find the extra $40K and get not only blazingly fast flash drives but more RAM than you know what to do with.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Major Price Cuts in Essbase, OBIEE, BIFS, and OSSM

Thu, 2013-07-04 19:20
Pricing Went Down 25-40%While Oracle is pretty good at giving discounts off list price, it's rare when they actually cut their list prices.  Shockingly, they just lowered (for what I believe is the first time since these products made it onto the price lists) the per processor prices on several of their Business Intelligence offerings: Essbase, OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite), BIFS (Business Intelligence Foundation Suite), and OSSM (Oracle Scorecard & Strategy Management).

Per the price list dated June 25, 2013, the per processor prices have dropped substantially:

  • Essbase went from $184,000 to $138,000.  That's a 25% decrease.
  • OBIEE went from $295,000 to $221,250.  That's also a 25% decrease.
  • BIFS went from $450,000 to $300,000.  That's a 33% decrease.
  • OSSM went from $149,250 to $89,550.  That's a 40% decrease.
Now think about this for a second.  BIFS (Business Intelligence Foundation Suite) comes with Essbase, OBIEE, OSSM, and a few other fun things like EAL4HFM (Essbase Analytics Link for HFM).  BIFS was already a great deal because just buying Essbase, OBIEE, and OSSM separately was setting you back $628,250 but as a bundle costs you only $450,000.  That's a 28% decrease off just those 3 components separately.  Now those separate components list at $448,800 or if you buy the BIFS bundle, $300,000 which is a 33% discount off the components separately.

In other words, you now get OBIEE, Essbase, OSSM, and some other products for just $5,000 more per processor than OBIEE cost alone 2 weeks ago (it was $295,000, remember).  The named user costs for these products has not changed which means that they are positioning these price cuts directly at the enterprise customers: companies who are looking to adopt Oracle Business Analytics across their organization.  Considering those prices above are list, enterprise customers should be getting a discount starting off those prices which makes processor licensing start to seem very attractive for large deployments.

Core Factors
Also remember that Oracle doesn't charge this full price for every core on the processor.  They have a "processor factor" which charges less per core.  Depending on the type of processor, the Oracle Processor Core Factor Table will charge between 25% and 100% of the list processor price.

Take Exalytics X2-4, for example.  It has 4 Intel Xeon E7-4800 chips in it.  Each of those chips has 10 cores giving you 40 cores in total.  Based on the Processor Factor, these cores count as only half a processor.  In other words, to license a full X2-4, you'd need to pay for 20 processor licenses which at the new $300,000 price means a list of $6,000,000.  That's the maximum (not including tax, maintenance, TimesTen, etc.) that you'd pay but it would assumedly come in less than that which is really impressive to license an entire Exalytics box for unlimited users.  Unlimited, people.  Your whole organization could access OBIEE and Essbase for at most $6MM in software.

This may be the pricing discount your company needs to buy unlimited user licenses of Oracle Business Analytics.  And don't hold your breath for Oracle to drop any more list prices.  Take it as a gift and buy it before they change their minds.

Update as of 7-15-13According to an article on Information Week, during the release of Exalytics X3-4, Paul Rodwick was asked about the recent price decreases mentioned above.  He gave the intriguing response that while the prices did go down, it's "old news" because Oracle stealthily did it 9 months ago.  While I don't have the technology price list he's referring to (if you do, post a link to it in the comments), here's Paul's quote:
The cost for BI Foundation Suite on a named-user basis has never been changed, but about nine months ago we adjusted per-CPU pricing in part because we were seeing more customers want to license the full complement of Exalytics.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Kscope - Oracle Business Analytics Strategy & New Features

Sun, 2013-06-23 11:34
"Business Analytics is a key strategic priority for Oracle."
                 - Paul Rodwick
I'm sitting in the Kscope13 BI Symposium listening to keynote speaker Paul Rodwick, VP of Oracle BI Product Management. Paul was rather interesting despite his flight having landed in New Orleans at 4AM.  On 3-4 hours sleep, Paul reviewed Oracle's Business Analytics strategy.  It's surprising to me how little Oracle's EPM/BI architecture has changed over the last 5 years (other than the renaming to "Oracle Business Analytics."  This is a good thing.
Why?  Because over the last 5 years, the architecture has gone from a products-integrating-is-a-theoretically-good-idea-so-let's-put-it-on-a-slide-cross-our-fingers-and-see-what-happens to an actual integrated solution that uses the various products in the Oracle Business Analytics line together with each product doing a key part.  Instead of "Essbase or OBIEE or an application?" it's "Essbase as the cube platform, OBIEE as the front-end, applications for needs that are often common across multiple companies."

So now that Oracle has gotten the basics out of the way, they're looking to expand their Business Analytics offerings.  Their key focuses for the immediate future are big data, mobile, in-memory computing, and cloud-based analytics.  The last two really speak to technology of deployment (in-memory and cloud), big data seems to be one of those things that everyone is talking about and no one's quite sure what to do with for the moment, but mobile is on everyone's minds and people are actually doing something about it.  To further that immediate mobile need, Oracle is releasing new functionality in every release or patch of the Oracle mobile analytics products.  For instance, Oracle 11.1.1.7 now has a full mobile security toolkit (available on OTN) for companies that want greater security than native Apple iOS provides.

Paul discussed some of the key features in the 11.1.1.7 release (including Smart View as the primary Office front-end for BI going forward).  He mentioned that the bundled patch for OBIEE 11.1.1.7 will be out on a few weeks, so prep yourself for 11.1.1.7.1.  He also talked about some recent improvements to Endeca in version 3.0 of that product.  While I love Endeca's extremely powerful ability to discover information in unstructured data, right now, most companies are still focused on analyzing their structured information.  Unstructured analysis is definitely coming: it's just only being deployed by a handful of leading-edge companies at the moment.
Where Are They Going?The key releases we should see in the next 9-12 months will revolve around these themes:
  • Visual analysis.  They're trying to make the analysis more intuitive because the majority of users don't spend their day being analysts: they want the system to help them find issues quickly so they can make better business decisions faster.
  • Mobile Analytics. Oracle is planning to create a BI Mobile "Applications Designer" that will allow developers to make HTML5 applications purpose-built for mobile deployment.  They will also continue to improve the mobile applications every version but they didn't go into what some of the new improvements are going to be specifically beyond more HTML5 deployment.
  • Exalytics.  They promised a new Exalytics announcement in the near future.  I'm presuming this refers to the new Exalytics X3-4 version that's mentioned on the June 4 Oracle Engineered System Price List (page 5).  I expect this will be detailed more during Steve Liebermensch's session later this week.
  • Cloud analytics.  Oracle is making a huge investment in the cloud and it looks like there will be more and more applications in Oracle Business Analytics that run in the cloud.  This makes it a lot easier for customers to get immediate ROI from a BI implementation without huge server investments.
  • Big data.  Part of Oracle's strategy in this area is to tie into any data in any source behind the scenes into Oracle BI.  Data agnostic
  • Predictive analytics.  Paul didn't really talk to this one other than to tease that they do have dedicated resources to expanding the Predictive Analytics capabilities of Oracle BI Foundation Suite.  There is some P.A. functionality in Hyperion Planning, Crystal Ball, and Hyperion Strategic Finance and that sounds like it will be expanded into the BI layer in future releases.
The one thing that's really apparent from Paul's session is that Business Analytics is now a $1+ billion dollar portion of Oracle revenue... and they're treating it as such in terms of research and development.  It's a fast growing space and Oracle seems determined to maintain their market share in overall Business Analytics.

