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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Smart View Patch to a patch

In September, Smart View patch 11.1.2.1.102 was released which gave us parity with the Excel Add-in. While it is great, I was informed by a colleague that there is a newer version of the patch available. I checked on Oracle support and sure enough, there is now 11.1.2.1.103 available. It is only for Smart View, there don’t appear to be equivalent patches for Essbase, APS or any other  products. Below are the fixes in this patch. If you go to the support site and look up the patch, there are also known issues that are worth looking at. 

• 6928106

General: Smart View cannot display member names and their aliases at the same time.

• 12828079

General: When Smart View is enabled in PowerPoint, images are displayed as blanks during Slide Shows.

• 12858015

General: When you perform web launch from Financial Reporting with a report that has multiple members in the POV, the POV selection is lost in Smart View.

12896500

General: If Smart View is located in a different directory from that specified in the server, Excel may terminate abruptly with this runtime error: "Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime Library…"

• 12957863

General: When you to open or save a Smart View Excel file, you may get this message: "Microsoft Office Excel experienced a serious problem with the 'oracle hyperion smart view for office, fusion edition' add-in. If you have seen this message multiple times, you should disable this add-in and check to see if an update is available. Do you want to disable this add-in?"

• 11779755

Essbase: When you change the POV, you may get this error: “Invalid start location.”

• 12918727

Essbase: If you are connected to a non-unique Essbase outline from a multiple-grid worksheet, you may get this error: "Invalid spread sheet data. An application protocol error might exist between server and client processes."

• 13242869

Essbase: When the Use Excel Formatting option is selected, cells that contain formulas may display the formulas rather than data after you refresh. In addition, cell formatting may change from general to text.

12854000

Planning: In the Smart View Panel, Planning folders and forms are not displayed the same order that they are in Planning. Instead, they are displayed in alphabetical order.

12902911

Planning: In ad hoc grids, cross-worksheet references in formulas do not work; the formula itself is displayed in the cell rather than the contents of the cell referenced.

• 12908185

Planning: When you search for members using the drop-down menus in the Page section of a Planning data form, Smart View may take an inordinate amount of time to return the members.

• 13001747

Planning: When you try to open Smart View from within Planning, you receive a Microsoft Excel error.

• 13253314

Planning: If the first worksheet of a composite form contains a formula, you cannot submit data from the other worksheets in the composite form.

• 13403509

Planning: After refreshing, column widths are reset even if Adjust Column Width is selected.

• 13419370

Planning: The "The form contains unsaved data." warning mesage is not displayed when you refresh a composite form.

• 13255112

Financial Management: Excel files in which Smart View is enabled may take a long time to open.

• 13401856

Financial Management: If "Member Name and Description" is selected as a member name display option, Smart View only displays only the description.

• 12559490

Reporting and Analysis: When you attempt to export a Financial Reporting query-ready report to Smart View, you get an error.

12982945

Reporting and Analysis: When you import a functional grid from Financial Reporting into Smart View, the formatting may be lost.

• 13093388

Reporting and Analysis: After you upgrade to Smart View 11.1.2.1.102, Excel may not launch.

• 13365904

Reporting and Analysis: After you upgrade to Smart View 11.1.2.1.102, Excel may terminate abruptly.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A different way to do currency conversion

I was at a client and needed to do some currency conversion for an application I was writing (BSO). In their case they had over 50 different currencies they would need to convert to USD (and only to USD). Their requirement was no maintenance to the calc scripts would be necessary if a new currency was added. The build of the currency dimension and loading of currency rates was automated in earlier versions of the project.  I got to thinking about the possibilities and the first thing that came to mind was to parse out a UDA and use it in my script. But alas, there is no function to do that. One idea down.

Next, I thought about an external table where I could pass a cost center number and pull in the currency rate for it. I would need a Custom Defined Function (CDF) to do this. This was a possible solution as my cube is built from Essbase Studio and I could write a SQL query to get the currency for any cost center and link that to the currency table to pull in the rate. Sadly, the client did not want to use CDFs in their environment. Plus, I don’t have one written to do that and am unsure of the speed as I have about 20k cost centers it would have to work against.

So finally, I thought of attribute dimensions. The client is on 11.1.2.1 and I remembered seeing some new attribute functions recently, I don’t remember what version but I think it was 11.1.1.1. So I looked through the tech reference and there was what I was looking for. @AttributeSVal. The function returns the string attribute value for the selected member. So I started experimenting.

First a little background. My cube has the following dimensions

Accounts – This is a standard account structure. It contains a balance sheet and multiple versions of a P&L. Each account is tagged with the type of rate it uses for conversion as a UDA (AVG or EOM).  It also has a section for statistical accounts. Included in this section buried are Average_rate, and EOM_Rate. (and a couple of others)

Periods – nothing special here, periods rolling to quarters

Years – just a list of years. Nothing special

Currency – This dimension has two parts. First are two members USD and Local. Data is loaded in as local and has to be converted to USD.  The second part of this dimension contains all of the currency codes used in the system

Scenario – again nothing  Actual and multiple forecast members.There are also some calculated members in this.

Organization. This is their entity structure. I won’t bore you with the structure, but the bottom level is cost center and this is where currency conversion needs to be done.

Products –again nothing special, This is a typical product hierarchy.

To this I added a new attribute dimension called Cost Center_Currency - It had the same members as are in the second part of the currency dimension (all the currency codes) but to make the member names unique, I prefixed them with the three letters “CUR” For example “USD” would be “CURUSD” and “EUR” would be “CUREUR”. I then associated this attribute dimension with the Organization dimension and wrote a quick load rule to populate the associations between cost center and the attribute dimension. I made sure if any cost center was missing an attribute member, I defaulted it to CURUSD. I figured is there was no currency conversion USD was always set to 1 anyway.No harm, no foul.

Now for the fun part, creating the calc script. I won’t bore you with the set statements or aggregations, etc, but just the currency conversion part. I’ll warn you at this point, I have changed the dimensions from the client to make it  generic and am not cutting and pasting code but typing it in by hand, so there could be minor typos in it. 

