September 24, 2010

Becoming an Oracle Essbase Guru

I give presentations at conferences around the world including over 100 sessions in the last year throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Australia. So it may come as a shock that I don't actually teach that many classes anymore. Usually, it's once or twice a year and they tend to be on advanced topics (unlike my sessions at conferences which tend to be more intermediate and beginner level). It's time for that once or twice a year for me to teach the advanced classes.

I have two classes coming up and both are in November. To register for either, e-mail Danielle White at interRel and I strongly suggest you hurry since seating is very limited. That's not marketing hype. The first one of the classes is literally limited to 12 students. The other one has slightly more capacity since it's more seminar style and less hands-on, but it's limited too.

Becoming an Oracle Essbase BSO Calc Scripts Guru on November 12
This is a virtual class (meaning you can take it from anywhere in the world) and price is $750 for the day. It's designed to teach you all the major points of Essbase Calc Scripts and BSO member formulas in a single day. We'll start off with the basics but we will get to more advanced topics like allocations, goal seeking, multi-pass calcs, and so on. We close the day with an hour of calc script optimization.

The class format is part me teaching and part hands-on labs using the interRel cloud. It will have tons of real world examples (because if it can be done in an Essbase calc script or member formula, I've probably done it) and lots of interactive Q&A as well. As. I mentioned above, because this class will have exercises throughout the day, we are limiting it to 12 students. In other words, drop what you're doing and register now because it'll probably be full by month-end.

I don't know if this is a motivator for anyone, but attendees will all get a copy of the newest Look Smarter Than You Are with Essbase book autographed by the two authors (one of whom is actually a really nice person and looks great in a dress). If you've ever wanted to learn calc scripts or you've wanted to take your knowledge of member formulas to an advanced level, this is the class for you.

Becoming an Essbase Optimization Guru on November 15
This is a class I've been wanting to offer for years. Basically, we'll spend an entire day focusing on designing and optimizing Essbase cubes. It will span both ASO and BSO cubes. It is going to be seminar format so mostly lecturing from me with lots of Q&A by you. Cost is only $375 (that's the good part) but you'll have to attend in real life (IRL, for those who only know text acronyms). The class will be taught at interRel's headquarters at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, TX. Lunch will be included for attendees, so it's a pretty darned good deal. And we're only 15 minutes from DFW Airport and only 20 from Dallas Love Field (for those Southwest Airlines junkies).

The seminar will cover every aspect of optimization and to a far greater level than your standard one hour optimization presentation at a conference. Among other things, we'll cover data loading, dimension building, dimension ordering, outline tuning, caches, config settings, ASO specific tips, BSO calc script tips, and 64-bit optimization too. We'll even cover how cube design and optimization changes when you get to the Essbase 11x world.

I will be using various examples of cubes I've optimized in the past, but iI'm also willing to use attendees' cubes for examples too. As such, if you sign up before the end of October and send me your outline, database settings, and calc scripts, I may use them (sanitized so no one knows it's your company) as examples in the class. In other words, you may be getting free Essbase optimization consulting as part of your $375 too which makes it potentially an even better deal. Even if you don't send in your application, there will be lots of time for questions throughout the day.

Oh, and to spice up the day, i will be sprinkling several of my "Hacking Essbase" tips throughout the class. These are the undocumented, unsupported, void your warranty things I've come up with over the last 15 plus years. I can't put them in writing for fear of being sued but we'll be covering the tricks (both helpful and shocking) whenever we have a break in the class.

There is a good thing about scheduling this for November 15th. Many of you will be coming to Dallas for the EPM Connection Point conference on November 16-17. Since this class will be from 10am-5pm on the 15th, you can just come in a day early and learn some advanced Essbase content before the 2-day conference. And if you do register for EPM Connection Point, make sure you use the InterRel promo code of "interrelclient" so you get invited to our super-blowout party on the night of the 16th.

Hurry and email Danielle at interRel to save your spot because I won't be offering either of these classes again until 2011 (and that's if I ever get a chance to offer them again at all). I can't wait to see many of you at one of the two classes!

September 15, 2010

OpenWorld 2010

I'm getting ready to leave for Oracle OpenWorld (OOW) and I'm mentally preparing myself the same way one would prepare oneself for, say, storming a beach under a steady barrage of heavy machine gun fire: by trying to pretend that my memories of the last time I survived this experience couldn't possibly be as bad as the real thing. No, I'm not a fan of Oracle OpenWorld. It's too many people spread across too many venues with too few hotels and buses to handle them all.

