September 29, 2008

OLAP Underground - Utilities are Back

Thanks to the Tim Tow and the other good folks over at Applied OLAP, the two most popular OLAP Underground Essbase utilities are back and they've been updated to work with Essbase versions 6-11 (and they're free!). For those of you who haven't been around Essbase for too many years to count and have never heard of them, OLAP Underground was a group of anonymous Essbase programmers who built utilities to handle the things they did a lot that Essbase didn't do at all (or very well). OLAP Underground was then nice enough to give them away.

After a brief sabbatical to get the code updated to the newest versions of Essbase, two of my favorite utilities are back.

The most popular of their applications was called the "Outline Extractor" and it, well, it extracted outlines to text files. Since Essbase would let you extract an entire outline but in a completely useless format, the Outline Extractor became everyone's favorite "dimension export" tool.

You could export one dimension at a time or all the dimensions at once and you could pick which fields you wanted to export. There was a Windows thick client as well as a command-line so export tasks could be scheduled. Here's the link to the page with the Outline Extractor:

Now of course there are much better tools nowadays for exporting dimensions, but if you need a quick and dirty text export of one or more dimensions, this is the tool for you.

The other hugely popular OLAP Underground utility was called the "Advanced Security Manager." It's a tool for managing Essbase security even across servers. Even in the days of EAS and Shared Services, it's still hugely useful for exporting security to text files (or importing from text files). Like the Outline Extractor, the Advanced Security Manager also has a command-line for scheduling security updates. Here's the link for the Advanced Security Manager:

Thank you to Applied OLAP (an interRel partner) for updating and hosting these utilities. If you have a minute, send Tim Tow a quick "thank you" (which is best expressed in the form of a Pay Pal money transfer to his personal account). Also note that while Applied OLAP is hosting these applications, they're not officially supporting them. This means that you're on your own if you have questions or things break.

September 26, 2008

OpenWorld - Final Thoughts

I'm writing this entry while on the 7:45AM flight back to Dallas (although it won't be posted until I land at 1PM).  The plane is packed with people returning from OpenWorld.  Everyone has some form of Oracle logo on or with them, and everyone is completely exhausted.  The lady in the middle seat next to me keeps falling asleep and leaning her head on my shoulder.  She couldn't keep her eyes open if someone paid her.

After the last session yesterday, I had a few meetings with some of the leadership of the OAUG Hyperion SIG - by the way, Kristin Newman did an awesome job taking care of all of OAUG Hyperion SIG's logistics at OpenWorld - and some of the Oracle EPM sales team members.  After meetings at various hotel bars, I ended up eating dinner at Greens in Ft. Mason overlooking the bay.  It's a very upscale all-vegetarian menu.  Dinner ended up being over $50 per person and none of us had alcohol.  It was the best meal I've had all week.

Once I taxied back to my hotel, I packed and then took a quick nap before having to leave for the airport at 5:30AM.  San Francisco looks different that early in the morning: you can appreciate the architecture far more when there aren't people standing in the way.  There's something less hectic that allows you to take in the more serene side of San Francisco.

I've been thinking about some of the highlights and lowlights of the conference.  Here are the good things about OpenWorld:
  • What's New sessions.  While I heard very little strikingly new information about Hyperion (or "Oracle EPM," which I may never get used to saying), a lot of rumors were confirmed by official people in official settings.  It's nice to hear people go under the record (even though many did it after showing a disclaimer slide saying basically "don't hold me to anything I say, because I'm liable to change my mind in a New York minute").
  • Positive Hyperion vibe.  I'm not just talking about the vibe headed interRel's way from Oracle (thank you again for the awards, Mr. Ellison, sir).  What I mean is that Hyperion, Essbase, and EPM were on a number of people's lips.  Thomas Kurian couldn't stop saying Hyperion (and Rich Clayton couldn't stop demoing Hyperion) for the majority of the Middleware Keynote, for example.  To paraphrase John Kopcke, it's not a question of how will Oracle change Hyperion, but rather, how will Hyperion change Oracle?
  • Sense of Community.  It's good to get together with fellow Hyperion customers, partners, and Oracle sales people and there were a number of them here.  I kept running into the same people at various events (Hyperion sessions, user group meetings, the interRel reception, the Oracle/OAUG reception, the EPM think tank, exhibit halls, and more) which gave me the nice feeling that we were all in this together.  That said, I think the Hyperion attendance was down from last year.  I think a lot of clients are going to Collaborate or Kaleidoscope (more on this in a bit).
That's about it for the positives.  Here are the negatives:
  • Most of the stuff doesn't matter to Hyperion visitors.  95%+ of the content isn't relevant to the people here for Hyperion.  That would be okay if it was a lot more obvious upfront which sessions were relevant and which ones weren't.  Larry Ellison, God bless his soul, didn't say a thing that mattered to the EPM-only visitors to the conference.  Can you imagine if the Hyperion Solutions conference had a time designated for a keynote where nothing else was happening... and the keynote was all about the price of car mufflers in China?
  • Too much marketing.  Yes, I know I've said in the past that OpenWorld is Oracle's chance to talk about Oracle, so why was I expecting anything but non-stop marketing?  I guess I was hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.  Collaborate has some marketing-level presentations (as did Hyperion Solutions conferences) but OpenWorld ratchets it up a few hundred notches.  Imagine sitting through 5 straight days of sales pitches from your software vendor.  Sound like fun?  Then OpenWorld is for you!
  • Not much information.  With the exception of SOME of the What's New presentations, I didn't learn anything.  This may just be me rehashing the last point.  A lot of the presentations are marketing from beginning to end.  Okay, so if it's going to be a non-stop product briefing (and not training, as many who have gone to Hyperion Solutions conferences in the past have come to expect), then don't charge people to attend.  Those people who came expecting to go back to their companies with actionable tips on better ways to use Hyperion products were (with far and few between exceptions), went away disappointed.
  • Too big.  OpenWorld needs to be chopped up.  There were relevant Hyperion (Oracle EPM, sorry) events at Moscone West, Moscone North, Moscone South, the Marriott, the Hilton, the Hyatt, and the Westin St. Francis.  No, those places are not all next to each other.  I've walked so much this week that I've lost 5 pounds.  Split up the technology and the applications into two different conferences or come up with some other arbitrary breaking point.  The only value of having the entire user base together at one event is that the appreciation party can afford higher end talent (Elvis Costello is no Billy Joel, though).  Oh, and Ellison only has to speak once.
From an interRel standpoint, it was a great conference: we made friends, won some awards, got a few new clients, and drove our competitors bonkers.  From an attendee standpoint, I was disappointed.  I miss learning things.

My advice to the user community: if you like Hyperion Solutions conferences, stay away from OpenWorld.  Go to Kaleidoscope if you're a developer/administrator of Hyperion products.  Go to Collaborate if you're an end user of the products.  Suggest that your CIO go to OpenWorld... so you don't have to.

This is my last entry for this year's OpenWorld.  Thank you for following along, and I hope you weren't too terribly bored (even when I was).  I will be coming back to OpenWorld next year, but until then, good bye, San Francisco.  I'm going to sleep now.  Wake me on Monday.

September 25, 2008

OpenWorld - Thursday, Sep. 25

3:59PM - What's New in OBIEE+

It was my understanding that this presentation would mention some of what's changing in Web Analysis, Financial Reporting, and the other parts of the "plus" part of OBIEE+.  Instead, I just sat through an hour-long sales pitch of "Oracle BI Standard Edition One" which is all about Oracle BI Publisher, Interactive Dashboards, and Answers.  They didn't talk about the former Hyperion products at all.  There was a point where I began wondering if they switched rooms and maybe my topic was being held elsewhere.  I honestly went out on the web to see if they had many any schedule changes.

No, I was in the right room just receiving the wrong content.  The room holds about 100, so I wonder if others were as confused as I am.  Several people walked out.

I'm leaving now to go meet someone in the Marriott lobby.  No, this isn't my last OpenWorld blog entry, so tune in later.

2:45PM - Roske on Hyperion Planning Optimization

That presentation was a lot less full.  It was right next door at Moscone West 3024.  it held 200 or so but was only about 1/4 full.  I guess people are headed to the airport (and there was also a competing Planning tips presentation at the same time).  Everyone seemed interested in the content which is good, because I wasn't at my funniest.

