December 15, 2007

Iowa Hyperion User Group

I'm currently freezing in the arctic tundra euphemistically referred to as "Des Moines, Iowa in mid-December." Des Moines just went through an ice storm. While ice storms are very sad and tragic (people die), I have to admit that ice storms make for gorgeous scenery. All the trees look like they've been dipped in glass.

I flew into Des Moines last night from Dallas (via Austin and Chicago). The temperature this morning was 12 degrees: I checked the weather in the USA Today, and it's colder right now in Des Moines than it is in Anchorage, Alaska. How stupid am I? Instead of a thick winter parka, I brought a polyester hoodie. Polyester hoodies are for staying warm during light summer breezes not The Great Ice Storm of Ought Seven.

So why am I in Des Moines on the 14th of December? I'm one of the two presenters at the Iowa Hyperion User Group. The keynote presenter (question: why am I never the keynote?) is John O'Rourke who's one of the Senior Directors of Hyperion at Oracle. He was at Hyperion for years and on a good note, made the jump to Oracle.

There are about forty people here (mostly clients, hurrah) which is impressive considering most people are surprised when they find out there's an Iowa Hyperion User Group at all. Every one of these people seems to be dressed more warmly than I am. Apparently, every one of these people is smarter than I am.

John O'Rourke's presentation is on the Hyperion Roadmap going forward. John acknowledged that the roadmap he's presenting is virtually identical to what was presented at OpenWorld. Interestingly, John isn't actually here in person. He's back East and his flight to Des Moines (via St. Louis) was cancelled. As such, he's doing the keynote via webcast. It's funny to me to think that I traveled to Iowa to watch a webcast. The audio is actually fairly high quality and the slides are coming across well. He started off by taking a poll of how many people in the room went to OpenWorld. About ten people raised their hands which, of course, John couldn't see. Giggle.

The start of his presentation covered the same overall "where does Hyperion fit into Oracle" information that we've all seen before. One thing I'm not sure I've written about before is that Oracle's new official policy is that Essbase is not a database. This is surprising considering that for the last 15 years, everyone has said that Essbase is a database. The problem is that Oracle officially only has one database (the main Oracle relational database). So what is Essbase? It's not clear, but in the EPM diagram, it's part of the Business Intelligence Foundation. I've heard it referred as a server that delivers multi-dimensional data, so I guess it's a "Multi-dimensional server?" I'll have to get my head around that one.

Oracle has three milestones for product integration with Hyperion. The first milestone is "Align and Certify" which was already in the 9.3.1 release. One of the great things that Oracle did in 9.3.1 was to remove the license server. They also did rebranding (putting the Oracle name everywhere) as part of the Align & Certify initiative. The only thing they haven't done yet is to localize Hyperion to the tons of languages that

The second milestone is "Unify & Integrate" which is due in the first and second quarters in 2008 (most likely in the Kennedy/9.5 release of Hyperion). Some of the goals of this milestone are:

- Common user interface & workspace

- Common identity management

- Common application server

- Common data integration

- Common data access & search

- Interoperability across BI foundation

- Integrated access to applications

The third milestone is "Extend & Evolve." This will bring together the Hyperion applications with some of the other Oracle products like Retek, Siebel, Oracle ERP, and so forth.

John talked about some of the goals for what they're now calling "Financial Performance Management" (Planning, HFM, Strategic Finance, etc.). One of their goals for these products is to actually increase the integration with SAP R/3 and SAP BW. This is not unexpected, but it's nice to see it in print. John also announced that the intention is to migrate users of other Oracle products (like Oracle Financial Analyzer, PeopleSoft EPM or Oracle consolidations) to the superior Hyperion products. For example, those using PeopleSoft EPM should be migrating to Hyperion Planning. They're not going to insist on it, but it's clear that future development of budgeting functionality, for instance, will be focused on Hyperion Planning. Likewise, financial consolidation will be concentrated on the Hyperion Financial Management product. Tony (Hyperion's Iowa Account Manager who's the only one in the room, from what I can tell, from Oracle) said that the migration will be a credit towards Hyperion (not a one-for-one replacement) and also pointed out that there's not a migration path. In other words, it's a reinstallation because there's no tool to migrate say, Oracle Financial Analyzer to Essbase (or HFM).

Specific goals for HFM in 9.5 and beyond include:

- 64-bit platform support

- EPM Architect enhancements

o Common calc manager (integrated with Hyperion Planning)

o Lifecycle management

- Reporting accelerator

- Delegated user management and administration

- Better Oracle platform integration including drill-back to the underlying transactional systems

Goals for Hyperion Planning in 2008 include:

- EPM Architect enhancements (same as HFM)

o Common calc manager (integrated with Hyperion Planning)

o Lifecycle management

- Planning for banking

- Delegated user management and administration

- Oracle platform integration

John talked about some of the goals for Hyperion Strategic Finance which include integration with Smart View as well as integration with Hyperion's Crystal Ball acquisition for predictive analysis. Performance Scorecard will also be integrated with Smart View.

The new Hyperion Profitability Application got mentioned again. As many have already heard, it lets a user analyze profitability (hence the catchy name) with support for cost management, activity based costing, traceability maps, and more). One thing I learned about it that I didn't know before is that the primary data store for this application is Essbase. It's currently in beta and should be released in the spring of 2008. It looks a lot like Hyperion Planning and since it uses Essbase, you can access the data with Web Analysis, Financial Reporting, and so forth.

There were a few slides on the future of Essbase which was covered in more detail at OpenWorld. John concluded with a call for people to attend COLLABORATE 2008 in April, 2008. He feels that there will be 80-100 presentations (down from the 150 previously hoped for) with 1/3 of those being delivered from Oracle and the rest from customers and partners. He also mentioned that COLLABORATE is extending a discount to Hyperion clients in the hopes of getting 1,000+ people to the conference; the price should be about $975 per person.

Someone asked about the future of Hyperion Enterprise. Per Tony, Oracle's direction is to push people to HFM. Hyperion Enterprise is going to be continued to be supported and enhanced, though, including Smart View against Enterprise in 2008.

I'm actually giving two presentations (live an in-person, unlike my snowed in buddy, John O'Rourke). One is a repeat of one I've delivered a lot in 2007, "Busting System 9 Migration Myths," which is basically an episode of Mythbusters but with all the myths being Hyperion System 9 specific. It's a lot of fun and includes video clips from the TV show. Normally, I deliver it with my fellow Mythbuster, Eduardo Quiroz (who's also the co-founder of interRel), but today, I'm flying solo since Eduardo recognized that the presentation was in Des Moines in December. My second presentation is on "Best Practices in Reporting & Analysis."

I just delivered my two presentations (with a break in the middle so I could wake up the sleeping attendees). If anyone wants a copy, send an e-mail to and specify which presentation you want. Pioneer Hi-Bred (a division of DuPont) is hosting this event and they've brought lunch in. I'm going to go hunt down some vegetarian food (oh, the irony), network a bit, and then head to the airport for the flight back to Dallas.

This may end up being my last blog entry for the year, because I don't think I have anything interesting planned for the remainder of 2007. May your 2008 be better than your 2007!

December 11, 2007

Hyperion Town Hall - Houston

I'm at the Alden Hotel in Houston, Texas today attending an Oracle sponsored event called "Hyperion Town Hall."  Basically, they're supposed to talk about the Oracle acquisition of Hyperion.  Here's the agenda:

- Welcome

- Integration Strategy & Roadmap

- Customer Speaker (University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston)

- Question and Answer

- Networking Session

There is some networking time before the agenda above.  From what I can tell, most of the crowd is either Oracle (former Hyperion) or partners.  Every partner has at least two people (we have three including me).  Having a one-to-one ratio of partners and clients makes for some odd networking situations.  There's a lot of partners talking to partners about partnering.  Observing the forced niceties is making giggle on the inside.

