Showing posts with label Vegetarian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vegetarian. Show all posts

September 16, 2009

ODTUG Kaleidoscope - Final Thoughts

The ODTUG Kaleidoscope conference in Monterey, California was magnificent. Attendance was up over last year making it one of only two conferences I'm aware of that went up since last year (the other has to do with Blackberries). There's a good high-level review of K'Scope from my friend, Prashanth Prasanna, at http://blog.seguetech.com/?p=185.

The Hyperion hands-on labs were packed to the gills. The 3 Hyperion track rooms in most cases weren't standing room only, so next year has room to grow in terms of attendance. The Hyperion Developer's Symposium on Sunday went very well as Al Marciante from Oracle brought a great cast of Product Managers to talk about the future of the various Hyperion, Essbase, and Oracle EPM tools and applications. I personally enjoyed most the keynote from Robert Gersten, because I enjoy his off-the-cuff, absent-minded professor style of speaking. Robert seemed to enjoy speaking to a crowd of a couple of hundred Hyperion fans too.

There were two unexpected highlights of the week. The first was the Hyperion Midnight Madness event. The "Ask a Guru" panel went from 10PM-midnight on Monday and there were 100+ people there eating chocolate, drinking caffeine, and asking questions. Attendance kept growing over the two hours and at midnight, our moderator, Tim Tow, finally had to cut off the questions or we were going to be there all night. The panel consisted of all the Oracle ACEs and ACE Directors for Hyperion/EPM at Kaleidoscope as well as a couple of guests from the Hyperion SIG board just to keep it lively.

Speaking of lively, the other hit of the week outside the normal conference fare was a bluffing/detection/strategy/party game called Werewolf. The first night of Werewolf (go to http://games.bezier.com/direct.html for a copy of the game) was held right after midnight madness. Moderated by interRel's CFO, Stephanie Kelleher, about 13 people stuck around just to see what people were talking about.

On Tuesday night, everyone requested we play it again (which we did until about 3 AM) and we increased to 25 players. On Wednesday, the groundswell continued and we went up to 45+ people playing until almost dawn. While it ruined any chance of sleeping I might have thought I was going to get, it made for one of the most fun conferences I've ever attended. Apparently, Werewolf is sweeping the software conferences of the world:

Was the conference perfect? No, but my gripes are minor compared to the things they did right. The food wasn't as good as Kaleidoscope 2008 and there weren't as many vegetarian options. The internet at the hotel was horrendous making it so on several occasions I couldn't even get a connection. The location was too far from the local city so you had to drive to the local restaurants for nightlife. I would have liked to see even more Hyperion attendees, but considering that Collaborate Hyperion attendance was down 40-60%, I guess Kaleidoscope should be happy that they saw any growth at all.

Still, Kaleidoscope was the best conference I attended in 2009 and I can't wait for 2010. Keep watching this blog because as I get official confirmation of the days and location for next year, I'll be posting it here.

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 fromSearchOracle.com 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 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?

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.

Join OAUG
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):
http://hyperionsig.oaug.org/HLeadership.php?page=Leadership/Volunteering

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:

September 26, 2008

OpenWorld - Final Thoughts

I'm writing this entry while on the 7:45AM flight back to Dallas (although it won't be posted until I land at 1PM).  The plane is packed with people returning from OpenWorld.  Everyone has some form of Oracle logo on or with them, and everyone is completely exhausted.  The lady in the middle seat next to me keeps falling asleep and leaning her head on my shoulder.  She couldn't keep her eyes open if someone paid her.

After the last session yesterday, I had a few meetings with some of the leadership of the OAUG Hyperion SIG - by the way, Kristin Newman did an awesome job taking care of all of OAUG Hyperion SIG's logistics at OpenWorld - and some of the Oracle EPM sales team members.  After meetings at various hotel bars, I ended up eating dinner at Greens in Ft. Mason overlooking the bay.  It's a very upscale all-vegetarian menu.  Dinner ended up being over $50 per person and none of us had alcohol.  It was the best meal I've had all week.

Once I taxied back to my hotel, I packed and then took a quick nap before having to leave for the airport at 5:30AM.  San Francisco looks different that early in the morning: you can appreciate the architecture far more when there aren't people standing in the way.  There's something less hectic that allows you to take in the more serene side of San Francisco.