I started off by telling everyone that the #1 way to speed up Planning is to speed up Essbase.  I also told them not to optimize Essbase under Planning the same way one optimizes stand-alone Essbase cubes.  Why?  Because normal Essbase optimization focuses on optimizing data loads and big, batch calcs.  Planning optimizations focus on user experience: speeding up form retrievals, form submissions, and running small/targeted calcs.

Once I went through the Essbase tips that one should consider when optimizing Hyperion Planning, I covered how to optimize Planning web forms themselves.  I covered optimized calculations briefly and also gave some infrastructure tips.  There was just too much content for 1 hour, because there are so many different tips/tricks for Hyperion Planning.  I only got to spend about 15 minutes on tips for improving user experience (basically, user interface tips) and that topic alone needs an hour to do it justice.

A few people stirred when I told them NOT to use Planning's built-in currency capabilities but rather to create a Planning app as non-multi-currency and then add the capability manually.  The reasons for this are both performance based and for usability.  I would have presumed by now that no one was using the Planning multi-currency, but several people seemed shocked when I said that, so apparently, they been getting bad consulting advice (or worse: they got design advice from their Planning Bootcamp instructor).

If you want a copy of the slides for this presentation (assuming you're not a competitor :), send an e-mail to info(at)  For that matter, if you want a copy of any of the ones I've delivered at this year's OpenWorld, send an e-mail specifying which of the 4 presentations you actually want and Danielle will be happy to send you a copy:

  • How Essbase Thinks (both BSO and ASO)
  • Essbase Outline Tuning and Optimization
  • Smart View Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices
  • Hyperion Planning Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices
While I love public speaking (something's wrong in my brain, I know), I'm glad my presentation work here at OpenWorld is over, because I still worry about my presentations until I've delivered them.  My voice hurts and while I have a few more things to attend to, I don't have to stress about any more presenting.

I have to race now all the way back to the Marriott (this conference is too big) to attend a presentation on what's new in the old Hyperion BI+ tools.  Glad I brought my running shoes...

1:14PM - Roske and XTO on Smart View Tips

The Smart View Tips and Tricks presentation took place in 3022 in Moscone West.  It started at noon, and I got there from the Marriott with only about 10 minutes to spare.  The room held 300 and was more than 80% full.

Bob from XTO Energy started off the presentation by talking about his experiences using Hyperion at XTO.  He told the audience about how he started with a different consulting company than interRel that did a horrible job (thankfully, he didn't mention the name), threw them out, tried to do it themselves, and eventually called interRel for help.  He did mention that we were able to reduce his calculation time from 8-12 hours down to under 20 minutes, so that was a unexpected plug for our Hyperion tuning practice.

He then talked some about their experiences with Smart View specifically.  He gave an interesting tip that you don't tend to hear in most Smart View tricks presentations: consider using the HSGetValue() function (with anchored cell references so you can formula fill it after you've added it once).  Most people say not to use it for speed reasons, but Bob rightly pointed out that it does give you a ton of flexibility in reporting that you don't get when using the simple grid approach.

After about 10 minutes, he turned it over to me.  I talked for about 50 minutes on ways to better your usage of Smart View with Essbase, Planning, Financial Reporting, and Web Analysis.  For a lot of my tips, I had to say, "here's the really complicated way of doing it under System 9, but under 11x, there's this really cool way to do it."  I will be so happy when 11x is stable, so I can recommend that our clients upgrade to it.

About 100 people came up afterwards to give me their business cards and ask questions.  One lady actually came up and asked if interRel could please come out to her company and rescue her Planning implementation that [a consulting firm based out of the East Coast of the USA] screwed up.  It's always good when people realize that you don't actually just talk about Hyperion but you actually implement it as well.

I now have a huge walk to my next presentation which is all the way over at Moscone West, room 3024.  I think that's to the west of where I am now in Moscone West, room 3022.

11:25AM - What's New in Oracle BI Applications

This room at the Marriott is huge.  According to the scanner lady at the door, the room holds almost 1,100 people.  That said, the room is a ghost town.  There are only about 75 people here.  It's as empty as a Texas Rangers day game in August.  Jake Krakauer, Senior Director of BI Apps for Oracle, was the opening speaker.  Why am I here?  To hear about future integration between the BI Apps and the former Hyperion products.  I'm not sure there is any, but I hope to find out.

Jake started off by talking about how BI Apps are part of the EPM System at Oracle. Jake talked briefly about the importance of BI Apps to "achieving management excellence."  Now I know what "Management Excellence" is because I've heard Kopcke speak and been reading the EPM literature for the last few months.  The majority of the room has no idea what Jake meant, though, when he said 'Management Excellence."  A bit of terminology definition would have been nice.

There are around 35 pre-built BI apps like sales pipeline analysis, market basket analysis, and procurement analysis.  Jake's talking about how most of their effort on developing BI Apps goes into the behind scenes things like ETL, security, warehouse design, and under the covers modeling rather than on the front-end.  While that's greatly inspiring, isn't the primary forwarding facing view of the BI Apps the user interface?  Would I still drive a BMW 650 if it looked on the outside like a Ford Pinto?  If I'm going to be paying a ton of money for something, I want it to look nice when I have to look at it.

Jake's been talking about the new Oracle BI Apps 11g that's coming (eventually).  Their goal is to link BI Apps into Fusion Middleware and OBIEE Answers+.

New content in the BI Apps 11g will include:

  • US Federal Financial Analytics.  This is a special version of Financial Analytics for federal agencies.
  • ODI Integration.  Phase 1 of the BI Apps and ODI integration will have Oracle eBS 11.5.10as the only supported source and Oracle database as the only target. That seems limiting.  They'll be expanding more in the future, apparently.
  • Fixed Assets Analytics
  • Project Analytics
  • HR Functional area
  • Data Lineage Console
While those items are pretty definite (because they're already under development), here is what may be released in a beyond 12 month timeframe:

  • Procurement & Spend Analytics
  • Marketing Loyalty Analytics
  • PeopleSoft adapters for P&Spend Analytics and Projects Analytics
  • JDEdwards adapters for financials, order management, and P&Spend
  • Communications/procewsses focused analytics (industry)
  • EBS Manufacturing - OPM and Discrete enhancements
  • EBS GRI Sustainability dashboard
  • CxO Dashboard/Scorecard
  • ODI Phase 2.  Additional Oracle, Siebel, PeopleSoft, JDE sources.  Additional targets to include DB2, MS SQL Server, and Teradata.
Jake just started talking about "integrating the Hyperion applications with the BI Applications so data can be used both ways."  Basically, they're working on sharing data between Hyperion apps (like Planning and HFM) and the BI Apps.

On integrating the BI Apps and Essbase, he said that they're focusing on integrating OBIEE and Essbase.  "Today, Essbase can be a source for the Business Analytics Warehouse for use by dashboards.  Essbase can also be a target so if you're doing analysis in your function, you can spin off an Essbase cube and do some deeper analysis."  That all seems really vague.  As of this moment, no one has announced BI Apps sitting directly on Essbase.

On integrating HFM and the BI App for Financial Analysis, Jake basically said that they're complimentary applications.  He then showed a PowerPoint slide that could double as an eye chart.  "HFM is for inter-period reporting, but FInancial Analytics is for intra-period reporting."  Um, okay.

Several people have been walking out, so the room's down to less than 50 people.

They want to integrate Hyperion Planning and HR Analytics so Workforce Planning can feed and pull from HR Analytics.  I don't think from what he's said that it's there yet.

Michael Siebert, the guy from from Ingersoll Rand, came out at about 11AM.  He offered some insight on what Ingersoll Rand has been doing with the BI Apps and what they will be doing.  Mike's basically giving a customer success story which isn't amazingly relevant to most of the audience.  Other people are leaving.

I have a presentation at 12PM in Moscone West on Smart View Tips and Tricks.  I expect the room will be mostly empty, because:
  1. Most of our clients are in Hyperion customer advisory boards.
  2. A number of people have already left for the airport.
  3. It's being held during lunch.  Nice timing, Oracle.

9:00AM - Meeting with the Press

I'm about to meet with a reportor from an industry trade magazine.  Apparently, they're really impressed with all the press interRel (my company) has received this week.  While I do the interview, I'll ask Eduardo to post a quick separate entry listing all the press releases with our name in them this week so it doesn't clutter up my live blogging.  It's been a very good week to be interRel (though my feet are killing me).

