January 16, 2009

#1. Release of Oracle EPM, Fusion Edition (Hyperion 11x!)

In 2005, Hyperion System 9 was released, and the world was... not impressed.  While there were some neat centralizing of certain functionalities in System 9 like Workspace, Smart View, and Shared Services, the core applications were barely enhanced going into System 9.  Planning 4 looks a whole lot like 9.0 Planning.  Same goes for HFM.  Essbase 7.1.6 is almost identical to Essbase 9.0 though there are some important enhancements to Essbase ASO.

9.2 fixed a lot of the bugs in 9.0 and it did add some neat functionality, but again, nothing was revolutionary.  9.3 (and subsequently, 9.3.1) added a lot of functionality.  Frankly, it added more than the initial release of 9.0 did.

In July of 2008, almost exactly one year after Hyperion ceased operations as a separate company, Oracle released "EPM System, Fusion Edition" and the world was impressed.

Oracle EPM 11x was the most revolutionary version of Hyperion in many years.  While all the products have been extremely enhanced, Essbase in particular was substantially enhanced to include text & dates inside the cube, attributes that change over time, and the new Essbase Studio product.  Oracle even introduced a new application: Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management application.

Some expected Hyperion 11x to be bug-free, but with all the new functionally, there's no way it could have been.  There has since been a patch issued for it, and at interRel, we do have clients adopting it, but it's still not as stable as 9.3.x.  If a client bought Hyperion today, I'd definitely install 11.1.  If a client wanted to upgrade from 9.3.x, I'd make sure that they wanted some of the new 11x functionality.  If they didn't, I'd tell them to stay on the more stable 9.3.x platform.

Simply put, Hyperion 11.1 is the killer app that System 9 was supposed to be.  It makes a very compelling reason for those pre-System 9 holdouts to finally pay their enablement fee and upgrade to 11x.  If you haven't seen the list of new features, look on this blog and elsewhere, because you will be impressed.

Well, that brings to an end my Top 10 Oracle EPM (Hyperion) stories of 2008.  I'm curious what 2009 will bring, but since I'm writing this while on a cruise ship, I have to stop now.  Carnival's world famous "Men's Hairiest Chest Contest" starts at 3!

January 15, 2009

#2. Web Analysis, SQR Production Reporting, and maybe Interactive Reporting are dead

While it's great to hear that Financial Reporting, Smart View, and Workspace are continuing, judging by comments made publicly by Oracle people who would know (and previously documented on this blog), there are some products that are going away.  Okay, let me clarify that one.  Technically, Oracle will support every product they produce forever and ever and ever.  It's part of their Lifetime Support Policy: if you keep paying your maintenance fees, Oracle will keep cashing your checks to their support group.

But there's a big difference between "Sustaining Support" of a product and a product being the strategic direction.  If a product is the strategic direction for a given area, then Oracle will be enhancing, expanding, and adding functionality for that product as they devote substantial R&D to that product.  If a product is not on the strategic path, then feel free to continue to use it, but realize that it will only be supported with limited enhancements.

And so we bid a fond farewell to Web Analysis and SQR Production Reporting.  In SQR's case, the strategic direction for relational reporting is OBIEE Publisher, and for Web Analysis, the strategic direction is OBIEE ANswers+.  Make sure you send a nice condolence card and some flowers to the Hyperion family as they mourn the losses of W.A. and SQR.

So what about Interactive Reporting?  Depends on who you ask and who's publicly talking.  I've heard that it's being "replaced" (remember that nothing ever goes away at Oracle) by a combination of Answers and Dashboards.  I've also heard that there are clients out there (some as large as Fortune 5 and no, not 500, but five) pushing for Oracle to continue enhancing and improving the product.  There seem to be a lot more people saying that it's dead versus that it will continue to fight on.  If I had to guess, I'd say that Interactive Reporting is going away, so we'll send a nice "Get Well Soon" card but we'll begin writing the obituary just in case.

January 11, 2009

#3. Financial Reporting, Smart View, and Workspace Live on!

I'm writing this entry from a Carnival cruise ship in the Caribbean.  This demonstrates that 1)I am amazingly dedicated to my job; and 2) I have no idea how to relax.  (Is it strange to find blogging enjoyable?  Discuss.)

