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20 June 2013

What Kscope13 sessions am I looking forward to, Cameron edition

Introduction

In my five previous posts I’ve covered the Essbase, Planning, EPM Foundations and Data Management, EPM Reporting, and Everything Else sessions I am looking forward to (and admitting that I am somewhat unlikely to attend as I would need to be Cameron * 5 to do so and that is a scary prospect, even to me).


But what about my sessions?  Am I ever going to give you at least a hint as to what they are all about?  Am I, indeed.  I like to think, in my humble (ahem) way, that I in fact have some slightly useful information to impart.  You may not agree but after all you are reading this blog.  If you think my presentations stink and yet you’re still here you must at least admit you are somewhat confused.  OTOH, if you think my presentations aren’t half bad (and if they aren’t better than that I have wasted hundreds of hours on them, which I suppose is possible), you may be interested in the following sessions.

Top Six Advanced Planning Tips

When: Jun 24, 2013, Session 4, 1:45 pm - 2:45 pm
I am copresenting this with Jessica Cordova and it’s a chance for the two of us to impart some of the lessons learnt and techniques we’ve picked up over the years in Hyperion Planning-land.  Jessica is the primary, and me the junior on this one and you’ll understand what that means in a moment.

A bit of a side note

Actually “Six” in the title is something of a misnomer because in fact we are only going to present three sessions.  Ah, I hear you (and I do, really, in my mind, which is confusing because of course one hears with one’s ears) exclaim, “Wot?  ‘e said six an’ now he says three.  ‘e’s barmy ‘e is.”  Writing dialect is tough, especially when your inner Cockney only extends as far as really liking the Lambeth Walk.  I lay blame at the feet of my love for British war movies which, just like American ones, always have a mix of men from civvy street and there’s always someone from south of the Thames.    Also, their RSM’s have great script writers.  Wow, quite an excursion into the Weird Entertainment Cameron Likes.  

And we now return to our regular programming

Anyway, Jessica and I wrote our sections, rehearsed them via GoToMeeting, and realized that we had quite a bit (a lot) more than 50 odd minutes worth of content.  So our choice was to either cut sections out entirely or skim through our topics.  As the whole point was to do advanced topics we were in a bit of a bind until I realized that we could put up what sections we are doing up to a vote and do the balance at an ODTUG webinar after Kscope.  We are going to pinky promise on this and we all know that means that is a promise unto death.  Also, this will be an opportunity for you the audience to decide exactly what you want from us – it will be Kscope session democracy in action.  I hope you’re willing to indulge this slightly off beat approach as I think what we have to say is pretty good.

Monday Night Madness/Hyperion EPM Open Mic Night

When:  8:00pm to 10:00 pm
There is an Open Mic Night at Monday’s after-session fun.  Like a fool, I have volunteered to be one of the speakers in case there is a dearth of volunteers.  Also like a fool, and quite true to form (so I am repeating myself) I didn’t realize that one is not required, nay, is not allowed to write a presentation for this.  I wrote one.  Good thing I’ve got a really cool demo to go with it.  


We’ll see if I do this but if I do, I have got a really awesome twist on focused aggregations in Calculation Manager/Planning except this time the products are  Calc Scripts/Dodeca.  All I’ll say is that I have a way round the big problem with focused aggregations in Calculation Manager.  It is fast, fast, fast, fast.

Exalytics - An Apples to Apples Comparison

When:  Jun 25, 2013, Session 6, 8:30 am - 9:30 am
I think this has to be the Kscope group project to end all group projects.  By that I mean that John Booth, Tim German, Dan Pressman, and I all got together on the Mother and Father of all benchmarking tests.


Thanks to the generosity and quite possibly world record patience of Mark Rittman of the eponymously named Rittman-Mead, we have access to an Exalytics box.  What oh what oh what to do with it?  Why benchmark it against a really fast generic Linux box (that John bought with his own money – we are committed, or nuts) of course.  I also love that these severs are named Asgard and Zeus.  Naming the servers after mythological figures was coincidental and I think indicative of their speed.  Both environments are fast and put to shame anything I have ever seen at a client.  This project encouraged me to buy a mega laptop (well, mega as of summer 2013 – 32 gigs of RAM, 8 CPUs, and a SSD); I shall never buy one with a physical drive again.


What are our results?  As is usual, we are testing this down to the very last minute (some, like me, would argue that we are testing this beyond the last minute), so I honestly cannot say.  I will bet that whatever box you’ve got, we’ve got our hands on a faster one.  :)

Practical SQL for EPM Practitioners

When:  Jun 25, 2013, Session 8, 11:15 am - 12:15 pm
I’m terribly excited about this because I have found that I spend more and more of my time in projects using SQL to do all sorts of interesting and unusual (at least for an EPM geek) things.  It’s really opened my horizons wrt the roles I can play on a project and I find writing SQL code to be oddly therapeutic.  Yeah, I’m weird.