First a fix statement. I need to make sure I am at level zero Organization and other dimensions. I use substitution variables for the year and period I am going to calculate. I am going to replicate the script so I have different versions for Actual and forecast (I use different budget rates for forecasts).  Also note if the account does not have a UDA then I assume it is not convertible and make USD equal to Local. (This is because there are some non monetary items in the account structure).  Product has multiple rollups so I only grab the primary one and I only want the income statement and Balance sheet from Accounts.

Fix(&Year,&Per,Actual,@LEVMBRS(“Organization”,0),@relative(“All products”,0),@relative(“Income Statement”,0), @relative(“Balance Sheet”,0))

“USD(

IF (@ISUDA(“Accounts”,”AVG”)

“USD” = Local * @MEMBER(@SUBSTRING(@ATTRIBUTESVAL(“CostCenter_Currency”),3))->”No product”->”No Organization”->”Average_Rate”;

ElseIF (@ISUDA(“Accounts”,”EOM”)

“USD” = Local * @MEMBER(@SUBSTRING(@ATTRIBUTESVAL(“CostCenter_Currency”),3))->”No product”->”No Organization”->”EOM_Rate”;

ELSE

“USD” = “Local”;

END

)

EndFIX

So what does this do. First, I check to see what rate to use.(the IF statement). Next, I am getting the local value for each account. The

@MEMBER(@SUBSTRING(@ATTRIBUTESVAL(“CostCenter_Currency”),3))

is taking the value of the attribute dimension for the cost center we are working on and getting a substring of it starting in column 3. (remember when we created the dimension we added a prefix CUR to be beginning of the actual currencies).  Once we have the currency code back, it is returned as a string, so using @member we turn it back into a member name.  I then am using the cross dimension operators to define the intersections in the other dimensions where rates are stored.

The one issue I has was I forgot to tag my “No organization” member with an attribute value at first. When it got to that member, it crashed the calculation.

There you have it, a dynamic calc script to calculate currency conversion that does not need to be maintained. In my case, the dimensions were not huge so it ran pretty quick. I did find if I added dimensions to the cube, it slowed down considerably. I think the best use of this type of code would be in a business rule where you are fixing on one or a few cost centers but it could be used on bigger sets of data as well.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Open World is a wrap

I’m sitting at the SFO airport waiting for an 11pm flight home after a looooong 9 days in San Francisco for the Oracle Ace Directors meeting and Oracle Open World. From my earlier blogs, you should surely have seen the announcement of the Exlytic machine so I won’t repeat it here. I sat through a lot of sessions, most on stragetic direction and/or roadmap. They seemed to blur together as the slides overlapped in many of them. There was talk of many enhancements and potential new products. I say potential because until I have my fat little hands on them, they are just a dream to me.

Interestingly, I think the best sessions of the conference were today (Thursday) when most people had packed up and gone home. I sat through a session on Fusion Apps and EPM and the voice in that session was how important Essbase and the Hyperion applications are to Fusion apps. As others have reported, Essbase is the engine beneath many of the apps and the apps have been designed to integrate seamlessly with Planning, HFM, Financial Close and other applications. Since Fusion apps have now been released, we should quickly see how they work. 

I next sat through a Smart View session and saw interesting things they are for HFM and  what they are working on for Essbase. For OFA customers who are switching to Essbase, there will be (insert standard disclaimer here) a new “Set” retrieval that looks like the OFA retrieves.

I ended the day going to the “It’s a wrap” party where I listened to Berlin for a while, then went and got one of my favorite dinners. There is a restaurant in SF called Cioppinos that of course serves the fish stew cioppino. It was a great way to end my time in SF.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I touched a machine and I liked it

photo (6)

With apologies to Katy Perry for the title. (My daughter would be amazed I actually know who Katy Perry is, but that’s a different story); I got my first look at the actual Exalytics machine. Well a sample box. and here is what it looks like. I would love to get my hands on one and try some client applications on it. I am going to two sessions today that give more details of the machine. Stay tuned!!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Larry’s Keynote

Sitting with Edward Roske, listening to  Larry Ellison’s Keynote.Forgive me if this post is a little disjointed as I’m typing as I listen. I’m going to post this  He spoke about the success of the Exadata and Exalogic machine. His  talk discussed  parallel processing and the infinaband network to make it fast. Moving data fast is the key to speed of processing. Everything including the VM had to be optimized for performance and reliability. Another performance enhancement is 10X data compression which means les cost and less data movement. Again this means moving data  faster.  In the Exalogic case 100 times faster. Add to all of this DRAM and Flash to put almost everything in memory to create optimal speed for lower cost.
Why am I talking about all of this and how does it relate to Essbase? Well I let the cat out of the bag in my previous post. Larry announced the new Exalytics Intelligence Machine. Extreme performance  In Memory Analytics. Hardware and software merged to provide speed of thought Analysis (Gee we have been saying that about Essbase for years).  Now there is a machine than can support it. It uses a completely different UI. Everything is in memory, parallel versions of OBIEE< Essbase and Times 10.  This means huge improvements in Essbase performance. There will be a new UI for this machine because of the speed of query. It will be adaptive self tuning of  in-memory cache to optimize query based on workload.
lphoto (4)
Look at the hardware specs. Impressive
photo 2
Here is what the performance improvement is for OBIEE
photo (5)
Here is Essbase performance
photo 1 (2)
Notice the comparison of Essbase 11.1.2.1 vs. 11.1.2.2 for Exalytics. I guess they had to make some changes for in memory processing
photo 2 (2)
Finally a summary
photo 3
Daddy(Edward), I want one for the holidays. Will you buy me one?

Exciting news from Open World

I attended the Hyperion SIG meeting today (Sunday) at Oracle Open World and heard something that made my heart race. There on a slide on Major announcements for this year was the announcement of a new BI machine I believe the name was Exalytics. Larry is supposed to have details in his keynote, but this is exciting. From the short announcement, it sounded like a machine designed/optimized and integrated for optimal BI performance. There could be huge performance improvements from a standard install. It follows the Exadata and Exalogic machines from past years.

Two other announcements were:

Financial Management Analytics. This is OBIEE based real time analysis from HFM

sustainability Reporting Starter Kit. Again this goes against HFM. It is built on the GRI framework.