I am known as a betting man.  This is mostly because I regularly make fearless predictions and am normally willing to back them up either with my reputation or more commonly, with money.  If someone asked me at in the summer of 2007 to predict the Hyperion products that would not be long for this world now that Oracle was in charge, I would have said:
  • Hyperion Pillar, because it's an antiquated product that Hyperion had already all but replaced with Hyperion Planning.
  • Smart View, because Oracle already had their own Office add-ins.
  • Workspace, because Oracle already had their own BI portal front-ends.
  • Financial Reporting, because it's fundamentally an "End User Driven Report Writer" and Oracle had a ton of report writers that better fit with Oracle's philosophy that reports should be IT created.
And I would have been wrong on 3 of the 4 counts.  Based on public comments by Oracle in 2008, we now know that 3 of those products are Oracle's strategic direction (which is a polite way of saying that they're going to continue enhancing them and not just let them wither on the vine).

Smart View
Back in olden timey days, Hyperion had an Excel add-in for everything: Essbase, Planning, HFM, Reports, Analyzer, heck, Enterprise even had two.  With the release of System 9, they decided to combine to a single add-in: Smart View.  When Oracle and Hyperion joined, Oracle's BI products also had their separate Excel clients.

So the story goes, when the Oracle execs saw Smart View, they reliazed it had two strong things going for it.  1) It was designed to plug-in additional products making it easy to add things like OBIEE into Smart View.  2) it worked across all Office products, not just Excel.  Next thing we knew, not only was Smart View not going away, but it became the strategic direction for an Office add-in for all BI/EPM products.

Prior to System 9, web front-ends for Hyperion were like Excel add-ins: every product had a different front-end.  Hyperion came up with the great idea of a web-based "portal" (and I do use that term loosely) that would easily enable developers to plug in additional products.  Oracle, like pre-System 9 Hyperion, was in a similar boat: while their different products had similar web looks-and-feels, each one was really a separately coded front-end.

Like Smart View, Oracle realized that the product that was more extensible, Hyperion Workspace, was the best go-forward front-end, and thus Hyperion Workspace became Oracle EPM Workspace.

Financial Reporting
When Oracle development first saw the user interface for Financial Reporting (FR), they actually laughed out loud.  This looks like stripped down version of Excel, they cried in between their howling cackles of cruel laughter.  Hyperion defended themselves: but financial users like Excel; they know it, love it, and want more of it!  Oracle countered by pointing out that users don't write reports, IT developers do, so what the users wanted was irrelevant.

Well, at least that's the way I heard the story and so the rumor began circulating that Financial Reporting was not going to be further enhanced and the strategic direction was OBIEE+ Publisher... until someone realized that there was one major, major difference between Publisher and FR.  Publisher is meant for banded reports whereas FR was designed for detailed, line-by-line, formatting.  At first, some questioned the need for this until it was correctly pointed out that financial-minded reports (and many other types, to be honest) were line formatted and specified.

While I don't want to take the time to explain what all that means (suffice to say that individual rows need individually different formatting in many financially minded reports), suffice to say that once everyone at Oracle realized the value, Financial Reporting was suddenly here to stay.

Of course, all of the above is subject to change by Oracle, and Oracle probably will.  For the moment, though, I take comfort in knowing that Financial Reporting, Smart View, and Work Space are not only still here, they being embraced into the Oracle fold.

January 10, 2009

#4. Integration of Hyperion into Oracle

[This will most likely be a shorter entry, but after some of my marathon, novel-esque, insomnia cure recent blog posts, I'm sure you'll find that a welcome relief.]

The speed with which Oracle has absorbed (assimilated?) Hyperion has astounded me and I mean that in a good way.  The Arbor/Hyperion merger/acquisition/disaster of 1998 is probably being used in business schools today as a case study in how not to bring two companies together.  As such, when I awoke to a brisk Spring morning in 2007 to find out that Oracle was buying Hyperion, I was a bit apprehensive, but I was hoping for the best.  I remember immediately going to my computer to do research into possible methods of dealing with my lover (Hyperion) deciding to marry another man (Oracle).  I think I got the best results when I Googled "How to Tie a Noose."

I didn't realize it at the time, but Oracle really has two core competencies: making software and acquiring companies.  They've got this thing down to an art.  They extended offers to 92% of Hyperion to continue into Oracle.  They put top Hyperion people in charge of BI/EPM at Oracle.  They carried the majority of the development and sales staff across.  Most impressively of all, they managed to deliver a major release of Hyperion (EPM 11x) only one year after the acquisition.