I've been thinking about some of the highlights and lowlights of the conference.  Here are the good things about OpenWorld:
  • What's New sessions.  While I heard very little strikingly new information about Hyperion (or "Oracle EPM," which I may never get used to saying), a lot of rumors were confirmed by official people in official settings.  It's nice to hear people go under the record (even though many did it after showing a disclaimer slide saying basically "don't hold me to anything I say, because I'm liable to change my mind in a New York minute").
  • Positive Hyperion vibe.  I'm not just talking about the vibe headed interRel's way from Oracle (thank you again for the awards, Mr. Ellison, sir).  What I mean is that Hyperion, Essbase, and EPM were on a number of people's lips.  Thomas Kurian couldn't stop saying Hyperion (and Rich Clayton couldn't stop demoing Hyperion) for the majority of the Middleware Keynote, for example.  To paraphrase John Kopcke, it's not a question of how will Oracle change Hyperion, but rather, how will Hyperion change Oracle?
  • Sense of Community.  It's good to get together with fellow Hyperion customers, partners, and Oracle sales people and there were a number of them here.  I kept running into the same people at various events (Hyperion sessions, user group meetings, the interRel reception, the Oracle/OAUG reception, the EPM think tank, exhibit halls, and more) which gave me the nice feeling that we were all in this together.  That said, I think the Hyperion attendance was down from last year.  I think a lot of clients are going to Collaborate or Kaleidoscope (more on this in a bit).
That's about it for the positives.  Here are the negatives:
  • Most of the stuff doesn't matter to Hyperion visitors.  95%+ of the content isn't relevant to the people here for Hyperion.  That would be okay if it was a lot more obvious upfront which sessions were relevant and which ones weren't.  Larry Ellison, God bless his soul, didn't say a thing that mattered to the EPM-only visitors to the conference.  Can you imagine if the Hyperion Solutions conference had a time designated for a keynote where nothing else was happening... and the keynote was all about the price of car mufflers in China?
  • Too much marketing.  Yes, I know I've said in the past that OpenWorld is Oracle's chance to talk about Oracle, so why was I expecting anything but non-stop marketing?  I guess I was hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.  Collaborate has some marketing-level presentations (as did Hyperion Solutions conferences) but OpenWorld ratchets it up a few hundred notches.  Imagine sitting through 5 straight days of sales pitches from your software vendor.  Sound like fun?  Then OpenWorld is for you!
  • Not much information.  With the exception of SOME of the What's New presentations, I didn't learn anything.  This may just be me rehashing the last point.  A lot of the presentations are marketing from beginning to end.  Okay, so if it's going to be a non-stop product briefing (and not training, as many who have gone to Hyperion Solutions conferences in the past have come to expect), then don't charge people to attend.  Those people who came expecting to go back to their companies with actionable tips on better ways to use Hyperion products were (with far and few between exceptions), went away disappointed.
  • Too big.  OpenWorld needs to be chopped up.  There were relevant Hyperion (Oracle EPM, sorry) events at Moscone West, Moscone North, Moscone South, the Marriott, the Hilton, the Hyatt, and the Westin St. Francis.  No, those places are not all next to each other.  I've walked so much this week that I've lost 5 pounds.  Split up the technology and the applications into two different conferences or come up with some other arbitrary breaking point.  The only value of having the entire user base together at one event is that the appreciation party can afford higher end talent (Elvis Costello is no Billy Joel, though).  Oh, and Ellison only has to speak once.
From an interRel standpoint, it was a great conference: we made friends, won some awards, got a few new clients, and drove our competitors bonkers.  From an attendee standpoint, I was disappointed.  I miss learning things.

My advice to the user community: if you like Hyperion Solutions conferences, stay away from OpenWorld.  Go to Kaleidoscope if you're a developer/administrator of Hyperion products.  Go to Collaborate if you're an end user of the products.  Suggest that your CIO go to OpenWorld... so you don't have to.

This is my last entry for this year's OpenWorld.  Thank you for following along, and I hope you weren't too terribly bored (even when I was).  I will be coming back to OpenWorld next year, but until then, good bye, San Francisco.  I'm going to sleep now.  Wake me on Monday.