I hope to blog later in the week if any new announcements come out.  Coming to you from Kscope13, this is your humble reporter, Edward Roske.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Looking Forward to Kscope13

Thu, 2013-06-06 23:17
On June 9, the rates for Kscope13 go up $300 per person (basically, you're going up to the last minute, I-don't-know-why-I-waited-but-now-it-costs-a-lot-more price).  If you haven't registered yet for what is by far the best Oracle EPM, BI, Hyperion, Business Analytics, Essbase, etc. conference in the world, go right now to kscope13.com and register.  It'll be the best training experience of the year: you're basically getting 4.5 days of training that you won't see anywhere else the entire year... for the price of 2 days of training at an Oracle training center.

And when you register, don't forget to use promo code IRC to save $100 off whatever the current rate is.

The conference is June 23-27 in New Orleans though my favorite day is always the opening Sunday, so make sure you fly in Saturday night.  On Sunday, they turn the sessions over to the Oracle Development team to talk about everything they have planned for the next 1-3 years.  It's the one time each year that you can hear right from the people who are building it what you're going to be seeing in the future.  There's generally an hour on each major product line (an hour on Essbase, an hour on Hyperion Planning, an hour on mobile BI, etc.).  The keynote this year is Balaji Yelamanchili, the head of Oracle BI and EPM development for Oracle.  My only semi-complaint about this year's BI/EPM Symposium is that there's so much content that they're splitting it into three concurrent symposiums: Business Intelligence, EPM, and a special symposium for the EPM business users.

This year will be somewhat bittersweet for me since I am no longer actively involved with the chairing of the conference.  This means that I get to focus on going to sessions, learning things, playing/leading Werewolf games, and of course, presenting a few sessions.  Here are the ones I'm personally teaching:


  • Using OBIEE to Retrieve Essbase Data:  The 7 Steps You Won’t Find Written Down.  This is in the BI track and it's basically all the quirks about connecting OBIEE to Essbase in a way that uses the strengths of each product.
  • What’s New in OBIEE 11.1.1.7: Oracle on Your iPhone & Other Cool Things.  This is also in the BI track and it's an overview of all the things that people will like in 11.1.1.6 (for both Hyperion and relational audiences).
  • Everything You Know About Essbase Optimization  is Incomplete, Outdated, Or Just Plain Wrong.  This is in the Essbase track and it's the one I'm most looking forward to delivering, because I get to break all of the optimization rules we all have been accepting as gospel for close to 20 years.
  • Learn From Common Mistakes: Pitfalls to Avoid In Your Hyperion Planning Implementation.  This is a vendor presentation hosted by interRel.  I get to sit on the panel and answer Planning questions from the audience while talking about blunders I've seen during Planning implementations.  It should be fun/rousing.  Since it's all interRel, I wouldn't be surprised if a few punches were thrown or at minimum, a few HR violations were issued.
  • Innovations in BI:  Oracle Business Intelligence against Essbase & Relational (parts 1 and 2).  This is also in the BI track (somehow I became a BI speaker???) and I'm co-presenting this session with Stewart Bryson from Rittman Mead.  We'll be going over OBIEE on Essbase on relational and compare it to OBIEE on relational directly.  Stewart is a long-time friend and Oracle ACE for OBIEE, so it should let us each showcase our respective experiences with Essbase and OBIEE in a completely non-marketing way.
  • CRUX (CRUD meets UX): Oracle Fusion Applications Functional UI Design Patterns in Oracle ADF.  This is in the Fusion track and I'll be talking about how to make a good user interface as part of the user experience of ADF.  No, this doesn't have a thing to do with Hyperion.
I am looking forward to all the wacky, new things Mike Riley (my replacement as Conference Chair for Kscope) has in store.  My first Kscope conference was in New Orleans in 2008 (back when they called it Kaleidoscope and no one was quite sure why it wasn't "i before e") so this is a homecoming of sorts albeit with 8 times as many sessions on Oracle BI/EPM.  If you're there (and let's face it, all the cool kids will be), stop by the interRel booth and say "hi."  It's the only 400 square feet booth, so it shouldn't be hard to find.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Webcast Series - What's New in EPM 11.1.2.3 and OBIEE 11.1.1.7

Tue, 2013-06-04 10:56
Today I'm giving the first presentation in a 9-week long series on all the new things in Oracle EPM Hyperion 11.1.2.3 and OBIEE 11.1.1.7.  The session today (and again on Thursday) is an overview of everything new in all the products.  It's 108 slides which goes to show you that there's a lot new in 11.1.2.3.  I won't make it through all 108 slides but I will cover the highlights.

I'm actually doing 4 of the 9 weeks (and maybe 5, if I can swing it).  Here's the complete lineup in case you're interested in joining:

  • June 4 & 6 - Overview
  • June 11 & 13 - HFM
  • June 18 & 20 - Financial Close Suite
  • July 9 & 11 - Essbase and OBIEE
  • July 16 & 18 - Planning
  • July 23 & 25 - Smart View and Financial Reporting
  • July 30 & Aug 1 - Data & Metadata Tools (FDM, DRM, etc.)
  • Aug 6 & 8 - Free Supporting Tools (LCM, Calc Mgr, etc.)
  • Aug 13 & 15 - Documentation

If you want to sign up, visit http://www.interrel.com/educations/webcasts.  There's no charge and I don't do marketing during the sessions (seriously, I generally forget to explain what company I work for).  It's a lot of information, but we do spread it out over 9 weeks, so it's not information overload.

And bonus: you get to hear my monotone muppet voice for an hour each week. #WorstBonusEver
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Exalytics - Now with 2.4 Tb of Flash

Mon, 2013-05-13 22:26
I'm not sure why there wasn't a major announcement about this, but as of April 9, customers buying an Exalytics machine to speed up their Oracle Business Intelligence can get 2.4 Tb of PCIe flash drives from Oracle certified and engineered to run on Exalytics.  The cost (as of April 9's price list) is $35,000 (search for "flash upgrade kit").