                "Hi, My Dreaded Competition.  What's a nice guy like you doing in a place like this?"

                "Well as I live and breathe, if isn't That Guy I Hate With A Passion!  How the heck have you been?  Hope you haven't lost your arms in a trash compactor accident!"

                "No, of course not, I made sure to stand way back as I pushed your mother in.  I'm kidding of course."

                "Oh, you always were the quick wit.  Well, I guess I better move on and talk to someone with a personality, um, I mean the potential to get me revenue."

                "I completely understand: you're not getting any younger, you know."

The main speaker was Ken Hohenstein, RVP of Southern EPM (over John Hernandez who's the regional EPM manager over Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas).  I get along pretty well with Ken on a personal level, but he can be kind of a dry presenter (though that may be due to the dryness of the material too).  He could crack a joke once in a while.

Most of the presentation was pretty dry: the same slides I've seen before.  There's an interesting point on retention post-acquisition: 98% of the development staff joined Oracle and 95% of sales, support, and consulting made the move as well.  I'm thrilled about the development retention.  Consulting?  Not so much.

He talked some about the leadership of the EPM/BI Leadership.  John Kopcke is now SVP of Performance Management and Business Intelligence.  Rich Clayton is now VP of BI and Performance Management Marketing.   Both of those guys are in Product Strategy.  Robert Gersten is in Product Development as SVP of Development of Performance Management and BI.  I think they just said that he's now in charge of 2,000 developers.  Wow.

Ken talked about support for a bit.  One of the more surprising things is that all standard-level and Enterprise-level support clients have been migrated (at apparently, no charge) to Oracle Premier Support on December 1, 2007.  This means that if a Hyperion client was on standard support (meaning only 8 hours per day support, 5 days per week).

One of Mr. Hohenstein's final slides was on the conferences replacing Hyperion Solutions (may she rest in peace).  COLLABORATE 2008 is in Denver from April 13-17.  This is the one put on by the user groups.  They're trying to get more Hyperion presentations at COLLABORATE, and I think it should have 50-100 Hyperion presentations.  OpenWorld 2008 is September 21-25th.  God, I hope they improve the Hyperion content, but I guess I've written about that one to death.

Jay White, President of the South Texas Hyperion User's Group (STxHUG), got up to speak next.  He thanked Oracle for picking up his valet parking and US-Analytics for bribing people (or as Jay put it "donating the door prizes").  He spoke for about 15 minutes, but none is much relevant to those outside of Houston, so I won't repeat it.  At the conclusion of his section, he did comment on interRel's "Hyperion Solutions Road Trip to the South" we held back in August.  He praised our game show (as he put it "Business Intelligence Jeopardy") and said that we must have more money than Oracle to put that event on.  I thought that was pretty darned funny.

The next speaker was Rich Clayton, VP of stuff (see above), talking about the EPM Product Strategy and Roadmap.  He started off by mentioning that Smart View is being placed on top of Hyperion Enterprise which is interesting, because I thought that Enterprise wasn't long for this world.  I'm still not convinced it's staying around, but this is at least a sign that it's not dead already.

Rich had a lot of slides that again, I've seen before on the growth in reporting, analytics, and such.  I'd blog them, but I'm worried that while typing in the content of the slides, I might bore myself into a coma.  Some of the content (specifically around Essbase) was the same as the Future of Essbase presentation from OpenWorld.  Here's what's new:

·         HFM will have enhanced XBRL support.  HFM will also allow journals and adjustments to go back into the underlying ERP (too cool).

·         Financial Reporting will allow annotations to be added to a report.  This could be quite helpful for variance analysis ("you missed your budget: explain yourself, man!").

·         Hyperion will be linked to Oracle E-Business Suite to allow drill-down and account analysis to underlying ERP data (in PeopleSoft, Oracle financial ledgers, etc.) via Hyperion Financial Data Quality Management. 

·         Planning will have a new module to do "Strategic Operational Planning."  I think that means more detail-oriented planning beyond the financial space (like manufacturing detail).

·         Hyperion Profitability Management is being released sometime in 2008.  I haven't seen a demo of this, so I don't know much more beyond the title.  It's apparently going to let a user look at a Profit & Loss statement and have visibility to where all the numbers came from (which were direct and which were allocated).  When I actually see this one live, I'll write more on it.

·         Calculation Manager is the integrated method for writing calculations across all Hyperion products.  It should be in 9.5, but he admits that it will take 2 or 3 releases to get all the kinks worked out.

·         Simplified installation and configuration should be coming in 9.5 (formerly known as Kennedy).

·         Lifecycle Management Services in 9.5 allows administrators to move Hyperion applications from development to production.  It's a retooling of the old Hyperion Hub product, from what I can tell.

·         There are about 75 new features in 9.5 in the old BI+ products (Interactive Reporting, Web Analysis, Financial Reporting, SQR Production Reporting).   The only one that I was able to read (in 3 point font) was that Interactive Reporting in 9.5 will have prettier charts.

·         Visual Explorer will have predictive visualization sometime in 2008.

He said that 9.5 is scheduled for release in May of 2008.  Well, that's targeted, but officially it's sometime in 2008.  Knowing what I know about the beta schedule for 9.5, I think that May-June of 2008 is realistic.

The chairs they have us sitting in are horrible.  I may take a Blog Break so I don't get deep vein thrombosis.  I lost feeling in my legs about an hour ago…

The customer presentation from Jerry Jackson of UTMB (Univ. Texas Medical Branch) was about how they converted an Essbase cube from block storage to aggregate storage.  Considering how marketing-oriented the earlier material was, the technical nature of this presentation was jarring.  Also, the speaker's microphone was set at zero, so no one could hear him.  I was in the back row, so not could I not hear him: I was too far away to read lips.  I did read his slides.  One slide I did enjoy the title of said "18 Dimensions is Not Enough" which explained why they needed to expand from 18 to 24 dimensions to do their financial reporting.  I find this shocking since the dimensionality on financial reporting cubes tends to be much smaller (in the 5-9 dimension range).

Jerry's presentation wasn't nearly as, um, technical as the second presentation from one of the IT people at UTMB.  The topic was "Accessing Stored Procedures [in Oracle] Using Interactive Reporting."  I found the looks on the sales people comical when he started showing stored procedure code.

At the conclusion of the event was some drawing of door prizes.  I may be mistaken, but I think all three prizes were won by employees of UTMB.  This is not surprising since UTMB brought the largest contingent (I guess, because they were speaking?).

I am supposed to go to the Hyperion Town Hall in Dallas tomorrow.  Based on the assumption that tomorrow's content will be quite similar to today's, I think I'm going to skip it.


November 14, 2007

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Four - Ellison Keynote

The mood lighting has been set to red: Oracle must be up next.

Billy Joel just introduced Larry Ellison. The Piano Man (Billy, not Larry) will be the featured performer at tonight's customer appreciation party (along with Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Nicks, and Mick Fleetwood). Billy Joel is having a concert in Dallas (where I live on weekends) in early December: I think I'll go to his concert tonight and save money on tickets.

Larry started off with a few slides on Oracle's new release of Linux (Oracle Enterprise Linux). They basically took Red Hat Linux and "fixed bugs" to maintain 100% compatibility between Red Hat Oracle Linux. Supposedly, an application running on Red Hat will run unchanged on Oracle Linux. They have also released Oracle VM on Oracle Linux. The neat thing about the VM is that it runs both Linux and Windows in both 32-bit and 64-bit. Oracle Linux and Oracle VM are both open source and free. How do they make money? The answer's easy: volume. In all seriousness, they charge for support if you want. Support seems cheap (<$1K for 4 CPUs per year), so I think that Oracle Linux and VM are very good alternatives to what Red Hat is offering.