September 24, 2008

Quiroz on Green Conventions



I was very impressed to see Oracle Open World embrace environmentalism and design activities and alter their usage of materials and packing to help reduce our overall carbon footprint. Also, they catered to an impressive variety of dietary needs. We identified, Vegetarian, Lacto-Vegetarian, Vegan, Halla, Indian, Gluten-free, Low sodium, Lactose intolerant and Kosher. All of the food was packaged in recyclable or compostable materials and there were special recepticals to separate the waste. Oracle claims to be saving tons of waste that won't go to land fills. Also, they had stations where you can plug your laptop into a generator that is powered by stationary bike to recharge your laptop or cell phone. They claimed 15 minutes of pedaling should generate enough power to run a laptop for an hour.

Also, paper waste was addressed by reducing the size of the conference guide and encouraging attendees to use digital documents as much as possible.


September 20, 2008

OpenWorld - Saturday, Sep. 20

11:35 PM: Back at the hotel

We just got back from Annabelle's.  Due to the size of our group, we had a special "limited menu" which had a small amount of vegetarian food in addition to the meat plethora.  They started out by bringing us plates of meat with some vegetables on them, bread, and mounds of calimari.  I ate the veggies not touching the meat (mostly tomatoes and cheese) and sampled some rather fluffy bread.  For the main part of the meal, I had zucchini parmesan soup and risotto primavera (arborio rice, petit vegetables, greens, and 3 cheeses).  It was all rather tasty.

It took hours to go through all the courses.  Apparently, service is not Annabelle's strongpoint.  My friend, Mike Riley, the ODTUG Kaleidoscope content chair, was about 90 minutes late for the meal.  Apparently, he was taking the elevator down at the Marriott with Debra Lilley from UKOUG when the elevator temporarily forgot that an elevator's job is to move people up and down.  Elevator 11 decided that it wanted to go on some sort of work strike and stop between the 10th and 11th floors.

It took over 90 minutes for the Marriott to get someone from Otis to come out and save Mike and Debra.  The Otis guy had to get onto the roof of the adjoining elevator, lower it down to their level, and push on some rollers to get the door to Mike & Debra's elevator to open.  They then climbed onto a chair to squeeze out between floors.  While one might think that all this would be kind of scary, Debra seemed to be having the time of her life.  She live blogged the entire experience on her blog:
http://debrasoracle.blogspot.com/2008/09/party-on.html

Debra has quite the dry British sense of humor.  For instance, during her ordeal, she went on the social network Oracle Mix site and created a "Stuck in an elevator at OpenWorld" group (only Debra and Mike are allowed to join).  I'm glad to hear they're both safe, and should you be about to board an elevator with either of these two individuals, go ahead and let it pass.  It's better to have to wait 3 minutes for another elevator than to have to be stuck in a small metal box 100+ feet above the ground with only a couple of cables holding you away from plummeting to certain death.

I'm back at the hotel now (after a quick stop at Walgreen's for water and granola bars) preparing for my "How Essbase Thinks" presentation at 1PM in Moscone West, room 3016.  Eduardo and I stopped by 3016 earlier today.  It looks like it holds about 300 people.  I'm starting to fall asleep, so I guess I'd better get to the PowerPoint review.  I'm sure that'll wake me right up.

That's all for today, but tomorrow starts at 10AM with the Oracle ACE Director product briefing. Fun, fun, fun!

6:22 PM: Registration and Annabelle's

Eduardo and I took the shuttle bus from our hotel to the Moscone Center because we weren't sure how far of a walk it was.  Turns out to be about 7 blocks and totally walkable.  We registered at Moscone South and caused quite a stir.  Eduardo was "Oracle Club Gold" and apparently, the first of the day.  The Gold level entitles Eduardo to a new iPod Touch (which they had to go find), 25% off at the Oracle Bookstore, better food at lunch, better seating at keynotes, and access to a lounge with free drinks and snacks.  I'm not sure why Eduardo got the Gold level and I didn't, but I am in no way jealous of that jerk.

I confused the Oracle registration personal, because I am a speaker, an official blogger, and an Oracle ACE Director.  Each of these designations entitles me to free OpenWorld pass, so no one could quite figure out where I was supposed to register.  A nice lady at speaker registration ended up helping me.

Speaking of Eduardo, I've asked him to provide color commentary of this week's OpenWorld proceedings.  He'll be talking about random things that interest him at the conference in the hopes of lightening up my normally oh, so staid blog.  I've also asked him to take a few pictures, because as many of you have pointed out, my blog is seriously lacking in visual stimulation.  I've always felt that a 1,000 words are better than a picture, but Eduardo is more of a "big picture" type of guy.  We just spent an hour touring the Moscone taking pictures of the massive set up under way.  He'll probably post a picture or two.

