May 29, 2009

OAUG Hyperion SIG - Election Results

We finally have an elected board for the OAUG Hyperion SIG. Congratulations to the following winners:
  • President: Kristin Newman, interRel
  • Secretary: Todd Randolph, Optimum
  • Programs & Education: Doreen Fox-Dwyer, Hess
Kristin and Doreen have been active in the SIG virtually since its inception, and I think I speak for everyone (with the possible exception of the people who ran against them and lost) in saying that I'm happy they're still around. Their continuity and proven commitment will serve the SIG well going forward.

Todd is a new addition to the SIG, and I only hope he works half as hard as Doreen and Kristin have over the last year as he tackles the role of board secretary. If you know these three, send them your congratulations. If you don't know them, send your congratulations after explaining who you are so you don't freak them out. The internet has enough stalkers already without you adding to the mix.

I would also say thank you from the entire Hyperion user community to the outgoing president, Ed Delise. Ed founded the Hyperion SIG back in 2007 and has been a major driving force in getting it to where it is today. As an Essbase domain lead for the Hyperion SIG, I will sincerely miss Ed and his leadership. We appreciate everything you've done, Ed!

May 21, 2009

OAUG Hyperion SIG - Elections End Soon

Voting closes Friday, May 22nd at 7:30 CST
This Friday is your deadline to vote for several very important positions within the OAUG Hyperion SIG: President, Secretary, and Education Coordinator. The OAUG Hyperion SIG is the umbrella organization over all the North American HUG (Hyperion User Groups) so their leadership is essential if we don't want the HUGs to die off.

Go to and vote before close of business on Friday if you want a hand in choosing people who truly have the best interests of the Hyperion (and Oracle EPM) community at heart. Results will be announced on May 29, but I might just do some exit polling of my readers before that date and we'll see if we can predict the winners ahead of time.

May 15, 2009

Kaleidoscope Announcements

Promo Code Extended - Get in for $1,225 until June 2
Remember how I said back in April that there was a top secret code for getting into Kaleidoscope for only $1,225 that was only good until April 24? Well, I just found out that the promo code has been extended until June 2. The code is IRC and you put it into the registration code box for big savings (between $300-500, at last check):

As I've mentioned time and and again, Kaleidoscope will be the best conference for Hyperion and Essbase content in 2009. I felt that going into Collaborate and I feel it even more strongly now. Go the ODTUG Kaleidoscope website to see just some of the 80+ hours of classes they'll be hosting on Essbase and Hyperion:
If you haven't already signed up, this is your chance to 4+ days of jam packed Hyperion intermediate- and expert-level training. At $1,225, that's around $300 per day and it includes really great food.

Content Announced for Sunday Hyperion Developer's Symposium
Also, my favorite part of the conference is that all-day Sunday will be delivered by the Hyperion development product managers. They'll be talking about all the things Oracle has planned for EPM, Hyperion, and Essbase in 2009 and 2010. They'll be showing the current builds of the products and they'll even be soliciting audience feedback about what's desired going forward. Here's what Al Marciante and his superfriends have on tap on the Hyperion Developer's Symposium Day (each of these topics gets at least an hour):
  • Essbase by Aneel Shenker from Oracle. Among other things, Aneel will be talking about "persisted calculation functionality on ASO." In other words, he'll be showing us calc scripts on ASO. You heard it here first folks: "calc scripts" are coming for ASO, and Kaleidoscope is your first chance to find out more details.
  • OBIEE by Mike Donahue from Oracle. Some of the more interesting topics include the Web Analysis to Answers Roadmap and the SQR to Publisher Roadmap. If you've been wanting to see the future of the reporting tools and especially how to put the OBIEE products on Essbase, this is the session to see.
  • Smart View by Toufic Wakim from Oracle. Toufic will be showing all the neat things coming in Smart View including the dramatically enhanced new integration of Planning into both Excel and Outlook (yes, Outlook).
  • HPCM by Don Bean from Oracle. This session will start by showing everyone where HPCM is, but it will also show everyone where it's going. There's a lot of money going into R&D right now for HPCM, and we'll be the first ones to see the HPCM roadmap.
  • Keynote by Robert Gersten from Oracle. In case anyone doesn't know, Robert is over about 2,000 developers at Oracle including all the EPM and BI developers. Normally, Robert doesn't give keynotes (except at internal and partner events) but when he does, they're doozies. For the most off the cuff information you'll ever be privy to, make sure you attend this hour even if you skip the rest of the day.
  • HFM by Janette Hollar from Oracle. For those who thought Kaleidoscope had no HFM information, this session will prove you wrong. Not only will Janette be talking about some architectural and functional enhancements planned for HFM, she'll be talking in detail about the new financial close and disclosure management modules for HFM.
  • Planning by Shankar Viswanathan from Oracle. The Planning roadmap may be the most impressive of all. By the end of 2010, Hyperion Planning will not only be the most scalable, but also it will be the most functionality rich planning product on the market. True workflow, anyone?
In case anyone's curious, if you aren't at the Sunday session in person, you won't be able to get any of that information. It's only for people physically there at the symposium and there definitely won't be PowerPoints about it on the internet later.

