Why I created a blog

Its been many 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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Open World Tuesday

OK, I’ll start out with a couple of observations about the conference. First, I find it interesting that the scheduler builder web site went down Sunday night and was not available Monday most of the day when I tried. Also getting to the agenda did not work most of Monday. Perhaps Oracle should talk to a software company to help them have software to support the load. Not a good showing Oracle. Second, I don’t understand why snacks come out at the end of breaks and right before the next session is starting. In addition, why are coffee and tea limited to certain breaks. It would be nice to have it available between sessions. With all the money Oracle is spending on the conference, I’m sure this could not add much to the cost or running the conference. It would also keep more of us awake on these long days. Finally, why do we need an hour dedicated to the exhibition hall? I realize the vendors paid a whole lot to be there, I’m sure most people have been though the exhibition halls multiple times already. We don’t need to cram everyone into the feeding frenzy at one time.

My first session of the day was “Management Excellence, Performance Leadership” by Frank Butterendijk (Hope I spelled that right). Although this session was listed as Hyperion, It wasn’t. Frank is an interesting speaker and related Performance management to cultural Analysis. He did this only using one power point in the presentation. He wrote a book on the subject and although I have not read it, if it is anything like the way he talks, it should be a good read. Frank talked about compensation being related to revenue which is his opinion is wrong, He says it should be more related to contribution. I agree with this. It is wrong due to two reasons, thoughtlessness and laziness. It’s easier to do things the way then always have than to come up with better ways. Some other things Frank said that I thought interesting were? Performance indicators need to be assigned to individuals and not shared. Shared responsibility is no responsibility. He had some interesting cases which the audience helped him evaluate (His powerpoint slide). Overall he was informative and enjoyable, but I left a little empty thinking it should have been related to how to define key metrics or how to evaluate them or something related to software that would provide tangible results.

Most of the rest of the day was a bust. I had to skip a couple of sessions I planned to attend to provide my own little un-conference for a client that had created a cube and had performance issues with it, I spent a couple of hours teaching them about dense/sparse settings, outline organization, cache settings, Load rule optimization and ASO cubes. In the end I think they got a lot out of it.

I did find what I think the best deal of the conference is.(At least to me). While I didn’t pick up any of the junk any of the vendors were offering. I found if I had lunch at the Yerba Buena gardens, they gave me a cool oracle blanket to sit on in the grass. I got to keep it. Ok so I picked up one think I don’t need, but really like.

I finished off the day listening to Ray Roccaforte and John Kopke on Oracle Essbase in the middle tier and Oracle OLAP in the database tier. I thought Ray was a bit boring, just re-reading what was on his power points. John was much more polished and more enjoyable to listen to. While I though this session was going to explain to me how to integrate the two technologies together, it really was two distinct presentations. The first describing Oracle Olap and the second describing Essbase.
Is short the grid they provided showed the differences. They went though it quickly and hopefully I got everything correct in it. Some of it is summarized.

I was supposed to go to a party hosted by Applied OLAP and a couple other companies, but I got out the session late and didn’t want to figure out how to get to the hotel. Instead I want to the Oracle Ace dinner and had a nice time talking to a number of other Aces and Ace Directors.

I’m afraid, this will be my last post on the conference. I have to go back to the real world tomorrow and meet with a client.

Open World Monday

Well, I was going to do my write-up last night but I've been getting over the flu and after a looooong day bed sounded better than writing.

I started the day off with some personal business so I missed the keynote. I'm not really heartbroken over that. When I got to the conference, It was in time for about 30 minutes of looking at booths. Very impressive, but I didn't sign up for anything, didn't get any of the junk they were giving away and didn't play any of the games they were enticing me with. I guess I'm getting old.

Although I'm an Oracle Ace, I decided to attend the "So you want to be an Oracle Ace" presentation at 11:30. I wanted to figure out what I'm actually supposed to be doing as one. Due to some mix-up on my part, I was late and didn't hear the first part of the presentation. I'm sorry for the presenters as the room was almost empty with about 20 people there. When I walked in. there on the screen was a quote attributed to me in a survey the presenter had sent out to all the ACES. Wow, I'm being quoted now. Too bad there were so few in the room to see it. The main theme of the presentation is that Oracle Aces don't need to know a ton, but have to have the attitude of wanting to help others. Doing this through Blogs, forum, articles are all ways to get noticed. They said that most Aces didn't try to become Aces, they just helped others and one day someone called them and told them they were an Ace.

After this session was lunch. They had a few choices, I ended up with a chicken caesar salad. Nothing to write home (or blog about) but it filled the void.

The next session I attended was the Oracle BI Roadmap and Strategy presented by Paul Rodwick. While many things he said echoed what I had heard from John Kopke on Sunday, he did go over other things. Some things I found interesting. The next release of OBIEE will include a sample apps section that has 20 dashboards which are what Oracle considers the best practices of what a company should be looking at. There is Iphone support including approvals which is write back from the phone to an application.
He talked about what are strategic applications, these included Hyperion Planning, HFM, Oracle Integrated operational planning (combines financial and operational plans), predictive reporting (crystal ball)and Essbase.
He talked about fully functional prepackaged BI applications that will be fully functional out of the box .Trying to put me out of work I guess, but good for companies who can’t afford custom solutions.
He then talked about the next release 11G which has a list of over 140 enhancements, A few of the things he covered were a New OBIEE start page that is personalized, Answers + which is optimized for Essbase but still fully functional for an array of products. Paul talked about OBIEE having write back ability thus turning reports into forms. He talked about a lit more I forgot to write down. As he wound down, he went over a quick list of other products he had not talked about before and then said that none of them are going away. Oracle will support them and as you want to migrate from one product to another, there will be migration tools available (but you don’t have to migrate unless you want to).

