Monthly Archives: September 2013

Oracle OpenWorld 2013: BI and EPM (Hyperion) News

September 26, 2013

While traveling back from the Oracle OpenWorld 2013 conference, I realized it will be several days before I recover from the very busy, long days and all that walking (yes, I was warned about the blisters!). I learned quite a bit about the America’s Cup this week but for those who were unable to attend the conference, there is also a lot to share about changes in the enterprise performance management (EPM) and business intelligence (BI) space.

Big themes at OpenWorld this year included some expected topics such as the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (which we heard is now general availability December 2013), as well as the very promising and exciting plans for Oracle’s integration of the Endeca product with E-Business Suite and OBIEE and launching business analytics in the cloud sometime in 2014. We also heard significant buzz around the BI mobile options and through the demonstrations of just how easy it is to create a BI mobile application (if you are a skeptic, I reassure you that just this week, one of our customers shared how he built his first BI mobile app in about five minutes!).

Perhaps equally exciting is the new focus on mobile for the EPM products – Hyperion Planning and HFM. It appears Oracle will start small with the Finance executive approval application that was demoed this week – and what a place to start! The application will provide obvious value-add for Finance executive users and is a very logical place to introduce mobile into the EPM space.

In other end-user experience news, the path to true integration of Planning and OBIEE was clearly defined this week. While it will be sometime until we see Oracle Financial Planning Analytics dashboards come to life for Hyperion Planning, it is wonderful to see Oracle pushing forward to create that end-to-end reporting experience for the Finance team. Many of us are starting down that path today, but for the wider community, the process of integrating OBIEE and Hyperion Planning will be greatly simplified.

Hardware news was another big focus area at the conference. If you haven’t heard about the T5-8 box yet, you certainly will be reading a lot about it soon (we promise more to come on our blog!). The latest in the Oracle Exalytics offerings, the impressive news on this box isn’t only the size and capabilities but the forward-looking direction for housing Hyperion Financial Management (HFM), Hyperion Planning, and Financial Data Quality Management Enterprise Edition (FDMEE) all in a single, optimized location! As one conference presenter put it this week, with a box this big, Essbase is virtually an in-memory database!

We also heard some interesting reminders during the conference. It seems many customers have been slow to adopt EPM 11.1.2.x. As a result, Oracle has made the decision to extend the support for an additional 3 years! With that news comes a cautionary note for those of you adventurers considering moving to the cloud. When on the cloud offering, you will be upgraded when all others are upgraded; there is no opt-in or opt-out choice.

That said, the Oracle team did a great job assuring us all of the coordination between cloud offerings and on-premise solutions. Some speakers went so far as to suggest that the lowest cost way to develop any new model is in the cloud but that many organizations may choose to put their production solution on-premise. This ‘hybrid’ model (as Oracle terms it) makes perfect sense to us and to many of the customers we chatted with throughout the conference.

In all, this OpenWorld newbie found that the product updates created more buzz than the America’s Cup win AND the Maroon 5 concert…and that Oracle will continue to have us talking, planning, and upgrading for some time to come!

Author: Kelli Pircio, Performance Architects


© Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog, 2006 - present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Running Essbase in OBIEE 11.1.1.7

September 25, 2013

In one of my previous blogs, I discussed the use of Essbase as an aggregate persistence target. Using Essbase as an aggregate source is an excellent option in general to the traditional approach of creating an aggregate table in the data warehouse – and if you are licensed for BI Foundation Suite 11.1.1.7, you can now run OBIEE and Essbase all on the OBIEE server. If you have a separate Essbase license, you may be okay – always check with your Oracle sales contact.

As of OBIEE 11.1.1.7, you can now install and run a “Limited Use” (lightweight) version of the Essbase server in OBIEE.

Here is a list of features included with what I call “Lightweight OBI Essbase:”

  • Essbase Server
  • Essbase Agent
  • Essbase Studio
  • Essbase Administration Services (EAS)
  • Provider Services
  • Financial Reporting
  • Calculation Manager

Installation:

You can now elect to install Lightweight OBI Essbase during the OBIEE installation. Typically you would choose Enterprise Install as your option. Installation and configuration are done in one step using Enterprise Install versus two with the typical EPM install.

Configuration:

There is no Shared Services involved in configuring security – surprise! Yes, it’s true. Essbase is secured using WebLogic roles and the Oracle Platform Security Services – just OBIEE. On a separate but related note, I do believe this is how future versions of EPM will be configured as well. In fact, I can envision that Oracle will have one universal installer for both OBIEE and EPM at some point in near future.