Again, the code to get the discount is IRC and it's been extended to June 2. Feel free to forward this code on to your friends (I'm making an assumption here) because the code really isn't all that secret anymore. I hope to see you there at the end of June!

May 14, 2009

Essbase Classes by Edward

In case anyone wants to attend, I'm teaching my annual class on Oracle Essbase Design & Optimization on May 28-29 at our Ballpark offices in Dallas, Texas. It was originally supposed to be the week before, but I asked that it get moved back a week so I could personally teach the class. The class will cover Essbase versions 7, 9, and 11, since most design tips are the same across all the versions. Here's the description:
This training course will teach you the steps effectively design and optimize your Essbase environment. We’ll review design best practices used by the consultants to improve the end user experience and make your life easier as an Essbase administrator. We’ll cover how you can improve system performance by an order of magnitude as well as how you can realize faster dimension builds, speedier data loads, and blazingly fast calculations by modifying caches, configuration settings, calculation commands, outline optimizations and more. This knowledge is gained through material review and hands on exercises. This course is recommended for Essbase administrators and developers.
The class is only $1,500 for both days and there are spots available. If you want to sign up, e-mail Danielle White, interRel's Director of Client Education. As a bonus, if you get in early enough on the night of May 27, you can watch the Texas Rangers play the New York Yankees from our balcony in the outfield of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. This is a sold out game, and it should be a great one.

Calc Scripts for Mere Mortals
Oh, I almost forgot. I'm also teaching my annual class on Essbase Calc Scripts at our Ballpark offices on the 12th of June. It's only a one day class, so if you don't want to fly in just for this class, we can make arrangements for you to participate remotely. If you've always wanted to learn more about Essbase BSO Calc Scripts, this is your one-day chance. Yes, there is also a baseball game that day, so if you're a Dodgers fan come in person and stay around after the class to watch the Rangers take on Los Angeles. After the game, there will even be a remarkably impressive fireworks show. All that for only $750? Money well spent, people.

Brighton's Biggest Bi Event

Here's the brand-new shirt I got here in Brighton. Notice it even has my name on it:

When I decided to wear my shirt from the Rittman Mead BI Forum around Brighton last night, I was unaware of two things:
  1. "BI" means one thing to a techie and another thing entirely to the world at large.
  2. Brighton is home to the largest gay, lesbian, and transgendered community in England.

May 13, 2009

BI Forum in England

I'm here in sunny (well, rainy, to be honest) Brighton, England after a near 24-hour trip from Dallas, Texas. The view out my window is of the ocean (and both a carnival pier and a burned down pier) and it's stunningly beautiful. It's about 11:30PM here in Brighton, and my screwed up inner clock just woke me up for the day. Who needs jet lag: just wake up and go to sleep by your internal clock, time zones be damned.

I'm here to speak at an event Mark Rittman's company is putting on. They've invited people from around the world including some from as far away as
India and the United States (that'd be me from the USA). We're all going to be talking about Oracle EPM and BI. Though they do tend to skew more towards OBIEE and Oracle OLAP, there are two presentations on Essbase. I'm doing one on the inner workings of Essbase which is basically a "How Essbase Thinks" presentation but taken down to a slightly lower level due to the expert-level of the audience.

I'm looking forward to getting grilled during my session as the attendees play a rousing version of "Stump the Speaker." [Is it weird to look forward to that sort of thing? Discuss Edward's potential mental issues in the comments.] The schedule for the next two days is fairly comprehensive and includes speakers from Oracle as well as the partner community (and maybe a customer or two):

May 14

  • Craig Stewart : “Pure Oracle - New BI Applications with Oracle Data Integrator”
  • Edward Roske : “The Internal Workings of Essbase”
  • Mark Rittman : “Optimizing the Oracle BI Apps using Oracle Data Warehousing Features”
  • John Minkjan : “OBIEE Cache Management”
  • Venkat Janakiraman : “OBIEE and Essbase Security Integration”
  • Adam Bloom : “How to Blow Up the BI Server - A Case Study for Diagnosis of Performance Issues “
  • Andreas Nobbmann : “Scripting OBIEE - Is UDML and XML all you need?”

