December 16, 2013

My Friend, Mike Riley, Has Cancer

I found out this summer that one of my best friends - one of the entire Hyperion community's best friends - has cancer. This is his story.

But first, a mea culpa:

In 2008, I Was An Idiot

Back in early 2008, I wrote a blog entry comparing Collaborate, Kaleidoscope, and OpenWorld.  In this entry, I said that Collaborate was the obvious successor to the Hyperion Solutions conference and I wasn't terribly nice to Kaleidoscope.  Here's me answering which of the three conferences I think the Hyperion community should attend (I dare you to hold in the laughter):
Now which one would I attend if I could only go to one?
Collaborate. Without reservation. If I'm going to a conference, it's primarily to learn. As such, content is key.
I actually got asked a very similar question on Network 54's Essbase discussion board just yesterday (apparently, it's a popular question these days). To parrot what I said there, OpenWorld was very, very marketing-oriented. 80% of the fewer than 100 presentations in the Hyperion track were delivered by Oracle (in some cases, with clients/partners as co-speakers). COLLABORATE is supposed to have 100-150 presentations with 100+ of those delivered by clients and partners.
In the interest of full-disclosure, my company, interRel, is paying to be a 4-star partner of COLLABORATE. Why? Because we're hoping that COLLABORATE becomes the successor to the Solutions conference. Solutions was a great opportunity to learn (partying was always secondary) and I refuse to believe it's dead with nothing to take it's mantle. We're investing a great deal of money with the assumption that something has to take the place of Hyperion Solutions conference, and it certainly isn't OpenWorld.
Is OpenWorld completely bad? Absolutely not. In addition to the great bribes, it's a much larger conference than COLLABORATE or ODTUG's Kaleidoscope, so if your thing is networking, by all means, go to OpenWorld. OpenWorld is the best place to get the official Oracle party line on upcoming releases and what not. OpenWorld is also the place to hear better keynotes (well, at least by More Famous People like Larry Ellison, himself). OpenWorld has better parties too. OpenWorld is also in San Francisco which is just a generally cooler town. In short, OpenWorld was very well organized, but since it's being put on by Oracle, it's about them getting out their message to their existing and prospective client base.
So why aren't I recommending Kaleidoscope (since I haven't been to that either)? Size, mostly. Their entire conference will have around 100 presentations, so their Hyperion track will most likely be fewer than 10 presentations. I've been to regional Hyperion User Group meetings that have more than that (well, the one interRel hosted in August of 2007 had 9, but close enough). While Kaleidoscope may one day grow their Hyperion track, it's going to be a long time until they equal the 100-150 presentations that COLLABORATE is supposed to have on Hyperion alone.
If you're only going to one Hyperion-oriented conference this year, register for COLLABORATE. If you've got money in the budget for two conferences, also go to OpenWorld. If you're a developer that finds both COLLABORATE and OpenWorld to be too much high-level fluff, then go to Kaleidoscope.

So, ya, that entry may live in infamy.  [Editor's Note: Find out a way to delete prior blog posts without anyone noticing.]  Notice that of the three conferences, I recommended Kaleidoscope last and dared to say that it would take them a long time until they had 100-150 sessions like Collaborate.  Interestingly, Collaborate peaked that year at 84 Hyperion sessions, and Kaleidoscope is well over 150 Business Analytics sessions, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

In 2008, Mike Riley Luckily Wasn't An Idiot

I had never met Mike Riley, but he commented directly on my blog.  He was gracious even though I was slamming his tiny little conference in New Orleans:
Hyperion users are blessed with many training opportunities. I agree with Edward, the primary reason for going to a conference is to learn, but I disagree that Collaborate is the best place to do that. ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Collaborate, and OpenWorld all have unique offerings. 

It’s true that ODTUG is a smaller conference, however that is by choice. At every ODTUG conference, the majority of the content is by a user, not by Oracle or even another vendor. And even though Collaborate might seem like the better buy because of its scale, for developers and true technologists ODTUG offers a much more targeted and efficient conference experience. Relevant tracks in your experience level are typically consecutive, rather than side-by-side so you don’t miss sessions you want to attend. The networking is also one of the most valuable pieces. The people that come to ODTUG are the doers, so everyone you meet will be a valuable contact in the future.

It’s true, COLLABORATE will have many presentations with a number of those delivered by clients and partners, but what difference does that make? You can’t attend all of them. ODTUG’s Kaleidoscope will have 17 Hyperion sessions that are all technical. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a member of ODTUG for eight years and this is my second year as a board member. What attracted me to ODTUG from the start was the quality of the content delivered, and the networking opportunities. This remains true today.

I won’t censor or disparage any of the other conferences. We are lucky to have so many choices available to us. My personal choice and my highest recommendation goes to Kaleidoscope for all the reasons I mentioned above (and I have attended all three of the above mentioned conferences).

One last thing; New Orleans holds its own against San Francisco or Denver. All of the cities are wonderful, but when it comes to food, fun, and great entertainment there’s nothing like the Big Easy. 
Mike was only in his second year as a board member of ODTUG, but he was willing to put himself out there, so I wrote him an e-mail back.  In that e-mail, dated February 10, 2008, I said that for Kaleidoscope to become a conference that Hyperion users would love, it would require a few key components: keynote(s) by headliner(s), panels of experts, high-quality presentations, a narrow focus that wasn't all things to all people, and a critical mass of attendees.

At the end of the e-mail, I said "If Kaleidoscope becomes that, I'll shout it from the rooftops.  I want to help Kaleidoscope be successful, and I'm willing to invest the time and effort to help out.  Regarding your question below, I would be more than happy to work with Mark [Rittman] and Kent [Graziano] to come up with a workable concept and I think I'm safe in saying that Tim [Tow] would be happy to contribute as well.  For that matter, if you're looking for two people to head up your Hyperion track (and enact some of the suggestions above), Tim and I would be willing (again, I'm speaking on Tim's behalf, but he's one of the most helpful people on planet Hyperion)."