Administration:

Administration of Essbase in OBIEE is all done through WebLogic.

  • Security and provisioning is all done in in the WebLogic admin console http://yourapp:7001/console
    o If you have integrated with a third-party application like Microsoft Active Directory, then you would perform provisioning there, otherwise you would use the “Embedded LDAP” that comes out of the box
  • Stopping and starting of Essbase is done through the Enterprise Manager http://yourapp:7001/em.
    o Essbase is run with the Oracle Process Manager, just like all the other OBIEE components
    o You can start and stop it though the command line as well opmnctl – startall – stopall (there is specific syntax to pick the specific component, but startall and stopall work fairly quickly)

Development:

Once you develop your cube using EAS, you then create a connection pool and import the cube. This makes the cube available for use in the user interface as a “Subject Area” where you can pick and choose columns through an easy interface (remember you need to know where your data intersections are!).

User Interface:

You can access Essbase as I described in my previous section on development, or you can access it via Workspace (yes, /workspace is now a valid path in OBIEE…more on the implications of this in another blog)!

In summary, if you have BI Foundation Suite licensing, do not own any other Essbase licenses, and have no intent to implement other applications such as Planning…this may be a good way to go for your organization. I believe this reflects the future state of EPM as a product being co-located with, or folded into, OBIEE as a subordinate component. Oracle has made it abundantly clear that they are putting their entire R&D effort into OBIEE as their premiere BI and reporting application. I think Oracle will continue to provide a standalone EPM install, but will eventually corral the customer base down the path of OBIEE.

Author: John McGale, Performance Architects

 

 

 

 

 


© Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog, 2006 - present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Business Analytics Opportunities and Schedule Recommendations for Oracle OpenWorld 2013

September 21, 2013

With over 60,000 attendees expected to participate in Oracle OpenWorld 2013 starting on Sunday, September 22nd, you could lose a lot of time just trying to buy a morning coffee before the keynotes (you will stand in line for 45 minutes if you try this) or navigating the city (ladies, leave those killer heels at home!).  These photos published recently by Oracle give you a sense of the size and scope of the event.  I strongly recommend that you plan out your conference schedule before the event kicks off to maximize your time in San Francisco.

Scheduling is particularly problematic for those of us in the business analytics arena, because the “business analytics” topic at Oracle comprises many different subtopics in industry parlance and in Oracle-speak. Key business analytics terms include business intelligence (BI), enterprise performance management (EPM), big data, and advanced analytics.  If you’ve focused on this area for a while, you’re probably also interested in a bunch of related topics such as data integration, data warehousing, and the underlying infrastructure (engineered systems, cloud services, etc.).

I’ve assembled a list of resources that I hope will make your life easier over the next few days. As you finalize your calendar, make sure to map out walking time between sessions because different topic areas invariably end up in different buildings (for example, EPM/Hyperion sessions are located in the Intercontinental Hotel, while BI and related business analytics sessions take place in the various Moscone buildings).

Oracle’s team pulls together helpful “Focus On” guides recommending sessions to attend for specific topic areas during the conference.  Must-reads for anyone in the business analytics community include the links below, although I recommend going to the full “Focus On” guides list if you’re looking for more industry-specific or related technology topic areas not covered in my short list:

You should make time to attend the Oracle Application Users Group (OAUG) Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings on Sunday, September 22nd.  Particularly relevant SIG meetings include the Endeca SIG (Session #: SIG9671), the Hyperion SIG (Session #: SIG9640), and the Business Intelligence SIG (Session #: SIG9644).  The Oracle Development Tools User Group (ODTUG) also runs a series of “deep dive” technical and product update sessions on the same day that are particularly useful if you’re a technical architect or developer, including a BI Symposium and a Hyperion/EPM Symposium.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Performance Architects team is presenting two sessions at OpenWorld – please join us!  The first is the Oracle Applications User Group (OAUG) Endeca Special Interest Group (SIG) Meeting (Session ID: SIG9671), Sunday, September 22nd, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM, Moscone West – 2020, and the second is Introduction and Update: Oracle Hyperion Financial Data Quality Management (Session ID: CON9504), Tuesday, September 24th, 5:15 PM – 6:15 PM, Intercontinental Ballroom A.  Note: I’m co-chairing the Endeca SIG and we are actively recruiting for volunteer leadership; please let me know if you’d recommend anyone to get involved!