May 15

  • Mike Durran : “Oracle BI Roadmap & Strategy”
  • Emiel van Bockel : “OBIEE - The Rising Sun to Leave Stars and Snow Behind”
  • Daan Bakboord : “Oracle BI EE and Mapviewer”
  • Gerard Braat : “Understanding the Oracle BI EE Server Engine - Mastering the Random Request”
  • Adrian Ward : “OBIEE Global Implementations”
  • Antony Heljula : “Oracle BI & SOA Integration”
  • Peter Brink : “Integrating Cube Organized MVs into a Data Warehouse Environment”
If anything interesting comes up, I'll be sure to mention it. My presentation is in less than 12 hours, so now I just need to figure out if I should force my body to try to sleep or just stay up all night?

May 8, 2009

Collaborate - Wrapup

Picture of Collaborate boxed lunch, compliments of Eric Helmer.

My apologies to those who were following throughout each day, but this post will suffice to wrap up the conference for me. In case you're wondering why I decided to stop blogging during each day, it's because nothing interesting was happening.

Boring conference. Good or bad? Discuss.

This must be one of the most boring, underattended conferences I've ever seen. Let's start with the boring part. There's no news to be had at this conference. No one is breaking big stories or making huge press releases. Controversy is sorely absent and no one is announcing major decisions. The most interesting pseudo-news story of the conference was the possible creation of a second Solutions conference, but it's really only an idea right now.

For us bloggers looking for interesting topics, there's little to be had. You can only write about the food not being fit to feed pigs (lest the SPCA get upset about cruelty to animals) before you start to feel you've covered it. Charles Phillips said during his keynote that Oracle will start to make some product announcements at Collaborate, so maybe it'll be better in 2010.

Education level dropping to critical levels, Captain.

There are those who come to conferences to learn and being entertained is low on the priority list. For those, I don't know about the other tracks, but the Hyperion track didn't offer great educational opportunities. The number of total presentations on Hyperion was less than 100 (compared to close to 300 in the Solutions days), so even the presentations that weren't infomercials (and there were some annoyingly bad consulting company infomercials) could only cover so much. The number of Essbase presentations (less than 10?) was sadly pitiful considering the number of Essbase users world-wide is into the millions.

Normally, the interRel presentations can be counted on for some detailed training material, but since there were so many Hyperion products to cover and only a handful of slots allocated to each product, even our presenters were forced to go broad but not deep. [Side note: we did have a number of Hyperion-centric attendees who started just going to interRel presentations. I really think this is cool, by the way. interRel fan club in the making?] Simply put, to provide a solid educational opportunity, they need to have a whole lot more sessions (a la, Hyperion Solutions conferences) or only focus on the key products and go really deep (a la, ODTUG Kaleidoscope conferences).

Where have all the people gone?

This may be the only large conference I've ever attended where no one will go on record with the attendance numbers. I'll give you an example. Here's Ray Payne (who's a decently nice guy, by the way, and if he resurrects Solutions will be my hero) responding to a question about attendance numbers from Collaborate:

That's actually a good question. We knew that we were going to be down in attendance. I have traveled over the country in the past four months and attended several other events, saw what was happening, and we were planning for it. The good news is that we saw a last-minute up-tick. I don't have the final numbers, but we actually had, from my understanding, a good number of walk-ons. So we were pleasantly surprised.

Well, it's understandable that OAUG doesn't have any numbers, because this interview was completed well before the conference began... oops, correction, it was done on Wednesday, May 6, the last full day of the conference. Apparently they had difficulty counting all the Orlando residents who were walking by the convention center, saw someone was holding a conference, and decided to come in to buy a last minute pass. When they finish counting all these impulse buyers, we should see final numbers. Until then, I'm forced to go on things people have said unofficially as well as my own impressions. If anyone has official numbers, please send them to me and I will immediately update them here, because I don't want to be the source of any bad information.

The number that I heard unofficially was 2,200 attendees from OAUG, and 2,400 from Quest and IOUG put together. This would give us around 4,600 total attendees, but I heard from others that these numbers were inflated, because these aren't necessarily full conference attendees. Apparently, the scuttlebutt around the conference is that these numbers included attendees who only but majorly reduced price single-day conference passes. Someone told me that the reported number of real full conferencegoers was less than 3,500. Now we also have to wonder if that 3,000 number included exhibitor passes and the real number is even lower than that?

