Want to know The Truth About CPM?

27 October 2015

OOW 2015, day 1 -- Essbase in the Cloud

It’s here, it’s here, it’s here

And it’s for real.  Essbase Cloud Service, aka EssCS has arrived.  And it’s pretty awesome.

I first heard about this from ER who found the release docs on Network54.  And then I promptly asked for his post to be deleted because I had no idea this was about to drop.  Oracle played the release pretty close to the vest.  Some partners may have been involved in a beta, but not me.  Or MMIC Glenn Schwartzberg, and if he didn’t know, I think very few do.

For details on all of the things that Essbase cloud means, I encourage you to read fellow ACE Director Eric Helmer’s excellent blog post.

I also encourage you to take a looky-look at the Essbase 12c documentation.

I’m not going to restate what either document, but instead give you an experiential take on what it’s like to use it from a developer’s point of view.  Yes, this is Cameron the touchy-feely guy.

A note about my mad photography skilz

The screenshots are, for the most part, taken from the side of the demo screen.  I wanted to stick my big head in front of everyone to take these snaps but thought I’d be torn limb from limb by the ultra Essbase geeks in attendance.  Also, I can’t take pictures to save my life.

With that caveat, off we go.

At the demo grounds with my peeps

Here’s Kumar Ramaiyer, Essbase development manager, and Natalie Delemar, ODTUG Kscope chairwoman, ODTUG Vice President, and all-around Essbase geek, about to go into the demo.  The crowd grew and grew.

More and more

The gaggle of geeks got bigger and bigger.  There’s the back of Gary Crisci’s head as well as the Planning product manager Shankar Viswanathan.  

The men responsible

Steve Liebermensch, where are you?  In his absence, here’s Gabby Rubin and Kumar Ramaiyer, product and development management.

The obligatory Safe Harbor

It wouldn’t be a demo without Oracle’s warning that what you see may indeed come true, or may never happen, and you shouldn’t make any decisions other than giving in to an extreme Essbase geekout.  Seriously, don’t drive your company’s strategy, commitments, etc., etc., etc. through what you see here (or in the demo grounds) because it could all change.

You’re looking at alpha code and I suspect many of the limitations will go away by the time it ships but who really knows.

Logging into the cloud

Where’s EAS?  Where’s Studio?  Nowhere to be found in the cloud.  They’re just too chatty.  But they will be available on-premises, at least for a while.  The strategy is evolving but I think they aren’t going away any time soon.

One note about the database you’re about to see:  Hybrid is the standard, which I find fascinating, although ASO can be built in a different way.

Importing a database into the cloud from metadata in Excel, yes, Excel

I’ve likely bored you with my first experience with Essbase:  1993 (or 1994 as I no longer remember), OS/2, Essbase 3.1, a Compaq 66 MHz 256 MB server under my desk.  Essbase was largely a departmental solution, managed by finance super users.  

That was then, this is now, and now Essbase is an enterprise level tool with all of the infrastructure complexity that implies.  

It isn’t that EssCS won’t be suitable for the enterprise, it’s that it will also be suitable for smaller instances.  This will, I think, lead to an Essbase renaissance as those enterprise chains will be broken.

Did you notice the >8 character name?  Finally, finally, finally, although my sort-of expertise of scrunching down a app/db name down to 8 characters will become obsolete with which I’m more than happy to see go bye-bye.

Yes, it’s Sample.Basic metadata in Excel

What does that mean?  It means users/admins can build Essbase databases not through a hierarchy management tool, e.g., EAS or Studio, but directly from metadata stored in Excel which is then uploaded.  

Excel is a tool almost everyone in every department uses and understands.  So why not have the analysis tool be the Essbase administration tool?  Exactly.

Do you see the tabs?  Each one is a separate dimension.  Within a given dimension, you can see how the metadata is defined as well as the parent-child hierarchy.  I have to confess I didn’t ask why all of the dimensions are defined here as well as in the separate tools.  I’ll try to find out.

Editing the outline in the admin console

Excel isn’t the only interface – you can still directly edit the dimension although not in a manner familiar to EAS/AppMan users.

Currency conversion is not dead

The 12c ReadMe says it’s no longer supported.  And yet here it is.  Is it different?  Good question but I have no idea.

Member formulas and Kumar’s finger

Member formulas can still be entered manually.


Want a change log?  Here it is.

You’ve imported it, now export

Outlines go both ways – no different than EAS today.

Note the tabs, note the formula

We saw before that member formulas can be made directly in the admin console; they can also be done in the Excel metadata file.

Solve order?  BSO/Hybrid?

Where did that come from?  Shades of the ASO engine on top of BSO in Hybrid?  Probably.

Note well

Database notes are alive and well, as are data and metadata uploads.

