September 22, 2008

OpenWorld - Sunday, Sep. 21

We won.  We actually won.  I take back everything I ever said about these awards being political, because we just won the Titan Award for best EPM Solution.  This is the first time this award has ever been given out at Oracle (they added it after the Hyperion acquisition) and interRel will forever be known as the original winners.  The awards were 5+ hours ago, and I'm still stunned.  I was half right, though, in that the honorable mentions for EPM Solution went to Deloitte and IBM, but we actually won (proving that once in a while long shots come in first and good guys don't always finish last).  For anyone that put $2 down on interRel to win, you just won $8,000.

Deloitte won either winner or honorable mention in something like 12 of the 17 categories.  They actually won 4 of them.  IBM, Bearing Point, and Accenture all showed up as winners or honorable mentions too.  For the Manufacturing Industry Solution award, I can't tell you who won (because I don't remember), but I was thrilled to see interRel get Honorable Mention (along with, shock of shocks, Deloitte).

We should go back in time a bit to what happened at the awards ceremony.  The awards were held in the Hilton (same place as the Oracle ACE Director briefing earlier in the day) in a massive ballroom.  The place probably held 5,000+ people.  The host for the event was Ted Bereswill, Sr. Vice President for North America Alliances and Channels.  Jeff Henly (Oracle Chairman of the Board) was also there to meet and greet the winners of each of the awards.  Tyler Prince, Group VP for Applications Alliances and Channels presented the awards.

Eduardo Quiroz, Michael Manes, and I took seats half way back.  The awards started off fairly predictably with Deloitte winning 2 of the first 5 awards and receiving honorable mention for a few others.  Over the course of the night, Deloitte ended up winning so many awards (not EPM Solution, though) that we were jokingly referring to these as the "Titan Awards brought to you by the good folks at Deloitte."  The new Deloitte logo has a green dot at the end to show they're environmentally savy.  Eduardo speculated that we would be more likely to win if we put a green dot somewhere in our logo.  Maybe the dot over our interRel 'i'?

For each of the awards, they announced the honorable mentions first.  They then told what the winners did for their clients to win the award followed by some details about the partner and then finally, they revealed the name of the winner.  I have no idea what they said about what we did to win the EPM award.  I just remember the stunned silence of the entire room when they announced, "and the winner for EPM Solution is... interRel Consulting.  Edward Roske, CEO, will be accepting their award."  I think the collective thought going through the other 19,999 partners' minds was something along the lines of, "interRel who?"  I remembered some people in the audience clapping as we walked up.

Eduardo and I took a while to get up to the stage since we were halfway back in the room.  On stage, we shook the hands of the Oracle luminaries and then they gave us a huge crystal award/cup with interRel etched into it along with the award we won.  I held the cup like a baby as the photographer took a few pictures.  We shook hands again and I took interRel's newest child (the award, I mean) back to our seats.  As we left the stage, the Deloitte people sitting towards the front gave us a round of applause.  I felt that was very classy, and I'm going to make a point to reach out to the Deloitte EPM team since they could have been sore losers but instead were gracious in defeat.  That's the type of people I want to work with.

When we got back to our seats, a few people around us gave us high fives and said congratulatory things.  We sat patiently through a few more awards and were pleased to see our logo on the screen as one of the three finalists for the Manufacturing Industry Solution award.

After the ceremony, there was a reception at the back of the ballroom.  We mingled for a bit.  I carried around the award cup like a proud papa (yes, I do realize that it's a piece of crystal and not a real baby: I'm not that delusional) as I walked around not finding anything to eat.

We ditched the reception after introducing some of our competitors to little Baby Award.  We ended up over at the restaurant at the Serrano Hotel.  I had potato & leek soup, tofu with Thai chili sauce, and a tempura banana split.  While it was a lot of food, I'm still hungry.  Until this meal, all I had eaten today was a granola bar and a banana.  My conference diet is starting in earnest.

Today was a whirlwind.  It started at 9ish with the ACE Director briefing and has been going non-stop ever since.  Tomorrow will be just as busy.  The first keynote of the day is at 9AM from Charles Phillips, Oracle's president.  I then have non-stop events (some overlapping) until midnight.  I'm hoping to get some blogging in during the middle.