I don’t have much information on any of these, but I’ll blog the details when I know more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Smartview Enhancements

It is rare that I have multiple blog posts in a single day, but I am so excited to see this come out. Smartview 11.1.2.102 is available as a patch set on Support.oracle.com. Big deal you say, its just another patch! Oh how wrong you are my friends. This is the patch of all patches. The patch we have been waiting our collective lives for.  Why, because it makes Smartview act and behave like the Essbase add-in and more.

The first thing that I consider a fix is you can no do a submit data without first refreshing the sheet if you make changes to it. Second, we have all checked the “Use Excel formatting” option only to find the formatting disappears if we zoom in or pivot. Well, now it really does work. and it works in two ways. If checked, it leaves the excel formatting completely alone. For example, if you highlight cell C3 as red, and you pivot a page member to a row, cell C3 will still be red.  But the Smartview team has figured how to set it so if you zoom in, the formatting gets carried along with the zoom in. Very nice!!

But that is just the beginning. Here are some of my favorite new things. (note, I’m writing this from my experience with the Beta, some features in the final version may not have been implemented exactly as I describe them. Since this patch came out, I’ve not had time to install and test it)

Items that are now in Parity with the Add-in

1. You can select multiple members to do Ad Hoc operations on at one time (zoom in, zoom out, Keep only, remove only). This is not limited to just row or column member, you can select both at the same time

2. Support for LROs and Linked Partitions.

3. Aliases. There are two items here. first, you can have both the member name and aliases on rows in the report and second and one of my favorites, if you use an alias from an alias table that is not active, Smartview now understands it and returns the member name or alias for the active alias table (depending on what you have your options set to)

4. SHEET LEVEL OPTIONS are back!!!!!!!!! All options are defined as sheet level options and are stored with the sheet. that means you no longer have to worry about what happens if you change options and then do a retrieve on a different sheet. Also, There is now a dropdown on the options dialog so when you change your options, you can set a default set. This default set is used when new sheets are created.

5. All of the zoom options that you know and love in the add-in are now available. They are also on the ribbon bar as a dropdown on zoom in so you can select the zoom level/type you want to do.

6. Formula preservation and Formula fill are working like they should and then some. In the add in, if you pivoted in the add in you would lose the formulas. In this release, in most cases, the formulas are preserved. They may no longer be accurate based on what you did, but they will be there.

7. While the new features document does not talk about it, I believe range retrievals are back. You can highlight an area of a report and as long as al of the dimensions are represented , you can retrieve just that part of the report

New and enhanced items.

While the above items allow for Parity, the Smartview team was not satisfied with just making things the same. In a number of areas, the went miles beyond what the Add in could do. Here are some of the things.

1. You can have multiple grids on a single sheet. Remember the old message “Multiple grids on a single sheet are not supported at this time” Well the time has come and that message can now be archived forever. You can set up multiple connections to the same or different databases and do a refresh and they all update. I had 4 different reports on a single sheet and they all pulled data properly.

2. Butterfly and reverse formatted reports are now available. A butterfly report is where member names are in the middle with number on each side (as shown below. Note, the numbers are not from sample basic. I made then up to show a report sample)

image

You can also do a reverse report where the member names follow the data values

image

3. While 11.1.2.1 allowed you to hide the POV, in this new version, you actually are not hiding it, but putting it onto the sheet. In this new version, the POV members are stored on the sheet in row 1 (or wherever you designate them to be. When you enable the POV, it hides the row on the sheet. Changing the member names on the sheet or in the POV bar affects both locations. Another nice feature with the POV is you can type in member names directly if you know them. (it was actually introduced in 11.1.2.1)

4. A Member information button has been added to the ribbon bar. From this you can get almost all of the information about a member such as generation and level, consolidation properties, aliases, attribute associations, formulas, comments and UDAs.

5. within the Smartview connection information dialog, new functionality has been included. for multiple grids on a single sheet, you can delete the connection info (currently the only way to reset multiple connections) and also copy off the connection into to a sheet to send to someone if you are having issues with your retrievals so they know what you are connected to.

6. A host of new VBA toolkit functions have been added. The development team asked what APIs people are using and turned most of them into toolkit macros. This is very handy so you don’t need to code to the API any more, you can do it all with macros.

 

as with any release, there are disclaimers and this is no exception. In the new features document is the following

Unless otherwise noted, the features described here are available only in Smart View 11.1.2.1.102 connected to Oracle Essbase 11.1.2.1.102 through Oracle Hyperion Provider Services 11.1.2.1.102. They are not available in other releases of Smart View, Essbase, or Provider Services. They are not available in data providers other than Essbase.

This means that you have to install the patches for Smartview, APS and Essbase to take advantage of the features. You can use this version of Smartview with older versions of APS but won’t have the new features available.

AS for upgrades, here is what the support matrix says

You can upgrade to Smart View Release 11.1.2.1.102 from the following releases:

Release Upgrade Path From To
11.1.2.1.x 11.1.2.1.102
11.1.2.1.102 11.1.2.1.102
11.1.1.3.x 11.1.2.1.102
9.3.3.x 11.1.2.1.102

I am truly excited about this release. It gives us things we have been asking for in the add in for a long time and now puts Smartview ahead of the add in in functionality.    