Quiroz on interRel in the News

Everyone's talking about interRel this week:

September 24, 2008

OpenWorld - Wednesday, Sep. 24

5:55PM - Dinner at another Thai Restaurant

After the abrupt end to the keynote (which to be more honest was bascially a press announcement), we all got shuffled out of the building.  On the way out, we were paraded by a grid of ~6 Oracle Database Machines working in parallel.  Someone from Oracle was saying that these machines could serve up 1 Tb of data in 5 seconds.  Now that's fast.

I'm now seated at a hole in the wall Thai restaurant.  They only take cash and the place seats about 25, but the food is excellent.  I encourage any of you who are near Union Square in San Francisco to visit King of Thai at 420 Geary.  Dinner is about $10 per person, so it's cheap too.

After dinner, I'm going to skip the Oracle Party over on Treasure Island.  Bands performing there will be Psychodelic Furs, Gin Blossoms, Seal, UB40, Alan Jackson, and Elvis Costello.  I'm not a fan of any of these bands and since you can never find any one you want to network with at one of these events, I'm going to be staying in to prepare for my presentations on Thursday.  Yes, I know I'm missing out on my chance at fun, merriment, madness, and chaos, but there's always next year.  Maybe they'll bring back Billy Joel?

This will be my last entry for tonight most likely, because no one much cares about my PowerPoint reading back in my hotel room, but I will be blogging more tomorrow starting with the 10:30 session at the Marriott on What's New and What's Coming with the Business Intelligence Applications.

3:37PM - Larry Ellison Keynote with Mark Hurd from HP

Mark Hurd, Chairman and CEO of HP, just joined the keynote via web conferencing.  The room was much more receptive to listening to an HP person after Larry's announcement.  Also, this HP person was only there for 5 minutes which was pleasant.

He then showed a commercial of some happy  Oracle Database Machine and Oracle Exadata server test customers.  Oh, hell, it just ended.  Huh?  This was supposed to go to 4:30.  I guess they covered the major points and wanted to end while the buzz was at its peak.

The masses are headed for the doors.  Luckily, I'm near the back!

3:30PM - Larry Ellison Keynote announces Oracle's 2nd Hardware Product

He now announced the "HP/Oracle Database Machine" which is, per Larry, the world's fastest database machine (and no, it's not the only one: Teradata and Netezza make them).  These servers have 64 cores,  and run on Linux.  They hold 14 Exadata Storage Servers supporting 14 Gb/sec throughput.  Altogether, that's 112 Intel cores.  The storage in one of these is 168Terabytes.  That's 1,400 times more storage than Apple's largest iPod (his joke, not mine, but funny as hell).  That really is a great deal of music.

He quoted some testing benchmarks from one of their test clients that showed table space creation was 10 times faster on one of these new servers and some activities (like certain reports) were 70 times faster.  Altogether, they noticed 28 times average improvement.  He gave certain other examples (all running on basically 1/2 of one of the new Oracle servers) all which seemed to give minimums of 10-fold improvements and most were a lot higher.  The average improvement seemed to be 30 times speed up.

The price for these Oracle database is <$14,000/Tb (at list, because per Larry, "the Oracle sales guys never give discounts").  The HP/Oracle Database Machines are available immediately.

3:15PM - Larry Ellison Keynote announces Oracle's 1st Hardware Product

A commercial of Oracle & BMWs yacht entry in the next America's Cup was just shown.  Larry came out and talked about "his regular job for the last 7 or 8 years [ws] trying to win the America's Cup."  That's funny (especially after the HP drudgery).  I think he's about to announce something big.

He's talking about how hard drives these days can't keep up with the bandwidth requirements of modern databases.  As databases get larger and larger, the problems get more severe.  He just said that data warehouses tend to slow down at 1Tb and he had a nice chart to prove it.  He's now talking about ways to solve the data bandwidth problem: reduce data going through the pipes or have wider/faster pipes (and more of them).

Larry just announced Oracle's first hardware product.  Joint developed with HP, they've created "The Exadata Programmable Storage Server."  It has 2 Intel processors (with 8 cores altogether) and 12 disk drives iwth up to 12 Tb of raw storage.  The servers run Oracle Enterprise Linux  and hosts data for Oracle.  This reduces the amount of data that flows between the storage servers and the database servers.  It doesn't pass disk blocks but rather query results back to the database server.  In other words, the query runs on the Oracle X Server and passes the result set back to the Oracle database servers.  The presumption is that companies would have grids of these new Oracle X Servers integrating with grids of Oracle databases.

Each server also has 2 twenty Gigabit (InfiniBand) network cards that are able to each handle 1 Gb/sec of data transfer to the database grids.  The cards, though, can actually handle 5 Gb/sec: it's just that the the current hard drives can only spin fast enough to support 1 Gb/sec.

The Exadata Storage Server is available immediately on Linux.

3:00PM - Larry Ellison Keynote (brought to you by HP)

As of 2:10, the line to get into the keynote stretched out the door for a block-and-a-half.  After waiting in the line, I arrived in Moscone South Hall D to sadly discover that all the traditional blogger seats were already taken.  They had to open up a second blogger section (sadly, with no power outlets which is what I really liked) at the rear of the center section.  I admittedly have a better view than some of the people at the wings.

They hit their maximum capacity (someone said the room holds 10,000) at 2:20 and they closed the rear doors.  People still waiting to get in were directed to various TV screens showing the keynote on closed circuit TV.  While part of me actually would have enjoyed watching in a less busy setting (with a power outlet), there's something about the vibe in the room you don't get to experience without actually being there.

Safra Catz introduced Ann Livermoore, EVP of HP Technology Solutions Group.  The lights switched from red to blue and the commercial began.  Literally, it was a non-stop commercial. Ann didn't even try to hide it like the Intel guy did by trying to talk about something non-vendor specific.  She showed a video clip of a commercial that was so god awfully monotonous that my brain threatened to walk out whether my body was coming or not.

She did tell me something I didn't know which is that HP is actually a very large software vendor.  She said that if you took their software and made it into its own company, it would be the 6th largest software vendor in the world by revenue.  While I understand why HP wanted to buy this hugemongous infomercial, you think they could have done it better.  Droning on with a single person in front of the room is boring.  Get some spice up there, HP: us IT professionals bore easily.  Bring a star with you next time to tell a joke or two.  I hear Michael Phelps is out of work these days, so maybe you could get him (oh, that was already done on Monday by someone else).  Talking data centers in a dim room is a recipe for naptime.

Please, let this be over soon.  My arse is hurting almost as much as my brain.  Oh, wait I think the end is near!  Yes, she just finished.  Larry should be coming out soon.  Please, Larry, reward my patience with something revolutionary.  Something about a revolutionary database accelerator would be nice.

2:14PM - Roske on Essbase Outline Optimization

My presentation was back in Moscone West, room 3024.  It started at 1, and the right after lunch timeslot is atrocious.  People get back late from lunch and everyone's satiated and tired.  It's harder to keep people's attention so you have to try that much harder to be interesting.  The problem with that is no one's in a laughing mood right after eating.  That said, it went well.

The room held around 250 and it was about half full.  That was about 75 more people than I expected, to be honest.  It's hard giving a technical talk on optimizing Essbase outlines at a high-level function like Oracle OpenWorld.  Afterwards, about 50 people came up to me to give me their cards so I could send them the slides.  While there was a bit of laughter, the room was pretty quiet throughout the talk.  I think I maybe took 10 questions during the presentation and again at the end.

Among other things, I told everyone to ignore most of the optimization tips in the Essbase Database Administrator's Guide (especially around 32-bit Essbase).  Here are just some of the things that I pointed out are wrong in the DBAG:

  • Block size.  The recommendations in the DBAG are too big for blocks these days.
  • Order of dimensions.  The "hourglass order" for dimensions is long dead and Time should usually be your first dense dimension.
  • Dynamic calcs.  Dynamic calcs do not always slow down retrievals and in dense dimensions, they often speed up retrievals.
  • Data cache.  The DBAG still says to set it to 1/8 of the data file cache... even though hardly any database should be using data file cache (because using it requires Direct I/O and hardly anyone should be using Direct I/O).
I started to feel like the presentation was "Everything You Learned in Essbase Bootcamp or Read in the DBAG is Wrong."  We ended at almost exactly 2PM which is good, because the Ellison keynote is at 2:30.

