I don't work for Oracle. Everything you see below is what I've heard said in public forums followed by some speculation of my own. Oracle not only does commit to release dates, they don't even commit to specific future functionality. For that matter, they won't even go on the record that there will actually be any future releases of products. So take this whole entry for the best guess that it is.
Why Do I Care About a Little Dot Release?
Based on the disclaimer above, I have been really hesitant to go on the record with any information about Oracle EPM 18.104.22.168 (sometimes called "Talleyrand SP1" or "11.1.2sp1" or "The Patch" or "The Migration Patch" or "The Dot Release" although personally I like calling it "Waiting for EPM Godot"). The initial release of 11.1.2 dates back to April 2010 (yup, we're going on 10 months now) and there's still not an official service pack. That doesn't mean there haven't been bug fixes. They just slip them in as minor fix releases (like 22.214.171.124.02 and the rest). What we're really waiting for are some of the things that should be in 126.96.36.199:
- Bug Fixes. Supposedly, all of the big show stopper bugs (like some of the Life Cycle Management issues and the almost complete unusability of the EAS fat client) are fixed in this release.
- Migration. 188.8.131.52 was released with no migration tools from earlier releases. It was what was called a "greenfield release." In other words, you could install it, but you couldn't get there from any earlier version. Now my company like many others have done several "upgrades" to 11.1.2 of as many parts as we can, but officially, there's no way to migrate to 11.1.2... until 184.108.40.206. This version should have wizards and conversion utilities to migrate from multiple versions including 9.2, 9.3 and 11.1 (well, specific point releases of those). In other words, you'll finally be able to do a supported migration and it should be easier than the manual methods we're doing now.
- Wider Server Support. 220.127.116.11 was released with support only for Oracle WebLogic 10. Unlike earlier versions, it did not support Apache Tomcat nor IBM Websphere. Now the good news was that Oracle was kind enough to issue a limited use WebLogic license. The downside obviously was if you were not already a WebLogic shop. Taking on a new application server infrastructure isn't easy. The patch should support Tomcat and Websphere as well as Windows 2008r2 from an OS standpoint. While it's on the client not server side, also expect to see Office 2010 support in 11.1.2.
- Performance Improvements. With all the new functionality in EPM 11.1.2 (especially in Hyperion Planning), some things just aren't very speedy. Development has said publicly that they are working on improving the speed of many of these new features including workflow and the new drag-and-drop forms designer.
Any New Functionality?
The four items above are as close to 100% definite as you can get. They might change the specific versions you're allowed to upgrade from (current rumor is 9.2.1, 9.3.3, 18.104.22.168, and 11.1.2) but there will be lots of bug fixes, a migration path, wider server support, and performance improvements in 22.214.171.124 most assuredly. Where we get into a grayer area is, like the iPad 2, when we start speculating about any new features of functions in the release. So here's what may or may not be in there (and don't base any buying decisions off my wild ass speculation):
- Data Relationship Management. This is straight from Oracle themselves, so it's very likely to be in there. From the excellent though sporadically updated "Versioned Hierarchy of Reality" blog (ya, I'm one to talk), 126.96.36.199 should contain:
- Performance Improvements
- Upgrade Support
- Console Improvements
- Property Namespaces
- Single Sign On
- URL-based Navigation
- Job Status and Cancellation
- Action Script Options
- Disclosure Management. Both Disclosure Management and Financial Close Management saw their initial releases in 2010. As such, they should both be seeing substantial functionality improvements as Oracle tends to do in dot releases after the initial major release. For Disclosure Management, the only major improvement I've publicly heard multiple times is for the UK folks: the ability to do XBRL income tax returns for HMRC.
- Financial Close Management. It looks like the main improvements to HFCM (Hyperion Financial Close Management) have to do with direct integration to PeopleSoft. Expect to see direct PeopleSoft 9.0 and 9.1 integration with AP, AR, BI, AM, and GL into HFCM. For details, scroll down to page 17 of a presentation Oracle delivered to the NorCal OAUG. Looks like Oracle eBS integration won't make it into the 188.8.131.52 release of HFCM but should be out by the end of 2011.
- Smart View. There will either be a bunch of improvements to Smart View in this release or they'll delay them to 184.108.40.206. A lot of the new Smart View features we've seen demoed in the last year have to do with a new look for Smart View that makes it look a whole lot like Essbase classic (such as the ability to hide the POV). I'm expecting that these User Interface improvements will actually make it into 220.127.116.11, but I wouldn't bet on it.
The ones above are what I would be willing to wager make it into 18.104.22.168. There will doubtless be some minor improvements that I'll try to detail once the product makes it out the door. As for some of those other big development things you've been hearing about (like custom dimensionality in HFM, account reconciliations in HFCM, project planning module for Hyperion Planning, micro-costing in HPCM, etc.) is probably going to end up waiting until 22.214.171.124. The most recent public EPM roadmap presentation from Oracle (scroll down to page 12) seems to reflect that other big items are being held.
So When Does It Come Out?
Talk about burying the lead. The post is almost over and I'm just now getting to what I mentioned in the subject line. Every person who's talked about release dates to this point has been wrong. It went from August to fall to October to 2010 year end to January to "when Dallas freezes over the same week they host the Super Bowl." Well, we all thought that was never going to happen, but then last week leading into the Super Bowl festivities, Dallas spent 100+ hours below freezing and it snowed several inches too. So recognizing an apocalyptic sign, I reached out to a very high up source in Oracle EPM development...
... and was told March. Further, the person was almost willing to guarantee it if I promised to not mention her/his name. "March?" I asked incredulously, because I had frankly lost all belief in release dates for 126.96.36.199. Development then explained to me why 188.8.131.52 has been delayed for so many months. And here's the thing: it's actually not development's fault nor legal's fault nor sales nor marketing nor any of the other groups that would tend to cause holdups like this.
No, it seems to be because of Fusion. Oracle EPM is part of the Fusion Middleware team, and it is built on several other Oracle technologies both Fusion and otherwise. The delay is because one of the key technology "tentpole" components in Oracle EPM coming from the Fusion side keeps changing. Every time that underlying technology changes how it's implemented, they have to go modify the code for Oracle EPM. In other words, EPM 184.108.40.206 is just sitting there waiting for the tentpole technology to stop changing.
So how did development come up with March? It seems that there's been a line drawn in the sand and that supporting Fusion tech will be finalized this month (February) which makes sense since it's the last month of Oracle's quarter. Then it's just a quick change to Oracle EPM, some regression testing, and voila: Oracle EPM 220.127.116.11 will finally be released. That said, I'd bet on March 31 to be a whole lot more likely than March 1.
I know a lot of you will be waiting until the patch comes out, but please don't blame me if the date slips again (but give me kudos if I turn out to be right). My infrastructure team at interRel is gearing up for all our clients that have managed to be dissuaded from going to 11.1.2 until the patch comes out, so we're concluding that this delivery date is real. We're expecting busy times in March and April with all the migrations. Keep watching here, and I'll let you know when 18.104.22.168 finally shows up on edelivery.oracle.com.