Kaleidoscope 2008 ended up being the best Hyperion conference I ever attended (at the time).  It was a mix of Hyperion Solutions, Arbor Dimensions, and Hyperion Top Gun.  With only 4 months prep time, we had 175 attendees in what then was only an Essbase track.  Though it was only one conference room there in New Orleans, the attendees sat in their seats for most of a week and learned more than many of us had learned in years.

After the conference, Mike and the ODTUG board offered Tim Tow a spot on the ODTUG board (a spot to which he was later elected by the community) to represent the interests of Hyperion.  I founded the ODTUG Hyperion SIG along with several attendees from that Kaleidoscope 2008. I eventually became Hyperion Content Chair for Kaleidoscope and passed my Hyperion SIG presidency on to the awesome Gary Crisci.  In 2010, Mike talked me into being Conference Chair for Kaleidoscope (which I promptly renamed Kscope since I never could handle how "kaleidoscope" violated the whole "i before e" rule).  Or maybe I talked him into it.  Either way, I was Conference Chair for Kscope11 and Kscope12.

During those years, Mike worked closely with the Kscope conference committee in his role as President of ODTUG.  Mike rather good-naturedly ("good-natured" is, I expect, the most commonly used phrase to describe Mike) put up with whatever crazy thing I wanted him to do. In 2011, he was featured during the general session in several reality show parodies (including his final, climactic race with John King to see who got to pick the location for Kscope12).  I decided to up the ante in 2012 by making the entire general session about him in a "Mike Riley, This Is Your Life" hour and we found ourselves laughing not at Mike, but near him.  It included Mike having to dance with the Village Persons (a Village People tribute band) and concluded with Mike stepping down as President of ODTUG...

... to focus his ODTUG time on being the new Conference Chair for Kscope.  Kscope13 returned to New Orleans and Mike did a fabulous job with what I consider to be Hyperion's 5 year anniversary with Kscope.  Mike was preparing Kscope14 when I got a phone call from him.  I expected him to talk over Kscope, ODTUG, or just to say hi, but I'll never forget when Mike told me he had stage 3 rectal cancer.  My father died in 2002 of colorectal cancer, and the thought that one of my best friends was going to face this was terrifying... and I wasn't the one with cancer.

I feel that the Hyperion community was saved by Mike (what would have happened if we had all just given up after Collaborate 2008 was a major letdown?) and now it's time for us to do our part.  Whether you've attended Kscope in the past or just been envious of those of us who have, you know that it's the one place per year that you can meet and learn from some of the greatest minds in the industry.

Mike Helped Us, Let's Help Him

Kscope is now the best conference for Oracle Business Analytics (EPM and BI) in the world, and Mike, I'm shouting it from every rooftop I can find (although I wish when I climbed up there people would stop yelling "Jump!  You have nothing else to live for!").  I tell everyone I know how much I love Kscope, and on behalf of all the help you've given the Hyperion community over the last 5 years, Mike, it's now time for us to help you.

After many weeks of chemo, Mike goes into surgery tomorrow to hopefully have the tumor removed.  Then he has many more weeks of chemo after that. He's a fighter, but getting rid of cancer is expensive, so we've set up a Go Fund Me campaign to help offset his medical bills.  If you love Kscope, there is no one on Earth more responsible for its current state than Mike Riley.  If you love ODTUG, no one has more fundamentally changed the organization in the last millennium than Mike Riley.  If you love Hyperion, no one has done more to save the community than Mike Riley.  

And if after reading this entry, you love Mike for all he's done, go to and donate generously, because we want Mike to be there at the opening of Kscope14 in Seattle on June 22.  Please share this entry, and even if you can't donate, send Mike an e-mail at letting him know you appreciate everything he's done.

October 30, 2013

Competitors, Welcome to Our Webcasts

I was happy to be a part of Oracle's EPM Showcase yesterday in New York City.  It was a half-day event (plus a happy hour) that had Oracle giving a keynote followed by two 90-minute breakout session timeslots (with two sessions happening concurrently).  I was speaking during the first timeslot on Hyperion DRM (Data Relationship Management) along with Nikki from Verizon and Erin Lineberry from interRel.  In my talk, I described how companies need a single system of record for hierarchies and explained how DRM was a really good fit particularly with the new data governance module in
There were partners in my session, and I had no problem at all with it.  After all, this was a conference open to anyone and I am a firm believer that when people learn more, the whole community benefits.  This is what motivates me to write all of my books, cause believe me, it's not for the money (Google "Starving Authors" before you ever think to make money writing).  I also speak at way too many events around the world each year from tiny user groups to massive conferences like Kscope, Collaborate, and OpenWorld with no concerns that my sessions are primarily filled with Oracle partners looking to improve.

After my session was over, there was one more timeslot for the day and since I didn't want to sit in the hall for 90 minutes, I went to Huron Consulting Group's (they're the company that bought Blue Stone) session on the future of Planning.  It sounded more interesting than Hackett's session which was my other possibility and I saw that one of the speakers was Mike Nader who is a great presenter.  If nothing else, I would get to hear Mike's engaging take on the world since he joined Blue Stone.  I sat in the room in the back row (there were plenty of extra seats, but I wanted to leave the good seats for potential customers).

Right as the session was about to start, Rick Schmitt from Huron (Blue Stone) came over to me and asked me to leave.  I was curious why since I was an official attendee at the event and he said that they were going to be talking over "some proprietary stuff."  I assumed he meant his slides at the beginning on the Blue Stone acquisition or "why Blue Stone is the best at XYZ," so I offered to leave for the first few slides.  I don't need nor want competitive info and I certainly didn't want to make him nervous during his sales pitch.  He said that no, they were going to share lots of proprietary info throughout the session and he didn't want competitors in the room during their session at all.