10:00AM - What's New in OBIEE Answers+ 11g

Nikki Sanger, Presentation Services Product Manager for Oracle OBIEE delivered the "What's New and What's Coming in Oracle BI Answers 11g."  She started off by promising few PowerPoint slides (but everyone says that) and a live demo at some point.  The room holds ~180 (it's in the basement of the Marriott) and was mostly empty.  Too bad, because Answers looks like the future of OLAP analysis at Oracle.

Officially, 11g is being released in calendar year 2009 (oh, that's vague).  It will support familiar OLAP-style end user interaction.  Its OLAP style interaction is still data source agnostic even though it has an OLAP user interface.  It doesn't link directly to physical data sources and Answers is not only for OLAP data sources.

Nikki's demo of Answers really impressed me.  It's very pretty, but it does have a fundamental different feel than Web Analysis.  Whereas Web Analysis is meant for end users (okay, maybe power users) to create new reports, Answers seems more built for IT audiences.  That said, using existing reports/dashboards in the client interface seems even easier than in Web Analysis.  For instance, sorting by row values, column values, or member names is done just by hovering over a member, waiting for little up/down sort arrows to appear, and then clicking on them.  It seems intuitive.

There were a lot of graphical things (traffic lighting, pinboards, and others) I've done in Analyzer (oops: Web Analysis) that I didn't see in any of the Answers views.  I don't know if that's because they're not there in this beta or if Nikki just didn't have time to show everything in the product.  She did show some of the chart types available in Answers and they are more extensive than Web Analysis.  She also mentioned the additon of a new Answers 11g "map view" which may replace Web Analysis pinboards.  Judging by the overall prettiness of Answers, I'd be shocked if it didn't have better charting than Web Analysis.

Web Analysis customers: you should be evaluating Answers.  Answers is not yet ready to replace Web Analysis, but sometime next year with the release of Answers 11g, it will be a valid option for sitting on top of Essbase.

She's spent the entire session talking about what's coming in 11g.  She had very few slides (fraking awesome) and most of the session was mostly demoing.  All in all, I enjoyed the session.  I have some time off until my presentation at 1PM.  It's on Essbase Outline Tuning in Moscone West, room 3024 (in case you happen to be at OpenWorld).

Larry and Oracle Announce the HP Oracle Database Machine

With a big dramatic "tah-dah", a new machine for the uber-geeks to fawn over was revealed. It was maybe a little silly, but the well timed revealed startled most of the crowd that had been slowly slipped into a false sense of security. He eased into a non-threatening drone and then Larry yanked the rug, while the lights flashed on, the 300x20 foot video wall flashed and the audio kicked into high gear. In the swirl of the big bang of lights and sound appeared a rather unasuming black box appeared with an X on it.

Quiroz on Green Conventions

I was very impressed to see Oracle Open World embrace environmentalism and design activities and alter their usage of materials and packing to help reduce our overall carbon footprint. Also, they catered to an impressive variety of dietary needs. We identified, Vegetarian, Lacto-Vegetarian, Vegan, Halla, Indian, Gluten-free, Low sodium, Lactose intolerant and Kosher. All of the food was packaged in recyclable or compostable materials and there were special recepticals to separate the waste. Oracle claims to be saving tons of waste that won't go to land fills. Also, they had stations where you can plug your laptop into a generator that is powered by stationary bike to recharge your laptop or cell phone. They claimed 15 minutes of pedaling should generate enough power to run a laptop for an hour.

Also, paper waste was addressed by reducing the size of the conference guide and encouraging attendees to use digital documents as much as possible.

September 23, 2008

OpenWorld - Tuesday, Sep. 23

11:00PM - Evening Wrap Up

After the Excellence awards, I went back to the Oracle Hyperion reception that was joint hosted with the OAUG Hyperion SIG.  When I got there, the room was packed so tightly no one could breathe.  Remember how I said that the room held 300 people?  They apparently let in four hundred and fifty.

I had a nice talk with Rich Clayton towards the end of the night.  He congratulated us on the EPM Solution of the Year award win.  He expressed to me his appreciation of how of the smaller partners deliver high quality solutions that are quite often better than the huge multi-national conglomerate consulting firms.  Rich is a great guy, and I was sincerely grateful for his words of encouragement.  I complimented on his ability to move the mouse during the "demo" at Kurian's keynote using only the power of his mind. Although the reception was supposed to end at 8PM, I didn't get out of there until 9:30.

After the reception, I stopped at a Thai restauraent with a friend of mine from the Oracle community.  It was probably the best food I've had since arriving in San Francisco.  I ate a huge bowl of Tom Kha (vegetarian) and took some Green Curry (with tofu) back to the hotel.

I've got a meeting at 7:45AM, so now it's off to sleep.  And by sleep, I mean watch on iTunes the season premiere of Heroes...

7:30PM - Oracle Excellence Awards

The Oracle Excellence Awards were held in the Oak Room of the Westin St. Francis.  It was a much smaller venue than the Titan Awards from Saturday.  Whereas the Titan Awards were in a grand ballroom with thousands of people, these awards are held in a smallish room holding fewer than 200 people.  Hey, it's only the second year of these awards, and they'll be getting bigger each year, I'm sure.

Pearson Education, one of interRel's best clients and the largest textbook manufacturer in the world, won an Oracle Excellence Award for the implementation we did with them of Hyperion.  Pearson asked me to come up and be in the picture which was very nice.  They also showed the interRel logo on the screen at the front of the room as a "Supporting System Integrator" which I didn't expect at all.

We ate some free appetizers (actually, I didn't because they were all beast-based) and after a Coke, I'm heading back to the Hyperion reception at the Hyatt.

6:25PM - Oracle Hyperion Reception

I just left a reception for Hyperion customers and partners at the Grand Hyatt Union Square.  It was packed.  Kristin Newman from Linium (and a really good friend of mine) arranged the logistics for the event, and she did a great job.  The room the event was held in was the Bay View Room on the 36th floor of the Hyatt.  It had a panoramic view of the bay to the West and the city to the South.  It was gorgeous.  The room holds about 300 (it's half the top story of the Hyatt)  and right now, it's about 1/3 full.

Kristin arranged for a 3 feet tall cake.  It has multple levels and around the edges of the cake are edible scale models of Oracle HQ, Oracle's sailing yacht, and the Oracle racing plane.  It's one of the most impressive custom cakes I've ever seen.  Kopcke and Gersten are showing up later to cut the cake and it almost seems like a travesty.  Kristin also arranged for lots of free food and several open bars, just so we know we're at Oracle OpenWorld (home of free food and open bar).

I'm running out now to go to the Oracle Excellence Awards at the Westin St. Francis.  Luckily, it's about a block from here.

5:46PM - Oracle OLAP and Essbase

I got to the presentation late.  Luckily, there was plenty of seating.  The room probably held ~500 and was maybe 1/4 full.  Ray Roccaforte was delivering the presentation.  He started off by saying that both Oracle OLAP and Essbase are Oracle's strategic directions for OLAP.  "But wait!," you scream in confusion. "How will I know which one to use?"  Well, here was Ray's exact quote as best as I could capture it:

The difference is in the target audience....If you're consolidating data, the OLAP option is probably your best bet.  If you're more interested in being more software compliant and merging with different systems, Essbase is your best bet.
Ray elaborated on Oracle OLAP by saying that it's more of an IT product than a business product and is designed for people who are more "rationally focused."  Interesting move referring to business users as not rational.  He added that "our target audience with Oracle OLAP is SQL application developers.  It's all about improving BI applications in the Oracle database."  He concluded his portion by saying that Oracle OLAP is best on an Oracle data warehouse.  By "best," I think he means that you should only use Oracle OLAP on a Oracle data warehouse.

John Kopcke came out next to talk about when to use Essbase.  He started by saying that the target audience of Essbase is end users and primary sponsors of Essbase implementations are lines of business (not IT).  Kopcke continued with the theme of "Oracle OLAP is for IT and Essbase is for business."  He had a cute quote:

The Essbase users are the business users, the ones with the ties on. If you're in a shirt with the top button open, you're probably more interested in Oracle OLAP.