When Oracle first announced the acquisition, one of the first questions everyone started asking was, "how will Oracle change Hyperion?"  Well, I must give major kudos to Oracle, because they actually allowed Hyperion to change Oracle.  This benefited both companies and, I think, makes the EPM products that much stronger and better than their competitors.  Oracle has come a long way since they acquired (and then basically killed off) Express, the forerunner of Oracle OLAP.

Was all rosy with the rapid integration?  No, there have been some hiccups.  The main ones I've seen (and objected to in the past) are the destruction of the user groups and the replacement of Hyperion's support with MetaLink.  All in all, though, I give the integration a B+.  Well done, Oracle.  I doubt you hear that enough.

January 9, 2009

#5. Users Don't Know Where to Go now that Solutions is Dead

In the summer of 2007, Hyperion held it's last Solutions conference, may she rest in peace.  The final USA Solutions attracted around 4,500 people.  There was some Hyperion content at Oracle OpenWorld in the fall of 2007, and most estimates put the Hyperion attendance at around 1,000 people.

So where would those 4,500+ users go in 2008?  Well, they had 4 choices:
- Collaborate (put on by OAUG, IOUG, and Quest) in the late Spring of 2008.
- Kaleidoscope (put on by ODTUG) in the Summer of 20008.
- OpenWorld (put on by Oracle) in the Fall of 2008.
But none of the users knew which was the correct one to attend.  Some former Hyperion sales reps recommended OpenWorld, some partners recommended Collaborate, and word of mouth was definitely favoring Kaleidoscope.

Some users went to one of those, some went to all three (like me), but most... didn't go to anyone at all.  Rough estimates of total Hyperion attendees at the three 2008 conferences was ~2,200.  Note that this is less than half of the 4,500 who went to Solutions 2007.  Where did those other 2,300 users go?  Frankly, they stayed home.  Considering Solutions was one of the best software conferences around, this was sad and best and criminal at worst.

Since 2008 was a year of complete disarray in the conference community, most people stayed away, waiting to see which conference would win.  From everything none of the three will be emerging as the clear winner.  I see the user community going to all three conferences depending on the type of users.

I really didn't like this conference in 2008, and I've become less enamored with it as time's gone on (and no, it's not just because they had the worst food I've seen since the "please sir, may I have more gruel?" scene in Oliver Twist).  My fundamental disappointment stemmed from two issues: lack of presentations and their complete and total disorganization.  It was partly to help solve these two issues that I volunteered to be a part of the OAUG Hyperion SIG for this year.

It does look like Collaborate is going to be more organized this year (with dedicated rooms for Hyperion/Essbase/EPM/BI/DW that are hopefully not spread all over tarnation/Orlando); however, I think the content will actually be decreased.  Last year had around 100 presentations and this year I expect the number will definitely not be that large.  Since last year was a starter year for Hyperion content at Collaborate, I'm boggled as to why they wouldn't be tripling their Oracle EPM presentations in 2009.  Solutions 2007 had close to 300 presentations on Hyperion!  Could it be that now that the Hyperion user groups have gone under the OAUG umbrella that they no longer have to make a show of having caring about the Hyperion community?

Anyway, while I hate to admit it, if you are an end user of the Hyperion/EPM products, there's probably no better conference for you than Collaborate with it's focus on case studies and higher-level presentations.  And yes, I will doubtless be presenting at Collaborate (and interRel will have a booth), so I'll see you there.  And yes, I'll be bringing my own food and I advise you to do the same.

I loved Kaleidoscope in 2008 (and not just because their food was awesome).  I felt that the content was awesome and I personally learned more at Kaleidoscope 2008 than I've learned at any Solutions conference in forever.  Now this may be because as co-chair of the Hyperion track, I helped select the presentations that I thought would be interesting to see, but all of the attendees seemed to agree.

I've seen the current agenda for K'Scope 2009 (all the cool kids call it "K'Scope") and it's impressive.  Visit http://www.odtugkaleidoscope.com/Proposed%20Agenda%20no%20speakers.pdf and you'll see that there are multiple tracks this year that goes beyond just Essbase and includes Planning, HFM, OBIEE, and the reporting & analysis products too.  Some highlights of the conference include themed days (like "Essbase optimization day!") featuring ~70 hardcore training sessions, hands-on labs to get actual classes on pre-setup laptops during the conference, and a Sunday symposium where the Oracle/Hyperion developers are going to spend all-day talking about EPM products still under development (compare that to the normal 1-hour whirlwind, high-level "what's new" presentation).  I also just found out that John Kopcke, head of the BI/EPM business unit at Oracle, will be delivering the overall conference keynote on Monday morning, June 22, and it's obvious that this is the conference to be at in 2009.

