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30 September 2014

Oracle OpenWorld, Day 3

The craziness continues, part the third

For once I am  not in a session but instead at the Oracle Publishers Seminar.  Why oh why would I be interested in publishing?  Haven’t I already been there, done that?  All I can say is watch this space for some very exciting news.  :)  I don’t want to say anything more lest I jinx the whole thing.

Some fun stuff from yesterday

Here are some snaps to show what Oracle geeks get up to when they’re not taking notes/desperately trying to learn new stuff/networking like crazy.  Instead, we actually have a social life or at least a semblance of one.  See if you recognize some of the face.

My Man In California, my Ride or Die Girl, and yr. obt. svt.

That’s Glenn Schwartzberg, Natalie Delemar, and again, yr. obt. svt.

I think it’s interesting that you’re looking at three competitors (okay, I am a bit of a stretch as a competitor as I am a mighty consulting company of just exactly one, but I beg your indulgence on this) and we’re all friends.  So, frenemies?  
ODTUG event at Le Charm
Above is John King to the right and two people who I absolutely I should know but alas do not.  Through the door you see Danny Bryant and Crystal Walton.

Two of the coauthors of Developing Essbase Applications

Again, that’s Natalie Delemar on the left and Gary Crisci at dinner.

And now today

CON7498  --  Oracle Essbase New Features and Roadmap Update

Whew, that was a bit of a run from the Westin St. Francis (where the Publishers Seminar is actually being held right now) to Moscone West, room 3007.

I’m listening to John Baker, Gabby Rubin, and Steve Liebermensch speak on my Very Favorite Essbase Database In The Whole Wide World aka VFEDTWWW.  Try saying that out loud.  Quite difficult, isn’t it?

Gabby Rubin is about to begin his overview on the state of Essbase today.

What did Essbase get in the last 12 months?

    • Overcomes restrictions of CALCPARALLEL
      • Forces parallelization when CALCPARALLEL failed
      • Enables it for DATAEXPORT and DATACOPY
        • Note to self – must benchmark this
  • Parallel processing in
    • There are huge differences in both commodity (yeah!) and Exalytics
    • Remember that the latest Exalytics release is optimized for Essbase at the hardware layer, so the performance boosts on that platform are larger
      • More parallelism is allowed, e.g., more than 8 parallel threads
      • Like 40 or even 60 parallel threads
      • Found that best performance was a mix of FIXPARALLEL and more cores
        • Sometimes CALCPARALLEL does just as well as FIXPARALLEL, and if so, keep it.
        • But if not, then use FIXPARALLEL
  • MDX improvements
    • Optimized AGGREGATE
      • Faster totals for mutli-level hierarchies
        • Really a rewrite of the AGGREGATE function
      • Improvement is based on the query and dimension depth
    • MDX Sub Select (not yet via OBI)
      • Significant performance improvement for queries against large databases
      • The bigger the model, the better (relatively) it gets
      • Very much like a SQL subquery – wrap the thing in parentheses and the query from that
    • MDX optimizations for attributes
  • Essbase and Planning on Exalytics
    • Remember that improvements on Exalytics comes to the core product (usually)
    • Better concurrency
    • Patentable lockless algorithms
    • Up to 3.5x improvements from Exalytics v1
      • NB – This isn’t for a single calc, but for scalability to reflect real world concurrency
  • Reduce BSO fragmentation
    • This is Exalytics only for now
      • In-place block write
      • Slows fragmentation
    • Exalytics first optimization
      • It’s easier for Oracle to do this because it’s one platform as opposed to the many commodity hardware OSes
  • BSO/ASO Hybrid Aggregation v1
    • Combine BSO with ASO aggregation performance
    • 100% backwards compatible with all existing BSO databases – zero learning curve
    • Revolutionary (my words)
    • First release only handles simple aggregation
      • Not all the functions of BSO
        • But, you will always return the right result, although if it fires in BSO classic query processor it might very well be really slow
      • But if it fits within Hybrid/ASO, it’ll be fast
      • More functionality to come
    • Mix and match stored and dynamic hierarchies as required in calculations
    • Is ASO going away?
      • Nope, it’s the home for Really Big Databases
      • But the reporting cube use case is going to be obviated

The future

Steve Libermensch is now going onwards.  The estimated release is Subect to change, ETA EPM PS4 but of course no guarantees, so don’t blame Oracle if something slips.

