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18 December 2010

ODTUG Kscope 2011 abstract schedule

The best is yet to come

The best being KScope 2011, of course.

What do I mean by that?  Of course the very best place to see super cool (really, just keep reading on) content is going to happen.  What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that after much thought, consideration, and debate, the very best Oracle EPM and BI presentations you have ever seen have been selected.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the official schedule here and see the invited speakers.  Jump to the bottom of this post to get a more detailed view of the presentations.  Yep, this is going to be a great conference.

The pain and the agony

The ODTUG Hyperion SIG puts a huge (let me tell you, three hour Saturday afternoon conference calls are not fun, but for you, oh KScope 2011 attendee, we do it with a song in our heart) amount of effort into the abstract selection process.  We’re passionate, even obsessive, about quality, and I think you’ll agree that the sessions reflect that concern about the best of the best.

Each and every submitted abstract was individually reviewed and assigned a numerical rating by the content selection team.  We then met in multiple conference calls by track culminating in several overall Hyperion SIG meetings to evaluate every single one of those presentations (there were over 200 on the EPM side of it) and determine if it was in or out.

Many good abstracts were rejected because the level of competition was so high.  This may sadden or frustrate some who were rejected and I’m sorry that everyone who wanted to share knowledge didn’t have a chance to do so this year.  It’s commendable behavior and I hope you try again next time.  There are other opportunities other than the conference such as ODTUG Webinars.  Please contact us and see where you can contribute.

If everyone could agree that Kaleidoscope should be a two week long geek fest, then all of the deserving presentations could occur.  Sadly (?) I’m probably the only nut that would or could do it (realistically, two weeks away from work with hotel, travel, and lost income wouldn’t even work for me, but it’s a nice thought) so it isn’t really on but is humbling to realize that many people submitted quality abstracts.  Kaleidoscope is the place for quality, and the EPM and BI world knows it.

Not the square peg in the round hole

Oracle’s BI and EPM offerings are large and diverse, to put it mildly.

KScope 2011’s BI/EPM content chairwoman (and my good buddy), Natalie Delemar, had an inspired idea – instead of trying to be all things to all men by being the judge, jury, and executioner for presentations (I put that sentence into my patented Metaphor-O-Matic and out it came, unencumbered by the thought process), she instead reached out the Oracle BI and EPM community and got the experts in their respective areas to solicit and review abstracts before the Hyperion SIG, overall content chairman Monty Latiolais, and conference supremo Edward Roske put their final imprimatur on the schedule.  See, ODTUG is just full of good ideas.  And long sentences.

Below is that august group of geeks, by content review area.

BI


EPM


Hyperion SIG (and a few friends)
Joe Aultman

We owe them all a lot – many, many hours were spent on this, especially by Natalie who spent untold hours making the schedule work – 3 am emails asking my opinion on a abstract scare me, especially when we’re in the same time zone.  They did a tremendous service to us all by soliciting, reviewing, and selecting the best of the best.

How do you want to slice the pie?

There are four ways to view this conference:  track, not for just beginners, physical room, and business end users. 

The tracks are broken into:  case studies and panels, HFM, Essbase, Planning, Keeping It All Running, Reporting, OBIEE/DW, and of course Hands On Labs.

There’s also a beginner view – yes, Kaleidoscope isn’t going to leave those of us (like me, sometimes) starting out in a technology. 

Or you can view it by room, if you are of a sedentary nature.

And lastly, there’s even a map for business end users in case this all gets too geeky for you. 

If you want to just download the whole thing to geek out over during your free time, click here.

Whoever you are, whatever your interests, wherever your technical level lies, there’s a place for you at KScope 2011.

And the result is…

One awesome conference and in my opinion, the very best Kaleidoscope, and hence the very best “Hyperion” conference ever.  It’s that good.  Book those tickets, reserve that room, purchase that conference registrationYou won’t regret it.  See you in Long Beach.

18 November 2010

Stupid programming tricks #5

Introduction

Number five in my short and sweet series of tricks and tips.

I call this series “Stupid programming tricks” and this one reflects yr obdnt srvnts’ stupidity.  Try to think of this particular post in the now-I-don’t-have-to-make-Cameron’s-mistake category.

DATAEXPORT is my friend, sometimes

DATAEXPORT came out in Essbase 9.3.1 and allowed Essbase calc scripts to export data without having to resort to the JExport Custom Defined Function.