Rather embarrassed but more bemused, I smiled, gathered my things, and walked out of the room.  I sat in the hall for a while wondering what cool things I was missing and feeling jealous of the 50 clients that got to hear from Blue Stone.  (There's nothing like being excluded from something to make you want it more.)  As I sat there, I pondered my own stance on information sharing.  Personally, I believe that if the community as a whole gets better - if the community learns more - the quality of Hyperion implementations will rise.  Satisfaction with Oracle EPM will rise, and as the reputation of Hyperion gets better, the Hyperion market will grow which benefits the entire community: customers, Oracle, and partners.

And it made me ask what I could be doing better.

So starting effective immediately, all of the public webcasts interRel does (and we did over 100 webcasts last year) will be open to everyone.  That's right: competitors, please come join our webcasts and we'll share all the information that we spend months putting together with you.  You've always had access to our books, our sessions at user groups, our presentations at conferences, and now you have access to our webcasts too.  I hope that this starts a trend: I strongly encourage our competition to open up their sessions and webcasts to anyone who wants to attend.  Don't be afraid: if you're good at what you do, you shouldn't be afraid to help the competition get better too.  Information is meant to be free and to point out the obvious, if the Hyperion market gets bigger from happier clients telling everyone they know to buy Hyperion, your potential customer base gets bigger too.

Our next webcast is Thursday, October 31.  It's on how Smart View is finally an awesome replacement for the Essbase Excel Add-In and I hope to see a ton of our competition on the webcast.  Visit to register.

July 16, 2013

Exalytics - Version X3-4 is Here

I've mentioned before that the Exalytics X3-4 was nearly available (the first clue was when it hit the engineered system price list back on June 4).  It was talked about at-length during the Kscope13 Sunday Developer's Symposium and... it's finally here.

Hardware Upgrades

  • RAM.  Doubling from 1 terabyte to 2 terabytes.  This will help everything on the box but those of us running Essbase now have even more RAM to use for making RAM drives.
  • Flash.  Exalytics now comes standard with 2.4 TB of flash.  I mentioned this earlier as an upgrade option to the Exalytics X2-4, but it now is native to the X3-4.  As mentioned in my earlier article, flash impacts Essbase performance far more than OBIEE (which isn't as disk I/O intensive).  Having .25 millisecond read latency (what these flash drives are rated) means there's virtually no seek time finding values in an Essbase cube on disk.  I'm expecting most Essbase customers will put their physical cubes on the flash drives and then quickly load them into a RAM drive upon start up (which has better performance than reading into the Essbase caches for each database).
  • Hard Drive.  They are upping the traditional hard drives from 3.6 TB to 5.4 TB.  It still has 6 physical drives in it, but they are going from 600GB drives to 900GB drives. [Updated on 8-25-2013.]
The cores (still 40) stay the same... for now.  At some point, someone is going to start hitting these limits and they're probably up the cores and I wouldn't be surprised if they went 100% flash drives in a future release.


X3-4 supports OBIEE, Endeca 3.0, Essbase, and any Linux-allowed Hyperion EPM product on  They also strongly imply that there are some Essbase optimizations in that only work on Exalytics, but I haven't found them yet to verify.  Regardless, Exalytics X3-4 is the best engineered system you can currently buy for Essbase, bar none.

Pricing: $175,000

The X2-4 was $135,000 for the hardware (software sold separately), but to add-on flash, you paid an additional $35,000 giving us a real price for X2-4 of $170,000.  The new box is $175,000... and for that additional $5,000, they double the RAM and increase the hard drives 50%.  In other words, you're getting a hell of a deal.  For what is literally $40,000 more in total, you're getting 1 TB more of RAM, 2.4 TB of really good flash, and 1.8 TB of additional hard drive.

What if I Already Bought an X2-4?

First of all, congratulations.  You're really smart, despite what your high school guidance counselor said.  To upgrade your X2-4 to an X3-4, you can buy an upgrade kit!  The upgrade kit (to get flash and the 1 TB of RAM) does cost $105,000 though.  So your X2-4 with an upgrade to an X3-4 will end up costing you $240,000 in total.  Oracle will support your X2-4 under their lifetime support policy even though it is being phased out.  


You can order an X3-4 now.  I haven't seen one actually ship yet, but it was just officially launched yesterday.  While I think you can still buy the X2-4 until the end of this quarter (August 31, 2013), I'm not at all sure why you would.  Find the extra $40K and get not only blazingly fast flash drives but more RAM than you know what to do with.

July 4, 2013

Major Price Cuts in Essbase, OBIEE, BIFS, and OSSM

Pricing Went Down 25-40%

While Oracle is pretty good at giving discounts off list price, it's rare when they actually cut their list prices.  Shockingly, they just lowered (for what I believe is the first time since these products made it onto the price lists) the per processor prices on several of their Business Intelligence offerings: Essbase, OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite), BIFS (Business Intelligence Foundation Suite), and OSSM (Oracle Scorecard & Strategy Management).

Per the price list dated June 25, 2013, the per processor prices have dropped substantially:

  • Essbase went from $184,000 to $138,000.  That's a 25% decrease.
  • OBIEE went from $295,000 to $221,250.  That's also a 25% decrease.
  • BIFS went from $450,000 to $300,000.  That's a 33% decrease.
  • OSSM went from $149,250 to $89,550.  That's a 40% decrease.
Now think about this for a second.  BIFS (Business Intelligence Foundation Suite) comes with Essbase, OBIEE, OSSM, and a few other fun things like EAL4HFM (Essbase Analytics Link for HFM).  BIFS was already a great deal because just buying Essbase, OBIEE, and OSSM separately was setting you back $628,250 but as a bundle costs you only $450,000.  That's a 28% decrease off just those 3 components separately.  Now those separate components list at $448,800 or if you buy the BIFS bundle, $300,000 which is a 33% discount off the components separately.