One more time -- this is all discussed under Oracle’s Safe Harbor statement, which boils down to, “Oracle isn’t going to commit to anything, will deny that any Oracle employee ever uttered these words, and you likely shouldn’t rely on anything you’re about to hear.  Or maybe you should.  But we’re not telling.”  If Oracle didn’t do this, we’d never hear about what very well may be the future.  And then again may be not.  You decide.  

And with that disclaimer, here’s what Steve talked about:
  • Hybrid
    • Increase coverage for additional functions
    • Time Balance, Dynamic Time Series
    • Complex calculation semantics
      • Cross-dimensional references (yeah!)
      • Dimension references
    • Longer term:  Hybrid Mode in Calc Scripts
      • Upper level Hybrid members in a calc scripts, aka, allocations based on spread on % of total calculations
    • Faster because
      • It’s dynamic
      • The number of blocks are way less
      • IND file is smaller, as is PAG file
    • Having said that, depending on the query, stored BSO queries can be faster than Hybrid.  The thing to remember is that all of the pain around storage, calculation time, etc. is reduced, potentially quite dramatically.
  • @XRANGE within functions
    • Available in more calculation functions
    • Code against slice of data instead to single vector or dimension
    • Bugger, I missed it.  :)
    • Two new variable types:  MEMBER and NUMBER
    • Syntax
FOR (mbr, mbrList)
Statement ;
    • No more block creation – this is outline driven, not block driven
  • Renegade
    • Selected member that will provide a home for orphaned members
      • No more dataload.err
  • Batch outline editing
    • New API to allow mass operations on Essbase Outline
      • Death to Load Rules!
      • Huge performance
  • Improved resource management and CPU utilization
    • Thread management and thread based memory allocation and management
    • Fundamental improvement to Essbase infrastructure
  • Essbase R
    • Library to read and write Essbase database fromR
      • Connect
      • mdx2Array
      • writeBack
    • Future direction
      • Allow Essbase users to trigger R from Essbase
      • Embedded R in calc scripts
      • Generic capability to allow the extendibility of Essbase with 3rd party scripting languages
  • EAL financial intelligence moving into Essbase
    • Bringing EAL into Essbase by enhancing its core strength:  financial apps
    • Replicate EAL into Essbase
      • Financial Accounts dimension, member types, and behaviors
    • Integrated per plan
  • Post Load Processing
    • Post load script for data manipulation before it is stored in the cube
      • Think balances vs flow on periodicities
      • Any frequency submit, store in one
        • YTD, MTD, QTD comes in, periods get stored
        • Coming for Planning as well from forms
          • We don’t have to write calc scripts to do this
  • Dimension member properties
    • Text (!), arrgh, missed the rest
  • Cell status
    • How and when did a cell in the db get populated
      • Load, Calc, data entry, Dynamic
      • Transaction ID for the last update transaction
    • Available via calc scripts, AP, and MaxL
    • Will be available across all engine types
  • In-memory
    • On Exalytics, Essbase will be a pure in memory engine so no wait for I/O
      • Remain Exalytics only because cannot rely on commodity servers having enough RAM to do this
    • In memory aggregate views for ASO will not need to be stored on disk

Whew, that was a lot.  Shouldn’t you come to OpenWorld and see all this stuff live and in person?

Book signing at the OpenWorld bookstore

John Wyzalek of CRC Press got us a book signing event at OpenWorld.  Here I am flanked by the One And Only Natalie Delemar and Dan Pressman at the Oracle bookstore.

What’s next?

See, I do have friends, even as odd as I am.  Perhaps I am the object of widespread pity?  If so, please do not tell me.