Btw, love the >8 character names.  Like a rainstorm in a drought.

Run it and monitor it

There’s a console, conceptually similar to Planning, FDMEE, and Shared Services.

Load data

File, SQL, file name, abort on error, but NO LOAD RULES.  Actually they will be there, somehow, maybe on-premises only, but I’m not sure.  Fingers crossed on their timely demise but dreams don’t always come true.  :)

What’s going on?

Here’s the data load showing that all is well.
Did it work?

Attributes?  Yep.

There was a question today on Network54 re attributes in EssCS – it sure looks like it’s included.

Calc script editor

They’re not dead!  How could they be?

Sandboxing in Essbase

This was demoed at Kscope15, but it’s the concept of different users entering different values.  An admin looks at them via process management and decides what to merge/release.  It is Pretty Cool.

A list of scenarios.

Sandboxing process management

Commenting on a sandbox scenario

Scenario console

Loading data and metadata simultaneously to ASO

ASO isn’t dead.  In fact it’s the default for a combined data and metadata load.  Again through Excel although I believe .csv and database loads will also be possible, but don’t hold me or Oracle to that.

Can you mobile adminster EssCS?  Yep.

From the sublime to the ridiculous but not really.

First off, this is mega cool.

Secondly, I can actually see a use case on something a bit larger than on an iPhone 5 being generated on the fly – you’re in a meeting, need to look at results quickly, and aren’t in front of your laptop.  While today that scenario does require a laptop it means you popping off to your office to do just that.  It’s no longer necessary.

Here’s a load from DropBox.  Yes, DropBox.  OMG so cool.  And flexible.

Can it be edited on mobile?  Why yes it can.  

Smart View in the cloud

That’s not actually correct, this is on-premises Excel connecting to EssCS.

What does this all mean?

Here’s how I see it:
  1. Essbase will – optionally – go back to its departmental roots.  Will it replace Exalytics?  No, it’s not there, and will likely never be.
  2. Essbase applications will be easier to implement than ever.  
  3. Does anyone love owning EPM architecture?  Just what I thought.  This obviates that ownership.  Cue general joy except for infrastructure consultants.
  4. EssCS will lead, on-premises will follow.  It’s frustrating but like any other business, the Essbase team have to follow the money which in this case is Cloud funding.  There’s a commitment to bring functionality to on-premises but EssCS will always lead.
  5. Given that EssCS is by default Hybrid, we have yet another confirmation that Hybrid is the direction for Essbase.  Cue general joy again.
  6. Given Hybrid’s central role, upper level cross dimensional tuples will have to be supported.

There’s an awful lot I don’t know, and an even more awful lot I didn’t quite understand, and alas quite a bit I’ve already forgotten.  

What’s really importing is that Essbase is progressing, a lot, quickly.  We’re all going to be challenged to keep up with the tool.

It’s very exciting times.

Be seeing you.

25 October 2015

Day -1 at OpenWorld 2015

Why -1?

The formal start of OpenWorld is tomorrow, but we (or at least I) know know that the User Group Sunday is the real start of this insanity known as Oracle’s World.

And yr. obt. svt. will continue his well-known insanity by trying to live blog this conference.  It’s a task I’ll fail at given the scope, but I’ll give it the old college try.

Session the second

I actually missed the first session because I was having breakfast with my Bestie Natalie Delemar.  I’ve sinned and am trying to make up for it through diligence and penance.  

And that brings me to Wayne Van Sluys’ session on SmartView and OBIEE.  No, Wayne is not part of my penance – surely that involves a hair shirt, gnashing of teeth, and ashes thrown upon my head – but instead of my diligence that I will apply to today henceforth.
C:\Tempdir\Conferences\OOW 2015\IMG_1365.JPG
As far as the two tools, I blow hot and cold.  Do I see the logic in using SmartView to access federated OBIEE data?  Yes.  Do I see this combination as being either as intuitive and simple as SmartView and Essbase?  No, but it’s doing a lot more.

If you want OBIEE in Excel, absolutely this is the way to go.  If you’re accessing Essbase (or Planning or HSF or HFM or almost all of the EPM suite), in my opinion it’s not a great fit.

Session the second

Edward Roske, my long-ago employer, is speaking on Planning outside of the box.

Some people see Edward the man, others see Edward the CEO, others see Edward the ACE Director, but I see Edward the Hat:

Here he is for real:

As always, Edward is both amusing and informative.

Session the third

This is where yr. obt. svt. bores/delights/stuns-with-his-obviously-wrong-insights-and-tips.  Okay, it wasn’t half-bad, and the room…the room was half full.

