April 29, 2010

EPM Connection - Dallas in November

Per Doreen Fox-Dwyer from the OAUG Hyperion SIG, the dates (and location) have been announced for the next EPM Connection conference. It's going to be November 16 & 17 in Frisco, Texas at the Westin Stonebriar.

While I'm thrilled to see it's going to be in the DFW area (where I live), I'm not thrilled to see it will be held in Frisco. It's more than 20 miles from either DFW international airport or Dallas Love Field airport. Basically, it's up in the upper-Northeast corner of the Dallas area, so it's not really close to most people living in Dallas. That said, I think most people will be planning on staying at the hotel overnight (it has 300+ rooms), so I guess commute doesn't matter. On a personal note, it's really close to my house (I live in the middle of nowhere), so I'll be happy and bright-eyed during the conference! The Westin Stonebriar is a nice new property (with an attached 18-hole golf course).
I think that the event will go quite well. There's a vibrant user community in North Texas (though they're used to getting their Hyperion content at user groups for free) and it's cheap for people to fly into DFW. If they add an Essbase track (maybe replacing some of the Enterprise and Strategic Finance presentations), they'll have attendance mirroring what they saw at the well-organized event in New Jersey (thank you, Kristin Newman!).

Keep an eye out here and I'll announce as they put out their call for papers and start allowing registrations.

Papers are being accepted through July 30, 2011 at:

Also, registrations are now being accepted on the EPM Connection (also known as OAUG Connection Point EPM) website. Prices vary wildly depending on when you register, whether you're staying for both days, and if you're an OAUG member. The lowest price of $275 is for a one-day, OAUG member who signs up by October 9th. If you're not an OAUG member and you wait to sign up for both days on-site, the price skyrockets to $695. In other words, if you plan on going, don't wait. Go here now and don't forget to use interRel's promo code (interrelclient) if you want to be invited to our client appreciation event on Tuesday night:

April 28, 2010

Oracle EPM 11.1.2 - New Financial Close Applications

Part of the awesomeness that is EPM 11.1.2 includes the release of some new stand-alone applications particularly Hyperion Financial Close Management (HFCM) and Hyperion Disclosure Management (HDM). These products are designed to improve financial close and reporting capabilities. Note that unlike Hyperion Public Sector Budgeting (which is really just a new module for Hyperion Planning), these new applications are exactly that: new applications. They don't require any existing applications to run them.

That last sentence may surprise some people who thought that these two new applications would end up being modules inside of HFM (Hyperion Financial Management). On the contrary, Disclosure and Financial Close Management do not need HFM at all (though they do integrate with HFM). This means you'll see, say, Oracle PeopleSoft clients with Disclosure Management that don't even own any other Hyperion products.

Frankly, I'm thrilled to see the Hyperion name in these two brand-new products. It shows that not only is Oracle not killing the Hyperion name, they're realizing its brand recognition in the financial community.

Quite simply, Hyperion Disclose Management makes it far simpler to generate XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) files which are basically XML files with some business-specific information in them. As standards and organizations like IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) and our very own American SEC start requiring more and more information in XBRL format, we're going to need help generating all those XBRL-tagged files.

Enter, Hyperion Disclosure Management. Using Microsoft Word (interesting idea, by the way), it helps apply XBRL tags/taxonomies to financial reports. Further, the tagging can be done at the report-level (which is to be expected) but it can also be done at the application level. For instance, let's say you tagged an account with a certain type. Then any report accessing that account automatically picks up that taxonomy. The product also does a nice job of validating your XBRL taxonomy before you finalize it.

While there's an Oracle webpage on Disclosure Management, there's a lot more detail in an Oracle whitepaper if you're looking for greater information. For instance, this whitepaper mentions the direct integration of HDM with Hyperion Financial Reporting and Smart View (which I didn't see mentioned elsewhere).