DATAEXPORT can write to tables or files.  What’s really nice about this method is that you can also define the file field delimiter.  It could be a comma, a pipe, an exclamation point, whatever.  It’s all very easy peasy lemon squeezy

Here’s an example of a comma delimited export in a calc script:
DATAEXPORT "File" "," "c:\temp\testexport.txt" ;

And here’s an example of a pipe delimited export statement:
DATAEXPORT "File" "|" "c:\temp\testexport.txt" ;

But what if you want to do tab delimiting?  Uh-oh, what’s the magic symbol for tab?  I didn’t think it could be doneAnd to be fair to myself, I wasn’t the only one.  You will note a distinct lack of contradiction to my statement in that thread.  In discussions with my good buddy Josie Manzano, she fell into the same trap.  If the Divine Miss Josie can make the mistake, anyone can.

And this is why I like answering questions on OTN

I spend an inordinate amount of time on OTN’s Essbase board in part to answer questions but mostly to learn.  Did I ever in this thread which started out about a poster’s problem in loading a exported data file and quickly detoured into DATAEXPORT.

The way to tab delimit a DATAEXPORT file is to…hit the tab key on your keyboard. 

That’s it.  So simple. So obvious.  Why on earth did I think I needed to send a special character?  Isn’t tab a special character?  Sigh.  My cognitive blinders were on quite firmly for this one.

Here’s the code.  That big space is really a tab character.
DATAEXPORT "File" "              " "c:\temp\testexport.txt" ;

The same approach would go for a space.
DATAEXPORT "File" " " "c:\temp\testexport.txt" ;

Yes, these work – I’ve tried them.

So, definitely a Stupid Programming Trick.  May the next one not be so stupid.

One last note

Btw, Glenn Schwartzberg wrote a great series on DATAEXPORT and I strongly urge you to check them out.

04 November 2010

Do I look like Sally Field

My name is not Gidget

Not really, no not at all.  And I can’t even surf.  And yes, that is a scary video for me to know about (thank you, Oh Great False God Google) and even more scary for you if you clicked on the link.

 

Nor do I wear a wimple whilst flying, or at any other time.

 

But I can say, “You like me, you really like me”.

Not the Academy Awards

I know, more blathering, but that’s just me being bashful about something that you, my adoring/tolerant/frankly bored reading public have done:  elected me a member of the ODTUG board.

 

All kidding aside, I never thought I would get elected, particularly on the first go round.  I am beyond pleased, humbled, and more than a little scared.

 

Thank you so much for taking a flier on me.    I hope I don’t disappoint.

Saint Crispin’s Day?

Here are we happy few in the 2011 ODTUG Board of Directors:

New

  • Mike Riley, Hortica Insurance
  • Tim Tow, Applied OLAP
  • Cameron Lackpour, CLSolve (yr. obdnt. srvnt.)
  • Barbara Morris, Idaho National Laboratory

Existing

  • Bambi Price, Park Lane Information Technology
  • John King, King Training Resources
  • Mark Rittman, Rittman Mead Consulting
  • Monty Latiolais, SCGTS

The future and thanks again

It’s often dangerous to make promises if you aren’t sure you can deliver on them.  This may be why I am a semi-successful consultant and not a fan of politicians.  Regardless, getting onto the board was the outcome of an election. 

 

What I know I can do is to serve you, the Oracle EPM community, and the rest of the Oracle world as best I can.  I am more than open to suggestions and comments.  You can always contact me through LinkedIn. 

 

I look forward to this – it’s going to be a lot fun.

 

And thanks for your confidence in me.


26 October 2010

Stupid Programming Tricks #4

Introduction

This is number four in my series of short tricks and tips. 

 

I debated about the utility of this until I spent an hour trying to figure out how to search MaxL scripts with Windows Explorer’s Search function.

 

The fix is easy and oh so useful.

What am I trying to do?

Let’s say I want to find all of the MaxL scripts that use the “spool” command.

 

If I searched all of the .txt files in a given folder, Explorer’s Search function would give me a nice list of files that contain the string “spool” in the file body. 

 

To prove this, I renamed a MaxL file so that it has an extension of .txt.

 

Here are the results:

 

But if I search the same folder for the same file with a .msh extension I get this:

 

Of course, I could:

1)    Find every MaxL script (in my world, they end with a .msh, and yes, that is important) in a given folder, harddrive, computer, etc.