I’m going to use practical examples that I have used in the real world to show a bunch of techniques and approaches that I’ve found useful.  Of course, just like the Planning presentation I have more, much more, than I can possibly fit into a single session but I can temper that deficiency by blogging about it here.


As I was not all that long ago firmly in the “SQL means SELECT * FROM …” camp it’s been quite a transformation in skills for me and a valuable one to boot.  If you do EPM, and I don’t just mean Essbase and Planning, and yet are not at a SQL hacker like me I encourage you to attend.  

Lunch n’ Learn

When:  25 June, 12:45 pm to 1:45 pm
I’m sharing the dais with my much-admired former boss, Tracy McMullen (I have no idea what her title is now other than Mrs. Awesome but when I worked at interRel, she was Director of Consulting) and Chris Barbieri (Chris, I admire you too, even if you hate Essbase for reasons of technological jealously (Mr. HFM)  or maybe just sheer perverse bloody mindedness); John Booth moderates.  These are always free-wheeling and open ended.  I do get quite hungry.  This time I’m bring an energy bar.

A BSO Developer's Introduction to ASO Essbase

When:  Jun 26, 2013, Session 13, 11:15 am - 12:15
I actually didn’t sign up to do this presentation but was instead asked to do it.  I’m not an ASO wizard by any means but that actually was a good thing for this presentation because the topic is in fact how to approach ASO when one is a BSO geek.  

Yes, this has been done to death at Kscope but I think I bring two unique approaches to this subject.
  1. I use Sample.Basic, the BSO database that just about everyone knows, as the subject for my conversion.  It is both harder and easier to convert than you think.  As everyone (hopefully) knows what Sample.Basic is all about wrt calcs, dimensionality, etc., I can use the familiar constructs of that database to explain a plethora of ASO topics.  Although ASO and BSO are very different technologies one can use many BSO constructs to understand ASO.
  2. I used Dan Pressman’s standout ASO chapter in Developing Essbase Applications to dive deeply into the ASO kernel and understand how to design ASO databases for performance.  This was really exciting for two reasons:
    1. I need to understand how tools work.  IOW, “I gots to know”.  Hopefully in a less cinematically violent way than Dirty Harry but I at least share that innate curiosity about How Things Work.  Have you ever seen a bitmap index?  You will, and it won’t make your head explode.  I now know how ASO works, or at least as well as anyone who doesn’t have an @oracle.com email address does.
    2. I thought that Dan’s chapter was simply amazing, but also very, very dense.  I don’t mean that as a criticism in any way – it is a difficult and highly technical subject and a complete explanation of it is therefore obliged to be just as difficult and highly technical.  I read the chapter six times from beginning to end in an effort to understand it as well as multiple phone calls with Dan.  I am happy to announce that I think I have made more accessible what I consider to be the most important work on Essbase extant.  Do I cover all of what he wrote about or even delve into it at the same depth?  No, that simply isn’t possible within the 50-odd minutes (that time thing keeps on popping up, doesn’t it?) allotted to me but I think if you’ve read Dan’s chapter and did a big “whaaaa?” you should come to my session.  With its lessons under your belt you’ll be able to tackle Dan’s work again and again.  Btw, Dan is reprising his session from last year (quite unusual in Kscope but such is the import of his work) on 25 June from 2 to 3.  Even if you go to Dan’s session I encourage you to come to mine – the bitmap, the bitmap, the bitmap is difficult to understand at first but it is the essence of ASO performance and I cover it from a beginner’s perspective.  Did I mention I was excited?  :)


Fwiw, this was a very difficult presentation for me to write because so much of it is theory – I tend to think of myself as more the engineer type who takes theory and applies it as opposed to a physicist who strictly stays on the theoretical side of things.  So a bit of a stretch but if you are a BSO developer or someone, like me, who has seen some real dogs of ASO applications and guessed that BSO design principles may not apply, come to this session.

Conclusion or my ODTUG cup runneth over

I’ve figured out that in addition to the above two full presentations, plus the Planning copresentation, plus the benchmarking presentation, plus the open mic presentation, plus two private presentations for ODTUG/Oracle, I am somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 ½ to 5 presentations this year.  As I write all of my presentations from scratch (I do not exactly have an army of minions who do this for me) that is an incredible amount of work.  I would guess somewhere around 300 to 400 hours and it came at the expense of just about everything that wasn’t work related; there are others (hello, Dan) on these projects who have put in even more unpaid time.  Yes, I love Kscope, but maybe I can love Kscope14 a little more by trying just a wee bit less.  We’ll see if that actually comes true.  


In any case, I think I’ve got some great things in store for the next week and I will be live blogging starting Saturday with the volunteer event.  


Be seeing you round Kscope13.

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