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, August 8, 2012

Book Review, New Oracle Aces and A changing on the Hyperion SIG

For those who read my blog, here is the directors cut of a review I wrote for the ODTUG Journal coming out soon. You get the first look at it and the extended features(Just a little extra text)

When I started out in the Essbase world; aside from the database administrators guide (DBAG) there were virtually no other books on Essbase. Since then, there have been a number of books produced on the topic. I have had the pleasure and agony of reviewing some of these Hyperion books. The latest book to be released is Developing Essbase Applications: Advanced Techniques for Finance and IT Professionals edited by Cameron Lackpour and written by Cameron and twelve other authors many of whom are well known in the Essbase community.



In every review I have written, I have given a disclaimer: this review will be no exception. I work for a company (interRel Consulting) that has written eight books on Hyperion products. I have edited a few of them and I’m the author of one on Essbase Studio. I am an advocate for the professionals in the Hyperion field and if you have read any of my prior reviews realize I don’t hold back or sugar coat what I think. I am friends with many of the authors of this book and acquaintances of others. When I agreed to do the review of the book, it was with the understanding that I would to be blunt and honest. With all this, I was still asked to do it.

With so many books in what many consider a niche software space, is this book necessary? I think so. I love the Look Smarter books and recommend them to people who are starting out in Essbase. Once you have mastered building a cube, you need more in depth information. This book supplies that extra information but, in most cases, not going into step-by-step detail of how to accomplish it.

I won’t keep the authors in suspense; overall, I really liked this book and it more than fulfills its purpose. The topics are intermediate to advanced and widely varied. While I didn’t always agree with what the chapter author was saying, I understood their rationale behind it enough to accept what they wrote. Almost every chapter had information that would be of interest to an intermediate to advanced developer.

This book is written by 13 different authors, and it is like reading 13 different stories which is good and bad. The writing styles of the authors differ greatly and in some cases it was enjoyable and others it was not. I don’t recommend trying to read this book cover to cover. Find the section(s) you are interested in and read them, then read the other chapters at your leisure to see what tidbits you may have missed over the years.

First, if for nothing else, buy this book for the chapter “How ASO Works and How to Design for Performance.” The content is amazing. I’ll admit, I’ve read the chapter twice now and still don’t understand everything I’m being told. For some this will be overkill, but you can read the highlights and bypass details when your eyes glaze over. This is truly an advanced chapter and opens up the internals of ASO like nowhere else I’ve seen. I’ve already used some of what I’ve read to tune some ASO databases I created.

Ok, no book (especially mine) is perfect and this book is no exception: the chapter on Advanced Smart View wasn’t as advanced as the title might lead you to believe. I felt it was more basic than advanced and did not incorporate the Smart View toolkit as it should have. This chapter could have been the definitive advanced Smart View guide; alas it was far from it.

Now that I have discussed the extremes, the rest of the book is pretty solid. I don’t have the space to discuss everything, so I’ve selected a few tidbits. Most chapters had niggling annoyances that prevented them from being great. For example; I liked the chapter on preventing bad data. It gives a good perspective on how to prevent it, but the chapter is a bit verbose and rambling.

The chapter on the JAPI was good; It was aimed more at beginners using it. I think this is a good idea since intermediate Essbase developers may not have any experience with Java development. A description of development environments and how to include the Essbase classes would have completed it for me. I found the chapter on infrastructure hard to read, maybe because I’m not an infrastructure guy; it was more tables and lists than a description of what you need to do to install or pitfalls you might encounter.

Note, these comments will not come as surprises to the authors: I have discussed it with them.

I enjoyed (well enjoyed is the wrong word), I appreciated, ah better, the chapter on managing a project. There is a good discussion on things a project manager running their first project should be mindful of. The chapter on Groovy was interesting, but I’m still not convinced that Groovy is the way to go.(sorry Joe). Perhaps I’m too square to be groovy.

In summary, I believe once you have gotten past the basics of trying to figure out how to build your first cubes, you should purchase this book, read it, put it on your shelf or Kindle as a reference and thank the authors for their hard work. The book is truly worth the time to read it!

Talking about Cameron Lackpour, the author of Editor if the book, I would be remiss if I did not congratulate him on becoming an Oracle Ace Director in the EPM space.  He is truly a proponent for the Hyperion community and I’m sure he will continue to support it well. It is a well deserved recognition. Another recent recipient is an Oracle Ace honor is John Booth. He is one of the few infrastructure guys out there that is willing to share his knowledge and expertise.  He has worked hard at getting cloud instances for the masses and is active answering questions and speaking. Like Cameron he is well deserving. They should be applauded for their efforts.  Remember an Oracle Ace or Ace Director recipient does not lobby for the award, but is recognized by his peers for the work he/she does in the community.

Finally, A changing of the guard is occurring. I have been on the ODTUG Hyperion SIG for a while now and it was time for me to roll off. The SIG bylaws require that board members serve no longer than a three year term and have to wait a year prior to being reelected. Each year three board members are elected with the restriction that the number of client/customers exceed the vendor/partners. Elections were recently held and three deserving individuals were elected to a three year term.

Eric Helmer
Vice President of Infrastructure IT Services, Linium
Michael LaBarge
IT lead for Hyperion, Cessna
Deanna Sunde
Senior Director, EPM Planning and Essbase Practice, Hackett Group

I’m sure they will do great expanding on what the SIG started. Give them your support and ideas on how to make the SIG better.


srx said...

Great book review Glenn! I guess you said it all.
I'm finishing a review in French. My style is smoother so it must be seen more as a presentation and promotion! It will be be published on dev portal.
Indeed almost no blogs exist here and very few content is available in French too. Essbase developers and consultants are however used to look and dive into the tech ref or dbag!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I got the book in my hands since 07/16 . It is a Great Book!
I became my daily evening read. I thought somewhere while reading I saw a hint telling how to find the sample source for download. However I'm no longer sure whether or not it was rather an illusion because even at the books website here: http://www.taylorandfrancis.com/books/details/9781466553309/ there is no hint at all.
Can someone else help me out?

Joe said...


No need to apologize. I'm aware you are unconvinced. I'm not going to say you will eat your words, but I'm not done with the convincing.

-- Joe