In other words, you now get OBIEE, Essbase, OSSM, and some other products for just $5,000 more per processor than OBIEE cost alone 2 weeks ago (it was $295,000, remember).  The named user costs for these products has not changed which means that they are positioning these price cuts directly at the enterprise customers: companies who are looking to adopt Oracle Business Analytics across their organization.  Considering those prices above are list, enterprise customers should be getting a discount starting off those prices which makes processor licensing start to seem very attractive for large deployments.

Core Factors

Also remember that Oracle doesn't charge this full price for every core on the processor.  They have a "processor factor" which charges less per core.  Depending on the type of processor, the Oracle Processor Core Factor Table will charge between 25% and 100% of the list processor price.

Take Exalytics X2-4, for example.  It has 4 Intel Xeon E7-4800 chips in it.  Each of those chips has 10 cores giving you 40 cores in total.  Based on the Processor Factor, these cores count as only half a processor.  In other words, to license a full X2-4, you'd need to pay for 20 processor licenses which at the new $300,000 price means a list of $6,000,000.  That's the maximum (not including tax, maintenance, TimesTen, etc.) that you'd pay but it would assumedly come in less than that which is really impressive to license an entire Exalytics box for unlimited users.  Unlimited, people.  Your whole organization could access OBIEE and Essbase for at most $6MM in software.

This may be the pricing discount your company needs to buy unlimited user licenses of Oracle Business Analytics.  And don't hold your breath for Oracle to drop any more list prices.  Take it as a gift and buy it before they change their minds.

Update as of 7-15-13

According to an article on Information Week, during the release of Exalytics X3-4, Paul Rodwick was asked about the recent price decreases mentioned above.  He gave the intriguing response that while the prices did go down, it's "old news" because Oracle stealthily did it 9 months ago.  While I don't have the technology price list he's referring to (if you do, post a link to it in the comments), here's Paul's quote:
The cost for BI Foundation Suite on a named-user basis has never been changed, but about nine months ago we adjusted per-CPU pricing in part because we were seeing more customers want to license the full complement of Exalytics.

June 23, 2013

Kscope - Oracle Business Analytics Strategy & New Features

"Business Analytics is a key strategic priority for Oracle."
                 - Paul Rodwick

I'm sitting in the Kscope13 BI Symposium listening to keynote speaker Paul Rodwick, VP of Oracle BI Product Management. Paul was rather interesting despite his flight having landed in New Orleans at 4AM.  On 3-4 hours sleep, Paul reviewed Oracle's Business Analytics strategy.  It's surprising to me how little Oracle's EPM/BI architecture has changed over the last 5 years (other than the renaming to "Oracle Business Analytics."  This is a good thing.
Why?  Because over the last 5 years, the architecture has gone from a products-integrating-is-a-theoretically-good-idea-so-let's-put-it-on-a-slide-cross-our-fingers-and-see-what-happens to an actual integrated solution that uses the various products in the Oracle Business Analytics line together with each product doing a key part.  Instead of "Essbase or OBIEE or an application?" it's "Essbase as the cube platform, OBIEE as the front-end, applications for needs that are often common across multiple companies."

So now that Oracle has gotten the basics out of the way, they're looking to expand their Business Analytics offerings.  Their key focuses for the immediate future are big data, mobile, in-memory computing, and cloud-based analytics.  The last two really speak to technology of deployment (in-memory and cloud), big data seems to be one of those things that everyone is talking about and no one's quite sure what to do with for the moment, but mobile is on everyone's minds and people are actually doing something about it.  To further that immediate mobile need, Oracle is releasing new functionality in every release or patch of the Oracle mobile analytics products.  For instance, Oracle now has a full mobile security toolkit (available on OTN) for companies that want greater security than native Apple iOS provides.

Paul discussed some of the key features in the release (including Smart View as the primary Office front-end for BI going forward).  He mentioned that the bundled patch for OBIEE will be out on a few weeks, so prep yourself for  He also talked about some recent improvements to Endeca in version 3.0 of that product.  While I love Endeca's extremely powerful ability to discover information in unstructured data, right now, most companies are still focused on analyzing their structured information.  Unstructured analysis is definitely coming: it's just only being deployed by a handful of leading-edge companies at the moment.

Where Are They Going?

The key releases we should see in the next 9-12 months will revolve around these themes:
  • Visual analysis.  They're trying to make the analysis more intuitive because the majority of users don't spend their day being analysts: they want the system to help them find issues quickly so they can make better business decisions faster.
  • Mobile Analytics. Oracle is planning to create a BI Mobile "Applications Designer" that will allow developers to make HTML5 applications purpose-built for mobile deployment.  They will also continue to improve the mobile applications every version but they didn't go into what some of the new improvements are going to be specifically beyond more HTML5 deployment.
  • Exalytics.  They promised a new Exalytics announcement in the near future.  I'm presuming this refers to the new Exalytics X3-4 version that's mentioned on the June 4 Oracle Engineered System Price List (page 5).  I expect this will be detailed more during Steve Liebermensch's session later this week.
  • Cloud analytics.  Oracle is making a huge investment in the cloud and it looks like there will be more and more applications in Oracle Business Analytics that run in the cloud.  This makes it a lot easier for customers to get immediate ROI from a BI implementation without huge server investments.
  • Big data.  Part of Oracle's strategy in this area is to tie into any data in any source behind the scenes into Oracle BI.  Data agnostic
  • Predictive analytics.  Paul didn't really talk to this one other than to tease that they do have dedicated resources to expanding the Predictive Analytics capabilities of Oracle BI Foundation Suite.  There is some P.A. functionality in Hyperion Planning, Crystal Ball, and Hyperion Strategic Finance and that sounds like it will be expanded into the BI layer in future releases.
The one thing that's really apparent from Paul's session is that Business Analytics is now a $1+ billion dollar portion of Oracle revenue... and they're treating it as such in terms of research and development.  It's a fast growing space and Oracle seems determined to maintain their market share in overall Business Analytics.