I get a kick out John's presentations, as you can tell.  He also said that Essbase should definitely be used when data is coming from multiple sources.

So what did we learn?  If you have an Oracle data warehouse and want to rack and stack you some data warehouse, use Oracle OLAP.  In all other cases, use Essbase.  I can actually see situations where we would want to use both together.  For instance, take your Oracle data warehouse, roll it up with Oracle OLAP, and create an Essbase 11 xOLAP cube (basically, a virtual cube that sits on top of a relational product) to make it easy for your users who like an Essbase like engine.  The data would then sit in Oracle OLAP while users accessed a transparent Essbase cube.

I know have to race to the Hyperion reception at the Grand Hyatt.  My feet are killing me.  Santa, please give me a Segway for Christmas.  I've been a good (enough) boy.

4:50PM - Thomas Kurian Keynote (now with more Kurian)

When Intel finished at 3:28, one third of the room left.  They were here just for the commercial?  That strikes me as very weird.  Maybe they thought it was all over?  Ah, many of them are now coming back.  Silly people.

Thomas Kurian, SVP of Oracle Fusion Middleware, came out at 3:30 on the dot.  The man is prompt, I'll give him that.  He's talking about Oracle Data Integrator (and other data translation products) at the moment, but there's nothing earth shattering being said.

Hey, he just said "Oracle Hyperion Data Relationship Manager" (formerly known as Hyperion MDM)!  He's just showing how it's part of the Oracle Data Integration Suite.  Rich Clayton (a former Hyperion guy and now a director in the Oracle EPM Product Marketing group) was just brought out on stage to demo aspects of the Oracle Data Integration Suite.  Wait, Thomas Kurian said demo, but it's really a recording of a demo done at some point in the past.  Basically, we're listening to Rich Clayton narrate a video.  I guess that means that we won't be treated to any sudden software crashes during the "demo."  Note to Rich: it's not as obvious that it's recorded if you leave a hand near the computer when the mouse is moving.  Rich, a friend of mine, did get a nice round of applause as he left the stage just now.

Thomas is now talking about all the new Essbase 11x features.  He just misstated that "Essbase can now stay up and running while users are submitting data through Planning."  Um, it always did that.  I think he meant that Essbase 11x ASO cubes can stay up during retrieves and submits even submissions from users.  He also said that "Essbase now can combine multiple cubes into one on the fly."  Again, it has done that for years.  I think he meant that Essbase ASO cubes can now be targets of transparent partitions and he was trying to explain that to non-Essbase users.  He did mention that Essbase 11x has new time intelligence and allows text in an Essbase cube.  I would have led with "Essbase can now handle text in the cube" but that's just me.  He did talk briefly about the existence of the new Essbase Studio, but didn't explain why it kicks EIS ass.

He's now talking about Smart View (now called Oracle Smart View for Office) and Oracle Smart Space. He's on a Hyperion roll, but there's no new information beyond standard marketing.  It's just nice to see Oracle talking about the former Hyperion products during a keynote.

Rich Clayton just came back out to do some more video narration.  He's starting off with a dashboard in Oracle EPM Workspace (formerly Hyperion Workspace).  Rich is talking about how cool page dropdowns are when they are linked to the entire dashboard.  Yes, dropdown page filters are handy, but not exactly cutting edge.  The recorded demo from Rich is a bit too "look at how we're doing things like conditional formatting or multiple sources on a grid" for me.  I tend to shy away from a feature-centric demo and go more for of the "and how does this help me?" demo.  Considering most of the people in the audience are IT (whereas I'm a finance guy at heart), a technology demo may very well be appropriate.  People around me seem to be interested.

I do like how Rich Clayton and Thomas Kurian keep saying "Essbase" over and over.  It's music to my ears.  Rich just showed OBIEE Publisher sitting on top of Essbase.  I didn't realize that the new version of Publisher could do that.  Maybe I should spend next week learning all the new OBIEE features?  Rich just left to another round of applause (his third, I believe) while Thomas gave some statistics about how fast Essbase is.

Thomas is now talking about Oracle EPM Architect (note that there's no "Hyperion" anywhere in the name), Oracle Hyperion Planning, Oracle Hyperion Profitabiltiy and Cost Management, Oracle Hyperion Financial Management, Oracle Hyperion Financial Reporting, 

He just said that one of the new features of Hyperion Planning are the Workforce planning and CapEx Planning modules.  No, these have been around since System 9.3 (and earlier, in the case of Workforce).  I wonder who vetted this speech?  Weird.

Rich Clayton came out again.  This time he's talking about integrating Oracle eBusiness Suite and Oracle Hyperion Financial Management.  He started off in Hyperion Financial Reporting and talked about the new annotations available in Financial Reporting 11x.  He then jumped over to HFM, right-clicked on a number, and jumped out to Hyperion FDQM.  He then clicked on a transaction in FDQM and jumped out to Oracle eBusiness Suite.  That's remarkably powerful integration.  I'd like to see this same capability for other GLs (notably, SAP).

Rich is now demonstrating PowerPoint.  No, not PowerPoint slides; he's showing how to access Hyperion Planning data from inside PowerPoint (via Smart View).  He just jumped from PowerPoint over to Excel to show Smart View in Excel.  He's now showing a brief demo of Hyperion Profitability.

Did I mention I'm impressed that all of Kurian's demos so far have been about Hyperion products (and in some cases, how they integrate with OBIEE)?  It gives me a warm feeling inside.  Rich just left to a third round of applause.

I would like to advise the Oracle keynote speakers (all the speakers, actually) to add some humor to their presentations.  Don't be so dry: people are more receptive to information when they're having fun, smiling, and not falling asleep.  I haven't the audience laugh in at least an hour, and that's not good.  By the end of the keynote, half the room had left.  Not a good sign, so make it more interesting, for your sake and ours.  Maybe all of the top people from Oracle could get together and write a wacky musical about the software industry?

While we're being critical of speakers, may I also advise that the keynote speakers not read everything off teleprompters?  First of all, it's weird to see all of the keynoters looking down at their feet (where the teleprompter screens are) half the time.  Second of all, if you're reading, you're not being spontaneous.  You can't react to your audience.  If your audience is bored with what you're saying, you can't try a different approach, because you're a slave to the prompting gods.  If you're worried about forgetting where you are, may I suggest you have the teleprompter just show you the bullets you want to be covering?  Or you could memorize your talking points, perhaps.  I'm just saying.

In case you're wondering why I've stopped blogging about what's actually going on in the room around me, it's because Thomas Kurian has switched from BI/EPM to the other fusion technologies.  While those are probably great fun at parties (and they have great personalities), I'm not terribly concerned with those other products.

There's a demo going on right now of Oracle Beehive (catchy, eh?) which Oracle describes thus: "Oracle Beehive provides a centralized, secure and auditable collaboration platform that helps organizations reduce the cost and complexity of regulatory compliance and legal discovery."  If you have any idea what means, please feel free to send an e-mail to  It seems to be about increasing collaboration (via e-mail, IM, wikis, portals, mobile phones, or whatever) across a company.  Think "Web 2.0 but focused within a company."  Now why couldn't the Oracle marketing department just say that?

Speaking of marketing, Oracle just issued a press release about customers who have "selected or evaluated" Hyperion 11x.  They actually included a quote from me (or someone making up a quote and attributing it to me) on the release.  Here's the quote.  Note that it sounds nothing like me:

“The latest release of Oracle’s EPM System includes hundreds of feature enhancements that will help improve user experience and simplify application administration for our customers,” said Edward Roske, CEO of interRel Consulting. “The new Hyperion Calculation Manager redefines enterprise integration and user accessibility while the enhancements to Oracle Essbase solidifies its position as the world’s leading OLAP server."
The room is now 90% empty.  I guess that's because it's now 4:45.  I wonder why it's running so much over?  I could walk out to go to Kopcke's presentation on "Oracle's Strategic OLAP Technologies - Essbase and Oracle OLAP Option" but it doesn't seem right to walk out on a keynote.

Thomas Kurian just called an abrupt end to the meeting.  I'm going to run to Kopcke's presentation at the Marriott and see if I can still get in.  Here I go running...