Did I mention we won the award for best EPM Solution?  Out of more than 20,000 Oracle partners in the world, we won the inaugural EPM Solution award.  How cool is that?  I am so high on life right now that I will never touch back down to Earth.  I don't think I'll be sleeping tonight.  I promise not to dwell on the award tomorrow, but tonight?  I'm reveling.

Oracle, you're now my friend for life.

6:30PM: Kopcke Meeting with ODTUG

I just had a meeting with John Kopcke, Mark Conway from Oracle, and the ODTUG board of directors.  It went very well, because John seemed extremely receptive to ODTUG Kaleidoscope becoming the home for the technical content that the Hyperon Solutions conferences used to have.  He did also acknowledge (as did Mark Conway) that no one seems to be getting the mailers from Oracle about the state of EPM.  We all agreed to work together to distribute information to the former Hyperion community as well as the Oracle world that's interested in the former Hyperion world.

I may never get used to saying "Oracle EPM."  I know that "Hyperion" is no more, but it's going to take me some time to get used to it.

I'm now racing back to my hotel to change clothes for the Oracle Titan Awards.  These are the awards given away by the Oracle PartnerNetwork to North American partners.  We're nominated in a couple of categories (Manufacturing Industry Solution and EPM Solution) but we're like 4,000 to 1 underdogs.  These awards always go to huge companies to Deloitte, IBM, Accenture, Bearing Point, and the like.  It's basically awards like these come down to politics: the winners are the wons who can drive revenue to the company giving the awards.  Still, it's nice to be nominated, so I'll go put on a tie, shake a few hands, and try to find something vegetarian to eat.

5:25PM: Kopcke's EPM Roadmap Session

I just introducted John Kopcke, SVP of the EPM Global Business Unit.  With the OAUG and ODTUG groups together, there are around 150 people in the room, so it looks decently full.  Before introducing Kopcke, I spoke briefly about the two user groups and how they work together.

Kopcke started off by saying, "there's really no longer a distinction between Hyperion products and Oracle products.  It's a single Oracle platform (even though the heritage of a lot of the EPM unit came from Hyperion." He also said, and it got a round of applause, "no, there is no enablement fee to go from System 9 to 11.1.1."

I love how much Hyperion has affected Oracle and it pervades John's entire presentation.  Rather than "what's Oracle's plan for Hyperion" it's more like "what will Hyperion be doing for Oracle EPM?"  Here's another quote from John just now: "Oracle used to dablle in a lot of business intelligence products... but to be very clear, while all of those products are being supported, but they're not the strategic director.  EPM Fusion Edition is our direction going forward."  Music to my ears.

Kopcke's talking about how EPM enables "Management Excellence" above and beyond "Operational Excellence."  Suffice to say that operationally excellent companies focus on the transaction systems (like GLs and ERPs) whereas management excellence firms capture that data but then go beyond it to perform greater and faster levels of analysis.  What differentiates a Southwest Airlines from Northwest Airlines?  They both have ERPs.  They bought have invoicing systems.  They both have budgets, and so on.  The simple answer is that Southwest Airlines has management excellence and Northwest is on a path to bankruptcy (correction: they're already there).

Kopcke made a good point that BI (Business Intelligence) is the most overused and underdefined term in enterprise software.  He asked "if I told you that next week I was going to go do Business Intelligence, would any of you have any idea what work I would be doing?"  Compare that to GL (General Ledger) which is well understood in the industry, and you realize how BI means different things to different companies (and even different people within those companies).

Per Kopcke, "SmartView is our strategic direction for Office technology going forward."  People have speculated over that for months, so now that Kopcke's spoken, we can take that one to the bank.  Start learning Smart View and you'll be sure Oracle will be expanding it going forward. 

John's talking about the new things in 11.1.1.  One of the things I was happy to hear is that Oracle has been focusing on improving the installation from the old dark ages of Hyperion System 9 installs.  He made me laugh outloud when he said "raise your hand if you survived a System 9 upgrade?  You people all deserve t-shirts."

He just talked about the current world record for dimensions in an Essbase cube is 104 dimensions.  The record for members in a dimension is 51,000,000.  Those are ASO cubes, obviously.  If you're not using Essbase ASO, you should be.