Per the FAQ on the Collaborate website (which also humorously states "and we expect more in 2009"), there were 7,500 attendees at Collaborate 2009. Since this year is 4,600 by the most optimistic counts and a lot of people are claiming the 3,000, attendance has obviously plummeted. That's a drop of 40-60% from last year. But could it really be this severe of a decrease? The Hyperion attendance numbers seem to back it up. Let's assume that the presentations at which I spoke are representative of the overall Hyperion track (I had about 8% of the Hyperion presentations). Here are a couple of things I noticed about attendance at my sessions:

  • The ratio of vendors to customers was about 3 to 1. I've never seen a user conference this skewed.
  • Last year, I gave a presentation that filled the room to the point where they had to have me give the presentation again to handle the overflow people who couldn't get in. There were over 200 people there. This year, I gave the same presentation (it got great ratings in '08). Attendance? 25 people.
  • My highest attended presentation was 80 people. Note that I didn't see any other normal Hyperion presentation (skipping the keynote is basically what I mean here) draw this many.
  • While the 80 people was my highest attended presentation on Monday, my highest on Tuesday was 40, and my highest on Wednesday was 25. By the time Thursday rolled around, one of the Hyperion presentations, per the speaker himself, had four people in it.
  • The daily attendance dops were seen by every one of the Hyperion presenters. One of Tim Tow's presentations had 3 attendees.

Supposedly, there were around 1,000 Hyperion attendees at Collaborate 2008. This year, the numbers I heard ranged from 500-600, but I really don't believe there were this many unless you also lump in the BI/DW guys. If the number really was 500-600, though, then this is right in the 40-50% dropoff range that the numbers above reflect.

While I really hope that these numbers are inaccurate, I'd love to hear your opinions on the attendance. Again, if anyone has accurate counts, let me know (or point me to the right press release or source on the web) and I'll update it here immediately.

High points

Lest I seem like a non-stop flow of criticism, there were some things I really liked about this year's conference:

  • Plenty of space to walk around without being bothered! Just kidding, Collaborate board members. I'm sure this is a sore enough point that I will ease up.
  • Better food. Yes, I know I complained about the food earlier on in this very same post, I was mostly talking about the lunches. The evening offerings (Monday's and Tuesday's at the exhibit hall as well as Wednesday at Islands of Adventure) were very, very good. The evening desert offerings were very impressive. While alcoholic drinks weren't free on Wednesday night this year, I frankly prefer that over the rationing ticket method, so kudos there too. The food is definitely quite an improvement over last year, and I will give credit where credit is due. Fix the luncheon fare next year, and I promise to tell the world using as many creative compliments as I previously did snarky criticisms.
  • Rooms were together. While the EPM content in total was spread over 11 rooms all across the massive OCCC, most of the good quality content (i.e., that put together by the OAUG Hyperion SIG) was confined to 3 main rooms. Even better, all three of the rooms were right next to each other. If you ignored the Quest sessions, IOUG sessions, and the couple of scattered OAUG sessions, you could go to all the sessions without walking more than 100 feet between rooms.
  • Better product coverage. Last year, a lot of Hyperion products didn't get a single presentation devoted to them. This year, the good folks on the OAUG Hyperion SIG board made sure that all products got covered. I wish they had more presentations to allot, but they did get a good mix from what they were allowed to do. I know how hard it is to prepare one of these schedules, and my compliments go out to Ed Delise, Kristin Newman, and Doreen Fox-Dwyer.
  • Location, location, location. Sorry, folks in Denver, but I prefer Orlando in May to Denver in April (it snowed one day during last year's Collaborate). I know some people hate when conferences get into rotating between Las Vegas and Orlando annually, but those cities do know how to handle a convention.

In conclusion...

They really did work to make this year's conference better than last year and a lot of those changes seem to be coming from the OAUG leadership. Aside from the fact that no one really got to see them, the improvements were noticeable. I hope that Collaborate continues to get better. The problem is that it may be too late. With half the Hyperion attendees in 2009 of 2008 (and no one from Hyperion really knew about it in 2008), there may be no Hyperion/EPM people left in Las Vegas at Collaborate 2010.

May 5, 2009

Collaborate - Day Three

9:35AM - Visual Explorer / Tableau Presentation
I'm at the back of the room getting ready to kick off the presentation into Hyperion Visual Explorer (i.e., the rebranded Tableau Software product). I really am going to do nothing more than introduce Deepak Ghodke, Director at Tableau. Deepak and I go back many years, because he used to work at Hyperion. He was nominally in a sales role, but he was (and still is) very technical. It always astounded me how though he was supposed to be an account manager, he could personally get in and develop, say, a Hyperion Master Data Management (now Data Relationship Management) solution that could actually be used in production.

After kicking it off, I have to race over half a mile to my presentation at 11AM. I really hate that all the presentations are divided by user group (OAUG, IOUG, and Quest), because right now I'm at an IOUG presentation, but my follow up one is an OAUG presentation (hence the excessive walkage). Next time, they should categorize the presentations by product/expertise and not by user group (which the users don't care about, honestly).