3:15PM - Thomas Kurian Keynote (brought to you by Intel)

I got to the Thomas Kurian Keynote a little after 2.  I stopped off to get one of Oracle's vegetarian boxed lunches.  While the food at OOW is nothing to blog home about, they are vegetarian friendly... if you can find where they hide the vegetarian food.  The main lunch places only have meat-based food, because they put all the "special meals" in one specific lunch spot: the Sinking Ship pavilion in the Yerba Buena Gardens (in what Oracle calls the "Green Marketplace").  When I finally found it, I was extremely impressed at the variety of special meals: vegan, lacto-vegetarian (I never see that), kosher, halla, Indian, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, and more.  Now that said, my lacto-vegetarian meal was basically tofu on salad in a boxed lunch and definitely not filling.

While people were getting seated, I was treated to a cello quartet by a nice young lady.  Yes, it was a single person.  She played along in front of the room and recorded it.  She would then play it back with a foot pedal and play along live with the recording all the while recording this.  She'd then play this recording back and play along with (and so ad infinitum).

This keynote is much better attended than the other things I've been to in this hall so far.  The room seems to be mostly full.  (I'm speculating that they're not holding any competing events right now.)

Safra Catz from Oracle just came out to introduce Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel (not to be confused with interRel).  Paul is going to be talking about "how Intel is driving the pace of Moore's Law to deliver innovative solutions that will enable enterprises to use time to their advantage."  He has a nice blue background and he came out after an interesting video homage to the concept of time.  It showed how clocks have evolved over the last thousands of years and included various slow-mo and fast-mo images with quotes about time from famous thinkers flashing across the screen.

He just mentioned that Intel is working on the flux capacitator from Back to the Future (though he added that they haven't perfected it yet).  We're going to presume he was joking (but if not, it's very cool that Intel is going to be the market edge leader in time machines).  He's been talking about linear and exponential improvements in the speed of business.  There hasn't been any EPM content, but there have been a lot of pretty pictures flowing across the screen.

A woman from a medical imaging firm just came out and showed us 3-D images of blood flow in brains.  I don't know what it has to do with Oracle, but brains are cool.

I think Thomas Kurian will be coming on at about 3:30.  Until then, I think I'll be taking a power nap.

1:22PM - Hyperion Performance Scorecard

I sat in the Scorecard session for about 20 minutes.  Unlike the "BI Roadmap" presentation (that was standing room only), there were only 65 people in this room.  I was hoping to hear about the future of Performance Scorecard.  Unfortunately, this presentation was more of an introduction to the topic.  This is, admittedly, exactly what the abstract said it was going to be, so my hopes were minimal.

I just left the Scorecard session and now I'm off to find something to eat.

1:02PM - Book Signing

I just spent 30 minutes at the Oracle bookstore in Moscone West signing copies of "Look Smarter Than You Are with Essbase."  A lot of people came up, glanced through the book, asked "are you the author?", and when I said yes, they asked, "so what is this Essbase thing Oracle bought anyway?"  I enjoyed talking with everyone (I love to educate people on Essbase, Hyperion, and now Oracle EPM) but it did teach me something.  A lot of the Oracle user community has heard about Essbase, but hardly anyone understands what it does.  BI and EPM are not cool well defined concepts like GL, ERP, CRM, and the like.  Calling Essbase an "OLAP tool" way oversimplifies what it can do.  Oracle needs to define where Essbase fits in the enterprise, because right now there's confusion and no one wants to see Essbase pigeonholed into the Finance group again.

12:23PM - Business Intelligence Roadmap and Strategy

I was 5 minutes late getting into the room, because the place is packed.  The line to check in to the room was over 150 feet long.  It literally went down the hall and around the corner.  Paul Rodwick from Oracle is talking about the current and future world of BI/EPM at Oracle.  Please remember that all this information is speculative, so Oracle is likely to change their minds at the drop of a hat.  For the moment, though, this is their plan.

Paul has been offering up some great insight to Oracle's strategic direction for various Hyperion and OBIEE products.  For instance, Paul just said that "Hyperion Workspace has been adopted as the primary interface to Business Intelligence information at Oracle.  [Hyperion Workspace] has been renamed the Oracle EPM Workspace."

The three major components of Oracle's BI Foundation are Essbase, BI Server, and Predictive Analytics (Oracle Real-Time Decisions).  I'm glad to see Essbase in there as a key component of Oracle's BI strategy.

He said that HFM is Oracle's go-forward product for global consolidations like Planning is for budgeting.  I heard this from Kopcke on Sunday, but it's good to hear it reiterated.  He also said that Oracle's strategic direction for dashboards is not Interactive Reporting but rather OBIEE Dashboards.  He also said their strategic direction for ad-hoc querying is OBIEE (Answers, I'm presuming, but he didn't specify).  This is, I think, the last nail in the coffin of Web Analysis.  I'd heard this before, but never in an official setting.  Paul had a slide that showed Oracle's direction for canned reports is OBIEE (presumably Publisher) and not Hyperion (SQR Production Reporting).

He reiterated that the installation of System 9 took up to 270 screens of installation prompts whereas 11.1 takes only 8 screens to install everything.  While 11.1 is easier than System 9 to install, there are still some tricks to it, so don't think it's a walk in the park.  Maybe it's more like a walk through Central Park at 3AM.

OBIEE came out in August and adds a great deal of integration with Hyperion.  One of the neat features of OBIEE is a sample "Best Practices" application which shows some of the best practices for KPIs, dashboards, detailed reports, trending, and the like.  If you don't know where to start with your EPM application, check this out on OTN or  OBIEE 11g should be out within the next 12 months and it should add a lot of expansion to the existing OBIEE products to make them work better with multi-dimensional data (like Essbase).  There are more than 140 major projects as part of OBIEE 11g: so many that I can't reasonably cover them all.

One of the really neat things about OBIEE 11g is the enhancement of Answers+ to give it more of an "OLAP experience" that doesn't "flatten all the hierarchies."  They're also enhancing and optimizing the capabilities of Answers+ against Essbase.  Yes, it looks like Web Analysis really is dead.

He reiterated Kopcke's statement that Hyperion Smart View is Oracle's go forward product for Business Intelligence inside the Microsoft Office products.  He also stated that Hyperion Financial Reporting is Oracle's strategic direction for creating reports of an accounting nature.

Paul is saying so much interesting information that I'm having a hard time keeping up (and I type at 80-100 words per minute).  This is definitely the most helpful session so far.  I'm definitely not bored.  While a lot of this presentation is talking about what's currently released in Hyperion 11.1 and OBIEE, there is really good "our strategic direction for XYZ product is" information to be had.

Sadly, I have to duck out of the room now (it's about 12:20) to make it to my book signing at 12:30.  Thankfully, the bookstore is only about 100 yards from the room I'm in on the same floor.

11:03AM - EPM Management Excellence Think Tank

I just finished helping facilitate one of the two subgroups for the EPM think tank at the Westin St. Francis.  The attendance was outstanding.  There were 50+ companies there.  There were about 4 partners from the OAUG Hyperion SIG in attendance to help coordinate things.  There were also far more Oracle employees than I expected, but they were hosting the event, so I guess I'm not totally shocked.

Breakfast was put out for the attendees and it had an international flair to it.  Some of the stranger items included pickled eggplant and pickled eggs.  Some of the other things I couldn't even identify, but the people who got there earlier enough for the world-spanning buffet seemed to enjoy it.

The meeting kicked off with a brief introduction from Stephan Scholl who is over Oracle consulting for North America.  He then handed it of Gauthier Vasseur to lay the ground rules for the event.  He did a neat little magic trick with a bit of rope that turned hard when "everyone started collaborating."

They split everyone into two groups.  My group was in the "Study" room at the St. Francis Suite.  We had 30+ people in our room and I shared the facilitation with Oracle consulting honchos John Van Puffelen and Naren Truelove.

I can't go into the details of what we discussed, but I will say that our group was very forward looking.  We spent our time trying to stop looking backwards and imagine what the EPM world will look like going forward.  Almost everyone in the room participated and for the most part, we stuck to the mission (high-level creative thought) and stayed out of product details and gripes.

After the breakout sessions, everyone regrouped in the main room where John Kopcke was waiting to thank everyone for coming.  A professional photographer then came in to take a professional picture of all the attendees together in front of one of the many marble fireplaces.