While Larry didn't say this during his presentation, the best news about Oracle Linux is that they're adding support for Essbase on Oracle Linux 64-bit. This is a direct running on Linux and not inside the VM. Since many have wondered if Oracle will continue to release Essbase on Linux (due to the dearth of customers running it), this is a sign that Oracle is committed to Linux Essbase. I've always liked Linux as an operating system, so I'm pleased to hear that Essbase will continue to be supported in future releases.

The next part of the presentation was on Fusion Applications. I'm still confused as to if Fusion actually exists or if it's vaporware. Yes, I know that much of Hyperion ended up in the Fusion middleware portion of Oracle, but that doesn't mean that I could call up Mr. Oracle Sales Rep and say "could you please send me over a dozen Fusions, please? Yes, of course I want baker's dozen."

Ah, Larry just answered my question: "the first of the 3 Fusion Applications will be released in the first half of 2008." I guess that means they're not real yet. The first three applications will be under the banner of sales force automation (SFA) that will theoretically sell more by going beyond a sales forecast to include better analytics: data mining of customer databases (what customers are buying which products, what do those customers have in common, what prospective clients fit that profile, etc.) and greater business intelligence for sales people. The SFA application will integrate with existing SFA systems (like Siebel or and ERPS (Oracle, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards, SAP, etc.). SFA has three components/applications: Sales Prospector, Sales References, and Sales Tools. There was a British demo of them fully inside of Mozilla Firefox. I can't begin to describe the demo, but I'm sure that screen shots will be on the Oracle website in short order.

Larry took questions at the end of the keynote (kind of brave, actually). I'm impressed that Larry Ellison can understand all the There was one question that made me laugh where someone said "which company are you planning to buy next?" Larry's answer: "e-mail me and I'll tell you, but then you have to split the profit with me." Another one I liked: "when you're finished buying everyone in the applications space, who will be your competition?" The answer was "SAP, darn it." I'm paraphrasing, of course, but you get the general gist of the questions.

On that note, I've been a bit negative on the stage presence and entertainment value of the presenters here at Oracle OpenWorld. Larry Ellison is a cut above: he actually holds an audience's attention fairly well. When he tells a joke, it seems off the cuff. Even if the off the cuff jokes were written ahead of time, he pulls them off in a manner that makes it seem like he just thought of them, so kudos to his acting abilities (if not his sense of humor). I actually giggled (on the inside) a couple of times during his Q&A session.

I'm going to wander the exhibit hall (actually, two exhibit halls in Moscone West and Moscone South).

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Four - Dell Keynote

I'm sitting in the Michael Dell and Larry Ellison keynote from 12:45-2:30. I'll blog the Ellison part separately since it will probably be more relevant to regular readers.

Mr. Dell (who, in a strange twist of cosmic fate, got a job as CEO of Dell) is supposed to be talking about how Dell is making its IT infrastructure simpler. There's an irony to someone presenting on reducing IT spending at an IT conference. There's also something funny - but not that funny - about blogging about Dell on a Dell laptop. I've been here 20 minutes so far and I haven't heard much about simplification. I did get to watch a good opening Dell commercial. They showed it with the lights off. Speaking of lighting, they change the background lighting in the room depending on the main company presenting the keynote: Oracle had red mood lighting and Dell has a deep blue.

He's giving a message at the moment about "finding your hidden data center." To summarize this whole portion of the presentation, use virtualization (VMs or Virtual Machines) to put more servers on a single server. Dell (the man, not the company) then revealed a new convertible tablet laptop that Dell is releasing in the next couple of months. The new tablet from Dell (the company, not the man) has a neat feature that enables it to tell where multiple fingers are touching the screen at once. I was really impressed at the demonstration of how this new technology could be used to do finger painting. Well, I was really impressed until I realized that my iPod Touch already has multi-touch sensing technology (it uses it to zoom in and out on web pages).

Next, Dell's demo guy (the demo guy belongs to both the man and the company, so far as I can tell) showed some new software for managing technology. I'm finding the banter between Dell man and Dell demo guy to be worse than the banter between Oscar presenters. I've heard more believable dialogue between 2nd graders playing cowboys and Native Americans (modern 2nd graders are more enlightened). Dell (either the company or the man, it's irrelevant at this point) is also releasing some sort of flat screen with a built-in Blue Ray DVD player that also appears to house a computer inside. Dell will apparently be officially announcing this product in a week or so.

I actually perked up for a moment just now at a comparison of "On-Demand Desktop Streaming" vs. thick client vs. thin client. ODDS (I just invented an acronym) is a thin client-like (no install necessary) technology that can handle high-bandwidth video. They showed an example of watching a Dell commercial through the ODDS vs. thick client vs. thin client. The thin client updated once or twice per second. Aside from a sizing difference, ODDS and thick client seemed indistinguishable.

The blue lighting is lulling me into a coma.

It was just announced that Dell will be carbon neutral by 2008. I think that's the company not the man (though Mr. Dell may already be carbon neutral for all I know). I don't know why I find the concept of carbon-based life forms trying to be carbon neutral to be funny.

At the end of the Dell part of the keynote, they gave the audience an opportunity to text their thoughts on "the greatest benefit to Integrated IT." They put most of them up on the overhead screen. My personal favorite benefit of Integrated IT: "Everything crashes at once." I texted "Integrated IT = Chick Magnet" but I think it got censored.

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - Closing the Day

Just a quick update before bed. I ate early dinner in garlic heaven at The Stinking Rose. The ambience was combination old Italy (bottles of vino hanging from the ceiling) and garlic (they apparently have the world's largest garlic braid running around the room). Appetizers were garlic hummus cocktail, garlic Swiss chard fontina fondue, and garlic bread. For an entrée, I had neon ravioli with garlic basil sauce. I really wanted to try their "garlic soaking in a hot tub" but it had anchovies and I don't eat fishies. For dessert, they offered garlic ice cream, but I wimped out and got the non-garlic ice cream sundae. I spent the dinner discussing politics and television (Pushing Daisies? Love it! This season of Heroes and Prison Break? Not so much!). We discussed very little of the conference except to say that we all miss Solutions. I know I've been beating this dead horse point, but we're all in agreement on two points: Oracle puts on a very well organized show, and their Hyperion program is almost all marketing.

We finished dinner around 8, so I taxied over to Myth for late dinner. I got there really early and scoped the place. In my interRel polo and Oracle geek jacket, I felt very underdressed. I did enjoy people watching (I think I saw the cast of "The L Word: San Francisco" at the bar) while waiting for the rest of the crowd to arrive at 9. The décor was upscale and the food was mostly Californian with a little French thrown in to get the price of the entrees up. I ordered a vegetarian risotto. Discussion at dinner was mostly around Hyperion/Oracle and past conferences. One of the people at dinner remembered me from "Eddie and the Consultants: A System 9 Musical" so we went through the whole history of its evolution from a twinkle in my eye to a cast of thousands (oh, wait: it was a cost of thousands not a cast of thousands).

I never made it to the partner reception. Tomorrow I have keynotes to attend, but the Hyperion program is officially over. Most everyone that was here just for Hyperion is flying back today. I'm staying for a few more days to absorb the full OpenWorld experience. I may not be blogging as actively unless I encounter something particularly relevant (or snarky).

November 13, 2007

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - Dell/Deloitte

I'm currently sitting in a presentation on how Deloitte is helping Dell implement Hyperion. We have several consultants working at Dell, so I went by to support our fellow team members. I discovered shortly after it started that the presentation is on the MDM (now called DRM: Data Relationship Management) implementation underway at Dell.

