Why I created a blog

Its been four years since I first created this blog. It has remained true to Essbase and related information over those years. Hopefully it has answered questions and given you insight over those years. I will continue to provide my observations and comments on the ever changing world of EPM. Don't be surprised if the scope of the blog changes and brings in other Hyperion topics.

Monday, March 2, 2015

We all need to thank Applied OLAP

I typically don’t single out a person or company in my blog, but am doing so today. Tim Tow, Oracle Ace Director, Owner of Applied OLAP, Essbase friend and evangelist, on his blog announce the release of newest version of the Next generation Outline extractor .

Why the big deal? Why am I praising him? First, Tim maintains the code for his love of Essbase, he makes no money from it. Second, it cost him money. Time taken from billable work to make changes is a cost, plus, he has his help desk support people assist anyone with a problem again at no cost.

That is all well and good, but the final thing is his responsiveness in improving the product. I emailed Tim on a Wednesday asking about missing features of the relational extract. Tim and I exchanged a few emails about what I would like to see and how I thought it should work.  By Sunday, I had a beta version of extractor with all I asked for and more.  I know from Tim’s questions that I was not getting work he had already planned, but that he had modified the product for me.  After my testing the changes (I found no bugs), he has released it to the Essbase world.

We all need to tank Tim and Applied OLAP for their continued support of the Hyperion community. I don’t work for Tim, but do think his products are awesome. It is nice that he puts as much care into the free products he supports as he does for his fantastic Dodeca product.

Friday, February 13, 2015

FixParallel–How fast is fast?

Addendum to this blog post.

I lied, I lied, but not intentionally. When I wrote this post, I thought it was true and the timings were as I saw them, but upon further investigation, It turns out I had encountered a bug with FixParallel where including the set DataExportRelationalFile  on causes some problem with data exports using FixParallel.  The export only returned data for one node of the hierarchy not the entire hierarchy as it should have.  Unfortunately, I don’t have access to rerun the tests again. This issue was fixed in 11.1.2.4 and I think a patch for 11.1.2.3.5X that had not been installed on the system I was using. I’m guessing the performance will still be faster than without it, but can’t give you correct numbers

Sorry if I misled you

*****************************************************************************

I have finally been able to use FixParallel introduced in 11.1.2.3.500 on an Exalytics server. I’ve used it for for calculations and dataexports, so how fast is it and does it really make a difference?

For my allocations calculations, I really can’t tell you how much of a difference it made, but I know it was a lot faster to do my allocations with FixParalled than without it. I just didn’t capture the times.

For my DataExport, I was able to measure the difference.  I was exporting 1083702 level 0 blocks in column format with a block size of 9984b. I created a Dataexport calc script and set CalcParallel to16 in the script. Running it took 336.95 seconds. I thought that was reasonable, but I wanted better.

I changed the script to use FixParallel using 16 threads across my location dimension which has abut 800 members. The calculation took 9.94 seconds. If I multiply out that number by 16 I come up with 159.04 seconds so it it telling me the FixParrallel calculation is improving performance more than just the parallelization of the script.

What I did not expect is; just like ParallelExport, the FixParallel dataexport created a file for each thread, so instead of one file I ended up with 15. They were named with a suffix of _T? where ? was a number between 1 and 15.  (not sure why I didn’t have 16 files).  I also don’t know what would happen f the file size spanned 2 gig. Would it append a _1 to the file name? I tried reducing the number of threads  to 3 and reran the script. Alas, I ended up with only three files so I can’t give you an answer. But interestingly the script took 690.63 seconds, much longer that the script without FixParallel, so apparently there it tuning we can do to the script.  I could try including another dimension in my FixParallel, but am happy with my less than 10 second export. Perhaps a test for another day.

So is FixParallel worth it, my testing says YES! FixParallel for me was an awesome new feature and one I will use often.

Everything must come to an end

I finally got my new laptop after having a loaner for over a month so I can now resume blogging (at least more easily).  I’ve been excited about all of the new features and functionality of Essbase 11.1.2.4 and there has bee a flurry of blogs that have described that functionality. Today, Tim Tow posted one feature going away the VB API.   There are a number of other features that you might not be aware of as either completely gone or depreciated so they won’t be supported in the future.

So first what is already gone?