There are about 10 people in the room, so I'm up to introduce Deepak. I wish attendance was better at this conference!

10:55AM - Workarounds for Essbase Presentation
I'm currently in the front of a room of people, and they're watching me blog. The presentation I'm about to give is titled "Workarounds for What the Essbase Developers Forgot." It's essentially a "Hacking Essbase" presentation without the hard-core slides on things like how to hack Essbase native ID passwords.

I probably should stop typing now and start presenting. More blogging after the session!

12:15PM - Lunch at Maggiano's
There were about 50 people in the room for my Essbase workarounds session, well down from what I was seeing yesterday for an 8AM presentation. I know this is technical content, but I'm shocked. I'll have to compare the attendance I'm getting to the other speakers and see if maybe it is just me.

I stopped by to look at the food for lunch today, and sadly, Collaborate is back to its old cheap ways. From what I can tell, they spend money when people are only going to be eating appetizers and snacks (like in the exhibit hall during the evening receptions) and they spend nothing when people are actually hungry (like at lunch).

Today's lunch for most was a sandwich and one or two other items in a box with a can of soda. Typical Collaborate prison food. The vegetarians had it really weird: they replaced the sandwich with many different cheeses. Each vegetarian box had literally half a wheel of brie in it. I guess Collaborate wants to go into the growth market of lactose intolerance. There was also a bit of tabouleh so the vegetarians could have something other than dairy with dairy on top.

I'm expecting that dinner tonight will provide better food than lunch, but why when we are all captives does Collaborate want to starve us? I'm off to eat at Maggiano's with a client. Love the whole wheat penne with aribiatta sauce!

4:20PM - Essbase ASO is the Way of the Future
This presentation was down to 30 people. Apparenly, word is getting out that my sessions are so good that they're being recorded for the conference website (and as such, there's no reason to actually show up!). I'm kidding, I sincerely hope.

Why is attendance dropping off from yesterday? Maybe there were a lot of one-day visitors yesterday? This requires some investigation.

5:10PM - OAUG Meeting of the Members
OAUG is supposed to have over 2,200 attendees at Collaborate, but they certainly aren't at the general OAUG session. The meeting is being held in the large theater (Chapin, I think it's called) at the Orange County Convention Center. The theater holds 2,643 and the room currently has fewer than 150 people in it. I snuck in the back so I could blog in the balcony without bothering anyone. There are so few people, though, that I could have sat in entire sections without bothering (or seeing) anyone. A room less than 10% full looks ridiculous.

The OAUG people tried to adopt a "town hall" feel for this year's meeting. It was dry, boring, underattended, overteleprompted, and offered no new insight. I learned that Collaborate would be held in Las Vegas in 2010, but I guess I already knew that.

5:20PM - Solutions 2 News? None.
The only reason I came to this meeting was to hear if Ray Payne would say anything more about OAUG's plans for a stand-alone "Hyperion Solutions 2" conference, but he didn't say anything directly. He did hint at some targeted product conferences, but offered no details and certainly didn't say the words "Hyperion" or "EPM."

I've done some poking around, and Hyperion Solutions 2 seems to be little more than an idea at the moment. Mary Lou Dopart from Oracle, in particular, seems not to have been consulted on it, and hell hath no fury like a Mary Lou scorned. This fact alone may sound the death knell for Solutions 2 before it even starts. I'm going to try to find out from ODTUG what their involvement's going to be, but sorry to say this folks, but Solutions 2 may not end up happening and we may all go back to just gravitating towards Kaleidoscope.

Speaking as someone who really loved Solutions, though, I really hope it comes back in some form as a joing initiative between OAUG, ODTUG, and whomever else wants to help educate the community. If I hear anymore, you'll read it here first.

5:25PM - No More Stand Alone BIWA Summit
On the note of product/topic specific conferences, I had a talk earlier with some of the IOUG BI SIG (Independent Oracle User Group Business Intelligence Special Interest Group) leaders who mentioned that there won't be a BIWA (Business Intelligence, Warehousing, and Analytics) Summit in 2009. Starting in 2010, the BIWA Summit is being merged into Collaborate. It's interesting that while one group is being brought into Collaborate, another (Hyperion and EPM) is being allowed to thrive on their own.

7:00PM - interRel Gets Most Innovative Booth at Collaborate Award!
I'm stunned by this, but we were just told that we are the most innovative large sized booth at Collaborate. They came by, gave us a nice crystal plaque, took pictures, and everything. I think this was an award based on votes submitted by conference attendees, so I'm feeling very honored. We won a popularity contest: they love us, they really love us!