John's talking a lot about the strategic direction for products.  Here's another quote: "Hyperion Financial Reporting is Oracle's strategic tool for creating for financial reports," so put to rest, everyone, those rumors of Financial Reporting's demise.  It's here to stay and it's their go-forward canned financial report writer.  In response to a question from me, Kopcke also said that Oracle's strategic direction for budgeting is Hyperion Planning, their direction for financial consolidations is Hyperion Financial Management, and their strategic direction for OLAP is... Oracle OLAP and Essbase.  Basically, there are reasons to use both (per John Kopcke).  To oversimplify, Oracle OLAP is for OLAP on top of Oracle data warehouses.  Essbase is for OLAP on multiple data databases and against non-Oracle sources.

I appreciate John Kopcke taking the time to talk to all of us.  I always enjoy hearing him speak, because not only does he have a dry sense of humor (a man after my own heart), but he's extremely knowledgeable.  I learn more in 15 minutes with him than hours with some others who are supposed to also be visionaries in the EPM space.  I'm supposed to the 2nd floor to meet further with John Kopcke and the ODTUG leadership about partnering up more in the future.  I hope I can talk him into coming to ODTUG Kaleidoscope for a keynote.

3:57PM: ODTUG Hyperion Symposium

I'm back in room 3016.  ODTUG was taking a break (for snacks, compliments of Oracle) from 3-3:30.  Sean is now over in the OAUG room (3022) giving a talk on Hyperion Planning best practices.  I asked a few people how Sean's "Hyperion Reporting Toolset" presentation went.  The feedback was positive.  A couple of people mentioned that it was a bit too high-level, but it's difficult to cover all the Hyperion front-end reporting tools in an hour at anything below a 10,000 feet level.  Overall, though, people seemed to appreciate the information.

I spoke for about 5 minutes on the future of the ODTUG Hyperion Developer's SIG.  Right now, I'm the President of the ODTUG Hyperion Developer's SIG (I think I've mentioned that before) until we load elections at Kaleidoscope 2009.  I mentioned that I'm actively recruiting members for the ODTUG Hyperion Developer's SIG Board of Directors.  I think we have 6 members on the board right now.  If you're interested in ODTUG Hyperion Developer's SIG (and/or helping drive the direction for Hyperion content at Kaliedoscope 2009), send me an e-mail at  After the success of the Essbase track at this year's Kaleidoscope, we need all the help we can get arranging next year's conference.

Mark Rittman is talking (in a faux British accent) about integrating Essbase and OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition).  As he points out, there are a lot of places where Essbase and OBIEE intersect:

  • Essbase can be a data source for OBIEE
  • OBIEE can be a source for Essbase
  • SmartSpace can access both OBIEE and Essbase
  • Workspace can host OBIEE Dashboards, Answers, Delivers, and Publihser.
  • Informatica PowerCenter is the strandard ETL tool for Oracle BI apps and Essbase

Mark's a great speaker (though I may think that just because he's British), but there was a problem with his clip-on microphone, so he's hard to hear from the back of the room unless he's holding one of the microphones from the stands.  Mark will be speaking until 4:25PM and then the OAUG Hyperion folks will be coming to this room for Kopcke's talk at 4:30.

3:00PM: OAUG Hyperion SIG

I'm in the back of the room at the OAUG Hyperion SIG meeting.  Tina Weiss is at the front of the room who works with user groups at Oracle and reports to Mary Lou Dopart.  She's talking about the value of user groups at Oracle.  It's boring me to tears, frankly, because it's not very Hyperion/EPM-centric.  She did mention that 5 months ago, the regional HUGs (Hyperion User Groups) decided to affiliate with OAUG.  The problem is that the individual Hyperion users have no idea where they specifically are supposed to be going (OAUG, ODTUG, IOUG, or ???).  I think this message has been communicated poorly (if at all) to the user community.