It started off with a Deloitte commercial which didn't thrill me at all. We rarely compete with Deloitte (they target multi-year Hyperion implementations whereas our implementation time frames tend to be measured in weeks), though, so I'm not going to let their advertisement bother me at all either.

While I love the folks at Dell (they provide our servers and they're a paying client too, woo-hoo!), I will say that this was a pretty narcoleptic presentation. John O'Rourke started it off with a harmless joke (can't even recall what it was) and the laughs stopped there. My saving grace was that it ended after only 40 minutes. I did learn some things about Dell, but nothing about Hyperion.

I'm having dinner #1 at 6:15 with one of interRel's Atlanta clients at The Stinking Rose. Their motto is "we season our garlic with food" and it has a lot of vegetarian options. What more could a garlic-loving vegetarian hope for?!? I'm then having dinner #2 (stop laughing) at 9:00 with one of our New York clients at Myth which appears to be a food fusion of France and California. I couldn't find much of anything on their menu that's vegetarian, so I'm glad I will have already eaten dinner before my dinner. I was originally supposed to go to a BI/EPM Partner Reception at 6:30, but I'm going to go ahead and skip it. I'm recepted out.

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - Future of Essbase

Lunch was pretty darned good. The restaurant was Asian fusion. I had sweet potato naan (naan is basically Indian pita bread but fluffier) and panir cheese naan. We also got some appetizers for the table to share. The portobello satays with chutney were delicious.

I had a good talk with my prospective client (a university out of New York). They're having problems with their current Hyperion consulting firms. Standard story: over budget, way behind schedule (they're on year two of their Hyperion Planning implementation), and apparently, poorly designed. It doesn't sound like they're using any type of budgeting best practices, and from a technology standpoint, it's about as unoptimal as you can get. We're going to do a 2-3 week assessment out there to help them optimize what they currently have and determine how best to get them to the finish line of phase 1 of their project.

After lunch, I met with another consulting company that we might be interested in acquiring. They focus on a specific aspect of Hyperion consulting which is just starting to take off. While we could build up our own knowledge, it may be simpler just to acquire the knowledge.

I just sat through a presentation on the future of Essbase that was the first presentation at which I've learned anything helpful. Al Marciante was the primary presenter. Al and I go way back (we're both from DFW). He joined our "Solutions Road Trip to the South" event back in August to present on the Hyperion products beyond 9.3.1. This presentation is targeted just to the Essbase products. Al started with the standard disclaimer: we don't actually have to deliver anything we're talking about. In other words, if we can't get it working by the ship date, let's all pretend we never mentioned it.

There are four major aspects to which they want to target the future of Essbase: End User Experience, Powerful Analytics, Rich Data Types, and Deployment Flexibility.

End User Experience. They're going to expand one of the OBIEE components called Answers+ to go against Essbase. Essbase Visual Explorer will be able to define data mining models. I'm particularly excited about this one, because defining data mining models right now requires an administrator with degrees in statistical analysis, artificial intelligence, and MDX. It's apparently going to be a graphical interface to setting up mining scenarios.

The final addition to the end user experience is what they're calling "Personalized Office Analytics." This will dramatically improve the functionality of SmartView (so I'll finally have a reason to stop using the Essbase add-in:). SmartView will now have a designer for building reports/dashboards. The example they showed had 3 grids on the same Excel spreadsheet and they were all linked to a single point of view. OBIEE will now be a source for SmartView. The neatest feature is "filtered database views." This will allow a user to, for instance, take a 12-dimensional model and make it seem like it's a 4-dimensional model.

Powerful Analytics. A lot of this functionality is related to attribute dimensions. Some of the neater features include attributes that change over time, the use of attributes as filters (instead of just for aggregation like, show me all the products that are red), and attributes that support one to many relationships. The last one probably needs an example. Say you have a dimension called Customer and an attribute dimension called Salesperson. Large customers for example, may have multiple salespersons. Currently, Essbase would make you assign a single salesperson to a customer. In the future, you could assign the customer member to multiple attributes.

Expanding Data Types. Essbase in 9.5 and later will be able to handle non-numeric data. This is really cool. For instance, you could have a cube that houses addresses for customers. Now behind the scenes, the text/dates are being translated to numbers and then they are replaced with the text/dates at retrieval time. In other words, they're being implemented similarly to Hyperion Planning Smartlists, but at the database level. I can think of hundreds of cases where our customers could have benefitted from this over the years.

Deployment Flexibility. Cubes will now be supported where 100% of the data is being pulled real-time from a relational repository and only the outline is stored in Essbase. Essbase will be a source for OBIEE which doesn't excite me much, but I bet it excites a lot of OBIEE admins. Partitioning is being totally revamped, and one of the benefits of this is that ASO can now be the target of a replicated or transparent partition. There will be full life cycle management (robust functionality to move from development to QA to production and so on) of Essbase applications down to the object level. Exposed through Shared Services, there will even be audit reporting when things move from environment to environment.

Essbase Studio. There was also a demonstration of Essbase Studio, a new graphical modeling environment for building multiple Essbase cubes. It seems to combine EAS and EIS. It's very, from what I can tell, IT centric. Compared to EAS which can be easily explained to an end user, Essbase Studio requires an IT background. It uses words like schema and context a lot. They did say that Essbase Studio would be replacing EAS, so I'm a little worried about those end user admin types.

While the purpose of Essbase Studio seems to be to support companies that want to share dimensions, calc scripts, load rules, and so on between multiple Essbase outlines, it does add some neat drill through capability. While you could always drill from a data cell to relational detail (or a URL), drill-through has been expanded to allow drilling on members as well. For instance, you could click on a member called "Cola" and it would drill back to an on-line product catalog and show you a web page about the product name. Drill-through is now enabled to other types of data including FDM.

Oracle refused to give the timeframe for all this functionality other than "sometime in 2008," but based on the demo, it seems to be not far from beta. If I was a guessing man, I'd say that all of the functionality above is going to come out in Essbase 9.5 sometime in quarter one.

So overall, how was the presentation? Al's part was fairly entertaining. The demo guy seemed like he was a decent human being, but I think he made Essbase Studio seem far more complicated than it was. All in all, though, I'm excited about the future of Essbase. It's comforting to see that Oracle is putting significant R&D into future releases of Essbase.

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - Tips and Tricks for Essbase

I had an opportunity to talk briefly with Steve Liebermensch from Oracle before his presentation on "Tips and Tricks for Hyperion Essbase - System 9." I hadn't seen him since Hyperion Top Gun back in January when Steve, Carol Crider, and I sat in the back of a 64-bit Essbase optimization presentation arguing over the presenter's tips.

Since Steve had an hour to go until his presentation, I struck up a conversation on how most of the Essbase tips that people recommend today have been around since Leah Wheelan's ASFG (Arbor Field Services Group) created them 10+ years ago. The only time the tips change is when new features (dynamic calcs, for instance) get introduced and they don't so much change as get added to the existing tips.

My pet peeve in particular was the recommendation that block size in Essbase databases should be 100 KB or so. This recommendation has been in the Database Administrator's Guide for at least 7 years. He commented that he actually lets the dimensionality needs drive the block size these days and is okay with blocks (in 32-bit) getting up to 250 KB. I had the exact opposite stance that the optimal block size is 1-8 KB to take better advantage of parallel calculation and the dynamic calculation of the tops of sparse dimensions. Considering how far apart we were on the block size topic, I think the only outcome of our discussion is that we conclusively proved that Essbase optimization is an art and not a science.