2)    Open up every one of those MaxL scripts and search within for “spool”.

3)    Do an Oedipus Rex and take out my eyes with knitting needles in a completely non-Freudian way because of the despair, ennui, and avoir le cafard that steps one and two engender.

 

But there is a Better Way.  The cockroaches of Sidi-Bel-Abbes will thank me for that one.

Don’t fear the Registry

Go to the Start->Run menu and type regedit.

 

A key is required

If you’ve already changed .msh files in Explorer to open with Notepad or my personal favorite TextPad, this step isn’t necessary as  the main key will exist in the registry.

 

Add a new Key:

 

The Registry Editor will stick this new key at the bottom of the list – don’t worry about the order.

 

Rename the selected text to .msh and hit Enter.

 

Tell Search to look inside .msh files

Add another new key to the .msh key – I guess you could call this a subkey – by right clicking on .msh.

 

Here’s what it looks like:

 

Now give that key a default String value:

 

It is not going to be set by default.

 

Right click on (Default) and select Modify.

 

Now we need to give the Default key a very specific value.  Just copy and paste this into Regedit:

{5e941d80-bf96-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb}

 

 

After you click on OK, you should see the following:

 

Log off and log back on; rebooting shouldn’t be necessary.

Conclusion

Search now lets you look inside .msh files.

 

Not a big deal, or the world’s best hack, but it sure is a nice way to search for a string within a non-standard file type.  Of course you can extend this technique to .csc, .rep, and .whatever files you need to scan.  Useless 99% of the time, but when you need it, you need it.

 

Happy hacking till next time.

21 October 2010

Who will rid me of this turbulent bug

It’s déjà vu all over again

Yep, life is sometimes like a Yogi Berra saying.  That’s scary.

I just rolled off a Planning migration from h-e-double-toothpicks.  I am reminded, again, that I am an applications, not an infrastructure consultant.  For some strange reason, I seem to enjoy parading my serial infrastructure incompetence to all and sundry via this blogDirty Harry said it best.  I am embracing my limitations with renewed fervor.

My pain=your gain

In an effort to ensure that this particular problem doesn’t bite you, oh applications consultant/administrator reader, in the unmentionables, think back, far back to the long-ago days of Planning 2.2.  Was there a release with that number?  Oh yes, and even before that.  I have been around Planning a long time.  So why have I learnt so little?

Moving past questions that cannot be answered (or at least questions that have answers I do not want to hear), there was a problem in older releases of Planning – ephemeral port consumption.  No, that is not a Victorian-era disease that involves sanitariums and bloody coughs.

Why do you care and what are they?


The issue is that when Planning refreshes filters, it consumes ephemeral ports during its communication with Essbase.  When the OS runs out of ports, Planning filter refreshes fail.

What does it look like?

The symptoms

What should have tipped me as to the error was that with 100 users in the app (I got pretty darn good with the Planning importsecurity.cmd/exportsecurity.cmd utilities) the refresh would work.  The fact that the command line syntax for invoking the import and export utilities is completely different was just a dollop of Hyperion icing on the misery cake.

Getting back to what worked and didn’t, the filter refresh would work with 300 users in the app.

As the number of usernames increased (I was slowly adding known good MSAD usernames) to just over 600, at some point (and no, I never did get to the actual count that just tripped failure as I was adding in groups of 50) Planning would fail on the refresh.

I (and quite a few others) spent a lot of time trying to figure out if the MSAD ids were bad (some were and “bad” in MSAD means a bunch of different things, e.g., corrupted, locked out, etc.).  But that wasn’t the issue.

Should have paid attention, but didn’t

What really threw me is that as I did the refresh, I’d get a pretty consistent list of failed usernames.  However, when I selected those usernames individually, their refresh would work.  Huh?  Also, these same ids worked in other Planning apps.  Huh, again.

And the answer(s) are

I would love to tell you that I came up with the diagnosis and the cure to this filter refresh failure, especially because I suffered through this in 2002, but I must give credit where it is due – say hello to Jason D’Onofrio who went into Metalink and started searching for an answer.  Why would anyone want to search the help?  If you don’t fancy my preferred diagnostic method of blindly poking around you too can search Metalink for knowledge base article 826673.1.

And the thing of it is, Tim Tow has documented this error and its fix for, oh, forever, maybe?  A long time certainly.