I have to run now to Moscone North 2022 for a BI roadmap session.

6:03AM - My hotel room

I had to get up at 6AM so I can help setup the think tank.  Considering the time I got to bed, I'm not very happy about getting up this early.  I apologize in advance if my blog today is a bit grouchy.

Quiroz on Vertigo Inducing Escalator Rides

Does this seem unusual to anyone in any way. This is one big honking escalator. I'm glad I am not acrophobic, yet I still get uneasy on these escalators. They don't out do the escalators that take you down into the subway in Wachington DC. I would love to get some pictures and comments on other escalators. Please hold on to the handrails while on board.

September 22, 2008

OpenWorld - Monday, Sep. 22

11:53PM - Annabelle's for Customer Reception

At 5:30, I went to Annabelle's (as I did Saturday) for a joint reception honoring our clients (and StarAnalytics' and Applied OLAP's).  It was much better attended than I expected.  I was hoping for 100 and we were closer to 150.  It was a lot of fun, because some luminaries from the past days of Arbor Software attended including Jim Dorrian, Howard Dresner, Arbor's first PR person, and the person who came up with the original "outline tree" Essbase logo.  John Kopcke stopped by for a few minutes which was nice.  I got to spend a decent amount of time talking to some of our clients around the USA and Al Marciante and I bonded for a few minutes too.

After a couple of hours, Suzanne Hoffman from StarAnalytics asked me to say a few words.  I told everyone about our EPM win and then gave them some advice on which user groups to join depending on the types of people they were.  Jim Dorrian then drew some names for winners of iPod Shuffles (see: everyone's giving out iPods or Wiis).

I mingled for another hour and ate some vegetarian appetizers that they prepared for me.  They were quite tasty except for the vegetarian sushi which smelled fishy.  Literally, it smelled like fish (but supposedly didn't have any fish in them).  The service was much more responsive than it was on Saturday night.  Our server from Saturday was back and was ultra-helpful tending bar in one of the rooms we reserved.

At around 9, Eduardo and I made our way to a Hawaiian fusion restaurant named Roy's to eat with some client friends of ours.  I was worried because Hawaiian food is notoriously vegetarian hostile, but they actually have a separate menu for vegetarians.  I ordered the Hawaiian spring rolls, some Asian Hawaiian noodle dish, and for dessert, eggless strawberry shortcake.  The shortcake was to die for.  After a couple of hours of pleasant food and engaging conversation, Eduardo and I took a cab back to the Serrano Hotel.

We have to get up at 6AM to prepare for the EPM Management Excellence think tank, so I'm going to be less verbose than normal (can I hear a 'hallelujah?') and cut this entry short.  In addition to the think tank, I have a book signing, several presentations, a keynote or two, another awards ceremony, and a Hyperion reception to attend on Tuesday.  My feet and knees are already killing me, so I can't imagine how bad they'll feel afer the marathon day I have in store.

I'm off to dream land.  If you're feeling starved for more Oracle EPM content, read Glenn Schwartzberg's blog.  In his OpenWorld entry from Sunday, he referred to me as a "dry martini... an acquired taste, but quite knowledgeable."  For that excellent metaphor, I'm linking to his blog:

5:05PM - Moscone South Exhibit Hall

I spent more than an hour touring the Moscone South exhibit hall and I have exactly nothing to show for it.  Okay, I take that back: a nice company gave me two MP3 downloads.  The Moscone South seems to be for the bigger and more impressive vendor booths.  While there are still tiny cheap booths at the edges, there are some truly massive booths in Moscone South including a few 2 story booths.

The theme for this year's booths seems to be "Nintendo Wiis".  The majority of the booths either have a Wii hooked up for people to play (the most common two games are baseball and tennis) or are giving a Wii away as a prize drawing.  Some booths have a Wii AND are giving away a Wii.  No, I'm not sure if they're using the Wii first and then giving the same one away.  The second most common "prize drawing" was for various flavors of iPods (I prefer the mint).  Some booths were actually giving away money which for some wacky reason strikes me as unseemly.

I'm taking a break now to have a drink and charge my laptop battery.  My feet are killing me and I have 7 more hours to go today.  Next on the agenda is a joint Hyperion reception at Annabelle's with StarAnalytics and Applied OLAP.

3:40PM - Bicycling to save the planet (and charge my laptop)

In the waiting area leading in to the Moscone North Hall D, there are a couple of bicycles hooked up to some electrical generators.  You have to pedal the bikes to power the outlets to charge your laptop or cell phone.  They claim that 15 minutes of cycling will run a laptop for an hour.  I needed to charge my laptop for about 2 hours so I got on the bike and pedaled for about 30 seconds which charged my laptop for about 2 minutes.  While that's not two hours, I do feel like I helped the environment just a little bit.  No, there's no need to thank me.  I pedal because I care.

Oh, there's also a teaser in this lobby area for a major announcement at Larry Ellison's keynote on Wednesday.  Here's the wall image for "X" with no further explanation:

3:37PM - General Session Middleware Keynote

In the waiting area leading in to the Moscone North Hall D, there are a couple of bicycles hooked up to some electrical generators.  You have to pedal the bikes to power the outlets to charge your laptop or cell phone.  They claim that 15 minutes of cycling will run a laptop for an hour.  I needed to charge my laptop for about 2 hours so I got on the bike and pedaled for about 30 seconds which charged my laptop for about 2 minutes.  While that's not two hours, I do feel like I helped the environment just a little bit.  No, there's no need to thank me.  I pedal because I care.

Oracle OpenWorld is extremely blogger-friendly this year.  They let bloggers in for free (like they do for traditional press) and they give us great seats in the keynotes with electrical power and tables for our laptops.  I'm sitting about 20 rows back in the blogger section right now.

The first 30 minutes of the session were a marketing spiel for a company called Satyam.  They are (per the SVP from Satyam who presented) the 4th largest IT firm in India.  I think Satyam had to pay to buy the part of the keynote they just delivered.  I think they paid Oracle, but I think it would have been more appropriate for them to pay the attendees who had to sit through one of the most boring marketing pitches since... well... ever.  This is the most boring marketing pitch ever.  Wow, I think someone from Oracle should issue a press release:

"You thought watching paint dry was boring?  Come to OpenWorld 2008 to see something far worse: listening to Random SVP from Satyam talk about nothing in particular!  Random Guy recently won an award for the most boring man in the world and you don't want to miss this year's keynote as we turn out the lights to make his presentation that much more boring!"

The only thing interesting about the whole talk was his comment that Satyam is the official IT provider for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  Now I'm not positive, but I think that the World Cup has to do with soccer.  I guess that in the year 2010, soccer will need some computer servers (or maybe some wireless routers?) and Satyam is going to make sure that those servers don't crash.  What's interesting about this is that I didn't know soccer required servers.  Go figure.

Thomas Kurian, Oracle's SVP of Middleware and therefore John Kopcke's boss, is up talking now about changes in Oracle Fusion Middleware over the upcoming year.  While Thomas isn't a whole lot more dynamic of a speaker than the Satyam guy, at least Thomas is talking about something potentially relevant to Hyperion and EPM.

As of 25 minutes into Thomas Kurian's portion, there hasn't been anything interesting yet, but I still have hopes.  Several of the bloggers around me seemed to get excited when he mentioned that JDeveloper 11g would be released very soon.  JDeveloper, as you may remember from Kaleidoscope, is a Java development environment that has Hyperion objects for quickly building Hyperion/EPM applications.  It accesses a ton of other things too, but it's nice to see that it ties into Hyperion.

The reason that nothing has been interesting (to me) so far is that BEA is rolling up under the Fusion Middleware business unit, and since BEA is Oracle's newest toy, they want to show off how cool it is to the world.  Hyperion is, I guess, sooo last year.  I think I've seen more BEA slides in the last 30 minutes than I've seen in my entire life.  Needless to say, BEA WebLogic is what I'd use for an application server going forward, because Oracle seems to be embracing it as their go-forward app server solution.  They also announced some new world records for WebLogic.  

Keynote's over and I didn't hear EPM once (though I did hear BI a few times).  Sorry for no startling news.