I also brought up proper ordering of dense dimensions. He said to order them in whatever way is necessary to support order of calculations of dynamic members. I agreed with the exception that Time should be the first dense dimension with RLE (Run Length Encoding) compression turned on.

Steve's presenting in the same room that I did yesterday. It holds around 150, but I expect that unlike my presentation, his will be standing room only. There are so few technical presentations on Hyperion here that people are diving at the opportunity for content like "Tips and Tricks for Essbase." He may get some walkouts, though, because a close reading of his abstract shows that he primarily plans on talking about Essbase Aggregate Storage Option, and people may leave if they thought they were going to get Essbase Block Storage tips.

I have lunch scheduled with a prospective client out of the Northeast at E&O Trading Company which apparently is some sort of South Asian restaurant. I'm always up for trying something one time. I'll blog more after lunch.

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - Thomas Kurian Keynote

I admit that I was a bit late for Thomas Kurian's keynote on Oracle Fusion Middleware this morning. When I walked into the keynote in progress, I was pleasantly surprised to find him talking about Essbase. For the most part, the Hyperion part of OpenWorld is kept pretty separate from the rest of Oracle's traditional products. Thomas (Tom, to his friends) talked about Hyperion products including Essbase, Planning, and HFM for 10 minutes or so. There was even a "demo" of Hyperion Smart Space, the new desktop EPM gadgets that Hyperion's been talking about for a year now. Tom (we're friends now) also mentioned the Google OneBox integration with Hyperion content.

While I didn't learn a thing that wasn't published already, it was nice to see Hyperion getting some Oracle love. Like most of the keynotes here at OpenWorld, Mr. Kurian's presentation ran a bit long and it was way too dry (which is a polite way of saying "boring"). I'm hoping that Oracle's next acquisition will be a software company providing artificial senses of humor.

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - HUG Leadership

I thought I'd try to break up today's blog into multiple postings. If nothing else, it gives me an excuse to hook up my laptop to the free Wi-Fi here at OpenWorld.

I had to get up at 6 this morning, because Rye Livingston (Senior Manager of Hyperion User Group Relations) decided to hold a HUG (Hyperion User Group) leadership breakfast at 7:15 AM. It was mostly a meet and greet, but I did learn a few things. The HUGs will, it seems, be allowed to remain an entity independent of one of the existing user group communities at Oracle (like OAUG, IOUG, Quest, et al). The user group leadership community at Oracle looked at the people who attend Hyperion User Group meetings and realized that they're not exactly like the other Oracle products. Hyperion users tend to have a blend of technology and application skills, so it's difficult to slot them into one of the more stratified existing user communities.

The Oracle folks asked what changes we (as user group leaders) wanted to see in the user groups with the Oracle acquisition. I lobbied for a sharing of best practices across the HUGs as well as a shared database of presenters and presentations. I've presented at 6 or 7 HUGs across the country, and the content that each region delivers varies dramatically. It would be nice for one region to be able to leverage the presentations that another region is delivering.

They're targeting the new HUG structure to be in place by May/June of 2008. I think that the HUGs are likely to improve in quality and attendance under the new leadership. I genuinely liked all the people I met and I really liked some of their improvement suggestions. You definitely get the impression that these people have done this before. I think they've learned from the disaster that occurred when they tried to integrate the JDEdwards user groups into the overall structure. Then again, I could be wrong and any sense of vibrancy that the HUGs currently have could be dead in 18 months. I don't think there will be much middle ground.

I've been complaining about the lack of helpful information at OpenWorld (for Hyperion users, at least). It seems that Oracle COLLABORATE will be a lot more content focused and customer driven than OpenWorld. COLLABORATE 2008 will be held April 13-17 in Denver, Colorado. They're trying to have a Hyperion track, and I wish them the best. I'll try to submit a few presentations for COLLABORATE, and we'll see what happens.

November 12, 2007

OpenWorld - Day Two

I skipped the morning keynote to put the final touches on my presentation at 3:15. I arrived at the San Francisco Marriott and had a horrible time finding the location of the Hyperion presentations. They're kinda spread out over two subbasement floors (though lunch is served above the ground floor). In short, nothing is on the ground floor. I found out that there are around 1,000 people registered for the Hyperion program at OpenWorld. Considering there are only 79 Hyperion-specific presentations (of which it seems that Oracle is the primary speaker - or sole speaker - on 70 of them), that's pretty impressive.

Speaking of impressive, it's truly difficult to convey just how massive Oracle OpenWorld is especially when I'm used to Hyperion's Solutions conference. Hyperion had ~287 presentations at Solutions 2007: Oracle has over 1,600 presentations. Hyperion had 4,000+ attendees: Oracle has 43,000+ attendees. Hyperion could fill up part of a convention center: Oracle needs 3 convention centers and then 5 more hotels just to hold the breakout sessions.

Back to the Hyperion program. While I have previously railed to anyone who would listen about the minuscule quantity of Hyperion presentations, I had no idea that the quality would be so miserable. I don't want to single anyone out (on the other hand, there was lots of blame to go around) but every presentation I've attended was far more focused on marketing than conveying information. Say what you will about the professionalism of Hyperion's conferences, but at least one out of three of their presentations had information that helped me do my job better. At OpenWorld (at least in the Hyperion program), the presentations seem focused on convincing me to buy more software. While I understand that Oracle is trying to sell me more software, at least they could disguise it better. I haven't been to a presentation here yet where I've learned anything.

Speaking of selling something to Oracle Hyperion clients, the Hyperion Partner Pavilion is really pitiful. Only 9 partners bothered to pay the money to show up and Oracle rewarded them for it by giving them each a single kiosk with a single screen at the far end of all the breakout rooms on the second subbasement floor. The first time I tried to find it, I gave up and turned back, because I figured there was no way it was that far down the hall. To my fellow partners who spent the money on your two-person kiosks in the middle of nowhere, next time just burn the money: it's prettier.

All I'll say about lunch is that it came in a box and it was cold. If cold boxes of food are to your liking, OpenWorld should be your restaurant of choice. My dinner at Greens (the premiere vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco with prices to prove it) more than made up for it, though. I had vegetarian enchiladas, and they were to die for. I think the Hyperion folks and clients that I talked into going with the interRel contingent to Greens were skeptical of a meat-less restaurant, but they went, and I think they're the better for it.

Enough about food, and on to my presentation, "The Role of Hyperion Essbase - System 9 in Your BI Implementation Strategy: Customer Case Studies." I presented this mouthful of a title with Fred Richards, a senior director at Oracle. I appreciate Fred asking me to join him, because I was lamenting that this was going to be my first Hyperion conference where I didn't speak in 10+ years. Attendance was okay at around 55 people. Only two walked out during the presentation, so that's a good sign. You have to assume that 2-4 people will always walk out of your presentation because they have an appointment to go to or they thought based on the abstract that the session was going to be about something different than it was. Our two walkouts were very early on (while I was speaking, not while Fred was, for what it's worth) so I think it was the latter.

We opened with a story about Southwest Airlines' Essbase activities during September 11th, and the seminar just got happier from there! I covered the technical/theory side of the hour including a brief old-school Essbase demo ("Excel on Steroids" we used to call it) and a review of Codd's 12-18 rules for OLAP. Fred covered the real-world examples. I had fun giving the presentation, and except for the two that walked out, I think everyone enjoyed themselves. We got good reviews from everyone including the lady running the sound board who said she actually found us entertaining. When you've taught the sound girl something, you know you've succeeded.

I brought a box of "Essbase for Mere Mortals" books with me to the conference just in case anyone wanted to buy one and have me autograph it (or "deface it with my signature" as I like to say). I sold all but 8 at the end of the presentation. It's hard for me to believe that we've sold out almost all of the first print run of the book. The second print run will be under the new title "Look Smarter Than You Are with Essbase." We're #25 on the all-time bestseller list on I wonder if we lose our place when the title changes? Probably. Okay, now I'm sad.