While I haven't seen one in action yet, the flash pack seems to be 6 Sun Flash Accelerator F40 PCIe Cards each of which has a capacity of 400 Gb.  These cards run amazingly fast with read times of more than 2 GB/second (write time is about half that speed at 1+ GB/second).  These cards normally sell for almost $6K each, so Oracle is providing the flash add-on pack for no more markup than you'd get if you bought them on your own (but you'd then have to get them into the Exalytics machine all on your own).
This Matters If You Own EssbaseWhy would you want this?  Essbase, primarily.  Essbase uses a ton of disk I/O and one of the ways Exalytics can speed up Essbase is by pulling your cubes into a RAMDisk (since you have 1 Tb of RAM to play with).  At some point, though, it has to get that data from physical drives to a RAMDisk (unless you're building all your cubes at start up in memory each time).  Having blazingly speedy flash drives with .25 millisecond read latency allows you to store your cubes on the flash drive and then pull into RAM much more quickly than reading from traditional drives.

We have tested Essbase running on flash drives and it helps everything (particularly minimizes the negative effects of fragmentation since seek time drops to basically nothing on flash).  For customers buying Exalytics primarily for Essbase, the Exalytics Flash Upgrade Kit should be strongly considered with every Exalytics purchase (and if you already own Exalytics, buy it to put on top).

OBIEE is much less affected by hard drives, so while it may help OBIEE, this really matters a lot more to Essbase customers.
Oracle EPM Fully Supported on ExalyticsSince we're on the subject of Exalytics, now that 11.1.2.3 is out, all Oracle EPM/Hyperion components certified to run on Linux will run on Exalytics PS2.  These include:

  • Administration Services
  • Calculation Manager
  • EPM Workspace
  • Essbase Server
  • Essbase Studio Server
  • Financial Reporting
  • Interactive Reporting (32-bit only)
  • Oracle HTTP Server
  • Planning
  • Profitability and Cost Management
  • Production Reporting (32-bit only)
  • Provider Services
  • Reporting and Analysis Framework Services and Web Application 
  • Shared Services
  • Web Analysis
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Hyperion 11.1.1.x Drops Off Full Support in July 2013

Mon, 2013-05-06 22:50
Someone recently told me that they just upgraded their Hyperion applications to 11.1.1.4.  I asked them why they didn't go to 11.1.2.  They gave me the standard story about wanting to wait until the current version got stable (even though 11.1.2.0 came out over 3 years ago in April of 2010).

What they didn't know (cause apparently it hasn't been communicated well) is that Hyperion 11.1.1.x support drops from Premier Support to Sustaining Support in July of 2013 (only two months from the time I'm writing this).  For anyone who doesn't know, Sustaining Support is equivalent to life support.  While Oracle's Lifetime Support Policy does say that you can stay on versions of Oracle's products indefinitely, they don't agree to fully support them.

At the Premier Support level (the one all products start on), you get all the support you'd expect.  When you call in, the support people help you find the bug, they patch it in the next release, you install it, and life goes on happily.  Also, as new versions of supporting products come out like new versions of Office, Windows, or your web browser, Premier Support will make sure the Oracle products work with these new versions.

Extended Support (if offered at all for your Oracle product) comes about 5 years after a product is released.  At this point, Oracle will still let you do all the Premier Support things, they'll just charge you a premium for doing so.  Extended Support will not be offered on Hyperion 11.1.1.x (there aren't enough customers to warrant it).

Sustaining Support (AKA "life support") allows you to call in to ask for support.  Oracle will help you with questions, look up your problems in their knowledgebase, and help you troubleshoot.  They won't patch anything, make versions available that are compatible with new releases of Windows, Office, etc., and in general do anything beyond the bare minimum required.  From Oracle's Lifetime Support Policy document from March 2013, here's what Sustaining Support doesn't do:
  • New updates, fixes, security alerts, data fixes, and critical patch updates
  • New tax, legal, and regulatory updates
  • New upgrade scripts
  • Certification with new third-party products/versions
  • Certification with new Oracle products
And Hyperion (Oracle EPM) 11.1.1.x falls to this level in July 2013. To point out the obvious, if you're not already planning an upgrade to 11.1.2.x, you should start now.  You really don't want to be on Sustaining Support for long.  Since 11.1.2.3 just was released last week, I would probably hesitate going to that version until the first patch set update is released (probably this summer). If you're doing your upgrade before then, I would suggest going to 11.1.2.2.xxx (the current patch of 11.1.2.2).

If you want to read the sunset dates (the dates they drop to Sustaining Support) for all the current releases, visit Oracle.com for the current Lifetime Support Policy.  Here's the one from March 2013 (scroll to page 22) for the Hyperion products:
http://www.oracle.com/us/support/library/lifetime-support-applications-069216.pdf
Categories: BI & Warehousing

All the Cool New Features in Oracle EPM 11.1.2.3

Mon, 2013-04-29 23:16
Oracle EPM 11.1.2.3 is out and there are some great features in it (Planning and Financial Reporting have my favorites which you'll see in a second).  11.1.2.3 is not as impressive as 11.1.2.1 or 11.1.2.2, though.  A lot of the products got new features in between releases like Smart View (which adds new features with every patch set), Strategic Finance, HFM (which got Tax Provisioning in February), and Financial Close Management instead of making those products wait until 11.1.2.3 was officially released.

Below are the features I think are most interesting in 11.1.2.3.  This is by no means an exhaustive list and I didn't include every product though I did hit all the ones with significant market share (and a few others including a shout-out to the long-forgotten "EPM Workspace").  All the new feature documents are on Oracle.com.  If you see anything major I missed, let me know in the comments.


Oracle Essbase
  • Essbase didn't change much in 11.1.2.3 and users are never going to see any of the changes.
  • There are several new BSO functions and calc script commands like @INTERSECT, @ISMBRUDA, @ISRANGENONEMPTY, @MEMBERAT, @RANGEFIRSTVAL, and @RANGELASTVAL.  My favorite is @CREATEBLOCK which, wait for it, creates a sparse block with all the dense combinations in it set to missing.  Yes, we finally have a specific command to create specific blocks after 20+ years of silly block creation workarounds.
  • There's a new calc script SET command called RUNTIMESUBVARS that let's you create substitution variables in the script that are passed to the script at run-time.  You can then pass values to these variables when you call the calc scripts from MaxL or the API.  There's a new optional argument (with runtimesubvars) to MaxL's "execute calculation" command that sends the run-time variables to the calc script as you call it.
  • There's a new Essbase.CFG setting called ESTIMATEDHASHSIZE that lets you specify (in millions) how many members should be loaded into memory from the outline.  It's meant to speed up massive dimension builds and outline edits.  There are two other new CFG settings as well: ENABLERTSVLOGGING (which logs the new run-time substitution variables) and UNICODEENABLE (which sets the server to unicode mode, basically).
  • Performance has been improved on ASO dimension builds (specifically with duplicate members), the JAPI, and most helpful for many people including Hyperion Planning users, @XREF has been improved in some cases as much as 40-times.
  • Data Mining is gone.  Many people didn't even know it was there, but it's been removed.
  • Speaking of gone, there is no Essbase Excel Add-In 11.1.2.3.  Further, earlier versions of the Add-In that you may have (like 11.1.2.2) are not supported against Essbase 11.1.2.3.  It probably will work (the Add-In is wonderfully backwards and forwards compatible) but it's not supported.