Tim and Cameron’s Most Excellent BI/EPM meetup

And I’ll have even more time with my putative friends tonight at the BI/EPM meetup Tim Tow and I are hosting. 

You hopefully know all about the meetup Tim Tow and I are hosting tonight:  Oracle Open World EPM/BI meetup

You don’t have to be an OpenWorld attendee to join us.  If you haven’t yet RSVP’d, I’d be obliged if you did so we have a handle on how many geeks are coming.

See you at 7:00 tonight at:

Watch this blog for more information.

Be seeing you.

29 September 2014

Oracle OpenWorld, day 2

The craziness continues

It really isn’t craziness, more like crazy busy.  But this is the nature of conferences, right?

The rest of yesterday

Probably the most interesting/embarrassing thing yesterday was me rushing to a 3 pm podcast on ODI.  Except of course…

OTOH, it was quite a popular tweet.  :)

I think I can make today’s meeting.  I hope.

Update -- I did.  Of course my ODI knowledge quite a bit behind behind my copanellists but that is true for all sorts of technology areas I work in.  I have decided to embrace my weakness(es).  :)  It isn't like I have much of a choice anyway.

Oracle ACE dinner

OTN hosts a dinner for ACEs every year, and yr. obt. svt. somehow got to attend.  The entertainment will be the Stuff Of Legend.  

Right now

CON2659  --  Oracle BI in the Cloud: Getting Started, Deployment Scenarios, and Best Practices

I’m sitting in on Mark Rittman’s session on Oracle BI in the cloud.  It’s standing room only (I had to annoy a few people in getting to one of the few open seats to allow me to type), and Mark is his usual brilliant self.

It’s still early days on the tool, and there are quite a few things that are not there compared to the on premises product.  For instance, there is no Essbase (gasp), but this is coming.

Oooh, someone just asked Mark a question on Essbase.  Mark doesn’t think it will be Essbase SaaS, but there might be an option to make Essbase as the backend to options (persistence, Planning, etc.) within OBIEE SaaS.

And now Smart View – again, Mark thinks that because it has to be locally installed and chatty web service calls, it won’t be available in the near term.  But it might be.  I always enjoy answers like that but I suspect Mark (and maybe even Oracle product management) don’t know yet.

CON8424  --  Oracle Business Analytics Product and Technology Roadmap

Sitting in on a SRO (again) session by Paul Rodwick on what’s coming in Business Analytics.  Interesting stuff.

GEN8525  --  General Session: Executive Briefing on Oracle’s EPM Strategy and Roadmap

Balaji Yelamanchili is speaking on the future of EPM in a big room.

Here’s a snap from my BFF, Natalie Delemar.  Note that her circa 2013 phone has a rather better camera than my nineteen aught three, steam powered, all brass, powered by anthracite coal, phone.

Where is Oracle EPM going?

You’re going to get this as a set of bullet points.  I’m not going to focus on what’s already out, but what is on the roadmap – I just can’t type fast enough.

  • New apps
  • Apps in the cloud
  • Keep in being the best
  • Social and mobile to attract new EPM users
  • Do this for everything:  Close, Planning, and Reporting

Next 12 months
  • Financial consolidation & close
  • HFM
    • Lighter, faster, simpler, & portable
    • HFM on Exalytics
  • New supplemental data management module
  • New tax governance module
  • Mobile workflow for FCM


  • Platform independence
  • Significant performance (see below) improvements
  • Simplified deployment architecture
  • Multiple databases per instance
  • Streamlined integrations, Java API
  • Online monitoring (Exalytics only)
  • Easy install and upgrade
  • One click (Exalytics only)
  • Full LCM support