OpenWorld, on the other hand, is not the place to be in 2009.  While it's much better organized that Collaborate (and the food's better too), in 2008, it had even less content on EPM than Collaborate 2008 or for that matter, OpenWorld 2007.  I'm still stunned that this was even possible.  Again, why would you decrease your Hyperion content when this segment of your market is actually growing?

The only reason I go to OpenWorld (other than to speak, of course) is to hear Oracle has to say about Oracle.  Since Oracle dominates the event, you'll get what's new, what's coming, and what's the current marketing message straight from the horse's mouth.  If you like Ellison keynotes, OpenWorld is also the only place to be.

I see people who are used to Solutions, though, fleeing OpenWorld.  Judging by the attendance in presentations I went to in OpenWorld 2007 vs. 2008, there were fewer Hyperion attendees year over year.  My recommendation would be either K'Scope or Collaborate for 2009.

Interestingly, I did a webcast last week to 100+ Hyperion companies and during the webcast, I gave a poll to determine whether users would be going to Collaborate, K'Scope, or OpenWorld in 2009.  67% of the people on the survey said they were planning to attend... Kaleidoscope.

January 7, 2009

#6. Disbanding of the Hyperion User Groups

The polite way to refer to the Hyperion User Groups (adorably referred to as the "HUGs") pre-Oracle merger was... decentralized.  There was no common organizing body (unless you count Hyperion offering to help fund some of the HUGs in some areas).  The HUGs just operated as 25+ regional entities with no coordination between them.  Even though there was no central governing organization, all the HUGs held meetings with invited speakers on Hyperion topics, Oracle would frequently speak along with clients and vendors, and in general, dues weren't charged (although their were a couple of notable exceptions like Michigan's annual HUG event).

This led to some interesting regional differences between the HUGs.  Some areas like Southern California didn't have a HUG to speak of (for the last few years, at least).  The last time SoCal tried to hold a HUG meeting, twelve people attended.  In all of Southern California, home to one of the largest concentrations of Hyperion clients in the USA, twelve people made it to their last user group meeting.

Other areas had very strong HUGs that met quarterly.  In North Texas, the quarterly meetings attracted anywhere between 50 and 120 people depending on who was speaking.  South Texas also had a strong HUG that attracted roughly the same numbers every quarter.  Even smaller Hyperion communities like Iowa, Michigan, and upstate New Jersey still managed to put on an annual user group meeting that attracted up to 50 people.

Some of the HUGs were controlled by users, whereas others were dominated by consulting companies, but at least they were holding meetings.  All told, across the 25+ HUGs, you could pretty much find a user group meeting somewhere in the USA at least once a week if you were a HUG junkie.

And then Oracle arrived.  Oracle insisted that the HUGs be under a common user group umbrella.  Oracle offered up OAUG, IOUG, and Quest and each was invited to present to the 25+ HUG leaders about why they should "disband" their local HUG and go under the banner of the much larger group.  For reasons I don't understand, ODTUG was not invited to present to the HUGs even a large number of HUG attendees were developers/administrators.

After various pitches from the umbrella groups, the HUG leadership (usually, without a vote of their individual HUG's members, sadly) decided to go under the leadership of OAUG in the summer of 2008.  I have no idea why the HUG leaders thought this was a good idea, but I know for a fact many of them are wishing they could take it back.

What's happened since the HUGs gave up their independence?  Some of the HUGs ceased to exist while others kept meeting as usual... basically ignoring that they were now part of OAUG.  Most of the HUGs are in total disarray because neither the leadership nor the users even understands if their groups still exist.

While it's true that Hyperion/Oracle definitely doesn't provide sponsorship dollars and support to the individual HUGs anymore, there's nothing stopping them from existing.  They don't even really have to coordinate with OAUG's Hyperion SIG if they don't want to.  Either way, the users have no clue what's going on, they have no where to turn for information, and that's bad for everyone.