Since I'm bored to tears (sorry), here are my personal thoughts on where users of Hyperion products should go:

  • OAUG: End users of the product who don't spend time developing and/or administering Hyperion.
  • ODTUG: Developers and administrators of Hyperion products who spend a lot of time working with Hyperion.  Essbase users probably want to join ODTUG too.
  • IOUG: Oracle DBAs who want to expand their IT offerings at their companies to include Essbase.
  • Quest: Don't bother.
  • There are also a few industry-specific user groups that may or may not be creating Hyperion SIGs.
Tina's wrapping up her part and turning it over to Mark Conway from Oracle's EPM Global Business Unit (that's the group that rolls up to John Kopcke).  Mark is the Oracle liaison to the OAUG Hyperion SIG.  Fittingly, he's also the Oracle liaison to ODTUG Hyperion SIG.  He just mentioned that the Hyperion community has complained about poor communication to the users.  Mark's talking about Oracle working with Regina from OAUG (and Tina from Oracle who presented a bit ago).

He brought up the fact that John Kopcke's user group letter from the summer didn't make it to a lot of people.  I'm glad that Oracle realizes that since I know of only 4 people who got the letter and it supposedly went out to thousands.  He just said that "80% of the Hyperion users will go to OAUG and 20% of them will go elsewhere.  OAUG will be the home for the vast majority of the customer base."

I don't think that it's true that 80% of the Hyperion users will gravitate to OAUG.  While I am a part of OAUG Hyperion SIG so am a little biased, OAUG is all about the Hyperion applications.  There are far more users of Essbase than there are of Planning and HFM put together and OAUG is for application users not Essbase developers.  Maybe Oracle doesn't realize how many of the type of users that join Hyperion user groups are not end users of the product.  I suspect it's going to be more like 50% OAUG, 40% ODTUG, and 10% all the other groups put together.  That said, there are about 30 more people right now in the ODTUG Hyperion SIG room than in the OAUG Hyperion SIG room, so maybe ODTUG and OAUG will flip-flop.

Ed Delise, OAUG Hyperion SIG president, is now talking about the SIG accomplishments over the last year.  They now have 500 members, a board of directors with domain leads, a Hyperion e-mail list, monthly e-Learning sessions, a website with resources/calendar.  He wants to have 1,500 members by end of this year and 4,000 by the end of next year.  I think this is way too aggressive, because Oracle is not being forthcoming with the previous HUG attendees.

Ed announced that elections for board positions will not be until May of 2009 (argh).  In May, they will be voting at Collaborate for the following board positions: President, Member Services, and Oracle Liaison.  In September at OOW 09, they're voting for Program/Education, Marketing/Communications. and HUG Liaison board members.

I'm surprised to hear that OAUG Hyperion SIG doesn't even have approved bylaws yet, but I'm glad to hear their goal is to have them by October 31.  They want to sync up all the local HUGs with the local OAUG Geos by June of 2009 (good luck).

Ed's encouraging everyone to join the OAUG Hyperion SIG.  He just said the cost for a company to join OAUG is $725.  He pointed out that you have to be a member to be president of the Hyperion SIG, attend the e-Learning sessions, or get any of the Hyperion SIG content from the Knowledge Factory.  Have I complained enough times yet that charging for on-line information should be a criminal offense?  It is worth noting that joining OAUG only has to be done at a company level and not individual members.  That said, they're still charging which the HUGs never did, so... I'll stop complaining now.  Ed's opening it up for Q&A now, so I'm going to be heading back over to the ODTUG room now.

Ed just talked briefly about the differences between OAUG and ODTUG.  He said that business users of Essbase go with OAUG and developers with Essbase go to ODTUG.  He joked that "if you like looking at code" join ODTUG.  Speaking as someone who never looks at any code more complicated than an Essbase calc script, I'm a member of both.  I'm a member of OAUG for the business-side of Hyperion and ODTUG for the technical side, and I'm not a code by any means (by background is in finance, actually).  Also, there are certainly non-Essbase developers joining ODTUG (Hyperion Planning admins, for instance).  That said, ODTUG is definitely NOT the home for strictly end user types of the Hyperion products.  If your job consists of accessing existing implementations of Hyperion Strategic Finance or Hyperion Performance Scorecard (for instance), then you should be joining OAUG.

2:08PM: ODTUG Hyperion Symposium

I just finished up my "How Essbase Thinks" presentation.  Attendance was a lot better than I expected.  I thought there would be about 50 people, but it was closer to 100.  Normally, people leave towards the end of a session (to get somewhere else) but in this case, people kept arriving.  I guess their flights got in late (or maybe they heard that the last 15 minutes of my presentations are often the best...).