Smart View
  • There were a lot of improvements to Smart View in 11.1.2.2.3xx which came out about a month ago, so there isn't much new in Smart View 11.1.2.3.  Smart View is the new strategic Microsoft Office add-in for all the Business Analytics (BI and EPM) products, though, so that's why the newest release supported direct access to OBIEE 11.1.1.7.  Hyperion Strategic Finance is also now fully supported in Smart View.
  • The only major improvement is actually in Hyperion Planning just exposed through Smart View.  There is a new "Planning Admin" extension that lets administrators update Planning metadata (and a few other things) from Smart View.  I'll say more about this under Planning.

Hyperion Planning
  • Essbase ASO databases can now be created as Planning Plan Types.  These databases will allow writeback provided it's at level-0.  This is stunning.  These ASO cubes can be displayed on Planning composite forms with Essbase BSO cubes just like current BSO cubes in multiple plan types can be combined on a single composite form.  For some reason, this release doesn't put security filters on the ASO cubes, so you have to access these cubes through Planning or through the Planning ADM driver in Hyperion Financial Reporting.  Still, ASO in Planning is a step in the right direction.  Oh, and you have to own full-use Essbase to create these ASO cubes; just a Planning license doesn't cut it.
  • You can create members on the fly (kinda) if they don't exist when business rules need them.  This may only work in modules and not custom plan types.  The documentation says only modules, but I admittedly haven't tried it on custom plan types yet.
  • Custom dimension hierarchies can now vary by plan type.
  • Task lists can now include "Copy Version" and "Job Console" as tasks.
  • There is a new Task List Dashboard (gives you an overview of tasks by user, due date, etc.) and a Task List Report Page (that exports to XLS and PDF).
  • Grid Scroll Preferences lets you control if all rows/columns in a form are retrieved at once or only when you scroll down.  This should improve performance for large forms (and not slow down the internet when we want to watch cat videos on YouTube).
  • Users can now control through user preferences if they want member names, aliases, or both.  This can be set to override the form settings.
  • Outline Load Utility has been enhanced to do fun things like export metadata to a relational database or export data to a text file.  There's a new user interface for loading dimensions and data from flat files (and exporting them too).  This was previously only doable through the command line.
  • There's a new "Plan Type Editor" that lets admins add and delete plan types to already existing applications. Previously, this required going back to the initial creation step or hacking the underlying tables.  The Plan Type Editor can be used to add ASO to an existing Planning application.
  • Admins can now do some administration of Planning from within Smart View like editing dimensions, creating cubes, and refreshing cubes.
  • Workforce and CapEx have been enhanced to get them up to speed with Project Financial Planning's improvements to these modules in 11.1.2.2.  You won't get these improvements with a straight migration: you have to create a new "shell" application and manually migrate your old dimensions into the new application.
  • You can create, assign, and delete substitution variables directly from the Planning web interface.

Data Relationship Management
  • There's an entirely new module within DRM (no word yet on if it costs money, but my gut feeling is that it's included with DRM) called "Data Relationship Governance."  To oversimplify what is actually quite cool, it adds workflow to DRM.  It lets data stewards coordinate entry, validation, and approval of hierarchies but it does a lot more too.  Users can request hierarchy changes and they go into a worklist so nothing gets lost.  It has built-in alerts for when users have requested changes and it also sends e-mails when something has been sent to you or it's something you should be informed of.  In my humble opinion, this is the greatest improvement to DRM since it was created.
  • Dynamic scripting lets you use JavaScript instead of formulas to create derived properties and validations.  This is a welcome improvement over formulas since we now have access to a real programming language.
  • You can now connect directly to external relational database tables to import hierarchies.

Hyperion Financial Management (HFM)
  • There's a new module (that technically was released in February) called Hyperion Tax Provision.  It handles tax automation, data collection, tax calculations, reporting and it does it all within HFM.  Now when you create an application in HFM, you tell it if you want a Consolidation (traditional) application type or Tax Provision.
  • Data forms let you show/hide the POV members, access the dynamic POV member lists, and run "on-demand rules" to essentially calculate the data form (by running the on-demand rule on a subset of data).
  • Data grids also let you control which POV dimensions you're showing and gives you access to dynamic POV member lists.
  • Admins can turn off modules for all users if they aren't applicable (for instance, if you don't allow intercompanies in HFM).

Financial Data Quality Management (FDM)
  • FDM and ERPi (ERP Integrator) combine in 11.1.2.3 into a single product: FDMEE (Financial Data Quality Management Enterprise Edition).  It's more than just ERPi renamed which is what some are claiming.  Below are some of the improvements.
  • The UI (user interface) is now consistent with the other Hyperion products like Planning and HFM.
  • FDM is fully supported in Shared Services and Lifecycle Management.
  • Data loads are sped up.  Scaling and load balancing are fully supported.
  • ERPi users will now see full FDM functionality that they couldn't access before.
  • SAP BW is now supported directly as a data source.
  • FDM and ERPi owners have access (at no charge) to all the new FDMEE capabilities.

Financial Reporting
  • I know what you're thinking and yes, Financial Reporting actually got improved in 11.1.2.3 (it is a strategic product for Oracle). So for the coolest thing you'll see since ASO in Hyperion Planning...
  • Financial Reporting is now mobile.  That's right: it runs on Apple iPhones, iPads, Android phones and Android tablets.  Users can browse the repository, launch reports (HTML or PDF), run books (HTML or PDF), change POVs, change page members, expand rows and columns, and even launch related content.  Pick your jaw off the floor.
  • Books have been enhanced to allow cover pages before the table of contents, embedding (and launching) Word DOCs from an HTML book, and changing the starting page number of books.
  • The designer has new authoring features including a row property to show dots after the member name (to fill the column) in PDF output, custom text colors, and auto-sizing text boxes in PDF output.
  • Annotations have a new auditing capability that puts annotation info (like creation date or modified date) in a log file on the server.

EPM Workspace
  • OBIEE 11.1.1.7 is back in Workspace (it used to be there back in OBIEE 10).  You can both create and launch OBIEE from Workspace.
  • OBIEE uses single-sign on if you're logged into Workspace (OBIEE now can also share a security model with Essbase).

Web Analysis, Interactive Reporting, SQR Production Reporting...
  • Seriously?  People, move to OBIEE.  These are dead products.

General Comments
  • You can upgrade to 11.1.2.3 directly only from 11.1.1.4 and 11.1.2.x.  Earlier versions require going to either 11.1.1.4 or 11.1.2.2 first.
  • 11.1.2.3 still doesn't officially support Chrome or Safari.  The documentation says that Oracle recommends IE (Internet Explorer) 9 or Firefox 10 because older versions are slower.
  • The EPM documentation is now fully supported on Apple mobile devices (in ePub format).  It already worked on Amazon Kindles (in Mobi format).
That's all folks.  You can thank me at Kscope13 for making it so you don't have to scour all the readme files yourself.