I hope to blog later in the week if any new announcements come out.  Coming to you from Kscope13, this is your humble reporter, Edward Roske.

June 6, 2013

Looking Forward to Kscope13

On June 9, the rates for Kscope13 go up $300 per person (basically, you're going up to the last minute, I-don't-know-why-I-waited-but-now-it-costs-a-lot-more price).  If you haven't registered yet for what is by far the best Oracle EPM, BI, Hyperion, Business Analytics, Essbase, etc. conference in the world, go right now to and register.  It'll be the best training experience of the year: you're basically getting 4.5 days of training that you won't see anywhere else the entire year... for the price of 2 days of training at an Oracle training center.

And when you register, don't forget to use promo code IRC to save $100 off whatever the current rate is.

The conference is June 23-27 in New Orleans though my favorite day is always the opening Sunday, so make sure you fly in Saturday night.  On Sunday, they turn the sessions over to the Oracle Development team to talk about everything they have planned for the next 1-3 years.  It's the one time each year that you can hear right from the people who are building it what you're going to be seeing in the future.  There's generally an hour on each major product line (an hour on Essbase, an hour on Hyperion Planning, an hour on mobile BI, etc.).  The keynote this year is Balaji Yelamanchili, the head of Oracle BI and EPM development for Oracle.  My only semi-complaint about this year's BI/EPM Symposium is that there's so much content that they're splitting it into three concurrent symposiums: Business Intelligence, EPM, and a special symposium for the EPM business users.

This year will be somewhat bittersweet for me since I am no longer actively involved with the chairing of the conference.  This means that I get to focus on going to sessions, learning things, playing/leading Werewolf games, and of course, presenting a few sessions.  Here are the ones I'm personally teaching:

  • Using OBIEE to Retrieve Essbase Data:  The 7 Steps You Won’t Find Written Down.  This is in the BI track and it's basically all the quirks about connecting OBIEE to Essbase in a way that uses the strengths of each product.
  • What’s New in OBIEE Oracle on Your iPhone & Other Cool Things.  This is also in the BI track and it's an overview of all the things that people will like in (for both Hyperion and relational audiences).
  • Everything You Know About Essbase Optimization  is Incomplete, Outdated, Or Just Plain Wrong.  This is in the Essbase track and it's the one I'm most looking forward to delivering, because I get to break all of the optimization rules we all have been accepting as gospel for close to 20 years.
  • Learn From Common Mistakes: Pitfalls to Avoid In Your Hyperion Planning Implementation.  This is a vendor presentation hosted by interRel.  I get to sit on the panel and answer Planning questions from the audience while talking about blunders I've seen during Planning implementations.  It should be fun/rousing.  Since it's all interRel, I wouldn't be surprised if a few punches were thrown or at minimum, a few HR violations were issued.
  • Innovations in BI:  Oracle Business Intelligence against Essbase & Relational (parts 1 and 2).  This is also in the BI track (somehow I became a BI speaker???) and I'm co-presenting this session with Stewart Bryson from Rittman Mead.  We'll be going over OBIEE on Essbase on relational and compare it to OBIEE on relational directly.  Stewart is a long-time friend and Oracle ACE for OBIEE, so it should let us each showcase our respective experiences with Essbase and OBIEE in a completely non-marketing way.
  • CRUX (CRUD meets UX): Oracle Fusion Applications Functional UI Design Patterns in Oracle ADF.  This is in the Fusion track and I'll be talking about how to make a good user interface as part of the user experience of ADF.  No, this doesn't have a thing to do with Hyperion.
I am looking forward to all the wacky, new things Mike Riley (my replacement as Conference Chair for Kscope) has in store.  My first Kscope conference was in New Orleans in 2008 (back when they called it Kaleidoscope and no one was quite sure why it wasn't "i before e") so this is a homecoming of sorts albeit with 8 times as many sessions on Oracle BI/EPM.  If you're there (and let's face it, all the cool kids will be), stop by the interRel booth and say "hi."  It's the only 400 square feet booth, so it shouldn't be hard to find.

June 4, 2013

Webcast Series - What's New in EPM and OBIEE

Today I'm giving the first presentation in a 9-week long series on all the new things in Oracle EPM Hyperion and OBIEE  The session today (and again on Thursday) is an overview of everything new in all the products.  It's 108 slides which goes to show you that there's a lot new in  I won't make it through all 108 slides but I will cover the highlights.

I'm actually doing 4 of the 9 weeks (and maybe 5, if I can swing it).  Here's the complete lineup in case you're interested in joining:

  • June 4 & 6 - Overview
  • June 11 & 13 - HFM
  • June 18 & 20 - Financial Close Suite
  • July 9 & 11 - Essbase and OBIEE
  • July 16 & 18 - Planning
  • July 23 & 25 - Smart View and Financial Reporting
  • July 30 & Aug 1 - Data & Metadata Tools (FDM, DRM, etc.)
  • Aug 6 & 8 - Free Supporting Tools (LCM, Calc Mgr, etc.)
  • Aug 13 & 15 - Documentation

If you want to sign up, visit  There's no charge and I don't do marketing during the sessions (seriously, I generally forget to explain what company I work for).  It's a lot of information, but we do spread it out over 9 weeks, so it's not information overload.

