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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.


Doug Burke said...

Thank you for the details on EssCS. Looks promising in many ways.

srx said...

Great news so far, however I thought that Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud (Narrative reporting stuff) was already a kind of Essbase offer in the cloud...! So finally what is EPMRC?

Keep blogging Cameron!

er77 said...

all cloud decision from Oracle make me excited for one reason it's removes any barriers from users and developers
Since them Oracle will be more quality centric company ))

Anonymous said...

Yes, the cloud offerings are definitely a danger to infrastructure consultants, but, it will be many, many years, if ever, that on premises software goes away