Oh, that reminds me. Since you read this entire essay of bullets, I owe you a reward.  When you register for Kscope13 (the best Oracle BI, EPM, and Hyperion conference in the world bar none), mention promo code IRC.  It'll save you $100 off whatever the prevailing rate is.  You can tell your friends or make them read this blog to find that out themselves.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

StarAnalytics Bought by IBM

Wed, 2013-02-06 15:13

On February 1, it was announced that Star Analytics (one of our favorite software companies in the world) is being bought by IBM (not one of our favorite software companies in the world) for an undisclosed amount.  Star, founded in 2004, made two excellent products (Star Integration Server and Star Command Center) and IBM's strategy, at the moment, is to continue the two products under IBM's Business Analytics Software group.

As  everyone knows, IBM has been on an acquisitions kick for the last 5 years particularly around business analytics.  They own Cognos, TM/1, Clarity and a whole lot of other products... or at least they bought the companies that made those products and then stopped some of those products and continued others.  Unlike Oracle that is quite good at buying companies and then immediately knowing which products they want to strategically continue, IBM can take some time to make up their mind and half the time, people internal to IBM don't know which products are being discontinued.  There are still people internal to IBM that are touting Clarity's planning and consolidations products, and those have been virtually dead since IBM first bought Clarity.

It may seem odd to some that Star was bought by IBM considering that IBM owns Cognos and Star is traditionally awesome at Hyperion integration not Cognos, TM/1, and the like.  What many people don't realize is that Star's products have been expanded beyond their traditional Hyperion roots over the last few years and now talk well to other products including relational databases.  Star Integration Server is still found almost exclusively at Hyperion shops, and one has to believe that part of the reason IBM bought Star is to be able to easily extract data from Essbase, Planning, and HFM.

Judging from IBM's announcement and FAQ on the purchase, it seems that being able to extract and control Oracle (particularly Hyperion) is the main reason they bought Star.  That makes it odd that Oracle didn't go ahead and buy them instead.  All I can think of is that either IBM offered a better price or Oracle felt they had competing products with some of the same functionality already (I'll be getting to that in a second).

So what does that mean for you?  If you bought Star's products, congratulations.  They are excellent products and I would continue using them for as long as IBM continues to support them.  If you're considering a purchase, I would wait until IBM decides what they're going to do.  At bare minimum, IBM will probably begin to favor Cognos and TM/1 more than Hyperion and for a lot of us, Hyperion expertise was the reason we bought Star's products.

If you want to consider something else, I would suggest buying Hyperion Financial Data Quality Management or Oracle Data Integrator instead of Star Integration Server and Hyperion Financial Close Management instead of Star Command Center.  They don't exactly overlap functionality-wise, but they are the closest replacements I can readily think of.  Note that Star Integration Server has some very cool extraction technologies that are patented, so any product extracting data or hierarchies from Hyperion is probably going to be a lot slower, for the time being, than Star.

We will miss you, Star Analytics.  It was a good 7+ year run, and the Hyperion world will always fondly remember your company, your products, and your employees (particularly your iconic leader, and my close friend, Quinlan Eddy).  May your staying agreements at IBM be short.
Categories: BI & Warehousing

Whatever Happened to Edward Roske?

Sun, 2012-09-09 19:23
Where have I been for 8 months?
Answering that could take a while.  Suffice to say, it's been a busy year.  The largest amount of time beyond my normal job was spent being Conference Chair for the last two years for ODTUG's Kscope conference.  If anyone ever offers to let you chair a conference and then tells you "it's mostly a symbolic position that doesn't require much work," they're lying.  Run away quickly.  Chairing these things is a lot of work, and I am happy to say that my replacement as Conference Chair, Mike Riley, will doubtless put my conference chairing to shame as he carries on the good I did and takes it up a notch from good to great.

While running Kscope was an amazing lot of work, it was definitely worth it.  I encourage every one of you to make it to Kscope13 in New Orleans, LA from June 23-27 in 2013.  Kscope13 will continue to be the home for Hyperion, Essbase, Oracle EPM & BI (in addition to ApEx, Oracle RDBMS, Fusion, and lots more) and it's adding content in those areas including entirely new tracks around EPM.  Side note: abstract submission is open through October 15, so if you want to get a free pass to Kscope13, now's your chance: http://bit.ly/Content13.

Kscope kept me busy from early in 2010 until the summer of 2012.  I then took a month off to recuperate (in other words, focus on my actual duties at interRel which apparently include CEO: who knew?) and now I'm back to blogging.  I'm sure you're shedding a single tear right now and I'm choosing to believe it's because you're so choked up with emotion.

The next few weeks are going to be filled with a great deal of travel as I'm presenting at several conferences.  I'm hoping to be able to blog from a few of these conferences.  If you're at any of them, be sure to find me either up on stage somewhere speaking or at our booth.  If you want to know more about any of these conferences, you can always send an e-mail over to the intelligent, beautiful, and obscenely overworked Danielle White at info@interrel.com.

September 11
Hyperion Solutions Road Trip to Denver
Oracle and interRel put on a series of free, multi-track training days around North America each year.  We have one on September 11 at the Grand Hyatt in Denver and like most of the Roadshows we do, it's open to both current and prospective customers of Oracle EPM & BI.  I'm giving three sessions at this conference including the keynote on the future of Oracle EPM (11.1.2.2 and beyond).  If you're anywhere near Denver (or could fly there easily), there's a great half-day agenda followed by free tickets to a Colorado Rockies game afterwards (they're playing the San Francisco Giants).  My good buddy, Glenn Schwartzberg, will also be presenting along with a few Oracle speakers talking in detail about 11.1.2.2.

September 30 to October 4Oracle OpenWorld
San Francisco, California
If you don't want to miss your annual chance to hear Oracle talk about Oracle, you'll want to come to a city vaguely resembling San Francisco during the first week of quarter close for most companies.  That's right: in what is, I'm sure, not a big "sod off" to finance and accounting users everywhere, Oracle has decided to hold their annual Oracle awesomeness conference during the first week of October.

To be completely honest, I actually like being able to hear once per year directly from Oracle their stance on recent releases and future plans. While it's huge, overcrowded, 90%+ marketing, and expensive, there are great networking and educational opportunities to be found if you know where to look.  Word of advice, though: don't ever try to stand in a cab line; you'll be there for 2 hours and it's probably quicker to just walk wherever you're headed.

I've got 3 or 4 sessions at this year's conference including a non-Hyperion one on the Fusion User Experience.  Most of my sessions will be part of the ODTUG's EPM Symposium at Moscone West in room 2008 on Sunday afternoon.  interRel also has a kiosk in the Hyperion Pavilion on the 5th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel.  Make sure you stop by and see us at one of those locations.

Pearl Jam and Kings of Leon will be performing at the Wednesday night party on Treasure Island, so bare minimum, you can get in touch with your alternative side.  There's also free booze, so ya, you got that going for you.