I'm now sitting at Annabelle's Bar & Bistro which is about 2 blocks from the Moscone.  I thought the ODTUG get-together dinner started at 6PM, but apparently it was 6:30PM.  The table is set for 12, and as of 6:22PM, there are only 3 of us so far.  Oh, a ton of people just walked in.  More later...

4:00 PM: Checking in at the hotel

I just go to the Serrano hotel.  It's cute and quirky.  They are supposedly all about having fun, so they have lots of games to play in the lobby and in the room.  The lobby has Scrabble, Jenga, Monopoly, and the like.  The room has more solitary fun including a deck of cards, a yo-yo, and a small-footprint Etch a Sketch.  They're hosting a wine reception tonight from 5-6PM that will include - and no, I'm not making this up - a game of Twister.  While that sounds fun in principle, a game of Twister with potentially drunk strangers sounds like there may be a full blown hootenanny in store.

interRel's co-founder, Eduardo Quiroz, and I are off to register at Moscone South.  After that, we have dinner with the nice people from ODTUG, so I probably won't be posting again until late this evening.

2:30 PM: Baggage Claim

Forget everything I said: I love OpenWorld.  Why?  Because the kind folks from the Oracle ACE group sent a limousine to pick me up at the airport.  There’s nothing cooler than getting to baggage claim and there’s some guy (let’s call him “Jeeves”) waiting for you with a sign that says your name on it.  I felt like a rock star, so I treated baggage claim to some “Free Bird” on air guitar.  I’m going to presume that the people laughing were laughing with me not at me.

Okay, I’ll admit that Jeeve’s sign did say “Rosky” (instead of Roske) but close enough for me.  Limo drivers aren’t hired for their spelling ability, I’m assuming.  You don’t suppose that there’s some guy actually out there named “Rosky” who was expecting a limo do you?  Well, he should care more about the environment and take public transportation anyway. Think green, Mr. Rosky. Think green.

As I am chauffeured in luxurious style to my hotel, I’m going to contemplate whether or not Oracle is trying to bribe me and whether or not I’m susceptible to bribes.  In the meantime, I love you, Oracle, and I want you to have my baby.

No, bribes have no effect on me.  I’m sure of it.  Jeeves, could you please pass me the bottle of bubbly?  Non-alcoholic, please, I’m working.

1:07 PM: Still on the airplane

I ended up listening to several podcasts from the “Get it Done Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips.”  While I normally enjoy them, I was starting to fall asleep, and as I am forbidding myself from sleeping for the next week (standard conference rules apply), I opened my laptop back up.

So what am I least looking forward to about OOW?

  • Hordes of people.  Have you ever seen the battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies betweens 1,000s of orcs and humans?  OpenWorld is kinda like that but without the good CGI.  But Edward, not to point out the massive flaw in your logic, but you said you’re here for networking  and that sorta requires people, doesn’t it?  To clarify, I love the individual attendees, it’s the massive addition of 45,000-50,000 to the San Francisco eco-system that I can’t stand.  OOW has gotten too massive for its own good.  Let’s say that there are 1,000 people at OOW interested in Oracle EPM. That means the odds that the random person sitting next to you at lunch is also there for Hyperion?  Around 50-to-1.  OpenWorld really needs to be broken up into a series of smaller conferences (on that note, try Kaleidoscope or Collaborate).
  •  Neverending marketing.  I’m all for a good sales pitch once in a while: it’s day-after-day of it that I can’t stand.  Oracle is the best enterprise software developer in the world (sorry, Microsoft, but a lot of your products, to repeat a phrase I heard last week, “suck like Vista”).  Oracle is one of the best software acquisition companies in the world (I’m still impressed at how they can acquire and then integrate multi-billion dollar companies so quickly).  But where Oracle is one of the best companies regardless of industry is in their ability to market themselves.  While I admire their marketing abilities, it gets old after a week of non-stop commercials.
  • Conference food.  I know it’s petty, but the food at these conferences is generally horrible (though admittedly, OOW has better food than Collaborate).  I normally lose 2-4 pounds being at one of these conferences for a week.  Kaleidoscope was the notable exception where their food was so good I gained 3 pounds.  (Stay away from Kaleidoscope if you’re on a crash diet.)
  • Exhaustion.  For those of you who haven’t been, it’s almost difficult to comprehend the massiveness of this conference.  It takes up two convention centers, two massive exhibit halls, several hotels, and frankly, the entire San Francisco bay area.  This would be hard enough to navigate (without blisters) in a normal city, but San Francisco is not exactly flat.   Add to that the fact that the days start at dawn with networking breakfasts, continue with presentations throughout the day, then it’s on to dinner(s) followed by receptions and parties, and by the time you get back to your hotel at midnight (and later) each day, you can barely stand.  I wonder if it’s too late to rent a Segway?