2:25PM - Moscone West Exhibit Hall

I expected to see 3 or 4 Hyperion vendors, but I ended up seeing 15 or 20.  Some of them spent some significant money on their booths, but the traffic seemed minimal.  One of the booths that was well visited had little to do with Hyperion.  It was from a company called Fusion IO that makes solid state disk drives.  To show how older drives with drive heads tended to move around a lot (and potentially break), they took a mechanical bull and dressed it up to look like a traditional disk drive.  People then got on the drive and they turned on the bucking mechanism.  There may be few things funnier that watching computer geeks try to do something requiring coordination.  I watched 4 different guys (and yes, all the ones who tried it were guys) last less than 8 seconds each.  I then laughed uncontrollably as they went flying through the air.

A couple of competitors (Kerdock and Deloitte) came up to congratulate us on our EPM Solution award win which was very gracious.  More of our competitors avoided us like the plague, so I won't bother mentioning their company names.

On the exhibit hall floor was a video arcade.  I wanted to play air hockey, but a couple from Asia were dominating the air action.  I ended up playing two games of basketball.  I totally demolished an older Japanese lady and then I barely beat an Indian fellow in a business suit with a last minute shot at the buzzer.  After I won, he refused to acknowledge that we had bet $1,000 on the game.  Welcher.

I'm going to fight my way across the crosswalk to Moscone North.  Boy, do I love being in the middle of 43,000 all of whom seem to be going the opposite direction I want to go while still managing to take up all the seats in the room I want to sit in.

1:15PM - Kopcke's EPM Vision

I'm sitting in the John Kopcke room and getting a real sense of deja vu.  Most of the content at this session is the same as the presentation John Kopcke gave yesterday to the ODTUG and OAUG Hyperion user groups.  The only main difference is that this presentation is a bit higher level.  John knew that yesterday's presentation was geared to existing users of Hyperion and that today's would draw people who have no idea what EPM means.  As such, he has to be less product-specific and talk more about "Oracle's strategic vision for EPM."

While I always enjoy Kopcke's sessions, I'm going to sneakily exit from this room and head to the Moscone West exhibit hall to try find some Hyperion vendors.

12:17PM - General Session Keynote on Applications

I'm sitting in Moscone North (with 3,000 of my closest friends) listening to Ed Abbo, SVP of Oracle Application Development, talk about "Applications Unlimited and the Future of Applications."  He's been talking for several minutes and I haven't heard anything relevant to EPM yet, but I'm always hopeful.

The room in which the keynotes are held is really pretty (and really red, admittedly, which makes me angry for some subliminal reason).  There are about 100 yards wide of high-def screens (about 20 feet high) across the whole front of the hall.  I'm told the room holds upwards of 10,000 people although at the moment, the room looks to be less than 1/3 full (2/3 empty?).

Ed Abbo is handing off the speaking duties periodically to some other companies.  Tata Motors. Wells Fargo, and Loreal are some of the guest speakers telling customer success stories.  They taught me exactly... nothing.  Ah, well.  At least it broke up the marketing monotony.  I'm sure there will be an announcement soon or I'll be lapsing into a coma.

Hey, the Tata guy just showed some OBIEE Dashboards (hey, EPM content!) that Tata Motors uses for margin analysis.  They're remarkably - hmm, can't think of a nice word to put here - simplistic.  Each screen of the dashboard has a bar chart on the left and a line chart on the right.  That's less of a dashboard and more of a PowerPoint slide.  That might be because they dumbed down their real dashboards for the keynote session.  Either that or this is a proof of concept that needs some serious fleshing out.  A dashboard should give users access to all of the information they need to do their jobs.  I just don't see managers getting a true "heads up" view of their areas with only two major bits of information.

Now Wells Fargo is showing off their OBIEE Dashboard.  It's a lot more information packed than Tata's, but I still think it's been simplified for the audience.  It seems to be a Human Resources analysis application.  I guess if you're in the US banking industry these days, it helps to know which of your employees are happy and which are suicidal/homicidal.  Their dashboard links in with their corporate instant messaging system and their internal social networking site.  You can even click on an employee in the system and contact them through VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).  Who needs telephones when you have Oracle?  Overall, I'm remarkably impressed with the Wells Fargo application.

A lady from Loreal just appeared on stage wearing red which under the red lights and against a huge red background almost makes her disappear.  She showed an iPhone application that Loreal is creating with The Body Shop.  It keeps track of a user's personal preferences and recent purchases.  It also has some social networking aspects to it that lets a user rate & review individual purchases.

If you decide to buy something, the iPhone application shows a UPC bar code on the screen.  The consumer then holds the iPhone window with the code up at the store to a cashier who scans it and gives the customer their purchase.  It's a cute Web 2.0 application, and since it's on the iPhone (my favorite gadget of the moment), I'm sold.  Oh, what the heck does this have to do with Oracle?  I wondered myself until Loreal mentioned that their iPhone was talking to Oracle CRM and other Oracle databases behind the scenes to power their iPhone application.

Ed's now talking about the iPhone application "Oracle Business Indicators" which lets you look at OBIEE information on your iPhone.  He also talked about adding a new iPhone application to allow approvals via an iPhone (you might be asked to approve an invoice, for example).  There are also sales and forecasting iPhone apps in development.  It seems that Oracle wants to make information available no matter how a user wants to access it (Windows thick client, web browser, Google search, iPhone, Blackberry, or whatever).

It's over and people are flooding out.  On to the next event!

11:15AM - EPM Management Excellence Think Tank planning session

As I mentioned earlier, I'm one of the facilitators for a think tank that Oracle's putting together on coming up with the future of EPM.  The actual meeting is Tuesday morning, but there was a planning session today from 10-11AM.  The setting for the meeting is a gorgeous suite of rooms at the Westin St. Francis.

The area where we'll be holding our meetings is aptly named the "St. Francis Suite" and it's actually 3 large rooms, a large foyer, and restrooms.  The whole setting seems like something straight out of a turn of the century mansion: there's wood paneling, marble fireplaces, chandeliers, and high ceilings everywhere.  We're starting off in the main room and then breaking the group in half and moving to the "Study" and "Library" rooms.  I'm facilitating the "Study" group.  Eduardo Quiroz has also been recruited to be to the official photographer for the whole think tank.

11:00AM - Charles Phillips Keynote

I just got a report from Michael and Eduardo who attended the keynote (in my absence) from Charles Phillips, Oracle's president.  Mr. Phillips talked about how much the last year has been a "year of innovation" for Oracle.  Charles gave some interesteing statistics about the size of Oracle such as they have 3,000 products, 20,000 developers, 30,000 servers, and nightly run 300,000 test scripts. Charlie also added that Oracle has over 1,200 patents and over 85,000 employees worldwide.  

After Chuck finished speaking, Michael Phelps came out on stage for a quick hello.  Thankfully, he was not in speedos.  After that, there were a few other speakers none of which said anything relevant to EPM.

9:08AM - Last Night's Keynote

I talked to a couple of the ~10,000 people that went to the Oracle opening night keynote.  There was apparently no relevant Hyperion/EPM information (not that we thought there would be), but it sounds like it was really funny.  ChannelWeb blogged some of the best of Mary Matalin and James Carville's one-liners (mostly of the "zinging the other person and/or political party persuasion"):

There was also a bit of self-deprecating humor (mostly from Carville).  Here's Carville on Carville:

Gavin Newsom is the nation's handsomest mayor. ...What they said about me is, 'Carville looks like someone who was sired out of the love scene in the film Deliverance.'

9:00AM - Hotel room

I finally fell asleep around 7AM.  When I couldn't sleep, I decided to write a press release about the Titan Awards.  Oracle also has a issued a press release listing all the Titan Award winners (interRel is about 1/3 of the way down the release).

I'm skipping the Phillips keynote, and no, it's not because I'm tired.  Sleep is for wimps!  No, I'm skipping because I have to go to the Westin St. Francis to meet with some Oracle folks at 10AM.  I'm one of the facilitators at an EPM Management Excellence think tank on Tuesday morning, and we need to have a pre-planning meeting.  All of our schedules is so busy that we only have "free time" during keynote sessions.  Other than those times, at least one of us has a presentation, meeting, or some other event we can't change.

Michael and Eduardo are at the keynote right now taking good notes.  I'll post the highlights if they report any back that Oracle doesn't put out in a press release.  In the meantime, I need to hurry, get dressed, and head over to Union Square to the Westin.