Attendance tonight at the exhibit hall reception seemed to be about half that of Monday night. This is really frustrating and not just because I paid a great deal for a 20'x30' booth: it doesn't bode well for the conference as a whole. Is the economy really this bad? As I look across the exhibit hall, it just seems to be partners feeding on other partners. Complete waste of everyone's money.

Food seemed to be good, though, furthering my theory that OAUG/IOUG/Quest knows how to feed people when they only have to provide appetizers. Actual meals are sadly beyond them.

I'm going to Universal City Walk (Pat O'Brien's) to host an interRel Client Appreciation Event tonight. I think we have around 30 RSVPs. Are those all the remaining Hyperion customers at Collaborate? Have the vendors all left for the theme parks? If I can find anything out, I'll write it here.

May 4, 2009

Collaborate - Day Two

9:00AM - My 1st Presentation of the Conference
I just finished delivering a presentation on "The New Essbase Studio." This sessions was scheduled for 8AM on the opening day of the conference. Note to whomever at OAUG has the cruel sense of humor: I am not a morning person. I'm more of a "sometime after 11AM I start to wake up, I really get going in the mid-afternoon, and I don't hit my peak until well after dark and if you really want me to, I'd be happy to present at midnight" sort of person.

Much to my shock and pleasantly surprised awe, around 75 people showed up to hear me talk and give me support in my sleep-deprived state. The first person to walk in (who got there around 20 minutes early, amazingly) said that the only thing was going to get her to an 8AM presentation was if I was giving it. While I always love a fan, I think she was just trying to make me feel better. Since it worked, I went on to give what for me was a fairly lively "just past dawn" presentation.

I love Essbase Studio. I think that along with Varying Attributes and Text in an Essbase Cube, Essbase Studio is one of the three killer reasons to go to Essbase 11. Two best reasons to implement Essbase Studio? Unlimited, easy-to-build drillthrough reports and xOLAP (the ability to put Essbase as an empty outline shell right on top of a relational warehouse to enablereal-time data access). I think my passion for the product came through, and I sincerely hope people start upgrading to it soon.

I've got to run across half the convention center now to find the opening kickoff session. I don't plan on much EPM or Hyperion specific content, but if the room is dark enough and I can get a seat way in the back, I might get in a power nap.

9:45AM - General Kickoff Session
I'm sitting in the general kickoff session right now listening to Charles Phillips (one of the Presidents of Oracle) talk about all the great product releases and changes over the last year. Here are all the relevant things he said about Oracle EPM and Hyperion:
  • (This bullet intentionally left blank.)
Charlie just announced the release of Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1. I don't know why, but everyone seemed to be impressed.

10:15AM - Opening Session Continued
A fairly humorous man just went up to the stage to talk about Oracle Beehive. This (along with the HP Oracle Exadata Storage Server) was announced at OpenWorld. Beehive, Oracle's collaboration technology, does look like it's been enhanced since OpenWorld, and this article seems to confirm that:

I'm off now to join some friends of mine with ODTUG for lunch. I'm running a bit early, so I think I'll stop by the exhibit hall first and check out the interRel booth (3849, in case you're here and want to stop by).

12:15PM - Early Lunch at Tommy Bahama's
Lunch was at Tommy Bahama's Cafe. Yes, I know what you're thinking: yes, I ate lunch at a clothing retailer, but their Caribbean food was quite good. Apparently, Tommy Bahama now has something nearing 10 of these cafes attached to their clothing stores around the world. I had quesadillas and they were extremely tasty and original.

My counterparts who stayed to eat the Collaborate food were not treated nearly as nicely. It seems that the prison food from 2008 (horrid sandwiches with a couple other boxed items) has made a return. Blog reader Eric H sent me this via Twitter: "Wow. You were right. I'm packing a lunch tomorrow. :)" I may actually brave the lunch and document in detail what the food looks like.

2:00PM - Exhibit Hall First Impressions
I finally made it to the exhibit hall. It always amazes me at these things how there can be so much setup chaos a mere 3 hours before the hall is supposed to open. The interRel booth looks good, but the banner proclaiming us "EPM Partner of the Year" is still lying on the floor. There's a union guy who's going to put it up as soon as he stops doing his impersonation of a three-toed sloth with two missing toes.

The hall seems smaller to me than Collaborate 2008. I think the number of vendors is down due to the economy.

7:03PM - Opening Night Exhibit Hall Reception
The opening night reception had high points and low points or to be more specific, a high point and a low point. High point: the food. While I was only close enough to observe a dessert table, it was a very well stocked dessert table with enough types of candy and chocolate to make Willy Wonka proud. Yes, I know I just complimented the food at Collaborate. Don't stand near me folks, the conference Gods are vengeful and they be wielding lightning. Note that the lunch food from today would be classified by the Obama administration as torture, but the reception snacks seem downright impressive.