So that probably makes you wonder: why am I going? Because everyone else is, basically. Last year had something like 45,000 attendees and with the addition of the Java users, this year should be more like 50,000 to 55,000. A lot of Hyperion/EPM/BI attendees have stopped going to OOW, so I was hoping my schedule for this year would be lighter. We just finished putting together the interRel Customer Guide for this year (helping our customers with things they might want to see or do), and on the contrary, it actually seems to busier than in prior years. I'm giving four presentations and hosting a Hyperion day on Sunday. Glenn Schwartzberg is giving another 4 sessions, and Eduardo Quiroz (co-founder of interRel, among other things) is giving a session too.

About the only thing cut out from this year is that I'm doing a book signing. We had 2 of the Top 20 best selling books at the OOW bookstore last year, so they asked Tracy McMullen (Best. Co-author. Ever.) and I to do another booksigning. Since Tracy's not going this year due to some family obligations, I just didn't think it'd be the same signing books all by myself. There will still be lots of our books on sale, though.

Like last year, there will be a "Hyperion Pavilion" on the 5th floor of the Intercontinental hotel next to Moscone West. We will have a booth right by the entrance in case you want to come by and say hi to one of the members of the interRel team (Danielle White will be giving away an iPad, so make sure you find her and give her a business card).

In case you want to stalk me (what better way to show you really care?), here's my schedule for the next week:

September 13, 2010

ODTUG and OAUG - New Board Members

Over the summer, the two major Hyperion SIG (Special Interest Groups) held elections to their Boards of Directors (I think I got that pluralization right). Since it's sometimes hard to find out about these elections (making it difficult to congratulate the winners), I thought I'd compile them all here.

This is the SIG associated with ODTUG and the Kscope conference. This SIG has 9+ members of their board but there are only two named positions on their board. Their newest members are:
- Joe Aultman,
- Alice Lawrence, LSG Sky Chefs
- Glenn Schwartzberg, interRel Consulting
- Brian Suter, Dell Inc.

Glenn is a founding member of the SIG who went away for a year, missed us, and came back to the fold. The other three members are new. As for why 3 of the 4 new people are from customers of Hyperion and not partners, it's actually written into the ODTUG Hyperion SIG bylaws that over half of the members of the board must not be from vendors, partners, or suppliers. It keeps the consulting companies from overrunning what should be fundamentally a user group.

As for those two named positions, Angie Wilcox (from JCPenney) is the new SIG President and Alice Lawrence is the new SIG Secretary. Angie replaces the well-respected, highly regarded, and never duplicated Gary Crisci (though Gary will be staying on the SIG Board). Alice takes Angie in the Secretary role as Angie steps up to wield the Grand Poobah's gavel.

This is the SIG that basically took over the regional HUGs (Hyperion User Groups). It's closely aligned with Collaborate though as that conference has turned out not to be a good home for the Hyperion community, this SIG has become the driving force behind the regional EPM Connection Point conferences. The winners of their summer elections are:
- SIG President: Andy Jorgenson
- Geo/SIG Liaison: Suzanne Hoffman, Simba Technologies
- Partner Liaison: Darren Grogan, Guidant
- Communication Coordinator: Colleen Pietrobono

Andy Jorgenson (co-founder of Pinnacle who is at the moment enjoying his retirement by skiing damned near every run on planet Earth) is taking over as SIG President from Kristin Newman. We'll all miss Kristin who accomplished a great deal during her tenure including organizing the first of the OAUG Connection Point EPM (AKA "EPM Connection") conferences in New Jersey in early 2010. Andy will fill her shoes well as he is a long-time friend to the Hyperion community and he is also an Oracle ACE for Hyperion.

The OAUG Hyperion SIG has two major organizational differences from the ODTUG Hyperion SIG. First, people run for specific positions on their SIG board. That's why each of the people listed above is listed with a specific position they won. The other difference is that the OAUG Hyperion SIG board doesn't limit their ratio of customers-to-vendors, so they tend to be a bit more partner-heavy.

As of the date of this posting, the Leadership page for the OAUG Hyperion SIG isn't updated with these new positions, but I assume it will be as soon as they appoint a new person to watch over their website.

Send your congratulations over to all the new board members of both groups. I'm extremely glad that there are people who take time out of personal lives to help better educate the rest of us. Thank you!

