May 9, 2008

Solutions Road Trip - Hyperion in 2009 and Beyond

The final part of Al Marciante's presentation was on the long-term vision for Oracle Hyperion EPM System 11 (will I ever get used to saying that?). Here was what I was able to jot down as Al was running out of time:
  • Planning. The main change for Planning, as mentioned earlier under the Smart View entry, is that Excel will be the primary interface for Planning going forward. This means that everything a user does (including Workflow) will be available in Microsoft Office via Smart View. It's my understanding that task lists and process management (the new name for Workflow, it seems) will be supported natively in Microsoft Outlook which makes more sense than doing it in Excel or over the web anyway. Planning will also be adding new modules (like Workforce or CapEx) including revenue, project planning, and public sector budgeting. Planning will be the go-forward budgeting tool for Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft, and JDEdwards. Planning will, finally, support cell-level security like Essbase has since its inception. You'll be able to run reports on Planning audit tables. There will also be a plethora of Hyperion Planning UI enhancements including better collaboration features, accordion menus (like Outlook), charts in Planning, traffic lighting on forms, ad-hoc form design, automatic calculations on web forms, aggregation of cell text (huh?), and "conversations in Planning" which sounds like Web 2.0 talk to me.
  • Essbase. Essbase cubes will have flexible dimensionality which will include query-defined hierarchies, visual totaling capabilities, and server-processed but user-defined calculations and members. The last one of those is particularly exciting, because it will allow users to add members to outlines without needing to contact an administrator. Supposedly, this will all be accomplished without the need to restructure the cube. People have been clamoring for users to be able to modify portions of the outline for years and until now, the only way to implement this was with complicated Essbase API code. Oracle Clustering support will be added to improve Essbase scalability. Essbase Studio will be enhanced to get it up to the level of EAS. Finally, Essbase will be able to run in a "faceless environment." In other words, it will be able to run as multi-dimensional storage cube technology under various Oracle Fusion products without the need for an administrator to maintain the hierarchies, data loads, and what not.
  • HFM. Going forward, HFM will be able to run in a 64-bit environment. There will be a tight close calendar, ad-hoc schedules, and improved JV/intercompany capabilities. HFM Talleyrand (the code name for Oracle Hyperion EPM 2009) will support more dimensions (no more having to reuse Custom Dimensions 1-4 to cram multiple dimensions into one application). Finally, HFM will be cross-platform whereas right now, the application tier is Windows-only.

Someone asked Al which of the features he showed would need to be paid for (like clients had to pay to "enable" System 9) in System 11. His exact quote was:

To my knowledge, only Profitability is planned to be a priced product, due to it being an application. The other features and modules (such as Studio) I believe are part of system 9 enablement, and are not planned at this time to be monetized.

My translation of that is that Oracle only plans on charging for Profitability Management because it's the only truly new application. Essbase Studio, for instance, would not need to be paid for since it's part of Essbase already. Of course, Oracle's pricing changes pretty regularly, so get what you can while it's free.

I really liked Al's talk. The only thing I'd change would be to give him more time, because I felt that the Essbase changes by themselves could have taken several hours to cover in detail. I had an hour's worth of questions on text in an Essbase cube alone. Luckily, Al Marciante is the moderator for the

Essbase Developer's Symposium at ODTUG Kaleidoscope in New Orleans. All day Sunday at Kaleidoscope, Al and members of the Essbase development team will be talking about Essbase 11 and beyond. There are even a couple of developer panels so Essbase users can ask detailed questions about what's coming and what they would like to see in future versions. Robert Gersten, head of EPM/BI development for Oracle, will start off the day with a look at the future of Hyperion. At last check, there were 20 spaces left in the Essbase track at Kaleidoscope, so if you haven't already signed up yet, get off your arse and do it now.

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