I should also note, Cameron Lackpour has posted on his blog an Oracle presentation you can attend to see the new features demonstrated. Read about it here

A Special track at Kscope 12

Kscope12 (I actually hate the name, I much preferred Kaleidoscope, Sorry Edward) is 9 months away, so why am I writing about it now. For a few reasons. First, the call for abstracts is open and ends October 28th. I’ll post the actual announcement from an email I got from ODTUG later in the blog.
Second, I want to announce a special track that is being added and would like your feedback. The Track is a Beginner’s Essbase (and related products) track. For the past few years, I have commented how the Kaleidoscope conference is the most technical conference I have been to and how  you can hear things here that you can’t get anywhere else. It has been true, but in hindsight, this is also a bad thing. I think we have intimidated some newer admins/developers/super users and scared them away from the conference. In my infinite wisdom (stupidly), I put together a proposal for a beginners track and submitted it to the conference committee. The accepted the idea and made me the track chair for it. Now you know why I say stupidity.
At any rate, I’m looking for what sessions new people would want to attend. These are not lab sessions nor are they a boot camp, but should fill in the gaps of people who have taken those or have learned themselves.  There are three ways you can get me your ideas.
1. If it is something you would be interested in presenting, submit an abstract  Here. You get a free conference pass if your abstract is accepted.
2. If it is a session you would want, but don’t want to present yourself. you can submit your idea here
3. If you don’t like either of the ideas above, comment on the blog post and a copy gets emailed to me.
As I promised, and so I have more content in my blog without having to actually having to come up with it myself, Here is the email I got from ODTUG about sessions.
The countdown is on – only six weeks left to submit an abstract for consideration for Kscope12.
Do you want to join the best and the brightest, the most technical minds in your field?
Submit your abstract in one of these topic areas:
Abstracts are due by October 28.
Why Present?
  • You will receive a complimentary conference registration worth more than $1,400.
  • Your paper and presentation slides will be published in the Conference Proceedings.
  • Your paper will be published in the ODTUG.com Technical Database where all ODTUG members can download it - giving you long-term exposure.
  • Presenting at ODTUG Kscope looks excellent on your résumé and demonstrates to your clients and/or employer that you are good at what you do.
  • It just feels good to share your knowledge with an interested group of people.
  • You will definitely learn something unique from your audience.
Don’t Want to Present?
No problem! We still want your feedback. Is there a session you would like to attend at Kscope12? Submit a suggestion here.
Also, make sure to register to attend Kscope12 at the Early, Early Bird Rate, which runs through October 15.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Your input is needed

It is hard to believe that abstracts for KScope12 are already due. Seems like the conference was only yesterday.  This provides two opportunities for you.

1. Submit an abstract to present. If your abstract is selected with you as the presenter, you get a free pass to the conference. You still have to pay your own travel, hotel and meals, but this is quite a savings for you. you can submit your abstract at Kscope12 content.

It is a good idea to read the hints on abstract submission on the page, it will help make your abstract stand out so it is selected.

2. We hear every year “I wish there was a session on XYZ” well, even if you don’t want to present here is your chance to get the session you want selected for the conference. Just go to Kscope abstract suggestions and put down your ideas. This is the conference for you and we want it to have sessions that you want to hear. Don’t worry, we will go through them and find suitable speakers.

Don’t wait, do it today as this is a limited time offer.  If you act today, you get the satisfaction of knowing your ideas will be heard. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

KScope wrap up

Well after a few days of rest I have finally recuperated from KScope. If you missed the conference, you missed a lot. The conference for me started early Saturday morning where I joined about 80 other volunteers to refurbish a Boys and Girls club in long beach. Eager volunteers cleaned painted and set up a wireless computer network. The painting included, walls, doors, railings, pool tables, basketball courts and other various things. It only took a week to get all the paint off of me.

Sunday started off strong with the Oracle symposium. I’m not at liberty to speak about what was said there do to safe Harbor  and Oracle asking that we do not blog about it. I can say the lineup of superstar presenters from Oracle was well worthwhile. The roadmaps for Hyperion in general and in depth for Essbase, Smartview, HFM, and other products was informative. I have to say, I have been on the Smartview beta and have seen the enhancements to it and am impressed by them.  After the symposium, was a reception where I got to meet lots of attendees. Following that was dinner and work on the Monday midnight madness event. I think I got to bed at around 2:00 am.

Monday started off with an opening session where we were entertained by a series of reality show clips from the ODTUG board competing to see who would pick the location for the next Kscope conference. In the end Mike Riley won (I think it was fixed) and the new Marriott resort in San Antonio was selected. I think next year’s conference is intended to be more family friendly as the resort has a water park and other family type events. I’ve heard rumor of movie nights in the water. The opening also featured a Speaker Joey Asher on the topic “Even a geek can speak” talking about how to make presentations better. I came away from it with a couple of points I used to improve my presentations and one I now know never to use. Never, never, ever do a live tweet poll with a bunch of geeks.

After the opening session, it was time to get to work. For the last three years I have had presentations during the first and last sessions of the Kscope conference. I’m not sure why. This year I was the co-presenter on a session “introduction to Essbase Studio”.  It went well, and was followed by a session I did on Advanced Studio tips and tricks. I polled the audience and 90 percent or more had never used Essbase Studio. It meant I had to explain a lot more what I meant as I was describing the tips. I did not get through all of the tips I wanted to give, but the ones I covered were the most important and I think people got a lot of good information.

While I wanted to attend sessions in the afternoon, I ended up being scheduled to do a book signing. It was the weirdest experience having people wanting me to sign their Essbase Studio books. Early evening was spent updating some presentations for another presenter then it was off to the Hyperion Monday Night Madness event.  Yes it went from 10:00 pm to about 11:30 and we had about 150 people in the room. I would like to tank Ron Moore from MTG for sponsoring the event. The desserts were delectable it was a fun time. The SIG spent Sunday surveying the EPM attendees at the conference and so Monday night we did a Family Feud game. If you missed it, I can’t describe how fun it was. Let me just say after one question was answered, it took me 7 minutes to stop laughing. Yes someone timed me. It was an event not to be missed. I finally got to bed after that around 1:30 (see a trend starting?)

Tuesday, I started off the day with a session titled. “The exception to the rule in Essbase Design”. As I was presenting, I noticed Carol Crider from Oracle in the audience. I had never met her in person and she is someone I Idolize. She knows more about Essbase than anyone I know. It actually shook me up and I became a babbling idiot trying to present. If you did not make the presentation, I am doing it this Thursday (July 7th, 2011) as an interRel webcast. If you are interested in attending, contact Danielle White Dwhite@interrel.com to get connection info.

