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21 March 2013

Where in the world is Cameron, day 5, Australasian edition

Not the beginning of the end, but perhaps the end of the beginning

I’m not one to quibble with WSRC, but the ODTUG SP Australia conference is at day two of two and that means that I am finally coming to the end of Cameron’s Most Excellent Australasian Conference Adventure. It figures that my body is finally sort of, kind of, used to the time zone difference because I will be jetting away tomorrow. It took me a week to get used to the time here and I expect another week of sleepiness when I get home to the States. OTOH, I have lots of real Cadbury chocolate (see yesterday’s rant on the stupidity of US chocolate manufacturing practices – Something Must Be Done), I have really had a great time here, and learnt quite a bit about BI and EPM.

But none of the above really matters – what does matter is: did the conference attendees get value for money? Given the depth and breadth of the sessions, the passion that the presenters brought to their sessions, and the high technical level of the presentations (despite protestations to the contrary re “being technical”), I’d argue that yes, the attendees got their money’s worth, and more.

I was a little apprehensive about helping select sessions (read: beg Oracle Australia, James & Monroe, M-Power, Bambi Price, and just about anyone I knew in Australia to help put together the speaker list – oh dear, I am now on the hook for repaying favors but it is all worthwhile) as the Australian market differs somewhat from the US of A’s. Yes, the market details are different, but at the end of the day we are all trying to solve the same problems with Oracle’s BI and EPM tools. The attendee survey will tell the tale (how could a BI/EPM conference not try to wrap metrics around an event?), but based on conversations I’ve had, I think it will be a solid win.

Taking OBIEE to the Next Level, Maneesh Disawal, 9:00 am to 10 am, ACDT

Maneesh is taking us through a definitely-not-standard approach to making OBIEE more useful. It’s nice to know that hacks aren’t just an EPM-only approach. And besides, a good hack isn’t a hack at all, but instead is Just Really Cool.

It’s interesting to see how much OBIEE overlaps with EPM – yes, yes, I get it, Oracle are bringing the two together, but still, it’s interesting to actually observe it. Most ODTUG conferences have me running round like a chicken with its head cut off. I am really enjoying actually being able to sit back and listen.

Another thing I am noticing about OBIEE is how IT-oriented it is. This isn’t a bad thing but it is evidence (if it were needed) that there is still quite the gap between the BI and EPM worlds. Their eventual merger will be interesting to watch.

Essbase ASO – A Brave New World in Australia but not for the Rest of the World, Steve Hitchman, 10:15 am to 11:15 am, ACDT

This session hasn’t occurred yet, but it’s up next. m-power worked with my buddy Dan Pressman and utilized his Rules of ASO Essbase. I’m very excited to see what they have on offer. Update – The session is in progress right now.

Oh, this is embarrassing, but kind of awesome at the same time. Dan Pressman, ASO wizard extraordinaire, just had a slide devoted to him and His Really Big Brain. What else was part of the slide? Why an advertisement for Developing Essbase Applications. Yes, it is a good book, and internationally loved.

Steve is going through the ASO design principles Dan has tried to hammer into my head:

  • No formulas, unless you must
  • Stored instead of dynamic hierarchies, or at least Multiple hierarchies enabled
  • No more + and - operators, instead just + and flip the data signs to get round the dynamic hierarchy
  • Gary Crisci’s MDX chapter in Developing Essbase Applications just got mentioned as well as a resource (Are Gary and Dan soon to become Australian citizens? Could be.)
  • Do the simple stuff in MDX, do the complex logic in BSO and import results into ASO
  • Alternate YTD hierarchies to come up with YTD values through ASO’s aggregation capabilities
  • Solve order to handle variances

Oracle BI and Oracle Essbase: Today and Tomorrow, Stephane Roman, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, ACDT

Stephane is taking us all on a journey through Essbase and OBIEE integration in the next release of the OBIEE stack. They are To Become One.

Stephane is reviewing Sample.Basic aka My Very Favorite Essbase Database In The Whole Wide World (MVFEDITWWW). It’s nice to know that The Beverage Company’s business continues forward. Who wants to bet that when Sample.Basic was created that a bunch of Arbor Software developers sat round and said, “Eh, a good first effort, but we have to replace that with something better, but soon.” Soon never came.

Watching Stephane’s presentation, I realize that I have a career decision to make – am I going to jump on the OBIEE bandwagon to get a leg up on the tool or just passively wait for the Bus Named OBIEE to run me over. Maybe getting flattened will be pleasurable? Probably not. So much to do, so little time.

One thing that is funny about OBIEE (and why I personally think things aren’t quite there yet wrt product convergence) – it takes an Essbase database in all of its Essbase awesomeness and turns it into a logical star schema. That is…odd looking. I realize this is how OBIEE federates data but it is still a little jarring for an Essbase developer to see.

Slay the Evil of Bad Data in Essbase with ODI, Cameron Lackpour, 1:30 pm to 2:30 ACDT

This is the same presentation I gave at NZOUG 2013 and I always enjoy a chance to spread the ODI gospel. My solution doesn’t exactly use standard ODI functionality but one of the great things about ODI is that, to quote one of the attendees at ODTUG SP Australia likes to say, “There’s always a way round a problem”. ODI is great at enabling those ways around issues. I am a super fan of the tool.

Growing with Business Analytics - Keeping Updated and Informed, Paul Anderson, 2:45 pm to 3:45 pm ACDT

I finally get to meet Paul – I’ve seen his posts on the Business Analytics – Proactive Support web site.

Oracle Support are doing great things with making the support of the not-exactly-simple EPM tools. They are trying to preempt problems before they occur. One might argue that they are trying to put themselves out of business. I think that isn’t likely to happen any time soon but it is beyond great to know that Oracle understands the importance of fixing problems asap and maybe even preventing the issues before they even occur.

Master Notes, feedback, Advisor Webcasts, patches, product certification, social media/My Oracle Support Communities (hint, use this in lieu of Service Requests when your problem doesn’t involve fully-engulfed-in-flames Essbase servers), product version certifications, patch communities, product specific communities (HFCM and Endeca), Remote Diagnostic Agent (RDA), whew, you get the idea. Oracle Support are doing a lot of interesting things.

Closing Panel, Richard Philipson and Cameron Lackpour, 3:45 pm to 4:30 pm

This is an anything-goes, hit us with your best shot session. They are a lot of fun at Kscope and I am hoping that this will be more of the same. However some topics like do you like wheat or white toast are beyond the pale. Okay, I kid, I kid, wheat every time. Rye vs. wheat will have to remain a secret. Everything else is fair game. :)

Keep tuned

Almost done – I will put in my final thoughts when the party’s over.

Be seeing you.

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