I enjoyed giving the presentation mostly because I got to spend 30+ minutes talking about ASO (Aggregate Storage Option).  I love ASO, but most people only care about Block Storage.  I've seen databases built in ASO that have upwards of 17,000,000 members: cubes no one in his right mind would ever try to build under BSO.

I turned it over to Sean Bernhoit to talk about when to use which Hyperion reporting tools.  Originally, I was going to deliver that talk too, but I wanted to share the speaking with other people.  He's talking until 3PM, so I have time to go visit the OAUG Hyperion SIG.  It's just down the hall in Moscone West 083022.

11:48 AM: ACE Director Briefing

I'm sitting in the Oracle ACE Director briefing in the Hilton San Francisco.  I was pleased to find out that the Hilton is about 100 feet directly across the corner from my hotel.  This let me sleep in a bit more than I will be able to the other days.

There are about 30 ACE Directors in the room which means that around 60% of the ACE Directors are here at OpenWorld.  Tim Tow and Duncan Mills are at my table, and there are some familiar faces at other tables around the room.  First on the agenda is a briefing from Mark Townsend, Oracle VP of Product Management for Oracle Database.  He's talking right now about how much larger Oracle's market share is than the other top databases put together.  He's also talking about how much faster Oracle is getting in Oracle 11g.

I really can't write about any of the things Oracle will be sharing with us at this briefing due to a non-disclosure agreement I signed when becoming an ACE Director.  So what can I write about?  Well, I guess I'm safe in saying that everyone needs to pay very, very close attention to Larry Ellison's keynote on Wednesday afternoon.  If there is something big to announce, it'll come out during Larry's keynote.  I'm not saying that there is or is not something interesting to announce, but Larry does like to save the best announcements of the week for himself.  Speaking as a CEO of my own company, I completely understand, by the way.

I'm leaving at noon to head over to Moscone West for the ODTUG Hyperion Symposium.  I'm meeting Eduardo at the shuttle stop here at the Hilton.  It's not that far of a walk, but the shuttle has the nice benefit of allowing me to sit down and blog more.  The Oracle EPM update for the ACE Directors is from 3-3:30PM, so I won't be here for it.  This is too bad because this is definitely the most relevant for me (and you!).

While I'm here in this meeting, interRel's senior practice director is attending the Oracle PartnerNetwork Forum.  It's also here at the Hilton (in a much larger room) and there's a briefing going on over there that is not quite so secretive and forward-looking as the one I'm in.  If something interesting comes out of the partner forum, he will let me know and I'll share it here.

At the rate I'm blogging at the moment, I'll double the total content of this blog by Thursday.  Look for my wordiness to slack off as the week gets busier and busier (and I develop a nasty case of carpal tunnel).

10:03 AM: Walking to the Hilton

I'm writing this entry from my iPhone while waiting for the traffic light to change.  I was just surfing the net while waiting for the elevator down to the lobby.  I found a press release that says the attendance at this year's OpenWorld is expected to be 43,000 people and there will be just under 1,800 presentations.  The 43,000 attendees is less than I was predicting.  I've been saying 45 to 50 thousand, because they had 43,000 last year and with the addition of BEA, I figured they'd be increasing the attendance by at least a couple of thousand.  Apparently, I forgot to factor in the current state of the economy (Recession or media hype? Discuss.).

I just missed the light because I was iPhone blogging.  Well, I guess I have 3 more minutes of blog time.  Continuing with the theme of this entry, there's another press release from Oracle discussing the keynote speakers.  I will be missing tonight's keynote (with James Carville, Mary Matalin, and the mayor of San Francisco) because I'm attending a meeting between John Kopcke and the ODTUG Hyperion SIG.

I read somewhere that San Francisco has the highest incidents of pedestrians being hit by cars in the USA.  I don't know if it's true or not, but judging by my personal experiences, I'm completely willing to believe it.

9:35 AM: My hotel room

I just woke up.  I hate mornings.  Yes, I know it's 11:35AM in my home time zone, but it's still morning, and I hate that.  Why couldn't they hold the Oracle ACE briefing starting at 10PM instead of 10AM?  I asked that rhetorically, but part of me really wishes they would hold meetings in the middle of the night.

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