After this session, I was on a panel with the smartest from interRel answering different product questions. After a short break, it was yet another panel during lunch for heated discussions and opinions with other Oracle Ace Directors in the EPM/BI space. People enjoyed us battling out our positions about various questions.  After that I sat in on three of Edward Roske’s sessions. I knew he had not slept since Sunday and it was interesting to see him slowly melt down by the end of the third session. Even in his altered state, he presented some great info.  Tuesday night I skipped the interRel client event. I missed the hula dancers and fire jugglers to attend the Oracle Ace dinner. I met and talked with the cadre of Oracle Aces and Ace Directors who were presenting and attending the conference. I think this conference is only surpassed by Oracle Open world in the number of Aces and Directors who attend.

Wednesday was an “Off” day for me as I did not have any presentations . I attended sessions on a variety of topics. Two sessions that stood out were a panel session with Oracle Support helping to demystify how to get the most out of support and support answering questions. They were not technical questions, but more general questions on how to most effectively work with them. From the session, I was asked to email one of them to follow up on a problem I am having and am happy to say I’ve already gotten a response. It is not the answer yet, but a good beginning.  I think the best session for me of the week was a session from Steve Liebermensch (Steve forgive me if I butchered your name) from  Oracle on “Procedural calculations on ASO”. Steve assumed everyone in the room had heard about procedural calculations before and did not go over the basics but rather took the approach of showing how he optimized procedural calculations at a customer. Wednesday ended with the the closing night party on the Queen Mary. I actually wore a tux. You could call me a well dressed nerd. On the ship were too many things to do in the short amount of time we were there. The food was varied and good, there was a dueling piano bar, blackjack and poker for prizes, a band and what I went to. Don McMillian  and Engineer comedian who uses power point to convey his points. He had two shows with different material and I attended both. He was really funny, especially for the geeky crowd listening. The night ended with a special guest artist Young MC. A rapper. I’m not really into rap, so it was ok foe me.Following him was a  huge fireworks display and then the bus back to the hotel.

The final day of the conference, Thursday, I was again up early for sessions. I was coerced into going to a session on Groovy and I’m glad I did. For anyone who wants to write using the Java API but is intimidated, Groovy makes it easy. It takes and simplifies Java. Thanks to Joe Aultman for a great presentation. I then went to a session on HPCM and although it was not well attended, I got a lot out of it. My final presentation of the conference was a a co-presenter for Henry Robin from ConnocoPhilips. It was an interesting presentation of how they used LROs to add commentary to their  applications.  I was supposed to discuss other alternatives, but the audience was so enthralled by what Henry had to say, I didn’t get to say much.

With that the conference was ending. For some strange reason, some people wanted to take their picture with me. I guess they needed a new face for the dart board. I went back to my room, packed and headed home from one of the best conferences I’ve attended. While it was exhausting for me, I got a lot out of it and think others who attended did as well.  If you missed it, you missed a great event. Start planning now for San Antonio. As a matter af fact, if you would like to present, you can already submit your abstract at kscope12.com

I look forward to seeing you all there next year.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Kscope Schedule

The Kscope 11  conference is less than a week away and I’m getting more and more anxious as it nears. For my groupie (That means Cameron), I thought I would share my schedule with you.

Sunday

Of course on Sunday, I’ll be at the EPM symposium all day long. During lunch and at various time during the day, you’ll see me wandering aimlessly with a clipboard talking to people. I’m doing some surveys and need as many people to answer them. If you see me stop me and force me to ask you questions.  During the evening I’ll be at the opening reception where a few fun and surprising things will be happening.

Monday

Monday is a busy day for me.

11:15 am Oracle Essbase Studio in room 102AB. I am a co-presenter with Saundra Holloway from CareFirst.  If I feel nice, I might give away a look smarter than you are with Essbase Studio book.

1:15 PM Advanced Tips and Tricks 11.1.2 Essbase Studio Room 103A

3:00 – 4:00 I’ll be signing books at the interRel booth. Well, I’ll be there. We will see if anyone wants a book signed.

10:00 PM, that is correct PM, I’ll be hosting the Hyperion Midnight Madness. Great deserts and a good time will be served. It is an event not to miss.

Tuesday

Of course there is no better way to end a late evening than to have the first session of the day.

8:30 am The Exception to the Rule: Essbase design Principles That Don't Always Apply Room 102AB

9:45am is the vendor presentation time. Edward, Tracy, a few others and I will be answering your deepest darkest questions in room 101B The session is titled “Ask interRel's Oracle EPM Guru's:more Fun Than A Barrel of Consultants” No I don’t name them so don’t complain to me

11:15 AM. EPM/BI Expert Panel Room 102AB. Similar to the interRel panel above, but with other experts in the field.  Corrected, it turns out I’ll not be on this panel so you get a rest from me

12:15-1:45pm EPM/BI Lunch and Learn. Room Promenade B & C. I’ve been asked as with a number of other Oracle Ace and Ace Directors to have a panel where you can get the answers to the questions you were not able to ask at the interRel session at 9:45 or the panel at 11:15. Bring your lunch and watch us scramble to figure out answers for you. looks like Tuesday is the day to ask your weird and troubling questions.

Tuesday evening I get to relax (yea right) and go to dinner with the Other Oracle Ace and Ace Directors at the conference. It should be a good time. At the same time interRel is hosting it’s client event.

Wednesday

I am sleeping all day long!!!! not really, but unless a tree falls on someone, I actually don’t have any presentations to do. There are of course a number of presentations I really want to listen to.  Of course I’ll be at the mystery event on the Queen Mary. It will be interesting to see what is there.

Thursday

For the last two years, I have had sessions to open and close the conference. This year is no exception. I’ll be co-presenting with Henry Robins from ConocoPhillips . Sorry Henry that I added an S to the end of you last name. Of course I was referring to the infamous Henry Robin not Robins.