If you can’t be bothered to read any of the explanations, here’s the quick and dirty Windows fix (the same issue affects *nix, but not very much and while the concept applies to that OS, the mechanics below do not):
1)    Go into Windows Registry editor on the Essbase server.
2)    Navigate to the following key:  HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters
3)    Right click and select New or Edit->New and then select DWORD Value.
4)    The name should be MaxUserPort.
5)    Right click on the new “MaxUserPort” and edit the DWORD value. Enter a decimal value of 65534.  You have just increased the number of ephemeral ports to their maximum value.
6)    Again create a new DWORD Value.  Call it TcpTimedWaitDelay.  Set it to a decimal value of 30.  You have now decreased to the minimum the time Windows will take to release a port.
Your registry settings should look like this when you’re done.
7)    Reboot the Essbase box after stopping your various services – you know the boot order.
8)    After starting the Oracle EPM services back up, try doing a refresh.  You should have bottled magic at this point.

NB – The Metalink instructions go on about adding MaxFreeTcbs and setting that the decimal value to 6250.  That wasn’t necessary in my case.

Why might you not see an error?

Maybe the registry settings are already there and you don’t know it. 

Maybe you have small user communities and you never blow through Windows ephemeral ports.

Maybe you just can’t believe that this issue exists almost a decade after Hyperion Planning 1.0 was released on an unsuspecting world.

Maybe you’re on 11.1.2 and are using Windows 2008 which has a larger ephemeral port range.  Yes, despite Essbase.sec’s almost complete emasculation in this release, filters are still stored in good old Essbase.sec.

Maybe you’re running some version of *nix.

Maybe you’re just lucky.  :)

Phew, this is a problem I never want to revisit.  Thanks again, Justin, for finding the answer.

09 October 2010

Stupid programmng tricks #3

Introduction

Number three in my series of short tricks and tips.

This is a case of misleading documentation.  Or a stupid programming trick.  You decide.

The Most eXcellent Awesome Language (MaxL) maybe isn’t

display variable all ; will display all variables on your Essbase server.

display variable on database Sample.Basic ; will display all of the variables in My Very Favorite Essbase Database In The Whole Wide World (MVFEDITWWW).

But what if you have a variable called Test defined in MVFEDITWWW? 

Here's the syntax from the Tech Ref:



You might think that these commands would work:

display variable test on database sample.basic;

display variable 'test' on database sample.basic;

They don't and will kick out an error near 'on'. 

The actual syntax is:

display variable sample.basic.test ; 

Do so and you will get back:

 application    database    variable    value

+--------------+---------+-----------+--------------

 Sample            Basic        Test        "Jan"

 

You could also type display variable othertest ; and get back the results if the variable was at the server level. I think otherwise you have to start using the appname.dbname.varname nomenclature.  I believe (and I haven't tested this, but it seems reasonable -- hey, this gives you something to do if in case you are casting about for something to play around with) display variable appname.varname ; also works.

Conclusion

I’ve named these short posts “Stupid programming tricks”.  Surely this post fits the description.  Until you can’t figure it out.

Happy MaxL hacking till next time.

25 September 2010

11.1.2 zombies ate my brain, and how I got it back, part 2

There’s nowt as queer as folks

Some of you actually like doing installations. 

Well I don’t.  Perhaps that’s because I’m not particularly good at it, as anyone who has followed my blog/rants/ravings/self-flagellation know.  

As the song goes, “Every Man To His Own Profession”.  My profession (I like to pretend this is so) is implementation of Oracle EPM solutions (Essbase, Dodeca, Planning, ODI, scripting, etc.), not installing the software that makes ‘em run.  I find building a system hard enough without any added excitement up front, ta very much

There’s good news tonight

Well, the whinging can stop, because I’ve made the decision to outsource the whole mess

Angie, even though your non-reading of this blog is like having several 50-kilogram bags of delicious single estate coffee on my chest, pressing, pressing till I can’t breathe, I can’t thank you enough for your suggestion to try hosting a 11.1.2 instance.  I’ll just pop a nitro tablet and all will be well.  I hope.

My last post covered EPMCloud.com’s consultant install (everything’s there, but it’s not for production use and sits on a single server); this one will go with Full360.com’s offering.

Full360

In their own words:


We’re a global business intelligence hosting, consulting and outsourcing team. We want to help simplify the complexities of developing and managing an analytics platform for our customers. 