I was going to try and post this entry now, but it looks there’s no high-speed internet 30,000 over Northwestern Nevada.  Maybe when I land…

12:34 PM: Airplane

Life is a series of events, some memorably great and some forgettably mundane.  Most of them are mundane, to be honest.   At this moment, I’m on a plane headed from DFW to San Francisco.  Looking around, I see familiar faces from interRel, Oracle, our clients, and our competitors.  Some faces I don’t recognize, but they’re Oracle-branded bags and Oracle-themed accessories lead me to believe that half the plane is headed to OpenWorld.

This is probably my last bit of down time before the mania that is OOW starts, so I’m going to take a moment to collect my innermost personal thoughts (and share them with my close friends on the internet).  Here’s what I’m hoping to get out of OOW:

1.    Breaking news.  There won’t be many out of the ordinary events.  OOW is a tightly controlled marketing event.  Everything that can be scripted is planned out to the nth degree… but that does include news that Oracle wants to share.  I’m hoping for lots of “What’s New” information about the EPM products.  Also, once in a while you’ll get someone on an open mike (Robert Gersten is famous for this) who lets a few things slip that aren’t sanitized through a marketing department first.

2.    Education.  My expectations are low in this area, but I do have some.  While the content at OOW is less training-centric and more information-centric, Oracle does try to educate their clients on their product lines.  If nothing else, by the end of the week, I’ll be fully educated in Oracle’s marketing message of the moment.

3.    Networking.  I must admit that I’m not a big networking guy.  I realize the value of it, I’m just not very good at it.  Even after 11 years of heading up interRel, I still don’t feel comfortable walking up to someone and initiating small talk.  This might strike some people as strange who’ve seen me comfortably give presentations to rooms of 1,000+ and just conclude that I’m an extrovert.  To be honest, one of the reasons I deliver more presentations at Hyperion conferences than anyone in his right mind would is that it gives people an opportunity to come up to me.  When I give a talk or hold a book signing, people naturally come up to the front of the room afterwards and start up a conversation.  The next thing you know, we’re friends for life (especially if it turns out we both wore the same shirt, because for guys, that’s a serious bonding point).  Word of advice: go up to the speaker after a presentation and introduce yourself: you have a point of commonality (you were interested in the topic that the speaker was delivering) and sometimes that’s all it takes to expand your network.

4.    Presenting.  I have 4 presentations at the conference and since I’m one of those rare (some say “perverted”) people who enjoy public speaking, I’m actually looking forward to all of them.  I like sharing information, and as I already mentioned, it’s a great way for expand my network.  And once in a while, it actually results in some…

5.    Sales.  Someone just might come up to me at the conference and ask if interRel can come out and do Hyperion consulting for them.  Stop laughing: one of our largest clients reached out to me after a presentation (I think it was on optimizing Hyperion Planning forms).  Sales don’t always have to be outward.  If you’re doing your job right, customers will reach out to you.

I think I’ll take a break for a moment and watch Fringe or True Blood (escapist TV shows) on my iPhone.  Did I mention I absolutely, unconditionally love my iPhone (except for the lousy reception, dropped calls, and low battery life)?

I’m going to try to post this entry from the airplane, but the WiFi reception over New Mexico is atrocious.

June 16, 2008

Kaleidoscope - Monday

10:00PM - Dinner
After the presentation, the 6 people here from interRel tried to find a restaurant that everyone could agree on. Every one of us had one or more bizarre dietary issues making a single restaurant problematic. Here were some of our individual quirks:
- One person can't eat seafood.
- One person is a vegan (and doesn't like to eat salad, go figure).
- One person can't eat anything with pepper in it.
- One person can't eat wheat.