I have tickets tonight to the screening of the new Battlestar Galactica movie "Razor" at the Century 9 San Francisco Centre. It starts at 10, so I guess I'd better figure out how to cab it over there. More to come tomorrow!

IBM Buys Cognos

I awoke this morning to the news that IBM was acquiring Cognos for around $5BB. I personally wouldn't have paid a penny over $4.4BB, but I'm finicky.

This takes the count of major independent BI/OLAP/xPM vendors down to... none. (Sorry Microstrategy, but you're not big enough to register.) Who knew that in 7 months, Hyperion, Business Objects, and Cognos would all get swallowed up?

I'm torn between who will have the harder time integrating with their new company: SAP integrating Business Objects or IBM integrating Cognos? SAP has never undertaken an acquisition of the size of B.O. and SAP also isn't exactly known for making software easier to use over time. IBM has never been an apps company: they're great at middleware and server software. If I was a betting man, I'd say that IBM will do a better job with Cognos, but they'll probably kill off all the end-user-oriented applications along the way. To anyone who bought Cognos Planning, I think that it won't be long for this world. As for any Business Objects clients, pray that SAP leaves B.O. as a stand-alone company, because if SAP starts meddling, B.O. is going to lose market share faster than Lotus 1-2-3.

November 11, 2007

OpenWorld - Day One

I arrived at OpenWorld sometime around noon. My hotel (Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf whose rooms smell vaguely of fish) is one of the official conference hotels, but the shuttle to OpenWorld takes 25-50 minutes to get there. I waited 25 minutes for the bus to arrive the first time, and it will be the last time I make that mistake. Life is too short to use INEFFICIENT public transportation.

Registration was a bear. I was told that as a speaker, I had to pick up my registration materials at Moscone South. While the speaker registration was indeed there, they sent me to Moscone West (which is a hop, skip, and a half mile walk away). The reason had something to do with how much I paid to register. I was a speaker, but I also paid (or maybe was just given out of the goodness of someone's hear) to get Oracle OpenWorld Club Gold and something called "Information Overload." I was also an alumna of various other Hyperion conferences.

Being Information Overloaded got me an iPod. I assumed it was a Shuffle or a Nano. To my shock and awe, it turned out to be an iPod Touch. I've been playing with it all day, and with one small exception (I can't create appointments on its calendar), I absolutely love it. It's my new favorite MP3 player. As an alumna, I got a jacket with the Oracle logo on it. The jacket makes me look suspiciously like a janitor, but I'm glad to have it: I moronically left for San Francisco, the arctic tundra of California beach towns, without a jacket of any kind.

The weather here is actually nice (though a bit breezy). I used my geektastic jacket to keep me warm while I earned some blisters walking the lengths of Chinatown looking for a vegetarian restaurant. I found one at 854 Washington Street called "Lucky Creation." My entire meal that I couldn't even finish cost me less than $15. It was also tasty enough to, I think, warrant the blisters.

Club Gold is interesting. In terms of swag, it earned me a solar-powered cell phone charger. It also grants access to a special lunch location and a lounge in Moscone West that provides snacks. It's kind of like a little American Airlines Admiral's Club without the airplane sounds coming from outside. The view from the 3rd floor Gold lounge patio is quite nice. The most important benefit to Club Gold is the early entrance (and reserved seating) to all keynotes. I used it to be one of the first in to the opening night keynote.

The opening keynote was 100 minutes of Oracle patting itself on the back for making it to 30 years. I actually did learn some decent Oracle trivia. I also was close enough to Larry Ellison (who talked for 45+ minutes at the onset of the festivities) to see that he's beginning to look more and more like Richard Branson. They had a band made of Oracle customers and employees (Gear Driver, I think). They were pretty good covering classic rock songs. When they tried to do one more about Oracle (something like "Oracle Rocks!" chanted 182 times) it was ear damaging. No offense guys (and one gal) in the band, but it was pretty horrible for that one song. Stick to the oldies.

The keynote was supposed to last an hour followed by an opening night "70's style" cocktail party. Since the keynote ended up lasting a lot longer than it was supposed to, I didn't even bother staying at the cocktail party long enough to drop my hotel key in the basket at the entrance. Kidding: it wasn't a key party. The food was horrible (hot dogs, chicken wings, and little/nothing vegetarian), but the booze was flowing nicely to my drinking friends. There was a 70's style version of Jeopardy. The contestants weren't that terribly bright, so the audience ended up having to shout out most of the answers. Come on, people! Everyone knows that the crew of Jaws called the shark "Bruce"! After 15 minutes of trying to find interRel clients, I retired back to my hotel to prepare for my presentation on day 2.

Louis, I dedicate this blog entry to you.

August 28, 2007

9.3.1 is Generally Available

As of 1:30AM (Central), Hyperion System 9.3.1 is now generally available from The Media Pack consists of 39 parts comprising a total of 9.6 Gb.

What's interesting about this "patch" is that it seems to contain a ton of new enhancements/features. Here are some of the amazing things I spotted immediately:

  • Essbase ASO supports trickle feeds and simultaneous data loads. This enhancement allows for virtually real-time data marts in Essbase using ASO.
  • Financial Reporting allows bundling in of external documents in FR Books. You can now include Excel sheets and Word documents in your financial books.
  • EPM Architect has improved navigation. My hope is that this makes EPMA a usable product.
  • Planning now allows direct setting of most every Essbase option including DTS (Dynamic Time Series), hierarchies in Scenario/Version dimensions, alternate Time hiarchies, and more.
  • Interactive Reporting has a new speedier Essbase query section. Rumor has it that IR against Essbase is now as fast as FR (Financial Reporting) and WA (Web Analysis).
  • Shared Services has improved performance. If this true, it's about time.
  • HFM supports disconnected forms through SmartView.
  • Planning and HFM now ship with sample applications.
  • No more License Server. To quote: "Hyperion no longer ships or requires Oracle's Hyperion License Server (or standalone license files) for use with Hyperion products." Thank you, Jesus.

There seems to be more - a lot more - so why am I worried? 9.3.0 had a number of bugs that 9.3.1 was supposed to fix. Even if 9.3.1 fixed all the known issues, isn't it likely that all these new features have introduced bugs of their own?

Well, let's take a look at one of the ReadMe's: Hyperion Reporting & Analysis (basically, all of BI+ except Essbase, all of Shared Services, User Provisioning, etc.). This document is 60 pages long. Pages 43-58 highlight the defects fixed in 9.3.1. Pages 10-43 detail the known issues still in 9.3.1 when they issued it. Now to be fair, the defects fixed are usually listed on one or two lines while the known defects often take up a paragraph or more, but 33 pages of known defects in just BI+ and the supporting layers?

Oracle, while we thank you for 9.3.1, when will 9.3.2 be coming out?

July 30, 2007

License Server is Dead: Who's Next on the Oracle Chopping Block?

For the longest time, Hyperion was a trusting company. If you bought a copy of Essbase (my examples always use Essbase, because I think it's neato), you were e-mailed a license key. This license key controlled how many users you had and to what Essbase modules you had access. For instance, you might only have access to the Essbase Spreadsheet Toolkit, so if you tried to access Essbase SQL Interface, the Essbase server would politely balk, tell you that you didn't have the rights to use that function, mock your sock collection, and nicely error out. What the license key did not do was limit on how many servers you could install the license key. The license key also never expired, so someone with an Essbase 3.2 license key could download Essbase 7.0 and activate it with the same license key.