October 16Hyperion Solutions Road Trip to Seattle
This conference is similar to the one in Denver except for three important differences:
  1. It's in Bellevue, Washington on a different date.
  2. The keynote speaker is the VP of Oracle EPM Development, Matt Bradley.  He's a great speaker and this is an excellent opportunity to hear from development themselves about all the great things they have planned for the next year.
  3. The after event is at Lucky Strike instead of at a baseball park, because let's face it: there's no way in Hell that the Seattle Mariners will still be playing baseball in mid-October.
This event, like the other road trips, is free.  You just have to get yourself to Seattle (and not be a competitor, obviously).

October 23Hyperion Solutions Road Trip to Phoenix
This time, we're heading down South to Phoenix, Arizona.  The agenda will be very similar to the Denver event above and there will be great fun in the evening after, so join us for education and networking all for free.  Just to prove that geography is not our strong suit, in this exact same week, we'll be traveling to:

October 25Hyperion Solutions Road Trip to Calgary
I'm told that Canadians are very scary and intimidating, but I'm hoping they'll be nice as we take our first road trip North of the border.  Expect a similar agenda to the others but with a dash of vegetarian back bacon.  I'm looking forward to the Calgary Flames game after the day's education is complete because apparently hockey is trying to become a major sport, and this is my one chance to learn something about it (red line? blue line? icing?).  Jenny, our business coordinator at interRel, is from Canada and she assures me that if hockey doesn't take off, at least curling will.

      October 30Hyperion Solutions Road Trip to Los Angeles
      The agenda for this event is quite different.  Among other things, it's a full-day instead of a half-day and it has 3 full tracks instead of 2.  It's basically a one-day, free Hyperion conference.  This year, it'll be at the Hilton inside Universal Studios and our after event will be at Jillian's on the Universal City Walk.  Here's the complete agenda:
      Hyperion Solutions Road Trip to
      Southern California
      8:30 AM       
      Check In & Registration
      9:00 AM
      Keynote: Analytics-Led Business Innovation, Matt Bradley, Oracle

      Experience the Future of Oracle EPM 11.1.2.2
      Live Demos Included!
      The World of
      Hyperion Applications
      The Foundations of Business Intelligence: Oracle Essbase & OBIEE
      10:00 AM
      Taking Control of Your Hierarchies with
      DRM 11.1.2.2
      Introduction to
      Integrated Business Planning
      BI Foundation Suite:
      Integrating Oracle Essbase & The New OBIEE 11.1.1.6
      11:00 AM
      The Next Evolution
      in Forecasting:
      Hyperion Planning 11.1.2.2
      Reducing Your Close Cycle:
      Financial Close & Account Reconciliation Management
      Oracle Essbase
      Worst Practices:
      Lessons from a Moron
      11:50 PM
      Lunch
      12:20 PM
      Ask a Guru Panel Session
      1:30 PM
      Managing Your
      Project Budgets:
      Introduction to the
      New Hyperion Planning Project Module
      Best Practices for Your Strategic Oracle EPM Road Map: Building Your 3 Year Plan
      Extending the Value of Oracle eBusiness Suite with Oracle EPM
      2:30 PM
      Hyperion Financial Management 11.1.2.2: Unlimited Dimensionality & Financial Management Analytics
      Optimizing Your Oracle Hyperion Planning & Oracle Essbase Outlines
      Exalytics: In-Memory Business Intelligence for Oracle Essbase & OBIEE
      3:20 PM
      Break
      3:50 PM
      Breaking Away from the Excel Add-In:
      Welcome to
      Smart View 11.1.2.2 
      Integrating Hyperion Financial Management & Hyperion Planning
       What’s New in
      OBIEE 11.1.1.6:
      Oracle on Your iPhone & Other Cool Things
      4:40 PM
      Drawings / Networking
      5:30 PM
      Dinner/Drinks/Entertainment at Jillian’s at Universal Studios City Walk


      November 5-6
      OAUG Connection Point - EPM&BI
      Orlando, Florida
      Each year, OAUG puts on a 2-day Oracle EPM&BI focused conference.  It has nowhere near as many sessions on Hyperion as Kscope, but it's by far the second-best conference out there.  It has around 50 sessions and this year, interRel is giving 6 of them.  I'm giving a session on Exalytics and other interRel speakers will include Glenn Schwartzberg on Smart View 11.1.2.2, Tracy McMullen on multiple topics, and  Dr. Troy Seguin talking on Predictive Analytics.  We will also have a booth there with our newest 11.1.2.2 books.

      Unlike the Road Trips mentioned above, this conference isn't free.  That said, it's a lot cheaper than OpenWorld with far better targeted content.  If you're in the Southeastern United States, I strongly encourage you to make it to Connection Point at the Peabody Hotel.



      November 15-16ODTUG Seriously Practical - EPM&BI
      Auckland, New Zealand
      ODTUG is putting on two 2-day conferences in Australia and New Zealand in November.  This is the first of those conferences.  There's a charge for them, but it's minimal for the content you get over 2 days. Cameron Lackpour (ACE Director and all-around decent human being) and I are the featured speakers.

      There are actually two tracks: one is focused on Hyperion and Oracle EPM.  The other track is focused on Oracle BI.  I'm giving sessions in both rooms as well as some excellent local speakers and Oracle luminaries.  Make sure you visit the ODTUG website closer to the date for more details.


      November 19-20ODTUG Seriously Practical - EPM&BI
      Melbourne, AustraliaThis is basically the same 2-day, 2-room itinerary as the event in Auckland.  I have presented at the InSync conference in Melbourne before and I love the city.  If you can't make it to Auckland, I'm hoping you can fly down to Melbourne.  They have koalas.

      After this, I hope to return back to the good ole US-of-A with a month to spare before TEOTWAWKI.  I have some final things I need to take care of before December 21.  Among other things, I'm hoping to clean out my Inbox, because my mother always told me that you don't want to face an apocalypse unless you have a clean Inbox.

      Oh, is that all?Seriously?!?  That's the busiest conference schedule I've ever had with the exception of the 3-week multi-continent trip last year with some of the Oracle ACE Directors from the Oracle Technology Network.  I'm hoping that with all those travel dates over the next 2 months, I'll run into some of you in-person.  If you're anywhere near, please try to stop by.  I'm also hoping that all this travel will give me time to blog on airplanes.

      It's good to be back.

      Categories: BI & Warehousing

      Kscope12 - Schedule is Published

      Mon, 2012-01-23 01:08
      Waterpark at the JW Marriott Hill Country2012 will be my final year as conference chair for the Kscope conference.  In case you haven't heard elsewhere, in 2012, it's June 24-28 in San Antonio, TX at the gorgeous JW Marriott Hill Country.  The schedule has been finalized, published, and (I'll humbly admit this since I really had very little to do with it) it's the best schedule I've seen for a conference in my memory.  Yes, historians, the schedule is better than the last Hyperion Solutions conference because there are no marketing sessions (beyond one timeslot for clearly marked vendor sessions) and the content is deep and not just broad.

      It's also not dominated by the software vendor (unlike Solutions).  When the maker of the software speaks (Oracle, in our case), it's because they're asked to speak and on topics we care about.  On the subject of Hyperion, for instance, Oracle is hosting an entire day-long symposium on what's going to be released in the future for Hyperion, Essbase, and OBIEE.  It's led by product development and not the Oracle product marketing guys.