And now an HFM demo.  I’ll do my best to describe this but I am not an accountant and this isn’t my area.
  • New UI is more Windows Explorer-ish with
    • filtering,
    • collapsing folders,
    • no more pop ups for grid options,
    • Direct link to Smart View
    • New form designer
    • Form legends to explain what cell shading/coloring means
    • Favorites
  • Oracle Financial Management Analytics
    • Link to OFMA directly from within HFM (pretty nice looking stuff, btw)
  • And of course…
    • Much better performance, 3x faster (at least in their example) better performance
    • Some other examples
      • 2 hours to 6 minutes (2200 accounts, 2800 entities, 400 custom members) consolidation
      • 53 to 21 minutes (10K accounts, 15K entities, 3000 custom members), extract data from 1 hour to 12 minutes
      • Etc., etc., etc.  :)


Next 12 months
  • User-defined sandbox, grid improvements, instantaneous calculations (hellllllllllllooooo Hybrid Essbase)
  • Cloud innovations available for on premises
  • Planning Cloud will get the full suite of Planning modules

Planning demo now up – and yes, now I have a clue.  Barely.
  • Support for user sandbolxes
    • Auto calcs, auto save on change
    • Cloud and on-premises
  • Supports large data sets
    • Rapid forms, quick cell navigation (so quite an improvement), scrolling in all grids
  • User-defined client side calcs using familiar Excel syntax in the grid itself
Formulas can reference dimension members and persisted in Planning (I believe the data is persisted in Planning and the form calculations are persisted in Planning – this is not, I think, a way for users to create Planning members, although one could certainly argue that a custom, persisted set of calculations that writes back to Planning/Essbase is pretty nice)

  • Mobile interface
    • Looks nice, definitely not the familiar Workspace
  • Forms are quick, quick, quick.  No more of’s pain.
  • Sandboxes can be named, and creates a virtual Version for at least everything on the form.  Maybe more as well?  
    • Data that is saved into Sandbox can be compared to base Working, and then published when happy with the result back to the real Working Version.
      • Sandbox gets destroyed when it has been published back to Working
      • When working in Sandbox, the data is private
  • Excel integration
    • Showed the custom member formulas
    • Smart View grids can then be saved and opened up in the browser with the custom calculations
      • Can these formula grids be shared with other users?  Dunno.

EPM Cloud

  • Cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud.  Did I mention cloud?   :)
  • It’s all very exciting, and I think Oracle are finding uptake far better than they had hoped for – 150+ customers in six months.  Oracle is having a problem buying enough hardware to do all this..  This is bad news for infrastructure consultants (so not a problem for me as I am infrastructure-challenged to be charitable) but great news for everyone else who just want to do cool application stuff.  And oh yeah, hardware (Exa?) manufacturers are having a good time as well.
  • PBCS – now and see above
  • Financial Performance Reporting Cloud Service – in preview
    • Not Financial Reports
    • Think of it as a managed way to combine:  reporting, document management (collaboration, process management, document history, etc.), data narrative, versioning, auditing.
      • IOW, no more Excel hell with documents.  So FPRCS is to financial documents as Essbase is to data.  :)
    • It’s meant for people who produce high level briefing books or external reporting like a 10-Q.
  • Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud Service – in development
  • Note that customers do monthly patches – no more opatch pain.


  • Parallel scripting
  • Scalability for concurrent query and calculation operations
  • Hybrid
    • See Dan Pressman and Tim German’s session on this Thursday
  • In-memory enhancements
    • Intriguing, and I have no idea what that means.  But I shall find out…

CON8526  --  What’s New and What’s Coming:  Oracle Hyperion Enterprise Financial Planning Suite

I popped late into this one because of the ODI podcast recording.  

It looks like most of what Shankar Viswanathan and Prasad Kulkarni are talking about (at least for someone who came in 30 minutes late) was discussed at Kscope14.  Yet another vote for the awesomeness of ODTUG and Kscope.

So far Prasad has talked about:
  • Faster grids
  • Sandboxing
  • Valid combinations
  • Excel formulas

What’s next?

Beyond my podcast on ODI (and I think I have some interesting news on the future of ODI, FDMEE, and EPM) today, I also have a book signing tomorrow at 3 pm, and of course the rest of OpenWorld.

Watch this blog for more information.

Be seeing you.