  1. Essbase Native Security. Shared services should be used to manage and maintain users.
  2. Essbase Integration Services. The writing has been on the wall for this for a while with Essbase Studio taking its place, there is little need to duplicate functionality. Of course along with this goes Hybrid analysis.
  3. VB API (Time talks about that in his blog)
  4. A number of Configuration file (Essbase.cfg) settings. I believe the functionality has been built into the base product so these are no longer needed.
      • PRELOADALIASNAMESPACE

      • PRELOADMEMBERNAMESPACE

      • PRELOADUDANAMESPACE

      • MAXACTIVEUPDATETRANSACTIONS

      • MAXTOTALACTIVETRANSACTIONS

So what is depreciated (This means not recommend for use and will most likely go away completely in the next release)

  1. Direct I/O Can’t say I’m sorry to see this go. I’ve never had an implementation where it was advantageous to use it and it always seemed to be buggy.
  2. Outline change log. While not widely used I do have some clients that use this for SOX compliance so the auditors can track who made outline changes and when. I’m hoping a new method for tracking this will be forthcoming.
  3. Currency Conversion applications and Currency partitions. I don’t know anyone who used currency applications. Most consultants I know build it themselves within the primary cube. That said, Oracle announced at Open World last September that they are working on incorporating more HFM like financial functionality into Essbase, so I would expect to see a new method for currency conversion to appear at some point.
  4. Data compression types ZLIB and None. Don’t know anyone who used them. I guess it means a certification test question will need to be updated. Really since Essbase already figures out what compression a block should use, these are outdated.
  5. Linked Partitions. While a great idea, no one uses them (ok I have one client that implemented them, but doesn’t really use them)
  6. the EAS API. again a nice idea to customize EAS, who really needed to do so,
  7. Network File System (NFS) protocol on Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Who really cares. I think this was for Windows NT which is long gone.
  8. MaxL statements relating to security. I believe this goes along with all of the other security changes. getting rid of the Essbase.sec file. I will miss this one as I used it as do some clients to automate some security processes. It means I’ll finally have to learn JAVA and use the JAVA Shared Services API to replicate what I did in the past.  These are the commands going away.
    • alter user statement—only the add [to group] and remove [from group] grammar is deprecated

    • create group statement—the entire statement is deprecated

    • create user statement—the entire statement is deprecated

    • display group statement—only the all grammar is deprecated

    • display user statement—only the all grammar is deprecated

    • drop group statement—all grammar is deprecated except for the from security_file grammar

    • drop user statement—all grammar is deprecated except for the from security_file grammar

  9. XOLAP is being limited to Teradata, Netezza and IBM DB2. Really these are where it was being used on higher powered machines so it makes sense.

With all of the great changes occurring in Essbase, I am sure Oracle is getting rid of code that makes the changes difficult or had to be modified or maintained with the changes. As can be seen from the list, Most will have minimal impact on users. If there are any of the depreciated features that are critical to your organization, let Oracle know, They do listen. (If you like you can communicate through me). While they may not keep a feature, they may have other ways coming out to accomplish what you need to do.

 

In closing I say Rest in peace to those items already removed 

 Image result for rest in peace pictures

and for those processes on life support get ready for the plug to be pulled

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FixParallel–How fast is fast?

I have finally been able to use FixParallel introduced in 11.1.2.3.500 on an Exalytics server. I’ve used it for for calculations and dataexports, so how fast is it and does it really make a difference?

For my allocations calculations, I really can’t tell you how much of a difference it made, but I know it was a lot faster to do my allocations with FixParalled than without it. I just didn’t capture the times.

For my DataExport, I was able to measure the difference.  I was exporting 1083702 level 0 blocks in column format with a block size of 9984b. I created a Dataexport calc script and set CalcParallel to16 in the script. Running it took 336.95 seconds. I thought that was reasonable, but I wanted better.

I changed the script to use FixParallel using 16 threads across my location dimension which has abut 800 members. The calculation took 9.94 seconds. If I multiply out that number by 16 I come up with 159.04 seconds so it it telling me the FixParrallel calculation is improving performance more than just the parallelization of the script.

What I did not expect is; just like ParallelExport, the FixParallel dataexport created a file for each thread, so instead of one file I ended up with 15. They were named with a suffix of _T? where ? was a number between 1 and 15.  (not sure why I didn’t have 16 files).  I also don’t know what would happen f the file size spanned 2 gig. Would it append a _1 to the file name? I tried reducing the number of threads  to 3 and reran the script. Alas, I ended up with only three files so I can’t give you an answer. But interestingly the script took 690.63 seconds, much longer that the script without FixParallel, so apparently there it tuning we can do to the script.  I could try including another dimension in my FixParallel, but am happy with my less than 10 second export. Perhaps a test for another day.

So is FixParallel worth it, my testing says YES! FixParallel for me was an awesome new feature and one I will use often.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Essbase Config file changes

Throughout time, I have come up with a list of Essbase configuration file settings that I typically use in my implementations. As the versions come out, new settings are added and it appears in the 11.1.2.3.5X versions a bunch of new setting are there, or at least I now noticed them.

Some of the new settings I’ll be adding to my list are

DIMBUILDERRORLIMIT – signifies the number of error rows during a dimension build. This is similar to the DATALOADERRORLIMIT Both has a maximum of 65K rows

ENABLERTSVLOGGING – Logs Run time variable usage in log files

ESTIMATEDHASHSIZE – Specifies in millions the number of member name and aliases loaded in memory for outline maintenance. While I don’t know for sure, I think this is meant to allow up to open really big ASO outlines.