September 6, 2010

Kaleidoscope 2010 - Wrap Up

I'd like to dedicate this Labor Day blog post to Glenn Schwartzberg. He's been pining for a posting for 3 months now and after his Chinese-water-torture-esque never-ending requests to see something other than John Heffron's face at the top of my blog, Glenn buddy, this one's for you.

Yes, I know it's a bit weird to see some highlights 2 months after conference end, but it's been a busy two months.

Attendance was amazing. They improved the paid attendance more than 50% from the year before. Considering Kaleidoscope 2009 was one of only two Oracle conferences I know of that grew from 2008 already, 50+% growth in 2010 was pleasantly shocking. The largest growth seemed to be in the EPM/Hyperion and Application Express areas. Those two areas alone accounted for easily over half the conference.

No question about it, this was definitely the largest gathering of Oracle EPM, Hyperion, and Essbase folks I saw at any national conference this year. Hyperion attendance easily surpassed Collaborate and it beat OpenWorld too. As for the regional EPM Connection Point conferences, there were around 3 times as many Hyperion types at Kaleidoscope as at the last NJ Connection Point conference. It's clear that this is the place to be if you live and breathe Hyperion (and I'm saying that from an unbiased standpoint though I am going to be biased in the future which you'll see a little later in this post).

They expanded all the content this year (around 200 presentations total) and the EPM/BI content was over 75 sessions plus hands-on labs and a day-long symposium on the future of Hyperion by the developers at Oracle. There was even a new track devoted to MySQL now that Oracle owns them too.

Overall, I think the breadth of content increased, but there were some definitely areas for improvement in 2011. On the EPM side of the house, there was a need for more sessions geared to financial users. Now that finance users have given up on Collaborate as a possible source of Hyperion content, they're gravitating to Kscope. As such, Kscope has to expand to give more educational presentations to those users.

To that end, next year's conference is retooling around specific product focuses such as Financial Solutions and Budgeting & Planning. There will still be the sessions that the intermediate and advanced Essbase and Hyperion users want to see, but they'll be adding tracks to continue to fill the needs of the non-technical users. Go here for a complete listing of the tracks and type of content they're looking for at Kscope11:

On that note, submissions are already being accepted to present at Kscope11. Deadline is October 26, and I have it on really good authority that they won't extend the deadline for papers like all the other conferences do. If you want a free pass to the conference so you can be part of over 250 sessions, click on that abstract link above and submit something (or multiple somethings) now. Seriously, do it while you're thinking about before you forget that really good idea. They don't come around that often.

Washington, DC has a number of good things going for it: it's easy to get to from anywhere on the East Coast by train or commuter flight, anywhere else in the USA from a jet through Reagan National, and anywhere else in the world from a jumbojet through Dulles. There's a wealth of things to do there when the conference gets boring and they're all easy to get to due to the cleanest subway system in the USA (that I've seen, at least).

Therein lies a problem, though. Because there's so much to do and it's only a subway ride away, people kept disappearing to the National Mall as soon as the sessions were over each night. This led to a busy conference during the day but a feeling of being in a partially full hotel at night. For example, attendance at the Hyperion Monday Madness event was flat from last year even with 50% more people at the conference.

Speaking of Monday Madness, we did an EPM Jeopardy game this year. Glenn Schwartzberg played the role of Don Pardo and Cameron Lackpour helped out as a judge. We did multiple rounds and while we had many great champions along the way, the final Jeopardy winner by a long shot was Australian Hyperion Savant, Ben White. He was impressive with his neverending stream of mostly useless Hyperion trivia that he could recall at the press of a buzzer.

We started the week off with Rock Band during an opening reception in the exhibit hall. We had non-stop participation from the opening band (made up of some ODTUG Board members) through to the end when they finally kicked us out of the room. Eduardo Quiroz and I hosted the Battle of the Rock Bands and everyone seemed to be having a great time either playing instruments or mocking the people playing instruments.

As the evening went on and people had lots of tasty beverages in them, more and more participants started braving harder and harder songs to wildly varying levels of success. On an interesting note, the evaluations of the event were all over the place as it relates to the volume of the music. A large number said that the music wasn't loud enough while many said it was too loud for conversing. I guess it depends on if you were looking for a rock concert or a wine&cheese reception.

Werewolf was on the schedule every single night. There were some nights where so many people wanted to play that they ended up running simultaneous games. We'll definitely be playing Werewolf again next year. There's just something about offing your fellow conference-goers at 3AM that makes for a rollicking good time. On the last night, John Heffron (comedian extraordinaire) came and joined in for some Werewolf and even gave a couple of his new DVD's to the winners of a couple of games.