Combine all of those and we have no options at all in New Orleans (at least for traditional French, Creole, or other New Orleans fare). We ended up at an African restaurant serving food from Cameroon and Ghambia (seriously: Bennachin). The food was tasty if a bit unpronounceable and in some cases, unidentifiable. I had fried plantains (adios, diet), black eyed pea fritters, and something that merged eggplant, cous cous, and curry. Those were all good, but I really did not enjoy the pounded yams. I was expecting mashed potatoes and got, well, paste. It brought back not so fond memories of my kindergarten years. I think it was supposed to be really bland to blunt the spiciness of the curry, but the cous cous worked just fine for that.

I'm actually getting to bed early tonight to prepare for programming & automation sessions tomorrow from 8AM-6PM. Note to self: design next year's agenda to be a lot densely packed with presentations.

6:00PM - Migration to ASO from BSO
Steve Liebermensch, Consulting Technical Director in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Oracle, gave a presentation on converting BSO cubes to ASO cubes. I came up with the topic and asked Steve to deliver it and he did a bang up job.

He covered why to migrate to ASO, functional differences between BSO and ASO, MDX to Calc Script equivalents, migrating Sample Basic (as an example), and Gotchas of migration.

Why to migrate from BSO to ASO:
-Decrease update window
-Reduce database size
-Increase dimensionality
-Increase dimension size

Functional differences between BSO and ASO:
-Upper level loading
-Procedural calculations (calc scripts to do things like currency conversion)
-Native expense handling
-Dynamic time series (not in 9.3.1 or 11.1.1, despite rumors to the contrary)
-Stored results of subtraction (as soon as a dimension has a minus sign on a single member, that dimension must be dynamic in ASO)
-Attribute dimension functionality (any dimension can have an attribute in ASO and it's worth pointing out that attributes perform must better on attribute dimensions)
-Time intelligence
-Formula syntax
-Performance characteristics

Some gotchas:
-Planning
-Unit * Rate calculations
-Upper-level data load
-Custom functions

He made a good point that people shouldn't convert a cube to ASO if BSO is working just fine.
Steve's giving a presentation on Wednesday about optimizing ASO cubes and I'm sure it will go as well.

5:00PM - ASO: Understanding MDX
Glenn Schwartzberg, Oracle Hyperion ACE and ODTUG Ambassador, wore a jester hat to introduce Gary Crisci, Oracle Hyperion ACE. Glenn gave a personal ad for Gary that was Hyperion-centric and humorous. Gary started off by thanking me and Tim for putting the track together which was extremely gracious. He commented that some people told him that they feel they've gotten better information so far at this conference than at any Hyperion conference they've been to.

I won't be able to repeat everything Gary Crisci said, but I'll try to draw out some points that some people might not know. Gary pointed out that MDX is used to query both Essbase BSO and ASO cubes but can only be used in ASO cubes. He also pointed out that MDX is used for both querying metadata and data. For additional MDX help, go to the Essbase Technical Reference and visit MDX->Aggregate Storage Topics->MDX Outline Formulas (in System 9 and later).

Steve Liebermensch pointed out that some of the tips Gary gave for doing things like Time Balancing change between Essbase ASO 7x, System 9, and 11.1.1. Steve promised to go into these more on Wednesday during his ASO optimization presentation.

Gary recommended two MDX books:
- Fast Track to MDX; 2004; by Whitehorn, Zare, Pasumansky
- MDX Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Server 2005 and Hyperion Essbase, 2nd Edition; 2006; by Spofford, Harinath, Webb, Huang, Civardi

Tracy McMullen (best co-author ever) pointed out that the Read Me files with each file list all the new MDX functions in each version. You have to read all the Read Me files if you started MDX under 7 and are now on later versions. She also pointed out that MDX shouldn't be used for bulk exports; one should look to report scripts or do a calc script export.

Someone asked if MDX has variance financial intelligence? The answer was that you can do it with a UDA and an IIF function.

Gary promised to get his slides & examples up on the ODTUG website. When I notice, I'll blog it here. Gary gave a great presentation (he's a fun guy). I'm going to ask him to speak at events in the future.

3:40PM - 64-Bit Essbase
The "Power of 64-Bit Essbase" presentation with Tim went well. I ran about 10 minutes over, but that's because we had time at the beginning of the presentation for interRel and AppliedOLAP commercials.

While my presentation went on for 30+ slides, there were two points that I wanted everyone to remember:
- Consider using 64-bit if you want to build bigger cubes with more concurrency on users and CPUs but be aware that 64-bit is not as stable as 32-bit.
- Throw away all the old optimization tips and try everything again with 64-bit.