Wait, you ask, how did Hyperion ever stay in business with such as weak licensing scheme? Simple: they trusted their clients to honor the contractual agreements they made when they bought the software.

Trust only got the Hyperion executives so far: when Essbase 7.1.2 came out, they decided to play hardball and institute an embedded technology from Macrovision called FlexNet. The goal of the innocuously named "Hyperion License Server" was to switch from a contractual licensing scheme to something more… what's a good synonym for draconian… technology-based. Gone were the days of a simple license key: Hyperion began to send out license files. These license files were the devil's work.

To begin with, license files could only be used on a single server and this server's name was embedded (with an encrypted check sum!) in the license file. If a server was renamed or a server crashed only to be replaced (for a week or so) by a differently named server, Essbase would stop working after 72 hours (and it would scream a lot in the meantime).

The truly egregious thing about the license file is that it had to be generated by a human (at Hyperion) based on information supplied by a human (at a customer site). This process often took up to 3 days (longer at quarter- and year- end) and rarely did the license file work on the first try. In defense of the licensing department, they did get quicker at regenerating these files as time went on, but they were still a bottleneck.

When System 9 came out, things got even worse. Pre-System 9, only Essbase utilized the License Server so the Hyperion Planning and Financial Management users (among others) of the world were spared the License File Water Torture. With System 9, most every product became a slave to the all-controlling entity of the License Server. We've done a lot of System 9 installations since 2005 when it came out, and we've always told people that the greatest uncontrollable factor affecting how long the installation would take is if Hyperion got the license file correct the first time.

When Hyperion ceased to exist at the end of June, Oracle took the greatest step forward in the history of software company and customer company relations: they killed off (functionally, at least) the License Server. Behold, the secret to unlocking all that you desire:

The master license files/keys on this site are astounding in what they allow a company to do:

  • They give you access to every single product Hyperion makes and every single option in every one of those products. Oracle obviously doesn't care about nickel and diming a client for some minor bit of added functionality.
  • They can be installed on as many servers as you'd like. If your server fails or is renamed, no more begging Hyperion for a new license file.
  • They never expire.
  • They are good for an unlimited number of users.

Before you get inspired to immediately install every product and roll them out across your entire organization, read the fine print at the top of this panacea:

"These master license keys / files unlock all features of the particular product; however, your specific product use is governed by the terms of your license agreement with Oracle."

In other words, these files are here to make your life easier, but don't use any product you're not licensed to. If you only own Planning, don't download and install Essbase. If you only own 100 users of Essbase, don't roll out Essbase to 1,700 users in 180 countries. Be honorable and Oracle will treat you honorably.

While it's obvious that you can't use applications/modules in production environments if you don't own the licenses, there's a gray area around development. If you're merely trying out functionality in a development environment to see if you want to buy it, does this violate the licensing agreement with Oracle? Some other blogs have speculated that if you use it for 30 days or less, you're okay. Definitely don't try to use it in production, and you should probably be fine. I doubt Oracle's army of contract enforcers is going to hit you up for a single user developer's copy of Visual Explorer. It's up to you, though, to make sure that production doesn’t exceed your licensing agreement or you risk an Oracle Army artillery strike on your IT budget.

Note: the License Server still needs to be installed at the moment, but the master files in the link above make it so that it won't annoy you. I'm sure that Oracle will do the right thing and remove the License Server entirely in the next release of Hyperion (hopefully in 9.3.1).

July 26, 2007

Downloading Hyperion Just Got Easier

For the last several years, Hyperion has used SubscribeNet to host the downloads of it's software. For the moment, it's still there:
The problems with this site were too numerous to list, but let me try:
  • You had to have a super-secret ID and password to get into the Download Center. What products you could download were determined by what someone at Hyperion Towers granted you the rights to see. If you bought Strategic Finance but the Tower People didn't want you to download it, you couldn't see it until you screamed really loudly at the right people. Half the time, the screaming just made the Tower Protectors drop boiling oil on your head.
  • Products often appeared under different names depending on what marketing called them when they were released.. At one time, I had access to products called Hyperion Essbase, Essbase Standard Edition, Essbase Classic, Essbase XTD, and System 9 BI+ Analytic Services each one of which contained a version (or several) of Essbase... and those are just the sections I remember.
  • You had to go through several unnecessary screens to get to the actual links to download product. No one ever thought to ask you all the questions (products, operating systems, and so forth) all at once, so some screens only existed to ask a single question.
  • If you wanted to install System 9, you had to go to several different products to download the installation guides (and the installation files themselves). There was no one "master" place to download all the guides at once, so you never quite knew where to begin. This made installing System 9 something that should only be undertaken either by highly priced (but deservedly so) consultants or people with a lot of time on their hands to try to figure out the correct installation order.
On July 1, Oracle did something deliciously unexpected and killed off the Download Center. The old Download Center is still there (though older versions of many products have been pulled due to Oracle's "quality control" processes). The new and much improved location for downloading is Oracle's eDelivery site. Once you get through the "Export Validation" silliness, click on the “Hyperion Performance Management and BI” product pack to get to all the Hyperion products.

Why do I love the new site? Let me count the ways:
  • Simplicity of login. No longer are the products you can download tied to your ID. Feel free to visit the link above and start downloading Hyperion products to your heart's content. You don't need to request access from any people in any towers. The only people who should theoretically have trouble are those in evil countries not allowed to download from Oracle (I'm guessing here, but presumably Iran and North Korea are on the "no download" list).
  • Simplicity of interface. There are three basic steps for downloading all products (Export Validation, Search, and Download). Every product is also now contained under a "Media Pack" that has all relevant installation files for every product grouping. There are currently 5 Media Packs (though the one most of us want is the top one) for Windows 32-bit (my example):
  1. Hyperion Performance Management and BI (9.3.x)
  2. Hyperion Performance Management and BI (9.2.x)
  3. Hyperion Enterprise Release (6.4.1)
  4. Hyperion Business Modeling (4.0.5)
  5. Hyperion Application Link (9.x)
  • All installation documentation in one place. Once you get into, say "Hyperion Performance Management and BI (9.3.x)", the very first option is "Hyperion System 9 (9.3) Start Here: License File and Installation Documents". If you download this 83 Mb file, you'll see that it contains ZIPped copies of every single installation guide for every single System 9 product. Nirvana! No more highly priced (but deservedly so) consultants showing us where the install guides are hidden!
  • All product documentation in one place. From the HPM & BI media pack, click on "Hyperion System 9 (9.3) Product Documentation" and you'll download all of the documentation for all System 9 products wrapped up nicely in a 150 Mb box.
Well, there you have it. Stop what you're doing and go download your a copy of Oracle Hyperion System 9.3. You can't use it legally, of course, but there's something inherently fun about being able to tell all your friends that you have your very own 8.7 Gb copy of Hyperion. One day, you can brag that you can afford a license so you can actually install it.

Dare to dream, boy. Dare to dream.

July 23, 2007

System 9: Order to Start Services

System 9 was built on a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) which seems to mean that 14+ Windows services have to be started just to open your first Hyperion application. While I understand the benefits of SOA, the whole thing strikes me as a house of cards. While card houses can be quite stable, the key is to know which cards to place first. Until recently, the only way to determine the order to start the 14+ services of Hyperion System 9 was through experience.

Oracle finally decided to publish a document that shows the order of the services. It's called:


It can be found on the eDelivery site under the installation documentation for System 9.3. This document also has some interesting configuration worksheets that won't exactly make System 9 easy to install, but they will definitely make it easier than it was before.

One of the traditional problems with Hyperion is that it's complicated to install, configure, and get running. Once you get it running, it's a beautiful thing to behold, but a whole lot of companies throw up their hands in frustration before they ever get there. I sincerely hope that Oracle is going to correct and simplify the installation/configuration process and that the creation of this new Start Here guide is the first step of many in the right direction.