The point of Hyperion Financial Close Management is to convert all those lists of tasks that have to be done every month to close the books into dashboards where we can monitor the close process throughout the close cycle. It lets you track (and manage) activities such as:
  • entity-level close of ledgers and subledgers
  • data transformation
  • data collection and loading
  • consolidating the books
  • reconcilations
  • creating and publishing reports
  • just about any other financial close-related activity you can imagine
And while the dashboards & calendars are nice for letting you see what's going on, the nicest part of HFCM is that you can automate and track many activities that used to be manual. If you want more information, go to Oracle.com for a nice HFCM whitepaper.

April 27, 2010

Oracle EPM 11.1.2 Is Available - But You Can't Get There From Here

Well, this is interesting. I've been critical in the past of Oracle releasing a version of EPM, Hyperion, or Essbase (like for instance) to edelivery.oracle.com and then not letting anyone know. It was weeks after was released before Oracle finally acknowledged it's existence.

Fast forward to Oracle EPM 11.1.2 (AKA the most significant release feature-wise to the former Hyperion products since the Oracle acquisition back in 2007). In this case, Oracle was kind enough to issue press releases, webcasts, and briefings about the wonderousness of 11.1.2 back at the start of April... and then didn't post the programs for download until the 21st of April. A couple of people (Mark Rittman and Tim Tow, among others) have already mentioned the release, but I'd like to take some time to deep-dive into the new features (and concerns) with 11.1.2.

I've also complained in the past about Oracle releasing a version for Windows before releasing the versions for other operating systems. Not so in 11.1.2: there are versions out there for Windows (32-bit and 64-bit), HP-UX, AIX, Linux (32-bit and 64-bit), and Solaris. This is also an international version (that is, it's not an "English Only" release) that can be used in over 15 languages (depending on the product because some aren't quite as international as others).

To be clear, don't install this release for production. It's been out for less than a week. While this version was in beta for around a year (at interRel, we first started testing it in the summer of 2009), you need to wait for the first service pack to work some of the known issues out of the system. Based on what the Oracle speakers at last week's Collaborate conference were saying, EPM 11.1.2sp1 will be out in either Summer or Fall. I have heard in the past June or July, but the "could be fall timeframe" wording for the patch is new. It might be delayed because of the need to add migration functionality to the service pack (more on that in a bit).

Note that one the only supported Web Application Server supported in this release is Oracle WebLogic Server (10.3.2, specifically). Sorry, Tomcat and WebSphere users, for the moment you're out of luck. That said, Oracle is being kind enough to give out a limited use copy of WebLogic for use with all the EPM products that need an application server.

If you're going to try to install all the Oracle EPM 11.1.2 products, be aware that three products have their own installer (rather than using the common installer):
  • Smart View
  • Essbase Excel Add-in (yes, there is a version 11.1.2 of the add-in)
  • Disclosure Management (one of the new applications)
Can't Upgrade to 11.1.2
Now for the really bad news. This release (for the moment) is not supported as a migration from an existing release. That's any release (, System 9, anything). If you are an existing customer of Oracle's EPM products, then 11.1.2 can be installed on a development server, but you can't move your existing release to 11.1.2 in development. In case you don't believe me (I was shocked when I first heard, frankly), here's the exact quote from the 11.1.2 EPM System Installation Read Me (epm_1112000_readme.pdf):
This release is intended for new deployments only. Upgrading or migrating from previous EPM System releases is not supported. In addition, products from this release are not compatible with products and applications from previous releases.
In other words, new customers, have a ball. Existing customers, wait for fall when they get the migration patch out there. I do have my infrastructure consulting team seeing if they can do manual export and imports to get around this, but even if they do, it won't be officially supported.

Watch This Blog
Over the next few days, I'll be posting additional entries around specific products rather than try to mention them all in one entry. There are over 25 product-specific Read Me files I have to make it through and that's before I ever try installing everything and playing with it live. It'll be fun!