      One of the expansion areas this year is that in the areas of BI and EPM, they're adding more business and introductory content.  Here are all the dedicated BI/EPM tracks for Kscope12 amounting to over 150 sessions (click on the name of each to get a page about each track):
      - Business Intelligence.  This track is led by some of the best OBIEE (and other Oracle BI product areas) people in the business.  The track has been expanded this year as the importance of BI has grown tremendously within Oracle.
      - Essbase.  They have over 50 sessions all on Essbase this year.  This is more than any other conference in the world.  This track will cover intermediate to advanced Essbase sessions you won't get at conferences like Collaborate, Connection Point, or OpenWorld.
      - Essbase Beginner.  This is a new track that allows people who are just getting started in the world of Hyperion to get some introductory training from the best in the business.
      - Hyperion Applications. Hyperion Planning, HFM (Hyperion Financial Management), Hyperion Strategic Finance, and all the other Hyperion applications finally get a track of their own... and it has over 50 sessions dedicated to the Hyperion applications.  Like the Essbase track, this makes it the largest Hyperion application track of any conference in the world.
      - Hyperion Business Content. For the first time in 2012, we are adding a track devoted to the business users.  If you're a director, manager, VP, controller, power user, or any type of person who primarily uses or manages Hyperion/Essbase instead of implementing it, you finally have a place to turn.  Since Solutions ended in 2007, a true Hyperion or EPM business-specific user didn't have dedicated content at any conference.  Collaborate tried (and no offense, failed).  OpenWorld missed dramatically by assuming most users were either CFO's or users with hard-core IT backgrounds.  Business people, welcome to Kscope.

      In addition to those 150+ sessions on Business Intelligence and Enterprise Performance Management, there are other tracks serving the non BI/EPM community:

      If you haven't registered for the conference yet, I will save you $100.  If you've already registered, it's too late.  When you register, put in promo code IRC (it stands for interRel Consulting) and it'll take $100 off whatever the prevailing rate is.  Consider that my gift for you reading this far in the blog (for which $100 is not nearly enough, I'm sure you're thinking).
      Categories: BI & Warehousing

      Hyperion Solutions Roadshow to Denver

      Fri, 2012-01-13 13:07
      Hyperion Solutions Roadshow to Denver - AgendaI just finished booking my travel to Denver for the big Hyperion event on the 24th at the Hyatt Regency (downtown by the convention center).  It's the closest Denver has come to a HUG (Hyperion User Group) meeting since Hyperion got acquired 5 years ago (wow, it's hard to believe Hyperion was acquired in 2007).  Oracle and interRel are putting on a 5+ hour event split across two educational tracks.


      The first track is an introductory track that introduces some products and also covers what's new in Oracle EPM/BI 11.1.2:
      • What’s New in Oracle EPM 11.1.2.1 and OBIEE 11g: A Customer Story with Catholic Health Initiatives
      • Taking Control of Your Hierarchies with Data Relationship Management 
      • Quick Start to Hyperion Financial Close Solutions
      The second track is for people that have more intermediate to advanced experience with Hyperion:
      • Hyperion Financial Reporting: Top 10 Tips & Tricks
      • Thinking Outside the Cube: Non-Financial Applications of Oracle Essbase
      • 10 Reasons Why You Don’t Have to ‘Code’ or ‘Customize’ Hyperion Planning
      I will be giving some of the sessions, Essbase expert and fellow Oracle ACE Director, Glenn Schwartzberg, will be delivering some others, and Oracle and Catholic Health will be splitting the rest.  I'm most excited that Toufic Wakim (one of the greatest Product Development guys in the EPM/BI business unit at Oracle) will be delivering the keynote to start off the day.  He'll be talking about the future of Hyperion in an interactive discussion.  Among other things, Toufic is responsible for development of Smart View and the classic Essbase Excel Add-In, and you've seen how much those products have evolved recently under Toufic's tutelage.  For anyone that's had a chance to hear Toufic speak, his sessions are always hugely attended, hilarious, and full of information.  I will actually be attending his keynote and taking notes (and hopefully, blogging whatever we're allowed to publicly restate).  


      Throughout the day, we'll be having networking time and at the end of the day we're going to have a group dinner and then go to the Colorado Avalanche game after.  I think the Avs play hockey (it's a Canadian ice sport played with sticks, I think), but I'm primarily going to the game to meet the local rocky mountain Hyperion users.  It's time that the users get back together and form a community.  If you're an Oracle client and can fly in on January 24th, send an e-mail to Danielle White and she'll send you more information on registering.  Flights in and out of Denver are cheap and the event is free, so I hope to see you there.
      Categories: BI & Warehousing

      Exalytics - Pricing Has Been Announced

      Thu, 2012-01-12 13:24
      The official catchy Oracle name is "Exalytics In-Memory Machine X2-4" which come to think of it is not very catchy but does sound techie.  Larry Ellison announced Exalytics at OpenWorld 2011 to great fanfare and little details.  In a nutshell, it's Essbase, OBIEE, and TimesTen running in-memory on a really powerful server.  How powerful?  40 Intel cores (4 Intel Xeon E7-4800 processors with 10 cores each), a terabyte of RAM, an InfiniBand backbone (40 GB/s when talking to Exadata), two 10 GB/s ethernet ports for connecting to non-Exadata sources, and 3.6 TB of hard drive.  Imagine Essbase running fully in memory with ethernet speeds so powerful it's like you're running Essbase locally (subject to the speed of your actual corporate network, of course).

      It's an exciting development for those people who want to make BI virtually real-time.  There's even a slightly modified front-end on the OBIEE side of things to make queries a more interactive "speed of thought" activity.  If you want to make Essbase even faster, this is the solution for you.  Early benchmarks have been all over the map (I've seen 5 times improvement all the way up to 80 times improvement) but suffice to say, that once you've tuned your Essbase cubes for running in-memory, you'll be looking at five-fold improvement at the bare minimum.  If you want to learn more, Oracle has an in-depth whitepaper at:

      Various rumors have leaked out on the pricing for Exalytics, but it's now been finalized and posted on the Oracle website. While there are a few places where you can find this on the web this morning (including the actual PDF of the pricing from Oracle), the best summary I've read comes from Chris Kanaracus at IDG.