Low point was definitely the attendance. We had remarkably little booth traffic for what should arguably be the busiest time of the week for the exhibit hall. There were maybe 35 clients (or potentials) that we saw the entire night. The other 100+ people who stopped by our booth were partners/vendors. 3-to-1 ratio of partners to customers? That's not marketing money well spent.

11:30PM - Tuesday's Plan
I'm back at the hotel reviewing my "must do" items from tomorrow:
  • 9:45AM - Visual Analysis going beyond grids and two dimensional charts in room W230D. This is my first session at this conference with a client or to be more specific, a partner. Deepak from Tableau will be talking about using Visual Explorer against Essbase and other data sources. I'm really just there to answer questions.
  • 11:00AM - Workarounds for What the Essbase Developers Forgot in room W101B. My second presentation of the day (with all of 15 minutes between even though they're on completely opposite sides of the Orange County Convention Center) is sort of a "Hacking Essbase" presentation. If it's not there in current versions of Essbase, I'm going to be showing how to workaround it. This will either be really well attended or no one will be there because it's totally wrong for the Collaborate audience.
  • 3:15PM - Essbase Aggregate Storage is the way of the Future. My final presentation of the day is on how under 11x, Essbase cubes should be assumed to be ASO until BSO proves to be necessary. I'm supposed to be presenting with Matt Hanselman from American Girl but to some budgetary restrictions, he couldn't make the conference. Guess I'm presenting this one by myself!
  • 5:30PM - Happy Hour Reception in the exhibit hall. Back to the exhibit hall for more fun, frivolity, and maybe even more decent food?!?
  • 7:00PM - Customer Appreciation Dinner. My company is taking several of our clients out to eat at Pat O'Brien's. It's on Universal City Walk so afterwards, we'll have access to all the City Walk clubs. I'll probably end up out until midnight or later.
I may actually get 8 hours of sleep tonight. Maybe that's good karma for saying nice things about one small amount of Collaborate food?

Collaborate - Hyperion Schedule

I think I hate the Collaborate conference guide to sessions. I found it impossible to find the Hyperion and Oracle EPM sessions because they're spread across 10+ rooms. To try to make my life a bit more sane, I've put all the Hyperion/EPM sessions I could find into a spreadsheet on Google Docs. To download a copy of my handy-dandy "Hyperion-centric" Collaborate Showguide, go here:

This doesn't include the sessions cancelled each day, so if you want those updates from Collaborate directly:

May 3, 2009

Collaborate - Day One

I'm sitting in the OAUG Hyperion SIG meeting. There were somewhere around 50 people in the room (and three-quarters of those appear to be vendors) at the start but more trickled in over the course of the meeting. Attendance is down more than 100 people from last year. This doesn't bode well for the conference as a whole (which I think will be down from 7,000+ last year to less than 5,000 this year). There are lots of reasons for the drop in attendance (Hyperion and otherwise) from 2008, but here are my top 4:
  • Scheduling. Someone at OAUG scheduled Collaborate during the first five working days of the month. To whomever this moron is: this is during month-end close. Over half of the Hyperion users who attend conferences (from the client base, at least) work in finance and accounting. They can't go to a conference during financial close! Yes, I know there's probably a really good reason for this (like this was the only time the conference center was available), but it's a fraking slap in the face to all the Hyperion attendees. OAUG, this one is your fault, so don't be shocked when your Hyperion users can't make it this year.
  • Economy. This one's obvious: it's hard for people to convince their bosses to let them go to Orlando for a week-long conference. OAUG did what they could to reduce costs (including a few different hotel discounts), so I give them credit for trying to get attendance up. One of interRel's clients sent 10 people to Collaborate 2008. This year? They're sending 1. I know of several of our clients who already had paid for their conference fees who have decided not
  • Last Year's Conference. At Collaborate 2008, people were expecting to see that Collab had replaced the old Hyperion Solutions conference. While Solutions 2007 had 4,500 attendees and 275+ presentations. Collaborate 2008 had fewer than 1,000 Hyperion attendees and less than 100 Hyperion presentations. People wanted more content and when the number of presentations actually decreased from 2008 to 2009, the word got out and attendance suffered. Also, as we've documented here before, the logistics last year were horrible and as I've mentioned at length, the food wasn't even good enough to torture prisoners with. Please, tell me OAUG has fixed the logistics and food issues this year, or it may end up being the death of Hyperion attendance at Collaborate.
  • Swine/H1N1 flu. Okay, this one is a little silly, but there are people afraid to fly (Joe Biden, for instance). I've already talked to four people from the UK who have decided not to come because of flu fears. This is just bad timing.
There were about 1,000 Hyperion attendees at Collaborate 2008, but I think they'll be getting less than 600 at this year's conference (with over half of those being vendors). My prediction is that attendance is so far down from last year, that they won't even announce attendance publicly for Hyperion or the conference as a whole. I could be wrong, so if anyone sees an actual attendance announcement, share it with us on this blog.