11:45am Commenting on Oracle Essbase Commentary at ConocoPhillips room 103C

After that I go home collapse for the rest of the day and work on multiple client projects that I will have neglected all week long.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Last chance to save money

Kscope11 is almost upon us. I know my boss, came up with the Ksocpe bit, but I actually liked calling it Kaleidoscope better. I’m an old fart and don’t abbreviate everything. I’m not one of the cool kids, but I will be at Kaleidoscope. I’ve got 2 official presentations to do: Advanced Essbase Studio tips and tricks on Monday morning and The Exception to the Essbase Rule on Tuesday. In addition, I’m on a couple of panels where you can ask your questions. One with Edward and Tracy for interRel’s vendor presentation.  Yes this year, the panel will actually happen.  I’m also helping on a few other presentations, like the intro to Essbase Studio on Monday. so you will see me all over the place. It will be a busy week for me. Who said going to conferences was a boondoggle never went to this conference.
The early registration discounts for the KScope11 conference end on Thursday June 9th. After that the conference is full price. If you want to still save a bit more money register with the code IRC and save an additional $100. Even after the deadline  you can save the $100 off registration.
Last year we had a great time at the Hyperion madness event  on Monday night. Due to the time it conflicted with a lot of people eating dinner (who needs food anyway). We decided to move it back to 10:00 pm this year. This is the time we did it the previous two years. I’ve been told there will be a great dessert selection to satisfy  your late night sweet tooth. Join us and be part of the madness.
If you are at the conference and you should be, look me up and say Hi. It is nice to meet the people that actually read my blog and follow my OTN and Network54 posts.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ODTUG Hyperion Sig Elections

The announcement just went out that nominations are being accepted for the ODTUG Hyperion SIG board. There will be a change this year in how the elections are done.

First, instead of elections being held at KScope, the nomination period has been extended to July 8th. This change was made to allow those at KScope to think about becoming a board member and still having time to act on it.

Second, elections will be online. I have mixed feeling about this. While I think it will be more efficient, I actually think we will get less voters than when we did it on site at Kscope. Along with this change, in order to vote, you now have to be an ODTUG member. If you were not before the conference and signed up, you automatically became a member. It would be people who did not re-up their memberships that would be left out. Please prove me wrong and when voting time comes, cast your ballot for the people who will represent you on the Hyperion SIG.

Third, in order to prevent mistakes that have happened in the past, After the election the candidates will all be notified of the results and a general announcement will go out on or around July 29th.

I’ve posted the description and requirements below. I think there is a slight type, It says you have to be a paid member to be a candidate, It really should say you have to be a paid member to be a member of the board.

It is very important for the board to have client representation. That is why at least 50% of the board has to be from clients. If not, it would allow us vendors to run amok. I don’t know about you, but there is too much Mok around already. So if you are a Oracle client, consider running. The board needs new fresh input. The time commitment is really not bad, the board meets on conference calls once or twice a month and during Oct, Nov and Dec is the heavy work of selecting content for the next conference. After that, there is some work on newsletters and other projects to make the SIG better for the community.

 

If you are at Kscope this year, look me up and say hi. It is noce to meet the people who actually read my blog.

 

The ODTUG Hyperion SIG is currently seeking nominations for its board. There are three (3) open seats. 1 of these seats can be filled by a vendor/partner.
The board’s responsibilities are:
• Enable communication with Oracle Corp on direction and strategy
• Share information and experiences among Oracle Hyperion developers and database administrators
• Facilitate training and education among the Oracle Hyperion developers and database administrators (DBAs)
• Provide representation for the Hyperion SIG at Kaleidoscope and Oracle Open World
• Develop the Hyperion tracks at Kaleidoscope
• Maintain Hyperion SIG’s web page on ODTUG.com with relevant and informative content to the development community
Board member requirements include: current paid member of ODTUG; regular participation in board conference calls; coordinating/contributing to meetings and conferences including ODTUG Kaleidoscope and Oracle Open World.
As a board member, one needs to support and promote the Hyperion SIG goals by taking an enthusiastic role in the activities that help continually provide value to the technical community. Giving a presentation at ODTUG’s annual conferences, assisting with membership and awareness campaigns, mentoring new members and encouraging other developers/DBAs to participate in the Hyperion SIG are just a few ways that board members can display leadership and contribute to the SIG's growth and success.
If you would like to help shape the future direction of the Hyperion SIG by joining the board, please submit the following information to doug_burke@paramount.com:
Name
Company
Title
Address
Email
Phone Number
Head Shot
Four to five sentence bio
Please be aware of the following rules/guidelines:
• Candidates must be a current paid member of the Oracle Development Tools Users Group (ODTUG).
• Elections are for individual volunteers, not the companies that employ them. The person elected will be a board member. It is recommended that individuals seek approval to run before submission as a candidate.
• Board will consist of nine members with no more than 50% from employees of Oracle Vendors (50% vendor rule).
• A board member’s term will last three years. At the end of their term, former members may choose to run for re-election after one year.
• On any given year, there will be 3 open positions on the board.
• If positions become open on the board during the year, board members may appoint members at their discretion as long as it does not violate the 50% vendor rule.
• Nominations will be open now until July 8th.
• Voting will be from July 11-25th on the ODTUG website.
• Results will be published July 29th.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sometimes less is more!

I have a client that has two Essbase instances, a test server and a production server. Both are running on VMs and use the same number of CPUs(4), the same memory (8 gig) run the same Windows 64 bit operating system, have the same cfg file, the same SAN, running at the same time with the same exact data and nothing else running on them. So why am I writing this? The test server was processing everything much faster that the production server. When I say much faster, I mean test ran a process in 7 hours while production ran in 13 hours. Neither is fast, but this system is very complicated with a lot of data loads, calculations, extracts and reloads in the process. We were dumbfounded by the differences. Something had to be different.

We checked everything we could think of and finally found it. On the test server, the virtual memory was set at 6 gig while on production it was set at 11 gig. The normal wisdom is that you set your virtual memory (system page file) at 1.5 times your actual memory. Interestingly enough, in the very old days of Essbase we used to crank up the virtual memory as high as we could. We did some experimentation and increasing the memory on test degraded performance and reducing the virtual memory on production improved performance.

Wow was this counter-intuitive! Apparently reducing the memory allowed the 64 bit operating system to handle the memory better on its own. When you use virtual memory, it is actually writing to disk, real memory has no IO associated with it. I’m guessing  when we reduced the virtual memory, it forces the OS to use more real memory since it could not write it to disk.

We thought is 6 gig is good, maybe 5 gig would be better. We were wrong. For this server 6 gig seems to be the sweet spot. Does this affect 32 bit systems? I don’t know, but I do now know this can be an impact on 64 bit systems. This just goes to show that sometimes less is more.