And bonus: you get to hear my monotone muppet voice for an hour each week. #WorstBonusEver

May 13, 2013

Exalytics - Now with 2.4 Tb of Flash

I'm not sure why there wasn't a major announcement about this, but as of April 9, customers buying an Exalytics machine to speed up their Oracle Business Intelligence can get 2.4 Tb of PCIe flash drives from Oracle certified and engineered to run on Exalytics.  The cost (as of April 9's price list) is $35,000 (search for "flash upgrade kit").

While I haven't seen one in action yet, the flash pack seems to be 6 Sun Flash Accelerator F40 PCIe Cards each of which has a capacity of 400 Gb.  These cards run amazingly fast with read times of more than 2 GB/second (write time is about half that speed at 1+ GB/second).  These cards normally sell for almost $6K each, so Oracle is providing the flash add-on pack for no more markup than you'd get if you bought them on your own (but you'd then have to get them into the Exalytics machine all on your own).

This Matters If You Own Essbase

Why would you want this?  Essbase, primarily.  Essbase uses a ton of disk I/O and one of the ways Exalytics can speed up Essbase is by pulling your cubes into a RAMDisk (since you have 1 Tb of RAM to play with).  At some point, though, it has to get that data from physical drives to a RAMDisk (unless you're building all your cubes at start up in memory each time).  Having blazingly speedy flash drives with .25 millisecond read latency allows you to store your cubes on the flash drive and then pull into RAM much more quickly than reading from traditional drives.

We have tested Essbase running on flash drives and it helps everything (particularly minimizes the negative effects of fragmentation since seek time drops to basically nothing on flash).  For customers buying Exalytics primarily for Essbase, the Exalytics Flash Upgrade Kit should be strongly considered with every Exalytics purchase (and if you already own Exalytics, buy it to put on top).

OBIEE is much less affected by hard drives, so while it may help OBIEE, this really matters a lot more to Essbase customers.

Oracle EPM Fully Supported on Exalytics

Since we're on the subject of Exalytics, now that is out, all Oracle EPM/Hyperion components certified to run on Linux will run on Exalytics PS2.  These include:

  • Administration Services
  • Calculation Manager
  • EPM Workspace
  • Essbase Server
  • Essbase Studio Server
  • Financial Reporting
  • Interactive Reporting (32-bit only)
  • Oracle HTTP Server
  • Planning
  • Profitability and Cost Management
  • Production Reporting (32-bit only)
  • Provider Services
  • Reporting and Analysis Framework Services and Web Application 
  • Shared Services
  • Web Analysis

May 6, 2013

Hyperion 11.1.1.x Drops Off Full Support in July 2013

Someone recently told me that they just upgraded their Hyperion applications to  I asked them why they didn't go to 11.1.2.  They gave me the standard story about wanting to wait until the current version got stable (even though came out over 3 years ago in April of 2010).

What they didn't know (cause apparently it hasn't been communicated well) is that Hyperion 11.1.1.x support drops from Premier Support to Sustaining Support in July of 2013 (only two months from the time I'm writing this).  For anyone who doesn't know, Sustaining Support is equivalent to life support.  While Oracle's Lifetime Support Policy does say that you can stay on versions of Oracle's products indefinitely, they don't agree to fully support them.

At the Premier Support level (the one all products start on), you get all the support you'd expect.  When you call in, the support people help you find the bug, they patch it in the next release, you install it, and life goes on happily.  Also, as new versions of supporting products come out like new versions of Office, Windows, or your web browser, Premier Support will make sure the Oracle products work with these new versions.

Extended Support (if offered at all for your Oracle product) comes about 5 years after a product is released.  At this point, Oracle will still let you do all the Premier Support things, they'll just charge you a premium for doing so.  Extended Support will not be offered on Hyperion 11.1.1.x (there aren't enough customers to warrant it).

Sustaining Support (AKA "life support") allows you to call in to ask for support.  Oracle will help you with questions, look up your problems in their knowledgebase, and help you troubleshoot.  They won't patch anything, make versions available that are compatible with new releases of Windows, Office, etc., and in general do anything beyond the bare minimum required.  From Oracle's Lifetime Support Policy document from March 2013, here's what Sustaining Support doesn't do:
  • New updates, fixes, security alerts, data fixes, and critical patch updates
  • New tax, legal, and regulatory updates
  • New upgrade scripts
  • Certification with new third-party products/versions
  • Certification with new Oracle products
And Hyperion (Oracle EPM) 11.1.1.x falls to this level in July 2013. To point out the obvious, if you're not already planning an upgrade to 11.1.2.x, you should start now.  You really don't want to be on Sustaining Support for long.  Since just was released last week, I would probably hesitate going to that version until the first patch set update is released (probably this summer). If you're doing your upgrade before then, I would suggest going to (the current patch of

If you want to read the sunset dates (the dates they drop to Sustaining Support) for all the current releases, visit for the current Lifetime Support Policy.  Here's the one from March 2013 (scroll to page 22) for the Hyperion products:

April 29, 2013

All the Cool New Features in Oracle EPM

Oracle EPM is out and there are some great features in it (Planning and Financial Reporting have my favorites which you'll see in a second). is not as impressive as or, though.  A lot of the products got new features in between releases like Smart View (which adds new features with every patch set), Strategic Finance, HFM (which got Tax Provisioning in February), and Financial Close Management instead of making those products wait until was officially released.

Below are the features I think are most interesting in  This is by no means an exhaustive list and I didn't include every product though I did hit all the ones with significant market share (and a few others including a shout-out to the long-forgotten "EPM Workspace").  All the new feature documents are on  If you see anything major I missed, let me know in the comments.