July 19, 2007

Hyperion Solutions Conference is Dead: Long Live, OpenWorld!

Hyperion held two major user conferences in 2007.  The larger conference in Orlando in April attracted over 4,000 people.  A much smaller conference was held in May in Lyons, France that was oriented towards the EURMEA audience.  I had the pleasure of attending and presenting both.  While I had a great time in Lyons, I had a better time in Orlando.  interRel put on 15 or 16 presentations on Hyperion-related topics and I personally delivered 6 or 7 of them.  I also got to play the lead role in "Eddie and the Consultants: A System 9 Musical" and my Essbase book was officially released at the conference as well.  All in all, it was the most enjoyable conference I've ever attended. 

There was an odd vibe around the Orlando conference that got even odder in Lyons, and that was the general feeling that Oracle's takeover of Hyperion was going to somehow change everything.  We didn't know exactly what would differ, but we knew that Solutions 2008 would not be the same.  Maybe the food would improve, maybe Oracle wouldn't have a sense of humor that allowed a musical about Hyperion, or maybe the conference would change from being information-centric to marketing-centric.  Little did we know that Solutions 2007 would be the last Hyperion conference.

Solutions is now just an Application Track at Oracle's annual self-stravaganza, Oracle OpenWorld.  The 2007 incarnation of OpenWorld will be held in San Francisco (like every year, I'm told) from November 11-15.

At Solutions 2007 in Orlando, there were over 250 presentations.  Now Hyperion gets a track with 3 subtracks within it:

·         CRM on Demand

·         Essbase and Business Intelligence Tools

·         Financial Performance Management

First of all, I fail to see how 250 presentations can be crammed into 3 subtracks unless there are a whole lot of subsubtracks.  It's obvious that the number of Hyperion-centric presentations will drop dramatically.  Partners were told that they would be allowed at most 2 Hyperion presentations at OpenWorld 2007: compare this to the 15+ that we did at Solutions 2007 either by ourselves or with clients, and it's apparent that OpenWorld is going to slash the number of Hyperion presentations.  I suppose that it's possible for Oracle to still deliver 250+ presentations, but they'll either have to do hundreds themselves (and who wants to listen to a software company talk about themselves for hundreds of hours?) or open up to more partner and customer involvement.  Although I've been going to Solutions/Dimensions since 1996, I suspect that Oracle OpenWorld is mostly going to be a marketing event, so I'm sad to say that I may actually stay home in November.

There is also something interesting about the list of Hyperion subtracks above.  Why is "CRM on Demand" listed under Hyperion applications?  This may be significant (is Hyperion going to be the analytic face of Oracle CRM on Demand?) or it's also possible that someone just goofed, I suppose.  When you visit the Application Track page, you'll notice that Hyperion appears more than in just the Hyperion track: it also appears under the "Business Intelligence and Analytical Applications" subtrack under All Applications with the following description:

"With the acquisition of Hyperion, Oracle offers the industry's most complete business intelligence product line for our customers. In this track, you'll learn how Hyperion's enteprise [yes, they spelled Enterprise wrong] performance management software, coupled with Oracle's business intelligence tools and analytic applications, form an end-to-end performance management system that includes planning, budgeting, consolidation, pre-built operational analytics, and compliance reporting. Find out what's new and how to get better results with business intelligence and analytic applications from Oracle."

Based on this, it seems that there will be some spillover of Hyperion presentations into the Oracle BI subtrack.  This also leads me to think that Oracle's serious about rapid integration of Essbase with the current Oracle BI suite, but this may just be wishful thinking on both my part and Oracle's.  Hyperion appears under other tracks as well such as in BI under the Technology track.

If you interested in registering for the Hyperion track, they're giving away some additional gifts to the first batch of people who sign up.  If you attended Solutions 2006 or 2007 (or the conferences of a few other companies Oracle has bought recently) and you're one of the first 3,000 people to sign up, you get an alumni jacket for free, it seems.  You also have the opportunity to buy some add-ons if you're one of the lucky 500-1000 first people to sign up.  The add-ons you can buy (no, they're not free) include:

·         iPod (Oracle branded?)

·         Book (Oracle branded as well, I'm guessing)

·         CD/DVD Kit (contains all 1,400+ presentations from the conference)

·         Preferred Keynote Seating (see Larry Ellison's nostrils)

·         Special Lunch Seating Area (who wants to sit with the "special" kids at lunch?)

·         Access to Club Oracle Gold Lounge (no idea if this includes an open or cash bar)

·         Special Oracle Gift (is it really a gift if you pay for it?)

You can see all the possible ways to price your admission here:

July 16, 2007

Someone Tell Romulus We Cannot Do This All in One Day

The journey of 1 gazillion steps begins with just one. This is the very first post on my very first blog, and you've managed to scroll all the way down to it. You are a decent human being despite what some stupid war crimes tribunal in The Hague has to say. A time will eventually come when this blog will bigger than The Beatles' blog, but only you can say that you were there at the beginning.

It probably makes sense to say a little about who I am or what it is I do that qualifies me to write a blog. My profound work-related joy these days is running interRel Consulting. My business partner, Eduardo Quiroz, and I originally founded interRel in 1997 to provide the highest-quality and highest-bill rate Arbor Essbase consulting we could. We were a little cocky: our original motto was "Reaching for Perfection, we achieve the impossible in record time." Essbase, for those who are curious, falls into a category of databases known as BI (Business Intelligence) although at the time they called it OLAP (On-Line Analytical Processing). For a complete history of BI from a completely unbiased source, read "A Short History of Business Intelligence and Where It's Headed" by Howard Dresner, former Chief Strategy Officer at Hyperion.

Hyperion is the company with which Arbor merged in 1998. Hyperion made financial consolidation and planning software and the merger of the two companies is widely concerned to be a model for how not to merge two companies. interRel expanded our consulting offerings in '98 to include the additional Hyperion products. What we didn't do was start consulting on competing BI products (Cognos, Business Objects, and all the rest). In April of 2007, Oracle purchased Hyperion for $3,300,000,000 (that's 3.3 billion with a 'B'). At some point, I'll comment on the acquisition, but suffice to say that interRel will, for the near future at least, be devoted to the former Hyperion product lines within the new, much larger, Oracle world. interRel celebrated its 10th anniversary in May of 2007, and the future looks even brighter. Sorry, that was trite.

I have two wonderful children (I'm not bragging, but they really are the two best children on the planet), two intelligent dogs (again, I'm not bragging, but my dogs are smarter than most people's children), and a beautiful wife (still not bragging, but if she was missing her arms and was made out of rock, people would mistake her for the Venus de Milo). I live in Dallas, Texas which is a nice place to work and a lousy place to live. Most people here complain about the heat, but being from the Pacific Northwest, I miss hills and mountains. Those people who complain about the heat aren't wrong, though. There's probably a lot more too me, and I'll open up some more once I've trapped you into visiting here for "useful" information. Oh, I co-wrote a book once that for a while was on's top 100 best selling books of all-time.

I promise that I will update my blog as often as I have the time and inclination to do so. I will not necessarily wait until I have something interesting to say, so brace yourself for a sea of inanities and needlessly long sentences with big words that I try to use to make myself sound more articulate than I actually am.

I'll leave you with one last link. For the first five seconds or so, you'll wonder why a guy explaining "Smart BI" is stripping during the introduction. Continue on if you want beyond five seconds, but the stripping stops when he starts doodling (get your mind out of the gutter, pervert) on a virtual whiteboard.

Look smarter than you are,
Edward Roske, CEO

interRel Consulting