I know everyone who reads my blog are cool kid (That’s why I’m not allowed to read my own blog), so I wanted to remind you that KScope11 is fast approaching. As I write this it is only 47 days away. I also know you have all registered for the conference already. You didn’t? what are you waiting for? You want a deal, register and enter the code IRC and get a $100 discount on registration. Also if you are not already a member of ODTUG, you get a complimentary  membership worth $99.  That way you have access to all the cool stuff like papers, presentations and webcasts.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why server file loads are quicker

Most of us know that if the data file exists on the server (especially in the database directory) and we do a data load it is faster than if the file is on the client. But what do EAS and MAxL actaully do when the file is on the client machine? If you look at an EAS data load,  when you start it, you see the box:
image
When the dialog hits 100%, in the message area of EAS, you will see a statement something like:
User selected data file ‘C:\temp\data.txt’ is uploaded to server for execution at location d:\Oracle\Middleware\user_projects\epmsystem1\tmp\tempfile9706446338807355961.txt
(your path will vary depending on what version of Essbase is installed)
EAS uploads (FTPs) the file onto the Essbase server then processes it. When the process is complete, it deletes the file.  What is the implication of this. Aside from being slower that having the file on the server, it is possible that aborted loads are leaving dead files in the temp directory. I had a system where the number of files and space consumed became significant.
Talking about slower, at a client I’m at, I tested the differences in load time. I’m connected over a VPN connection and have a data file that is 65 meg. For each test, I loaded into the same empty ASO database.  I’m running the web version of EAS so it is on my local machine.  Running the data load process with a client file took about 36 minutes.
Running the same file on the server in the database directory took less than 1 minute. 35 minutes of savings which is significant when you are waiting for processes to run.
To improve my time overall since the files were on my local machine, I would zip them up, copy them to the server, unzip them and then process them. In all I saved about 20 minutes off EAS’s client time. This showed me that the upload does not do any file compression when it copies the file.

Update note:
I've talked with a few people that have read this post and need to clearify. When I talk about a server file, I mean the file should be in the application/database directory on  the server. This way EAS recongnizes it as a server file. The easy way to check if the system thinks it is a server file is to open up the load utility in EAS and select find file. Click on the server tab. IF the file pops up, it is in the right place (It should be saved as a txt file to make life easier).


While this will not affect most people as they are doing their processing on the server or in house on fast networks, it does help to understand what EAS and MaxL do when you have a client file to load.
This is just a single tidbit of the type of information you can get at Kscope 11. I’ll be presenting a couple of sessions. One on Advanced Essbase Studio tips and another one on the exception to the rules on outline design. I think both are pretty good sessions. Come see for yourself and let me know. I’m sure I’m going to get sucked into some other sessions , like a panel or two on Hyperion.
If you want to save $100 off of registration,  enter the three character code IRC   (which stands for interRel consulting). I’m not sure how long the code is good for, so don’t wait too long.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Essbase Studio book released (Finally)

It took a bit longer than I expected, as the editors, especially Cameron Lackpour, found numerous little issues that needed to be fixed, but the Look Smarter Than you are with Essbase Studio book has finally be released to the general public. You can go to Lulu.com and just search for Essbase Studio books. It will be the only one or if you are smarter than I are, you can just click on the link Studio Book and go right to it. If you are at the Collaborate 11 conference, you can get it quicker as they have some copies in the bookstore. 

You can even preview the first chapter of it without buying it (I think it is the funniest chapter). 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wolf, Wolf, Wolf 11.1.2.1 is HERE NOW

Like the little boy who cried wolf once too much, I doubt you will believe me, but EPM 11.1.2.1 is now available. What’s that you say, you just looked at edelivery.oracle.com and its not there. True, but if you go to download.oracle.com and select  Hyperion Performance Management and BI, you get to Here.

image

Notice it says 11.1.2.1.0  So I’m not crying wolf and it actually has been released. For those of you who were waiting till April 10th, wait no more. Go and upgrade my children.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

11.1.2.1 We are getting close

I can not take credit for being the first to notice, I give that to Sebastian Roux on the Network 54 forum, but the documentation for 11.1.2.1 is now available at Documentation link. The actual release can’t be far off.

The first thing I see in the readme is the upgrade path (I’m concentrating on Essbase here).

 

Release Upgrade Path From

To

11.1.2.0.x

11.1.2.1

Note that when moving from Release 11.1.2.0.x to Release 11.1.2.1, you use the "Apply Maintenance Release" option in EPM System Installer, instead of following the documented upgrade procedures

11.1.1.3.x

11.1.2.1

9.3.3.x

Note: If you were using Performance Management Architect Release 9.3.1, you can download the Performance Management Architect Release 9.3.3 from My Oracle Support.

11.1.2.1

9.2.1.x

11.1.2.1

A release earlier than Release 9.2.1.x

If you are upgrading from a release earlier than 9.2.1.x, you must first upgrade to a supported release and then upgrade to release 11.1.2.1. For upgrade procedures for the earlier release, see the product installation guides for the interim release that you are upgrading to.

An environment that includes multiple releases, which can include an environment with one instance of Hyperion Shared Services or an environment with two instances of Shared Services

See “Upgrading from an Environment with Multiple Releases” in the "Upgrading EPM System Products" chapter in the Oracle Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management System Installation and Configuration Guide.

Note: If you are starting from Release 9.2.0.3+, 9.3.0.x, 9.3.1.x (except for Essbase 9.3.1.4.1, 9.3.1.5, 9.3.1.6, and 9.3.1.7), or 11.1.1.x, Oracle recommends that you upgrade to Release 11.1.1.3 as your interim release. If you are starting from an earlier release, Oracle recommends that you upgrade to the highest level release that directly supports upgrade from your starting release.
Security Synchronization between Essbase and Shared Services was removed in Essbase Release 9.3, starting with Release 9.3.1.4.1. Essbase and Shared Services Release 11.1.1.3, however, still synchronize security information. For this reason, if you are using Essbase Release 9.3.1.4.1, 9.3.1.5, 9.3.1.6, or 9.3.1.7, you must first upgrade all products to Release 9.3.3, instead of Release 11.1.1.3.