Oracle Essbase

  • Essbase didn't change much in and users are never going to see any of the changes.
  • There are several new BSO functions and calc script commands like @INTERSECT, @ISMBRUDA, @ISRANGENONEMPTY, @MEMBERAT, @RANGEFIRSTVAL, and @RANGELASTVAL.  My favorite is @CREATEBLOCK which, wait for it, creates a sparse block with all the dense combinations in it set to missing.  Yes, we finally have a specific command to create specific blocks after 20+ years of silly block creation workarounds.
  • There's a new calc script SET command called RUNTIMESUBVARS that let's you create substitution variables in the script that are passed to the script at run-time.  You can then pass values to these variables when you call the calc scripts from MaxL or the API.  There's a new optional argument (with runtimesubvars) to MaxL's "execute calculation" command that sends the run-time variables to the calc script as you call it.
  • There's a new Essbase.CFG setting called ESTIMATEDHASHSIZE that lets you specify (in millions) how many members should be loaded into memory from the outline.  It's meant to speed up massive dimension builds and outline edits.  There are two other new CFG settings as well: ENABLERTSVLOGGING (which logs the new run-time substitution variables) and UNICODEENABLE (which sets the server to unicode mode, basically).
  • Performance has been improved on ASO dimension builds (specifically with duplicate members), the JAPI, and most helpful for many people including Hyperion Planning users, @XREF has been improved in some cases as much as 40-times.
  • Data Mining is gone.  Many people didn't even know it was there, but it's been removed.
  • Speaking of gone, there is no Essbase Excel Add-In  Further, earlier versions of the Add-In that you may have (like are not supported against Essbase  It probably will work (the Add-In is wonderfully backwards and forwards compatible) but it's not supported.

Smart View

  • There were a lot of improvements to Smart View in which came out about a month ago, so there isn't much new in Smart View  Smart View is the new strategic Microsoft Office add-in for all the Business Analytics (BI and EPM) products, though, so that's why the newest release supported direct access to OBIEE  Hyperion Strategic Finance is also now fully supported in Smart View.
  • The only major improvement is actually in Hyperion Planning just exposed through Smart View.  There is a new "Planning Admin" extension that lets administrators update Planning metadata (and a few other things) from Smart View.  I'll say more about this under Planning.

Hyperion Planning

  • Essbase ASO databases can now be created as Planning Plan Types.  These databases will allow writeback provided it's at level-0.  This is stunning.  These ASO cubes can be displayed on Planning composite forms with Essbase BSO cubes just like current BSO cubes in multiple plan types can be combined on a single composite form.  For some reason, this release doesn't put security filters on the ASO cubes, so you have to access these cubes through Planning or through the Planning ADM driver in Hyperion Financial Reporting.  Still, ASO in Planning is a step in the right direction.  Oh, and you have to own full-use Essbase to create these ASO cubes; just a Planning license doesn't cut it.
  • You can create members on the fly (kinda) if they don't exist when business rules need them.  This may only work in modules and not custom plan types.  The documentation says only modules, but I admittedly haven't tried it on custom plan types yet.
  • Custom dimension hierarchies can now vary by plan type.
  • Task lists can now include "Copy Version" and "Job Console" as tasks.
  • There is a new Task List Dashboard (gives you an overview of tasks by user, due date, etc.) and a Task List Report Page (that exports to XLS and PDF).
  • Grid Scroll Preferences lets you control if all rows/columns in a form are retrieved at once or only when you scroll down.  This should improve performance for large forms (and not slow down the internet when we want to watch cat videos on YouTube).
  • Users can now control through user preferences if they want member names, aliases, or both.  This can be set to override the form settings.
  • Outline Load Utility has been enhanced to do fun things like export metadata to a relational database or export data to a text file.  There's a new user interface for loading dimensions and data from flat files (and exporting them too).  This was previously only doable through the command line.
  • There's a new "Plan Type Editor" that lets admins add and delete plan types to already existing applications. Previously, this required going back to the initial creation step or hacking the underlying tables.  The Plan Type Editor can be used to add ASO to an existing Planning application.
  • Admins can now do some administration of Planning from within Smart View like editing dimensions, creating cubes, and refreshing cubes.
  • Workforce and CapEx have been enhanced to get them up to speed with Project Financial Planning's improvements to these modules in  You won't get these improvements with a straight migration: you have to create a new "shell" application and manually migrate your old dimensions into the new application.
  • You can create, assign, and delete substitution variables directly from the Planning web interface.

Data Relationship Management

  • There's an entirely new module within DRM (no word yet on if it costs money, but my gut feeling is that it's included with DRM) called "Data Relationship Governance."  To oversimplify what is actually quite cool, it adds workflow to DRM.  It lets data stewards coordinate entry, validation, and approval of hierarchies but it does a lot more too.  Users can request hierarchy changes and they go into a worklist so nothing gets lost.  It has built-in alerts for when users have requested changes and it also sends e-mails when something has been sent to you or it's something you should be informed of.  In my humble opinion, this is the greatest improvement to DRM since it was created.
  • Dynamic scripting lets you use JavaScript instead of formulas to create derived properties and validations.  This is a welcome improvement over formulas since we now have access to a real programming language.
  • You can now connect directly to external relational database tables to import hierarchies.

Hyperion Financial Management (HFM)

  • There's a new module (that technically was released in February) called Hyperion Tax Provision.  It handles tax automation, data collection, tax calculations, reporting and it does it all within HFM.  Now when you create an application in HFM, you tell it if you want a Consolidation (traditional) application type or Tax Provision.
  • Data forms let you show/hide the POV members, access the dynamic POV member lists, and run "on-demand rules" to essentially calculate the data form (by running the on-demand rule on a subset of data).
  • Data grids also let you control which POV dimensions you're showing and gives you access to dynamic POV member lists.
  • Admins can turn off modules for all users if they aren't applicable (for instance, if you don't allow intercompanies in HFM).