      Here are the pricing highlights:
      • Hardware: $135,000
      • Processor Licenses of TimesTen: $34,500
      • Named User Licenses of TimesTen: $300
      • Processor Licenses of BI Foundation Suite: $450,000
      • Named User Licenses of BI Foundation Suite: $3,675
      Some additional points:
      • Annual Maintenance is the typical 22% of net.
      • Licenses of TimesTen and BI Foundation Suite must be equal (if I'm reading a footnote on page 8 of the price list correctly).
      • BI Foundation Suite includes Essbase, OBIEE, and Oracle Strategy & Scorecard Management.  The pricing above is the current pricing for BI Foundation Suite (technology price list, page 5).
      • Processors must be licensed for every core meaning full list at processor licensing for every core on the box is almost $20,000,000 (though the article points out that Oracle would probably drop that as much as 70%). That's still a lot of money so I foresee most companies going with the named user license.
      • Oracle will probably discount named users as well. Assume ~50% discount on these (though Chris Kanaracus points out that it can go as much as 70% for large deals). Hardware, following Oracle traditional appliance discounting, will discount at most 25%.
      Following the math, list price for 100 users (the minimum you're allowed to buy) would be about:
      • Hardware: $135,000
      • Software: $397,500
      • List Total: $532,500
      • Discount: $232,500 (25% hardware, 50% software)
      • Net Total: $300,000
      • Maintenance: $66,000 (due on signing for 1st year)
      It's expensive, to say the least, but keep in mind that list for 100 users of just Essbase is $290,000 and this gives you some great hardware, Essbase, OBIEE, and TimesTen with everything pre-installed and configured (reducing your infrastructure costs).  I don't know what Oracle will do if you already own licenses of BI Foundation Suite.  My guess is (and I don't work for Oracle) that they won't make you pay for it again, but you'll at least have to pay for the full hardware and TimesTen.



      Before I leave the subject of Exalytics, I have to point out just how worried SAP is about Exalytics competing with their HANA solution.  SAP's Sanjay Poonen (President, Corporate Officer of Global Solutions at SAP) wrote one of the worst attack pieces I've ever read right after Exalytics was announced.  To summarize his point, Essbase is an old dying OLAP technology that's been around for 20 years and is therefore worthless.  First of all Sanjay, the relational database has been around a lot longer than that and no one is saying that RDBMS' are going away.  But my main problem with his article is that if you take him at face value, he has no idea about Essbase beyond 10 year old bad competitive intelligence information.  To quote from his article he paid to post on Forbes.com:
      Essbase even with all its “optimization” cannot efficiently run in-memory – you still have to do pre-calculations and pre-aggregates, with no ability to do calculations on the fly. You’d have to limit how far the Essbase calculations propagate to ensure performance doesn’t blow up, and insert operations force the indexes in the database to be rebuilt, thus ruining performance...
      Um, not to imply that no one fact checked your essay Mr. Poonen, but you're talking about Essbase Block Storage (the 20 year old technology which most would think means it's more reliable than something released in the last 2 years).  Essbase Aggregate Storage (created about 6 years ago) was created to solve all these problems.  It's a fundamentally different architecture than Essbase block storage: it doesn't need to be aggregated, it doesn't need to be pre-calculated, and it does all formulas and calculations on the fly.  There is no separate index that needs to be rebuilt.  Basically, all your problems you're listing (forgetting that there are many things the Essbase Block Storage does better than any OLAP technology out there), are for the Essbase Block Storage technology.

      I would forgive Sanjay Poonen for just using out-dated information under the excuse that he doesn't have access to Essbase directly, but a simple Google search takes you to the Essbase Wikipedia page where it defines Essbase Aggregate Storage:
      Although block storage effectively minimizes storage requirements without impacting retrieval time, it has limitations in its treatment of aggregate data in large applications, motivating the introduction of a second storage engine, named Aggregate Storage Option (Essbase ASO) or more recently, Enterprise Analytics. This storage option makes the database behave much more similarly to OLAP databases like SQL Server Analysis Services.  Following a data load, Essbase ASO does not store any aggregate values, but instead calculates them on demand.

      That text has been on Essbase's Wikipedia page for a few years, so the only conclusion I can draw is that either Sanjay doesn't know how to use Google, or he was blatantly ignoring the facts.  Assuming he's not a moron, SAP must be very afraid of Exalytics to put this piece together and hope no one pointed out how fundamentally errant the whole discussion is.  I don't have time to point out every one of the wrong things in his article, but if you wish to comment on his article, visit here, and feel free to correct anything you disagree with.

      And just in case Sanjay thinks I'm not willing to stand behind what I write, I challenge him to a cube build-off.  Let's get together and put whatever cube technology SAP is pushing today (SAP BW?  SAP BIW?  Business Objects?  HANA?) up against Essbase.  You and I can jointly benchmark cube build time, query time, calculation time, whatever you want, and we'll both jointly publish the results.  If you're not afraid of how the results will come out, call my office at 01-972-735-8716.  Ask for Edward Roske and say it's Sanjay Poonen calling.  I'll make sure my receptionist knows to forward your call to my cell anywhere I am in the world.  I look forward to hearing from you.

      When does Exalytics release?
      Exalytics should be generally available soon, but it has to wait until, among other things, Essbase 11.1.2.2 comes out since they're tweaking Essbase to run better in-memory.  If I had to guess, I'd say before the end of Oracle's fiscal year (May 2012).  Exalytics will continue to make Oracle Essbase and OBIEE a factor to be reckoned with going forward.  I'm told there's a waiting list for the first Exalytics boxes to come off the line, so call your Oracle rep now if you're interested.
      Categories: BI & Warehousing

      Blogs - EPM, Hyperion, and Essbase

      Sun, 2011-11-27 15:37
      Blog Seeking Blogs
      Hello, all.  I wanted to wait to do a new blog posting until after the holidays.  Originally, I meant Easter which turned into Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Father's Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Black Friday Continued, Cyber Monday Pre-Sale, and a whole lot of other very important holidays.  Rather than wait until Christmas, I thought I would do a very brief blog entry.


      Since I started this blog a few years ago, many blogs have sprung up that have excellent information.  I'm sure I don't know about all of them, so I'd like your help in linking to the great Oracle EPM, Hyperion, and Essbase blogs I may be missing.  Have a look at the scroll on the right (if you're reading this through RSS, go to http://looksmarter.blogspot.com/ and look on the right).  If there's something it seems like I'm missing, comment on this entry and I'll add it.


      My only criteria is that the blog not be a wholly self-serving marketing blog designed to drive traffic to that person's company's website.  For instance, readers of my blog historically find it difficult to find out what company I actually work for (it's interRel, by the way).  This is because I believe one should be educated first and if they like what you're sharing, they'll seek you out for work.


      Calc Script Class on December 8
      Now that I've said that, allow me to be slightly hypocritical for a second and mention that I am teaching one of my once a year "Advanced Essbase: Calc Scripts for Mere Mortals" day-long classes.  I do this once a year and it's about the only time I ever teach a paid class.  Unlike previous years, it's a virtual class, so you can take it from anywhere in the world.  If you want to learn about writing Essbase BSO (and ASO) calc scripts, the class is December 8 and it's open to customers of Oracle and partners as well.  The class is $995 USD and at last check, there were a couple of spots open (awesomeness of the virtual classes).  For more info, visit http://www.interrel.com/currenttraining.aspx.  To register, send an e-mail to Danielle White.


      Returning to my original point, if you know of some great blogs I'm missing, comment on the blog with the new address (and yes, it's fine to mention your own blog).
      Categories: BI & Warehousing

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