Personally, I think that Oracle did a great job of acquiring Hyperion from a corporate standpoint, but the systematic dismantling of the user groups and the annual Solutions conference was abysmally handled.  While I think the acquisition deserves an "A" overall, how Oracle handling the users gets a solid "F".

January 5, 2009

#7. Acquisition of Major Hyperion Consulting Firms

While consulting firms getting acquired is nothing new (AnswerThink buying Beacon, Hitachi buying Navigator, etc.), the rash of consolidations affecting the Hyperion consulting world in 2008 was unprecedented. Let's review 5+ major EPM consulting company transactions that occurred in roughly the last 12 months alone.

Yes, I know this technically happened at the every end of 2007, but this event is really what signaled the onslaught of coming consolidation. Edgewater first got into the Hyperion consulting game with the acquisition a few years ago of Ranzal. They later swallowed Lynx and now they're continuing their march towards global assimilation with the purchase of Vertical Pitch out of Denver, Colorado. They were bought for $20MM and their run rate (trailing twelve months revenue) was about $10MM. The $20MM was $14MM in cash and $6MM in Edgewater stock (which is now is more valuable as kindling than stock, to be honest).

On one hand, this purchase was predictable. Edgewater had a great deal of cash on hand and they were itching to buy up another Hyperion partner; a predominantly West Coast firm just made good geographic sense. On the other hand, most people were surprised because Dan Gudal (founder of Vertical Pitch) never seemed like the type to sell out. I guess everyone has his price? It's also possible that Dan read the tea leaves of the soon to be plummeting USA economy and realized that this was probably the peak time to get out.

I know: Sinmax Global sounds like a multinational porn conglomerate, but they were actually a major EPM player in India and Southeast Asia. While their founder was a former Hyperion groupie, Sinmax had since expanded beyond Hyperion to include competing products like Cognos and Business Objects.

While this didn't make many headlines over in the USA, it was the first of a two-pronged attack from Titan Technology Partners into the EPM space.

This one is mildly confusing. Rolta is an Indian conglomerate with 5,000 employees. In January of 2008, Rolta bought TUSC, a Chicago-based Oracle (and other IT services) consulting firm with around 160 consultants. Rolta (or TUSC, if you prefer) bought the consulting division of WhittmanHart. Based out of Chicago, WHC (WhittmanHart Consulting) primarily focused on Hyperion although their 80 consultants also implemented some other products.

The purchase of WHC made perfect sense for Rolta. TUSC (their USA-based IT arm) was already based in Chicago so it was easy enough to acquire another Chicago-based firm and while ERP and Data Warehousing certainly slowed down in 2008, BI/EPM did not. Simply, companies are adding BI/EPM initiatives while cutting others, so to keep growing, Rolta needed to get into the EPM space.

August 18, 2008. Titan acquires Pinnacle.
While I wasn't surprised that Titan bought a domestic Hyperion consulting firm (based on their initial salvo into EPM back in May when they bought Sinmax), I will admit that the purchase of Pinnacle threw me. The founders of Pinnacle, Andrew Jorgensen and Michael Fuori, always seemed very content working for themselves. Andy, in particular, has been known as a bit of a rebel, "go his own way" sort of person in the industry for years.

While there has been some gossip as to why this deal was executed, I won't go into it here. The important thing is that it did happen and within one month, two of the ten largest Hyperion partners disappeared (the other, of course, being WHC mentioned just above).
Most of you probably haven't heard of Narratus, but those old-timers in the crowd may have heard of Data Into Action. DIA (Data Into Action) was a major California Hyperion partner back in the 1990s until it was bought (sort of) by Hyperion to fill a gap in their own consulting services organization. When they left the Hyperion corporate fold (after 5 years, if I recall correctly), they relaunched as a division of Narratus... and that division is now part of Global Analytics.

Global Analytics is a fairly small Hyperion partner (~$4.5MM in revenue, at last check) but this acquisition signals their intention to grow. Of course, buying a little division of Narratus (DIA was fairly tiny once they went back out on their own) isn't the fastest way to do it. Frankly, it's a lot more likely that Global Analytics will be acquired themselves than that they will be able to grow through any sizable acquisitions. This purchase does get Global Analytics out of the area they've been pigeonholed in by their competitors: a company that only does Hyperion infrastructure. They can now claim to have a project implementation arm as well.