Speaking of John Heffron, the Wednesday night event was amazing. For the 600+ people who didn't leave for the monuments around town, they laughed constantly through his entire set. I've seen him before on Last Comic Standing, but he's even funnier in person as his jokes build on themselves throughout his act. It was definitely money well spent. Danielle White was the one who really insisted on John for the comedy portion of the night, and I while I normally try to disagree with her on just about everything, I have to grudgingly admit she was 110% correct in this case.

After John Heffron finished up, there was a major rush for the exits. Considering that the 80-90's cover band was tone deaf, this was the smart strategy. I'm not quite sure what went wrong with the band that night. I had actually gone out to Right Food Red's website ahead of time to listen to them, and they're much better in studio. It wasn't so much the fault of the guys playing the instruments as it was the vocalist. He truly was horrendous, and my advice to him in the future is to sing with the auto-tune turned on or the reverb turned way, way up. Next year, we'll make sure we screen the people in-person before booking them.

Next Year: June 26-30, 2011
In case anyone didn't read the note on any other blogs out there, the conference chair for Kaleidoscope is me, Edward Roske. I'm extremely honored to be selected and I'm going to focus next year on improving and growing the conference to make it not only the home for Hyperion but the other Oracle Developer products as well. My content chair is former ODTUG Volunteer Award Winner, Monty Latiolais, and my co-chair is the eternally awesome Danielle White.

The first thing I changed was to shorten the conference name to Kscope11 simply because no one could never remember how to spell Kaleidoscope and people also kept confusing it with Collaborate. So if you're looking for information on next year's conference, just visit

When I was announced as conference chair, I jokingly threw out some proposed conference slogans for Kscope11 and asked the attendees at the General Session to vote on them via text message. My personal favorite not-very-serious suggestion was "Where all the cool kids would be if they understood what the hell we were talking about" but it turned out to be too long to print on all the marketing material so it was shortened to "Where the cool kids are." Much easier to fit on a business card, that's for sure.

The conference next year will be June 26-30, 2011 in Long Beach, California. There are two advantages to these dates versus some conferences in the past: it's the week after Father's Day in the USA so no families get upset by daddy being gone and it's over before month end close so no companies get upset by finance being gone. It will start bright and early Sunday morning, so I'd advise everyone to fly in Saturday night and not plan to fly out until later in the afternoon on Thursday.
The presentations will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center. The host hotels will be the Hyatt Regency and the Renaissance. The Hyperion Midnight Madness event (and many sessions of Werewolf) is most likely going to be held at the Renaissance, so I'm guessing that will turn the Renaissance into the default host hotel for the Hyperion attendees (Kscope rate is the same at both).

Both hotels are less than 2 minutes walk from the Convention Center. Attendees can also easily stay at the Westin or the Courtyard, but they're more like a 5 minute walk, and if you're like me, exercise is something best left to those already in shape. My advice would be to book the Renaissance (especially if you're a Hyperion attendee) and the Hyatt soon before they fill up, but I've seen the Westin and Courtyard and they're both very nice hotels too. I'm also excited to announce that if you're staying under the Kscope code, internet is included in the room rate. Hurray for free high-speed downloading of totally not inappropriate things at 3AM!

The Wednesday night closing event will be held on the Queen Mary. What we'll be doing on the boat is a surprise, but I'll definitely let you know as we get closer to the conference. I'm particularly excited about having our event on the Queen Mary, since it fulfills my life-long dream of having a party on a big boat for more than 1,200 of my closest friends. As this will take one more item off my bucket list, Kscope11 will mean I'm one step closer to dying (and a cheer goes up from the crowd).

Submit a Paper Now
So the cheapest way to join us at Kscope11 is by submitting a presentation since speakers get in for the low, low price of free. As I mentioned above, the deadline to submit an abstract is October 26, and speaking as conference chair, it will not be extended. If you want the possibility of a free pass, start by visiting the abstract page to get an idea of what we're looking for and then go the submission page to put in your title, abstract, and so forth. With budgets ever tighter these days, it makes a much more convincing conference pitch to your boss when you point out that the biggest cost, the conference admission, is already paid for.

Even if you don't want to speak at Kscope11, make sure you put money into your 2011 budget now for attending the conference. I look forward to seeing every one of you and several (both?) of your friends at Kscope11. It'll be the most fun and educational thing you do in 2011 while remaining completely clothed. You can quote me on that (although it's not legally binding, of course, since I actually know very little about your personal life and what you consider to be both fun and educational).