ENABLESWITCHTOBACKUPFILE – enables the automated switching to the backup security log file if the Essbase.sec file gets corrupted. Looks good for automated recovery.

SSINVALIDTEXTDETECTION – Controls if an error is shown when a user enter in text that could cause Essbase to misinterpret the the data. Especially useful for asymmetrical grids.

 

There are a lot more settings that have been added over time. Take time to go back through the tech reference and read each setting. Some have changed like SSPROCROWLIMIT) other have been removed and many more added. Stay current and adjust your systems accordingly. Remember, many settings require a Essbase server restart to take effect.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I’m sure you are better than I am!

Have you sat through a conference session and thought “I can do a better job than the presenter” (most likely me) or thought, it would be really cool to talk about (insert cool  thing you did here).  Here is your chance, submissions for the Kscope conference are due by October 15th. Click Here to enter your submission.

If you are a little concerned about speaking.then partner with your favorite consulting firm on the presentation.  Only the primary presenter gets the free pass, but the consulting firm would most likely be willing to speak with you anyway.  Just make sure you include them as the secondary speaker in the abstract or they won’t be allowed to speak. This is a great way to give back for all the help you received along your learning path.

People are really interested in what you have to share. Give it a try, it won’t hurt

Friday, August 22, 2014

Is it really fame and fortune?

Fame and fortune and everything that goes with it, I thank you all!

I was reminded about this line from a Queen song as I returned from a speaking tour in Latin America through Oracle Technology Network and the Oracle ACE program.  I travelled to 6 countries in 15 days and may or may not blog about it later. Back to the song; I was asked a few times about how much Oracle paid me to do the tour and was I an Oracle employee. While Oracle paid for the airline and hotel, I paid for food and incidentals and no I don’t work for Oracle. In reality, with lost income and expenses, it costs me a lot to do the tour.

So why did I do it?  Is it for fame as the song says? While I found it funny that participants in other countries wanted to take pictures with me and others on the tour, I didn’t do it for notoriety. It is not fame or infamy that drives me to share my limited knowledge.  As I explained to one person, through the years working in technology, others helped me along the way. They patiently answered my questions, suggested solutions, shared their knowledge and gave me encouragement.  Like most others in the Oracle ACE Director program, I am giving back to the community that helped me. The current overused phrase is paying it forward but this fits to well in this case to use any other phrase. 

My good friend Cameron Lackpour spends too many hours doing the same, researching, giving his knowledge for free for the betterment of the community, all at a great personal loss as much of what he does is non-billable.  Why do I bring this up? I is certainly not for a pat on the back for your pity (for me or MMIP, Cameron), but to urge you to get involved in the same manner.

It sounds like a cliché, but volunteer work is an incredibly rewarding activity. In part volunteering is giving back to the community that helped you get where you are professionally (and even personally) – call it paying forward, or paying your psychic debt, or just helping others as you have been helped. But there’s a deeper aspect to volunteer work as well. Humans are imperfect moral beings, but one of our better drives is to Do Good Things. It just feels good to be good. Try it, you’ll like it.

I know what you are going to say “I don’t know as much as Cameron does or Glenn pretends to (, so I can’t help”. To this I say poppycock. Firstly you probably know more than you think you do and can help others with their questions. Secondly, even if it is true that your knowledge is limited, you can still help. Get involved with your local user group, on-line community, favorite conference, or write a blog about your experiences, trial and tribulations. If you read my blog, you are part of the Hyperion EPM community, are stalking me, or are weird. The Hyperion EPM community is a growing living entity that only gets better by sharing.  I know Cameron is looking for people to help with the ODTUG EPM community that just started up. Become involved, if not with that then with something. Pay it forward and have a personal satisfaction that you helped and I will thank you all!

 

post script. I communicated with Cameron about this post since I mention him heavily in It and got this response:

This is Cameron aka MMIP. If you are interested in getting involved with ODTUG’s EPM community, I encourage you to sign up at ODTUG’s volunteer page: http://www.odtug.com/volunteer

We have many exciting initiatives including:

· Local meetups

· Content sourcing for:

· Webinars

· ODTUG Technical Journal articles

· EPM Newsletter articles

They are starting up and need volunteers to make them happen. This is your chance to define the future of the EPM community.

To Glenn’s point, don’t be shy about contributing. When I first met Glenn at Kaleidoscope 2008, he wasn’t:

· My friend

· An Oracle ACE Director (only an ACE)

· An Oralce EPM community rock star

· A trusted advisor and voice to many

But he is today, in large part because of his endless and valuable volunteer work. I’ve done my best to emulate him and the results have been very rewarding. The same can be true for you. I look forward to talking to you on an EPM community initiative conference call and look even more forward to the great work you’ll do.

Be seeing you.