We'd Like to Help You:
  • Scale your Analytics Platform
  • Migrate to New Versions
  • Design insightful analytic reports
  • Develop End to End Reporting Systems
  • Reduce Consulting Expenses with remote support and outsourcing
  • Significantly Reduce Infrastructure Expenses with hosting services

It’s that last bullet point that I find so intriguing.  Time has not made me fonder of 11.1.2’s memory hogging.

The most important question and you-may-stop-reading-right-here-but-why-as-there’s-so-much-more?

How does the Full360 Oracle EPM 11.1.2 instance in the cloud work?  Flawlessly. 

So perfectly that I used a demo day on their system to take all of the notes and screen shots for a Calc Manager blog follow up to my “Why I hate (and love) Business Rules, parts 1 and 2” blog posts.  Beyond the utility of getting a new blog post on the latest release, I learned a lot about 11.1.2’s form creation and Calc Manager.  For this consultant, that is exactly why I need a cloud install of 11.1.2.

The instance was fast and rock solid.

You really could stop reading (some of you already likely have) here but for those brave souls who persevere, there’s good stuff ahead.

How is Full360’s product like EPMCloud’s?

Full360’s Oracle EPM instance in the cloud is similar to EPMCloud’s.  What does that mean?

Both company’s products share these attributes:
1.    Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) web service for virtual hardware
2.    An EC2 Amazon Machine Image (AMI) with :
    1. 64 bit Windows 2003 Server
    2. 64 bit SQL Server
    3. All of the loveliness that is Oracle EPM 11.1.2 installed for your computing pleasure, no configuration required
3.    Use Microsoft Terminal Services to connect to the remote desktop of your EPM server in the cloud.

How does Full360 differ?

The whole Amazon EC2 experience

Full360 customers are going to have at least a basic understanding of the way Amazon EC2 works.  This is not a bad thing, as you have extraordinary flexibility with what you do with native EC2.  Remember, I think that “infrastructure” is spelt with three zeds and a couple of numbers; even I was able to handle it.  As the saying goes, if an idiot like yr. very obt. srvnt. can do it, surely you can, too.

Regardless, there is more up front work with Full360’s AMI.  This background knowledge is probably the biggest difference between Full360 and EPMCloud although both companies use the same EC2 base.

Rohit Amarnath of Full360 is also available to help navigate the morass that is Amazon Web Services even to the extent of setting up the AWS account.  I like to think of my experience as character building.

For those of you who want to follow my masochistic path, see Paul Stamatiou's guide or Amazon’s own getting started tutorial.

Here’s a brief comparison of the steps we Sandbox users would follow for either product.

EPMCloud

EPMCloud’s model is simple:
  • One AMI – 17.1 GB of RAM, 2 CPUs, 55 GB of RAM, Windows 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition, SQL Server 2008
  • Email EPMCloud when you want your instance started up
  • Get an email from EPMCloud with an server name
  • Connect to the AMI using Windows Terminal Server
  • Do work
  • Shutdown the server when done
  • Get billed based at $25 for initial start, then $5 per restart, with a $1.15/hour charge rate.

Full360

Full360’s model is more complex, but as we’ll see in a minute, more flexible:
  • Sign up for Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Sign up for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  • Sign up for the Full360 instances at $99/month
  • Wait for Full360 to grant access to the Full360 AMI
  • Launch your instance through the AWS console
  • Pick the Full360 Windows 2003/SQL Server 2005 Oracle EPM 11.1.2 AMI
  • Be Top Cat
  • Get billed at whatever the AMI costs per hour (see below)
  • Switch to 9.3.1 or 11.1.1.3 AMIs if you want
  • Upgrade to an-OS-not-named-Windows  (Windows isn’t the only game in town.  Real geeks use Linux.)

EC2 Instance

That flexibility is evinced when you match the Full360 AMI against whatever 64 bit Windows and (Full360’s AMI uses SQL Server Express, so it’s just plain ol’ Windows) EC2 instance you want. 

Btw, I absolutely love these names – marketing genius.  No boring “regular,” or “normal,” or even “big” to be seen.  Perhaps the yet-to-be-released 128 GB 16 way box will be called “Nathan Explosion ?