December 30, 2008. TUSC (Rolta) acquires Piocon.
Most of the Hyperion people reading have no idea who Piocon is, but they're well known in the OBIEE space. As past readers of this column know, interRel won Oracle's partner of the year award at OpenWorld 2008 for our EPM solutions. What you may not know is that there was also an award given (out of 17 awards in all) to the "BI Solution" of the year, and the winner was... wait for it... Piocon. This was for a very successful Oracle Business Intelligence project they did, and from what I've heard they deserve it.

Chicago-based Piocon (notice that apparently Rolta only knows how to buy firms based in Chicago) predominantly focuses on the Oil & Gas sector, so TUSC (or Rolta, I can't tell anymore) will most likely need to buy another more well-rounded firm if they're serious about the OBIEE arena. Either way, this gives Rolta (TUSC? Ack!) another building block in their EPM stack.

Why all the consolidation?
I have two theories. It's possible that the economy is tanking and the Hyperion/EPM consulting firms are getting scared. That would explain why the consolidations have been accelerating in the latter half of the year as the economy continues its downward spiral.

The other possibility (and the one that I find more likely) is that IT consulting firms (like Titan and Rolta) realize that their companies aren't expanding in traditional IT areas. Larger firms can use EPM to get in the door and then expand into their other IT areas. Even if the EPM deals aren't huge, once your in a company, the deals can be expanded to technology projects across the enterprise. After all, isn't this why Oracle bought Hyperion in the first place?

Who's Next?
That's probably a subject for a blog posting in and of itself. The rumor at OpenWorld was that interRel was being bought (which couldn't be further from the truth, by the way). It was most likely due to all the awards we were winning at the conference and when you're on people's lips, rumors like this tend to fly. People kept coming up to me congratulating us on getting acquired, and I amused myself by asking who exactly was purchasing us. The answers I got most often were Rolta, Deloitte, and Edgewater.

So we're perfectly clear, let me just say that no one from any of those companies has called me, but I would look to those three companies (Deloitte, Edgewater, or Rolta) to be one of the next companies to buy a Hyperion partner. As for who they will buy, there aren't a ton of pure-EPM partners left. One could speculate that it might be interRel, PII, Kerdock, Global Analytics, US-Analytics, Analytic Vision, HCG, TopDown, or even the Hyperion arm of Palladium, but it could just as likely be some other tiny Hyperion vendor that's not on anyone's radar screen right now. Heck, it might even expand beyond the consulting world to one of the Hyperion software partners like Applied OLAP or Star Analytics.

No matter who it is, look for the EPM/Hyperion consolidation wave to continue.

January 4, 2009

#8. Delayed release of EPM/Hyperion 11x for Unix

On July 12 of 2008, Oracle released the most significant release of the Hyperion products (particularly the updating of Essbase) in years. And while the policy of Hyperion always was to release the Windows and Unix versions at the same time, Oracle EPM System, Fusion Edition (AKA Hyperion 11x) was available only for Windows... and only in English. Linux, HP/UX, Sun Solaris, and AIX users were left as frustrated as Sisyphus (of "stone pushing up hill only to have it roll back again" fame).

And Hyperion 11x stayed Windows-only until the middle of November: four months of daily scorning of the desires of Unix admins everywhere to install EPM 11x. While Hyperion (and Arbor before that) was often really slow with 64-bit and Linux releases of its products, never have months gone by before any Unix editions of a major version were made available. Yes, I know that some products have always been Windows-only (Hyperion Financial Reporting Print Server, for instance), but for the products supported on multiple platforms (like Essbase), Windows and Unix were always in lockstep.

One of the bright spots about the English-only Windows 11x release was that almost all of the applications were also available on 64-bit. 64-bit Windows is the way of the future (and many would argue, the way of the present) and running Hyperion on Windows 64-bit is important for Oracle to keep their dominance in the EPM space. Many of the products that compete with Oracle EPM are either not fully 64-bit or they may run on 64-bit but are not optimized for it.

As of this writing, Hyperion 11x is still English-only. Since the release was around 6 months ago, this is just weird. I'm told that the release of the localized languages versions (numbered, most likely) is imminent, but originally it was due before the end of 2008. Let's hope so, because we want the whole world to share in the Hyperion 11x love.

I'm told that the delayed Unix release was a one-time occurrence.  With another major updating of Oracle EPM slated for summer/fall of 2009, we'll see.