As time permits, I’ll go though some of the interesting enhancements (don’t seem to be many) and the bug fixes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Not an April fool’s joke. 11.1.2.1 release date

While I am writing this on April 1st, It is not intended to be an April fool’s joke. Edward Roske had blogged that the release of 11.1.2.1 was supposed to be sometime in March. Edward's Blog Post  March is now history and there is no release. So Mr. Roske, WHERE IS IT? (Of course I’ll blame my boss for something he has no control over). I think this might be a career limiting move. 

Is the release vaporware? No not really, it is just taking longer than expected.  I’ve heard from a few reliable sources (to be unnamed) that the Release is targeted to be April 10th. I’ll put the typical and necessary disclaimer here. This is just what I have heard and not official and of course subject to change.  So at 12:01 on April 10th, the thousands of people who read my blog (Ok Cameron and three others) will descend on edelivery.oracle.com to prove me wrong. We will see.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Websphere support in 11.1.2.1?

While 11.1.2.1 has not been released yet, I was looking through Oracle support to see if I could sneak a peek at anything about it. I found a Statement of direction for Websphere support in a document dated 04-Jan-2011. It says:

Statement of Direction
EPM System release 11.1.2 did not include support for IBM WebSphere Application Server. This was done only as a short-term and temporary condition. Current plans call for full certification of IBM WebSphere Application Server with EPM System release 11.1.2 Patch Set 2, with availability planned for 2HCY2011. Please note that customers who have deployed EPM System release 11.1.2 or 11.1.2.1(when available) will be able to apply this patch set to those releases.
Oracle maintains its commitment to supporting Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management System on the broadest spectrum of software and hardware platforms. It is expected that IBM WebSphere Application Server as well as IBM DB2, AIX and Tivoli Directory Server will continue playing an important role in this regard and will continue to be supported in our roadmap of EPM System releases.”

So those of you who have been waiting for the patch, it does not appear websphere will be supported – Yet. I’ve heard rumor that 11.1.2.2 won’t be available until late this year (and based on how long it has taken 11.1.2.1 I would not hold my breath waiting for it).  I am going to predict that 11.1.2.1 will be released late this week or early next week, but it is just a guess.

When the patch comes out, I’ll try to review the important fixes and enhancements in it (aside from the ability to migrate apps).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kaleidoscope Early Bird Discount is Expiring

On March 25th the early bird discount for Kaleidoscope will expire. I know a number of you are “saying big deal, it always gets extended” or “its only a little bit more after that”, but it can be a big deal to register early. I’ll tell you why.

First, if you register before March 25th, you will save $300. If you use the partner code for interRel IRC you can save even more. I don’t know if the IRC code will offer a discount after March 25th. Why take the chance.

Second, The Hands on Labs are now open for registration. In a meeting yesterday, I was told the Hyperion related labs are already at 60% capacity. Signups are on a first come- first served basis. If you register now, you can also sign up for the labs. Going to a lab is like going to a free class. This IS a big deal. Think of how much you save over going to classes.

With the Sunday symposium, the sessions, the Hands on Labs, the Hyperion midnight madness (10pm Monday night). the social events, and being in beautiful downtown Long Beach in June, this is a conference that should not be missed. 

Some of you are saying, “This conference is too technical for me”. I will agree that the conference has some of the best technical presentations of any conference, but we have expanded the scope of the conference to include sessions for the less technical users. You can see what is being offered at sessions and symposiums So bring your HFM and user compatriots.

Heck, it is so close to Southern California attractions like Disneyland,  Knott’s Berry farm and beautiful beaches come to the conference then take the family on a mini vacation. Think of the brownie points you will earn from the kids.

You can register at Kaleidoscope Registration  I look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oracle listens

Recently, I noticed a new Oracle forum title Documentation.It is under the Business Intelligence Foundation (just like Essbase and Smart View, so I figured it was for the BI product line.

I went into this forum and noticed there were no postings. Looking at it further, I discovered it is a forum monitored by the development and document teams to report errors in documentation. The forum can be found at http://forums.oracle.com/forums/forum.jspa?forumID=1319

Not being shy, I decided to post to the forum with a few things I’ve found in Essbase Studio. I submitted my post on Jan 24th and promptly forgot about it. On Feb 1st, I got a notice that someone had posted to the thread. It was one of the document managers who said he was forwarding it to the EPM document team.

Today(Feb 15th) I go a notice that the thread was updated again. I looked and the document acknowledged my comments and were correcting the documentation.  They ever told me what the changes would be.

I am impressed, not only did they listen, but they took action and provided feedback. This means we don’t have to live with errors and omissions in the documentation any more.

If you find an error in the documentation, report it so the rest of us don’t have to spend days figuring out what you already have. They are listening to us, so raise your voice so the doc team hears.

Please note, This forum will not answer technical questions as there are other forums for that. They are just concerned with getting the documentation right. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Essbase Studio Book

I have been quiet for a while on my blog and there is a reason for it. I have been busy working on a new book titled “Look smarter than you are with Essbase Studio” It is a companion book to the Look smarter with Essbase series. I have completed the writing and it is now off to the editors to make it coherent and to obliterate my attempt at humor. Like (or unlike depending on your viewpoint) the other Look Smarter books, I attempted to make  the book a fun read. I of course am prejudice, but I think it came out pretty good. I am hoping it will be GA around the first of March from Lulu.com. I’ll post again when it is.

One or two of you who read my blog have seen snippets of the book and I had favorable feedback about it. When it is released, I’ll ask a few of my fellow bloggers to give honest reviews of it. I won’t even pay them(not that I ever would).

I will say if anyone asks you to write a technical book, turn and run and keep running. I can’t believe how much harder it was than I ever thought it could be.

On a related note of Essbase Studio. At Kscope11 I will be presenting a session on Essbase Studio Advanced topics and have been asked to co-present on an intro to Essbase Studio session. So if you bring the book you will have bought by then, I’ll sign it for you. It won’t make it worth any more, in fact it will most likely lower its value, but I will have gotten my 15 seconds of fame. Coming to get you book signed is worth the cost of the conference alone not to mention all of the great sessions for more talented speakers than me.