Session the fourth

I’m listening to Ron Moore call his approach to Essbase calculations “simple stupid”.  I’ve known Ron for a super long time and there isn’t that guy does that isn’t smart, smart, smart, so I think he wins today’s record for self-deprecation.

All kidding aside, my philosophy is keep it as simple as possible until I can’t.  Simple is hard enough; unbelievably clever is either impossible, so close to impossible that it isn’t worth doing, or is completely unsupportable.

Session the fifth

Sarah Zumbrum, fellow ODTUG board member, is giving her session on converting BSO to ASO tips:

Session the sixth and the last

Dave Collins and Mike Nader are presenting on OBIEE and Essbase.  What’s beyond super-cool is that the content is based on Mike’s chapter Developing Essbase Applications:  Hybrid Techniques and Practices.

Keep on checking

Having just slit my Oracle ACE Director throat, I encourage you to check back every hour or so to:
  1. Watch me self-immolate
  2. Get my not-entirely-informed opinion on the sessions
  3. Experience the closest thing to actually being here

I’ll be updating every hour or so.

Be seeing you.


The sessions are over, although not the rest of the day.  There’s a BI meetup to attend, a credit card to retrieve that I apparently left with a waitress (first time ever – either I am slipping in my dotage or OOW is that kind of conference or both), and then OTN’s ACE dinner.

Be seeing you tomorrow.

22 October 2015

Oracle OpenWorld 2015 live blogging, Tim and Cameron’s most excellent EPM meetup, and my EPM presentation

What am I doing here?

I’m sitting in at the ACE Directors briefing hearing about all sorts of cool stuff.  It is an incredible opportunity to hear about what Oracle will be doing.  Unfortunately I’m not at liberty to share what I’m seeing as I just signed an NDA but rest assured this is a company that knows where it’s going and that destination is exciting.  

As to how I got here, I have no idea why I became this lucky but as Gary Crisci once said, “Never argue with good luck” and I’m not going to.

The bragging is over

The above isn’t really bragging but instead just a way to share with you that (warning, a bit of gushing is about to hit you) Oracle really is geared towards developers.  Essbase (and the rest of the EPM suite) was lucky Oracle saw value in Hyperion.  Hyperion was a great company – and many of the movers and shakers remain today at Oracle --- but I cannot imagine them having the resources or even the vision to try new things like Oracle.  Sometimes big is a really good thing and that’s coming from someone who is a one man shop.  

Live blogging

As in previous years, I’ll be blogging at least once and maybe multiple times per day as the opportunity presents itself.  I’ll also be tweeting.  In short I am social media maven.  Or loser who needs to get a life outside of technology.  Or both.  You decide.

The meetup

As in years past, Tim Tow and I will be hosting an EPM/BI Meetup on Tuesday, 27 October 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Eclipse Lounge.  It starts at 7:00 pm and goes till…whenever they kick us out.  It’s a ton of fun, a great opportunity to network with both your peers as well as Oracle (no promises on the latter, but there’s a good chance) development and product management.    All are welcome.

The presentation

I’ll be presenting on Sunday, 25 October 2015, in Moscone South 302, from 11:00 to 11:45 on “ASO, BSO, or Hybrid:  Which flavor of Essbase should you use?”  Unfortunately, I’m too stupid or lazy to figure out how to link from the OpenWorld schedule builder, but I hope you’ll be able to attend my session as well as all of the User Group sessions.  

On offer there will be:
  • Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition the Oracle Smart View Way [UGF4112] Wayne Van Sluys, 9:00 am
  • Creative Oracle Hyperion Planning Design: With Planning, There Is No Box [UGF7215] Edward Roske, 10:00 am
  • ASO, BSO, or Hybrid: Which Flavor of Oracle Essbase Should You Use? [UGF2145] Yr. Obt. Svt., 11:00 am
  • Oracle Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management for Hyperion Planning/Oracle Essbase Users [UGF9979] Michael Killeen, 12:00 pm
  • Advanced Calculations in Calculation Manager [UGF9983] Ron Moore, 1:30 pm
  • BSO to ASO: Can We? Should We? How Do We? [UGF10834] Sarah Zumbrum, 2:30 pm
  • Aggregate to Transaction Level with Oracle Essbase and Oracle BI Enterprise Edition [UGF9982] Dave Collins, 3:30 pm

As noted, all of these EPM sessions will be in Moscone South, room 302.  There’s no reason to leave the room save for bio breaks and is the most EPM focused segment of OpenWorld.  There’s lots of other content but not in such an nonstop manner.

And that’s it for now

It’ll be an exciting week.  If you’re physically here in San Francisco, I hope you’ll be able to attend the above.  If you’re experiencing OpenWorld from afar, hopefully my seemingly-endless-penchant-for-blathering-on will prove of value.

Be seeing you.