After the presentation, we're breaking for 20 minutes for soft drinks and cookies.

2:15PM - Large Scale Implementation Panel
I just attended a panel on Large Scale Implementations of Essbase headed by Steve Liebermensch from Oracle who is also the moderator for the day. I was the one who recruited the panel members:
-Jay White, MDAnderson Cancer Center
-Andy North, Alcon Laboratories
-Rob Donahue, WhittmanHart
-Gary Crisci, Morgan Stanley
-Jason Novikoff, interRel Consulting

Here are the questions as best as I can paraphrase:
Q: What's your definition of a large-scale implementation? User count, number of cubes, large number of cubes?
Gary: Anything that would cause a block storage cube to break. Maybe the biggest dimension has 50-60K members, but it takes a lot of people working together to get it to work.
Jay: Number of users, number of load files, number of dimensions. A lot of it has to do with complexity.
Rob: A departmental solution isn't enterprise-wide. Number of users, cubes, and infrastructure requirements.
Jason: Number of users can drive your architecture. You can make several services redundant, you can load balance your cube... You need to load balance your cube.

Q: What should you do to load balance using what used to be Spreadsheet Services then Deployment Services and is now APS?
Gary: We're setting up SAN-based storage with clustering. Multiple servers are accessing a central SAN drive storage. It's good for business continuity planning (BCP) if the building burns down or whatever.
Andy: We basically ZIP up exports for backup purposes.
Jay: We run multiple servers. We literally run from 3 different physical locations for redundancy and continuity.
Steve: If you want true redundancy, you have to double your storage, but if you just want duplicate servers, you can feed everything off a central Storage Area Network.

Q: Are you running multiple environments?
Jay: We run multiple versions, because not everyone at our company is comfortable with System 9.
Gary: Our SQL farm is better funded and staffed than our Essbase farm, so we leverage the SQL farm to help us recover from backups more quickly.

Q: Has Oracle changed messaging these days? Why is IT supporting Essbase more?
Gary: Oracle buying Essbase has gained IT support?
Rob: Compliance and SarbOx. IT has to have a compliant system and support that system. Essbase is now a multi-tier solution used across the enterprise.

Q: Have you discussed why you might want to go to System 9?
Andy: We just signed the contract to go to System 9.
Gary: Good month for Oracle sales: we just signed ours to.
Andy: Our reason is mostly to stay in support not features really. It's a small group involved right now.
Jason: One of the driving factors for RadioShack for going to System 9 was for reporting purposes. For our new reporting project, they wanted to go from Crystal Reports to Interactive Reporting. We wanted to be on System 9 for the new IR reporting.

Q: How do you enforce playing nicely with others in a shared environment?
Jay: We don't play nicely. We were wholly owned by finance and now we're owned by IT. What we did (as a not for profit) was to break across multiple servers.
Andy: We broke up servers along departments, so if you're stepping on someone, you're stepping on your own group.

Q: How many people in the audience report up through IT?
A: [about 20%]

Q: How many report up through finance?
A: [about 80%]

Q: And how many of those have changed from finance to IT or the other way around?
A: [about 10%]

Q: How do you measure ROI on a large-scale implementation
Jay: We're rolling out System 9 right now. Part of our methodology is you must prove ROI. We justified our ROI was single sign-on across all the various applications we use.

Q: Have you built BI Competency Centers (AKA Centers of Excellence)?
Rob: We've seen some at some of our clients but leadership has to be on-board.
Jay: We've hired outside help to work with us to create a Center of Excellence.

Q: What blows away your capacity planning? Lots of concurrent users? Running big queries? Lots of simultaneous calcs?
Jay: We set limits in our Essbase config so queries can't run more than 180 seconds.

Q: How do you handle backing up Essbase cubes and defragmenting cubes with users demanding 24x7 uptime?
Steve: A Planning cube has to have downtime. A reporting cube can do things with partitioning and swapping cubes (even if you don't use clustering) to give close to 24x7 uptime.

Q: How many Essbase support people do you have?
Jay: We have 3 areas and have 42 people supporting the applications across those 3 areas. 3 of those are admins and we have 5 Oracle DBAs supporting our Hyperion apps too.
Gary: We have 7-8 developers, 6-9 production DBAs, and 5-6 people in our infrastructure team.