Instance name
RAM in GB
CPUs
Disk in GB
Cost/hour
Extra Large Instance
15
4 virtual cores with 2 EC2 Compute Units each
1,690
96¢

High-Memory Extra Large
17.1
2 virtual cores with 3.25 EC2 Compute Units each
420
62¢

High-Memory Quadruple Extra Large Instance
68.4
8 virtual cores with 3.25 EC2 Compute Units each
1,690
$2.48

While the AMI would likely either be the Extra Large Instance or High-Memory Extra Large Instance for your consultant (train yourself, prototype, have a place to answer all of those OTN questions you obsessively go after) instance, surely you will at least once pair up the Full360 11.1.2 AMI up against the High-Memory Quadruple Extra Large Instance.  That last one sounds like the aft turret on HMS King George V.  Talk about not needing a bigger boat

What’s installed?

This is an Amazon EC2 Windows 2003 Server/SQL Server Express 2005 instance.  The rest is Full360’s install of the 11.1.2 stack.

Install
Config
Windows 2003 Server
Yes
Yes
Foundation Services
Yes
Yes
Workspace
Yes
Yes
Essbase
Yes
Yes
EPMA
Yes
Yes
Calc Manager
Yes
Yes
EAS
Yes
Yes
HPS
Yes
Yes
Planning
Yes
Yes
HFM
Yes
Work in progress
Financial Reports
Yes
Work in progress
Web Analysis
Yes
Yes
ODI
No
No
FDM
No
No
MS Office 2007
Yes
You must supply a valid key
SQL Server 2005
Yes
Part of the AMI
GhostScript
Yes
Yes
Essbase Studio
Yes
Yes
Smart View
Yes
Yes
Excel add-in
Yes
Yes

Remember, you are the Windows administrator on the AMI.  Need something you don’t see above?  Install away.

Logging on

We’re talking Windows and EC2 – it’s the same as EPMCould, so Windows Remote Desktop Connection to the server (I cleverly forgot to take a screenshot but I think we’re all familiar with this dialog box).

Ever so slightly scary

Btw, do not be alarmed by this rather ominous looking dialog box.  I got the same thing from EPMCloud:

See this EC2 security guide to calm your madly beating hearts.

Mundane?  Not a bit.

Just click on the Yes button and off we go to the unexciting-and-yet-exciting-all-at-the-same-time Windows desktop:

That shade of blue has been my boon companion since Windows NT 3.5.1 (geezers will know why that mini-VAX of an OS was far, far better than NT 4.0 and its descendants).  So not so much excitement, you might think, but that’s where you’re wrong.

The Start Menu

And this is why the ordinary isn’t ordinary.

I had not a single blessed thing to do with this.  Thankfully.

What kind of server?

Don’t be alarmed by the 7.5 GB of RAM – that’s just the EC2 instance Full360’s AMI ran on.  It could have just have easily said 17.1 GB.

Client Connections

As already noted, Microsoft Office 2007 is include on the server, so for Sandbox use, there’s really no need to connect in a client like Excel.  NB – You must have a valid Office key for this to work.

Performance

Despite being connected to a 7.5 GB server (well under the completely unofficial 12 GB threshold for 11.1.2) performance was more than adequate.

Wait, you say (you are paying attention, aren’t you?), what about your 8 GB laptop that couldn’t run 11.1.2 worth a tinker’s damn?  I have a feeling that Amazon’s hard drives/SAN/who knows what are faster than my 7,200 rpm laptop drives.  Or it could be that I can’t configure an 11.1.2 installation to save my life.  I don’t know which explanation I prefer.

I am semi-afraid to hook up the AMI to the High-Memory Quadruple Extra Large instance as I may never want to go back to the less than ½ price High-Memory Extra Large instance.

Price

Let me just get this out in the beginning -- Full360’s overall monthly price in the below usage model is cheaper than EPMCloud’s. 

Having said that, the product that is right for you and cheaper is going to depend on:
1)    How often you use it.  You must first go through $99 of EPMCloud’s on-demand usage per month to see savings from Full360.  In my usage model below, you could use the EPMCloud product till 14 September with 43 hours of server time for that amount of money. The equivalent usage pattern with Full360 would cost approximately $126.  Alternatively, by the end of the month Full360’s product is cheaper.
2)    How flexible do you need your 11.1.2 instance to be.  If you’re going to clone it, snapshot it, put it against different EC2 server instances, Full360 has more options because more of EC2 is exposed.
3)    How involved in the world of Amazon EC2 you want to be.  As I wrote, it isn’t hard, but it made me think a bit.  Geeks like this kind of challenge, sometimes, but often just working on the stack is what’s important.  Real life story -- I know of one consultant who recently emailed me after reading the EPMCloud post – I told him about Full360’s EC2 requirements and despite the lower price (again, assuming the usage model below), he went for EPMCloud because it was easier for him.