Financial Data Quality Management (FDM)

  • FDM and ERPi (ERP Integrator) combine in into a single product: FDMEE (Financial Data Quality Management Enterprise Edition).  It's more than just ERPi renamed which is what some are claiming.  Below are some of the improvements.
  • The UI (user interface) is now consistent with the other Hyperion products like Planning and HFM.
  • FDM is fully supported in Shared Services and Lifecycle Management.
  • Data loads are sped up.  Scaling and load balancing are fully supported.
  • ERPi users will now see full FDM functionality that they couldn't access before.
  • SAP BW is now supported directly as a data source.
  • FDM and ERPi owners have access (at no charge) to all the new FDMEE capabilities.

Financial Reporting

  • I know what you're thinking and yes, Financial Reporting actually got improved in (it is a strategic product for Oracle). So for the coolest thing you'll see since ASO in Hyperion Planning...
  • Financial Reporting is now mobile.  That's right: it runs on Apple iPhones, iPads, Android phones and Android tablets.  Users can browse the repository, launch reports (HTML or PDF), run books (HTML or PDF), change POVs, change page members, expand rows and columns, and even launch related content.  Pick your jaw off the floor.
  • Books have been enhanced to allow cover pages before the table of contents, embedding (and launching) Word DOCs from an HTML book, and changing the starting page number of books.
  • The designer has new authoring features including a row property to show dots after the member name (to fill the column) in PDF output, custom text colors, and auto-sizing text boxes in PDF output.
  • Annotations have a new auditing capability that puts annotation info (like creation date or modified date) in a log file on the server.

EPM Workspace

  • OBIEE is back in Workspace (it used to be there back in OBIEE 10).  You can both create and launch OBIEE from Workspace.
  • OBIEE uses single-sign on if you're logged into Workspace (OBIEE now can also share a security model with Essbase).

Web Analysis, Interactive Reporting, SQR Production Reporting...

  • Seriously?  People, move to OBIEE.  These are dead products.

General Comments

  • You can upgrade to directly only from and 11.1.2.x.  Earlier versions require going to either or first.
  • still doesn't officially support Chrome or Safari.  The documentation says that Oracle recommends IE (Internet Explorer) 9 or Firefox 10 because older versions are slower.
  • The EPM documentation is now fully supported on Apple mobile devices (in ePub format).  It already worked on Amazon Kindles (in Mobi format).
That's all folks.  You can thank me at Kscope13 for making it so you don't have to scour all the readme files yourself.

Oh, that reminds me. Since you read this entire essay of bullets, I owe you a reward.  When you register for Kscope13 (the best Oracle BI, EPM, and Hyperion conference in the world bar none), mention promo code IRC.  It'll save you $100 off whatever the prevailing rate is.  You can tell your friends or make them read this blog to find that out themselves.

February 6, 2013

StarAnalytics Bought by IBM

On February 1, it was announced that Star Analytics (one of our favorite software companies in the world) is being bought by IBM (not one of our favorite software companies in the world) for an undisclosed amount.  Star, founded in 2004, made two excellent products (Star Integration Server and Star Command Center) and IBM's strategy, at the moment, is to continue the two products under IBM's Business Analytics Software group.

As  everyone knows, IBM has been on an acquisitions kick for the last 5 years particularly around business analytics.  They own Cognos, TM/1, Clarity and a whole lot of other products... or at least they bought the companies that made those products and then stopped some of those products and continued others.  Unlike Oracle that is quite good at buying companies and then immediately knowing which products they want to strategically continue, IBM can take some time to make up their mind and half the time, people internal to IBM don't know which products are being discontinued.  There are still people internal to IBM that are touting Clarity's planning and consolidations products, and those have been virtually dead since IBM first bought Clarity.

It may seem odd to some that Star was bought by IBM considering that IBM owns Cognos and Star is traditionally awesome at Hyperion integration not Cognos, TM/1, and the like.  What many people don't realize is that Star's products have been expanded beyond their traditional Hyperion roots over the last few years and now talk well to other products including relational databases.  Star Integration Server is still found almost exclusively at Hyperion shops, and one has to believe that part of the reason IBM bought Star is to be able to easily extract data from Essbase, Planning, and HFM.

Judging from IBM's announcement and FAQ on the purchase, it seems that being able to extract and control Oracle (particularly Hyperion) is the main reason they bought Star.  That makes it odd that Oracle didn't go ahead and buy them instead.  All I can think of is that either IBM offered a better price or Oracle felt they had competing products with some of the same functionality already (I'll be getting to that in a second).

So what does that mean for you?  If you bought Star's products, congratulations.  They are excellent products and I would continue using them for as long as IBM continues to support them.  If you're considering a purchase, I would wait until IBM decides what they're going to do.  At bare minimum, IBM will probably begin to favor Cognos and TM/1 more than Hyperion and for a lot of us, Hyperion expertise was the reason we bought Star's products.

If you want to consider something else, I would suggest buying Hyperion Financial Data Quality Management or Oracle Data Integrator instead of Star Integration Server and Hyperion Financial Close Management instead of Star Command Center.  They don't exactly overlap functionality-wise, but they are the closest replacements I can readily think of.  Note that Star Integration Server has some very cool extraction technologies that are patented, so any product extracting data or hierarchies from Hyperion is probably going to be a lot slower, for the time being, than Star.

We will miss you, Star Analytics.  It was a good 7+ year run, and the Hyperion world will always fondly remember your company, your products, and your employees (particularly your iconic leader, and my close friend, Quinlan Eddy).  May your staying agreements at IBM be short.