I enjoyed the panel although like most panels, a couple of people dominated the panel answers. Steve did a fabulous job of getting the panel to open up as much as he could and spread the answers around. I don't know if he'll let me talk him into something like this again, but I would definitely hit up Steve Liebermensch to host a panel for me again. Not only is he entertaining, he keeps the off-topic questions to a minimum.

Tim Tow and I are about to deliver a vendor presentation on 64-bit Essbase. It's officially a paid presentation, but that's only because I didn't want someone else buying the timeslot and making me sit through a 60-minute advertisement. If anyone wants the slides because you're considering going to 64-bit Essbase, e-mail me at info@interrel.com.

1:15PM - Lunch
Lunch was a hot plated meal. It was admittedly tasty but I liked the options of the yesterday's buffet more. I'm still satiated, though, and they brought me a vegetarian portobello and potato cake.

It's time to head back to the Essbase room for the Large Scale Implementation Panel.

11:33AM - Essbase Keynote
I did indeed miss both breakfast and the general session. I got to the Essbase ballroom 30 minutes before the keynote only to find that some guy from Pinnacle snagged my choice spot by the only power supply near the seating area. I'll have to blog without a table today so I can go sit by an electric outlet.

ODTUG Ambassador Gary Crisci (Oracle ACE from Morgan Stanley) introduced Robin Hazel, Oracle's Director of Strategy for Essbase. Robin Hazel has what seems to be a very realistic British accent, so I can only assume he's intelligent. He started off with the boring disclaimer slide that most people in the audience can quote from memory at this point. He then continued on into the EPM System Vision slide (the cycle of EPM that Hyperion created: Set Goals, Plan, Monitor, Analyze, Report, Align, repeat as necessary).

He covered the architecture of Oracle's EPM layer. The EPM Workspace sits on EPM Applications (Planning, HFM, Strategic Finance, Profitability Management, etc.) and BI Applications (the pre-packaged OBIEE apps that came from Siebel Analytics). Those sit on the BI Foundation (Essbase, BI Server, and Predictive Analytics). The BI Foundation sits on Fusion Middleware which sits on all the underlying data sources. That's a lot of sitting. I really should find the EPM architecture slide to show this visually. I just found an image at http://www.oracle.com/solutions/business_intelligence/docs/epm-system-graphic.pdf:

Robin addressed the Oracle OLAP elephant in the room: What's going on with Oracle OLAP (the old Express) now that Essbase is owned by Oracle? Here are Robin's differentiators:
- Essbase is for heterogeneous data and OLAP is for Oracle-centric data.
- Essbase is owned by lines of business (end users) and OLAP is owned by IT.
- Metadata in Essbase is owned by users and OLAP metadata is owned by IT.
- Essbase has hot pluggable data sources whereas Oracle OLAP has hot pluggable BI Tools.
In other words, Essbase is driven by the users whereas Oracle OLAP is driven by the IT organization for enhanced data warehousing.

He tackled the question of "Why does Oracle love Essbase?" (his words, not mine):
- It has the richest business user experience. It has excellent Microsoft Office integration and a range of superior reporting tools (like Financial Reporting, Web Analysis, and Visual Explorer). It also has Smart Space (the only persistent, always on BI/EPM gadgets in the world).
- It has a highly advanced calculation engine. They're now claiming 350+ functions which is a stretch unless you count some functions multiple times based on optional arguments, but the function library is impressive nonetheless.
- A bunch of other reasons that the readers of this blog already know. At one point, Robin opened up the keynote to the audience to tell their stories about non-financial applications of Essbase.
Oracle seems interested in getting Essbase out of its "financial niche."

Robin gave an interesting slide titled "10 Things You Can Do Today to Prepare for Oracle Fusion Applications":
  1. Move to the latest applications releases.
  2. Prepare a roadmap to evolve to Oracle Fusion applications.
  3. Inventory your enterprise assets.
  4. Rethink your "customization" strategy.
  5. Consolidate your master data.
  6. Embrace SOA-based integration.
  7. Extend your BI applications portfolio.
  8. Adopt enterprise reporting & publishing.
  9. Secure your global enterprise.
  10. Centralize your application's lifecycle management.
Robin opened it up for questions at the end. There was only one: "What direction is Oracle planning on taking with underlying databases feeding into Essbase like DB2, for instance?" Robin didn't know the answer specifically, but did say that Oracle's direction for Essbase was to sit on top of every source database they possibly could.

It's off to lunch. After yesterday's foodapalooza, I'm excited. I can't say that I've ever really felt that way about conference food before.