A lady (who's name I didn't catch) from OAUG gave a brief "welcome to the conference and you should become a paying member of OAUG" speech that listed less than 3 minutes. While the lady seemed nice enough, I saw Ray Payne, new President of OAUG, in the back of the room, and I really wish he had done the official OAUG portion, because it would have shown OAUG's commitment to the Hyperion SIG. While I know he was there (which did show me his commitment), most of the room didn't know who he was. I think he had a conflicting session right at the start, but I do like that he stopped by our room for a bit.

Ed Delise Opening
Ed Delise is the current president of OAUG Hyperion SIG (though he's stepping down to let someone else run as president). Ed gave a 20 minute discussion about what the Hyperion SIG has done over the last year and what their goals are for 2009. The membership is up to over 600 people, and they're looking for more people to join.

He talked about the elections briefly. I strongly encourage those interested in directing the future of OAUG Hyperion SIG to run for the board. I especially encourage people from the client base to run for board positions: the board right now is way, way, way too partner heavy. The board wants to be less than 50% vendors, and I wholly concur. Click here to find out the open positions (you have until May 6 to nominate yourself):

Hyperion Solutions Returns?
Kristin Newman from interRel announced that OAUG is working to develop an EPM/BI/Hyperion-specific conference separate from Collaborate, OpenWorld, and Kaleidoscope. The proposed logistics put this in November 2009 back in Orlando. I'm amazingly excited to hear this, and I anxiously await more information on this. I first mentioned to Ray Payne that there should be a stand-alone Hyperion conference around 2 years ago, and I'm thrilled as... something really thrilled that they're going to try to put one on.

I'm presuming that the unified conference will include the end user content from Collaborate, the technical training from ODTUG Kaleidoscope, and the Oracle high-level sessions from OpenWorld into one. UPDATE: I talked to Ray Payne at the Hyperion SIG reception, and he did agree that November of this year was a bit aggressive. Whenever it happens (as long as it's in the next 12 months), I'll be there. Follow this blog for further updates on "Solutions 2: Long Live Solutions."

EPM in Troubled Times
Mike Schrader from Oracle (BI & PM Strategic Architecture) gave a presentation on "EPM in Troubled Times." I don't have much to say about this presentation, because it was a bit high-level. If he sends me a copy of the PowerPoint, I'll link to it from here.

I do want to point out that Mike (and a few other guys from Oracle as well as a partner or two) has a book coming out hopefully by the end of the year called Oracle Essbase & Oracle OLAP (catchy name). It supposed to cover using Essbase as well as Oracle OLAP from, judging by the chapter names, a business use case standpoint. I know several of the authors and I respect their expertise. I don't know how good those authors are at writing, but technically, they're very competent, so I encourage you to consider buying the book when it comes out (after you've bought one of our Essbase books, of course ;-).

At the end of Mike's presentation there was a hilarious (to me) discussion of "what the heck does EPM really mean?" Someone asked Mike for his definition of EPM, and he said "It's going beyond operational excellence to management excellence" and the room went dead silent. I was cracking up on the inside. After Mike's presentation, there was a 15-minute break to let people stretch their legs, network, and drink. After the break, the room had dropped to 40 people. I'm not sure where the rest went?

Domain Leads
Each of the 5-6 domain leads for Hyperion SIG got to spend 5 minutes telling about new developments in their individual areas of expertise. Hearing long-winded people (myself definitely included) limit themselves to 5 minutes was high hilarity. Tim Tow from Applied OLAP was kind enough to give me his 5 minutes, so I got to talk for 10 minutes on Essbase 11x, and I finished with just 24 seconds to spare.

Roundtable Discussion
Ed Delise fielded roundtable questions from the audience for several minutes until the questions started getting pointless. I personally don't like these just because they can turn into "and here's this obscure bug I ran into: has anyone else heard of it?" sessions. Ed fielded the questions really well, but I didn't derive any value from it.

SIG Reception
After the SIG, I'm heading to a reception that interRel is co-sponsoring at BB King's next door to the conference. It lasts from 6:30-8:30 and then I'm headed back to the hotel, because I agreed to do a presentation on Essbase Studio at 8AM tomorrow morning (proving that I also am a moron).

I'll be here all week
I will, shockingly, be blogging all week about Collaborate. If you want to follow my Collaborate blogs this week:

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