The above are not trivial considerations.  Think long and hard about how you are likely to use the products and then drop Full360 and EPMCloud an email and decide for yourself.

So how much does Full360 cost?

1)    There’s a $99/month AMI fee (see the ODTUG connection below).  That’s the ability to access Full360’s fully tested out Windows 2003 Oracle 11.1.2 EPM instance.
2)    There’s an hourly cost based on Amazon’s EC2 pricing.  If you went for the High-Memory Extra Large instance, the cost is 62¢/hour.

The ODTUG discount

You are a member of ODTUG, yes?  And you’re voting for the board of directors, yes?  And you’re voting for me, yes?  I will now go beyond shameless and highly recommend Tim Tow and Angie Wilcox as candidates.  If you don’t vote for me, at least vote for Angie and Tim.  Remember you have till 2 November 2010. 

Beyond the many existing reasons to be a member of ODTUG (Kaleidoscope, the best Hyperion conference ever, the beyond-invaluable Technical Resources, the technical journal) there’s yet another reason to join – Full360’s ODTUG discounts.  The monthly charge is half price for ODTUG members.  Instead of the normal $199/month, the price is instead $99.  The startup fee is $1 instead of $99.  Good grief, that’s a first year savings of $1,298.  Does that cover your $175 yearly ODTUG individual membership?

I am going to assume that you too can do the math, hence I will use the ODTUG special prices.

Cameron the consultant’s use case

Before we dive into that cost analysis, let’s again review how an 11.1.2 instance in the cloud is likely to be used by a mythical consultant named “CL” (who is this guy, anyway?).

My usage model will likely be broken into two types:
1)    Common, everyday
    1. An hour or two before work and at night (yes, I am sad)
    2. A few hours every weekend
2)    Extraordinary, short bursts
    1. Learning new stuff for a project, e.g., Calc Manager the right way
    2. Proof of concepts/prototypes


Startup
Hours
Cost @
62¢/hour
Why?
1-Sep
$99.00



2-Sep




3-Sep




4-Sep

4
$2.48
Tire kicking
5-Sep




6-Sep

2
$1.24
Training
7-Sep




8-Sep

1
$0.62
Training
9-Sep

8
$4.96
Prototype
10-Sep

8
$4.96
Prototype
11-Sep

4
$2.48
Prototype
12-Sep




13-Sep

8
$4.96
Demo to client
14-Sep

8
$4.96
Tweak prototype
15-Sep

2
$1.24
Demo to client
16-Sep




17-Sep




18-Sep

3
$1.86
Blog writing
19-Sep




20-Sep




21-Sep




22-Sep




23-Sep




24-Sep




25-Sep




26-Sep




27-Sep

8
$4.96
Prototype
28-Sep

8
$4.96
Prototype
29-Sep




30-Sep





$    99.00
        64.00
$39.68









$138.68


If this usage model even approaches reality for me, it would take me almost two years to make this as expensive as that IBM W510 or four years to match the cost of the Dell Precision 4500 that I lamented over in my last cloud post.

I think Full360 is cheaper than the hardware route, don’t you?  Remember, if 11.1.3 or 11.2.1 or whatever the next big release is (I have zero insight to this stuff so who knows what it will be called) and it now requires 20 GB of RAM to run, just move on up the EC2 instance scale.  Try that with a laptop.

Finally, I’ll be able to buy some sexy looking thin laptop next time around (my current brick weighs about seven pounds and reminds me of an aircraft carrier).  Maybe my back will stop hurting when I travel.  My wallet surely will.

Conclusion

So there you have it, yet again.  A complete 11.1.2 installation, tailor-made for consultants or clients who want/need to kick 11.1.2 tires.

It’s a shame that 11.1.2 is from beyond the dead, intent on nothing more than eating our computer’s brains.

But it’s fantastic that there are two great companies offering fully-vetted 11.1.2 instances that we can start learning from and building on.

I have to say that I never really understood the appeal of cloud computing before these two posts – now that I get the flexibility, power, and affordability, I’m likely boring everyone I meet with The Way.  You really, really owe it to yourself to check it out.

Now I can finally get back to hacking Essbase, instead of figuring out how to make it run.