January 3, 2009

#9. Recession Misses Oracle EPM

While Oracle doesn't officially break out its EPM/Hyperion revenue, everyone in the industry agrees: EPM is booming.  Ask analysts, vendors, and customers, and you'll get the same answer.  Let me give you a personal example.  My EPM/Hyperion consulting company, interRel, made the Inc. Magazine as being one of the fastest growing companies in America, and we're in our 12th year of business.  We've seen ebbs and flows before.  2002-2003, for example, was particularly miserable for EPM/BI.  In all those 12 years of business, though, 2008 was the biggest growth year in our company's history.

Why?  Quite simply, it's because EPM software sales are through the roof. Everyone and their brother (and their dog and their grandmother) either wants to start EPM projects at their company (or quit their jobs to go into EPM consulting).  While many of our clients are slowing down in other tech areas (tons of data warehousing and ERP implementations are being delayed in our client base), EPM seems to be maybe the only area (beyond iPhone integration) that is expanding.

While this is great for the Oracle EPM sales people, there is an interesting problem occurring in the Oracle EPM consulting space.  There are some companies that now have a 3-4 month backlog of work, because they're at 100% utilization for that long.  This is leading to some frightful run-ups in hourly consulting rates as the supply and demand curves equalize (as we all remember from Economics 101).  The billable rates we're seeing in the HFM world are particularly high right now.

Is this double-digit EPM software growth going to continue into 2009?  God only knows (and just maybe, Obama), but let me hesitate a guess.  I expect it will, because the reason that led to EPM's spectacular growth in 2008 still holds true in 2009: companies have spent billions of dollars collecting data in databases, data stores, data warehouses, ERPS, and the rest... and they're finally trying to get their data back out again.  Relational databases have hit their stride, making EPM the new "killer app."

One job security tip for those who are worried about layoffs at their companies: get a job in the EPM area of your company as soon as is humanly possible.  Even if your company lays you off (and yes, some silly companies are trying to cut staff even in their EPM departments), you can get a new job in a matter of hours.  EPM is the only job port in the middle of the perfect economic storm.

Oh, and maybe writing iPhone applications.

January 2, 2009

#10. Shrinking of Oracle OpenWorld Hyperion Content

As many of you know from my past blog entries, I wasn't a huge fan of Oracle OpenWorld in 2007, and shockingly, I was even less of a fan in 2008.  The simple reason is that in 2007, there seemed to be at least an attempt to have some decent Hyperion content.  There were even designated Hyperion rooms over at the Marriott to separate the Hyperion attendees from the teeming masses.  While the 2007 content wasn't as good as Hyperion Solutions (more to come on that one in one of the following "Top 10" stories), it definitely was more than in 2008.

This doesn't make a lot of sense, really.  You'd think that they'd take 2007 and try to build on it.  While the Hyperion content from Oracle certainly decreased in quantity (and in some cases, quality), there were a few bright spots for Hyperion customers.  ODTUG and OAUG both sponsored significant Hyperion user group symposiums on the opening day of OpenWorld.  OAUG and Oracle co-hosted a great reception for Hyperion customers.  (The next sentence is not a shameless book plug.)  Look Smarter Than You Are with Essbase System 9 was the 4th best selling book at the conference (out of over 500 titles on all Oracle products).  The last one, more than anything, tells me that people are dying for more Hyperion content (at least about Essbase), not less.

While Oracle didn't announce official numbers for Hyperion attendees for 2008 - since Hyperion officially is now an Oracle brand and not a company, how could they? -  my personal experience was that attendance was down from the estimated 1,000 Hyperion-driven attendees of OpenWorld 2007.  My advice to Oracle: realize that EPM is one of the few growing areas of technology right now.  The more you talk about it, the more people will listen (and the more they'll come to your conference).  The worst thing that can happen to your product is that people forget about it, like, say, Express.  Now whatever happened to that product once Oracle bought them?  I can't seem to recall...

January 1, 2009

Top 10 Oracle EPM (Hyperion) Stories of 2008

Everyone else has been doing their "Top 10 XYZ Lists" for the past year, so I thought that a Hyperion-centric list is definitely in order.  Over the next ten days, I'll be counting down my "Top 10 Oracle EPM Stories of 2008."  (Yes, I'm trying to train myself to say "Oracle EPM" and not Hyperion, but the problem is that few people recognize the "Oracle EPM" name yet.)  A nice side benefit of me posting 10 stories in the next 10 days is that it will force me to post every day for the next 10 days.

Some of you might also consider that a downside.