I’ll be a little less verbose about the next two sessions. Both were on Planning The first was what’s new and coming. The highlights from that session were:
Attaching documents to forms, Member formulas on forms, Calendar based date selection. Run time prompt improvement (yeah), hiding and showing missing/zero rows. Administrative changes include: security to folders, support for all attribute dimension types, and a wizard for data sources.
The presenter (Guillaume Armaud) went over changes to associated products. For example, Calculation Manager which will replace HBR can turn existing calc scripts more graphical and is web based.
EPMA 11.1.1 which will work with 9.3.1 is fully functional now.
In Planning 11.1.2 they are including Public Sector Budgeting, Sources to EBS and SAP, Excel and Office based planning, Web UI and data form improvements and even more improvements to Calc Manager and Life cycle management. There was some talk of ASO with Planning as well.

Next was Planning Tips and Tricks. By Stephane Tibault. He is very knowledgeable about Planning, but was VERY hard to understand. Because of it and being very tired I have to admit, I nodded off during the presentation. While I was coherent, He talked about Essbase optimizations, Dense and sparse settings, switching outline order between calculations and retrievals. After that, rather than talk about tips, he seemed to go off more on talking about features of the new release and demo how to turn them on. I guess those are tips, but I what I was thinking of.

With the sessions over for me for the day, I had weaseled and invitation to a reception hosted by interRel, Star Analytics and Applied Olap. I’m grateful for them allowing me to drink their booze and eat their food. Look up these companies if you need help, they are all good companies with nice people. I hate to say it, but they had a drawing and I won a Ipod shuffle. I think they would have preferred it to go to a client. Sorry guys. Edward talks more about the reception on his blog, so I won’t bore you with the details, But I had a nice time talking to old friends I saw there.

Well I’m off to OW for another exciting day (alas my last as some of us have to work for a living) but I’ll let you know how it goes

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday at Open World

Well, I flew up early this morning to San Francisco for Oracle Open World. and got back to my hotel around 9:30 pm. It makes for a long day. I do have to say I was happy with the first day's events. After registering( A fairly painless and fast process) I went to the ODTUG symposium on Hyperion. Four sessions back to back.

The first session was by Edward Raske of interRel. Edward has a very dry wit. Think of him as a dry martini. You know the kind. Gin with a picture of vermouth. He is an acquired taste, but quite knowledgeable. His session on "How Essbase works" was very good. Edward has an interesting approach to sessions. He creates about 200 powerpoint slides and tells you how good the ones he is not showing you are. He went over some basic info on block storage cubes(BSO), nothing really new if you have been around, but very good for most of the audience. He then switched to ASO tried to show the differences. Not an easy task, but interesting never the less.

The second session was on Hyperion reporting tools by Sean Bernhoit. While the information was ok, there were a few errors, like saying the Excel add-in and smartview can't exist together. This is not true, you can have both, just not on the same worksheet. Plus you have to turn on the Add-in option for mouse actions on connected sheets only. While most of the information from this session was good, I found the presentation to be very redundant and a bit boring(sorry Sean). If you didn't know anything about the different reporting options, the info was ok. The reporting options he went over included:
Financial Reports
Interactive Reporting (which I think is actually called production reporting)
Web analysis
Smart view

Sean could have included Smartspace gadgets, Visual Explorer and a few other tools, but what he covered was ok. He also mentioned OBIEE which was covered in the next session.
Maybe I'm just bitter because I was originally asked to do this presentation and didn't because I was not sure if I could attend.

Between this and the next session was a break. I was disappointed as nothing was ready at the prescribed time and when stuff came out it was only soda, coffee, tea, apples, oranges and bananas. I was starving as I didn’t have lunch and this did not help my blood sugar much.

The third session was from Mark Rittman. Mark explained to the group how OBIEE and Essbase can work together. I don’t think today was Mark’s best hardware day. He upgraded his VMware before the session and was struggling to make sure it all worked right at the last minute (most did, but there were a few issues). Then the microphones would not work well for him. He struggled through, being the professional that he is and I think it went well in spite of the problems. This was a good session for me as I really have not looked at OBIEE. Mark gave a good detailed account on why to use it. In essence, it's so the data warehouse guys can get Essbase data with their relational data. Mark gave a really good walk through on:
1. How OBIEE is organized (structure, server components, logical components)
2.How to connect Essbase into OBIEE
3. How to bring in a cube to OBIEE (I found it interesting that OBIEE turns the cube into a relational model)
4. Problems with the import
5. How Essbase studio can be used to use OBIEE as a source for Essbase databases.

Most of what he talked about is version 11.1.1 specific, but was very interesting.

Mark posted on his blog the directions for connecting Essbase to OBIEE http://www.rittmanmead.com/2008/09/20/loading-obiee-data-into-essbase-using-essbase-studio-111/

The final session of the day was John Kopke. It was an interesting talk on the direction of EPM at Oracle. Basically, The Hyperion products are here to stay and are the direction for a lot of what goes on. Edward Roske’s blog did a good job of talking about . Rather than repeat everything here, look at his blog http://looksmarter.blogspot.com/.

I went to the keynote and although I’m fairly apolitical, I enjoyed the discussion of the presidential campaign by Carville and Matalin.

After the keynote was the opening reception, various drink, food and LOUD music. The food was ok (remember I was still starving). I’m sure it is difficult to server so many people at once, but the lines were long and the food just ok. (I really liked the pork eggrolls). Well, it’s getting late and I have to be ready for more tomorrow. I’ll try to post something tomorrow night. Unfortunately, I’m only going to be at the conference through Tuesday. I’ll post what I can. I even gave away my wristband to the party on Wednesday and it’s going to be a great party!