Finally, our team would be delighted to meet members of our blog community in person to learn more about what you’re up to in the business analytics arena, whether it is looking for a new consulting partner or a new job.  If you want to arrange a time to meet up, please send a note to communications@performancearchitects.com.

Author: Kirby Lunger, Performance Architects


© Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog, 2006 - present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Introducing Oracle Hyperion Smart View 11.1.2.5

September 12, 2013

Over the years, Hyperion Smart View (also known as “HSV” or “Smart View”) has expanded from being a mere Microsoft Excel add-in that queried data from a Hyperion application or from an Oracle Essbase database, to something more powerful. First came the integration with the rest of the Microsoft Office suite, including MS Word and PowerPoint, allowing for reports and dashboards to be imported into documents and presentations, and then refreshed with real-time data. Then came the integration with Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) and Oracle Hyperion Strategic Finance (HSF). Smart View matured from a query tool into a reporting tool, with the ability to connect to multiple sources simultaneously in order to provide fresh data for more value. With every version, Smart View also gained administration features. In every new version release briefing of Hyperion EPM or OBIEE, Smart View has had its own section, as if it was a product in its own right.

When Oracle released HSV Version 11.1.2.5 without much fanfare, the new functionality almost slipped under the radar. It is still too early to tell why the Oracle team chose to use a version number that is at least two years away for Hyperion EPM, and at least one year away for OBIEE. But what this does seem to be is a release of Oracle Hyperion Smart View that bundles all of the recent changes made for each of the Oracle product suites that HSV supports and make these changes available to users of both. And that is a good thing.

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Consider this: Hyperion Smart View brings together many different product suites, such as Oracle Hyperion EPM (Hyperion), OBIEE and Microsoft Office. These are designed and developed by separate teams, if not companies, with different feature sets, code-lines and release dates. If Smart View continues to be released only with the large EPM and BI releases, then it will not be able to stay up-to-date. When the last versions of Hyperion EPM or Oracle BI were being developed, we still lived in a world of Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010 and Internet Explorer 9. Not to mention the fact that 64-bit client machines were not yet widespread. But now these machines are mainstream, and, as a result, Smart View has had some compatibility issues with related client software. As a result, our clients often asked when Smart View would be updated to keep up. In the world of CFOs, Finance Managers and Budget Office personnel, whether or not the server software is running the latest operating system does not matter nearly as much as whether their desktop machines are current. And that means the software that goes on them.

So by possibly moving Smart View to its own release, it can be updated quickly to work with third party software like Microsoft Windows or Office, and even Mac OS. This will allow for it to be kept in sync with the versions of Hyperion EPM and Oracle BI that are out there, as well as third party suites that it would support, but have no control over.

So how different is this new version? Look-and-feel wise, it is still the same tool that we love to use. It has gained very few new features. The main changes are under the hood:

• Provides a single installer for 32-bit as well as 64-bit of Microsoft Office installations
• Upgrades no longer need to un-install previously installed versions
• Allows you to modify connections from Document Contents and to hide the pane altogether
• Supports Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013 support

The final item is most likely the most eagerly awaited feature, and will bring relief to many system administrators. A more comprehensive set of its features can be found here (http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E41952_01/index.htm)

So does this major release of Oracle Hyperion Smart View change everything? While it does not introduce ground-breaking new features, Oracle took an important step towards breaking HSV’s connection to other product development cycles. We look forward to seeing the good things that will come out of this!

Author: Andrew Tauro, Performance Architects


© Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog, 2006 - present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Three Ways to Improve Oracle Hyperion Planning Forecasting Data Forms

September 11, 2013

Oracle Hyperion Planning data forms are a great way to introduce your accounting and finance teams to Hyperion Planning. These forms provide users with an easy-to-use web interface, similar to Excel, and run business rules when users save the data form, so users can see the results of their efforts very quickly.

Change is difficult, and the length of time between budgeting and forecasting cycles could lead to users needing to read the user documentation to use these forms again. Budgeting cycles are stressful at the best of times. Making users read documentation again is a pain, and really, does anyone want to read documentation? Maybe, if they need help getting to sleep.

With the following tips, you can make your data forms easier to use for Excel users, and leave users hints and tips to jog their memories when they return to the forms a months or even a year later.

1. Tabbed Data Forms

Tabbed data forms are a form of “composite data forms” that allow you to put multiple data forms into the same data form, using tabs to move between the forms. This allows you group similar data forms, setting up the data forms in the order they should be completed. You can write instructions for users to refer to for each data form, and you can have business rules run for each data form included within the tabbed data form.

2. Data Validation Rules

Data validation rules are a great way to let users know when a form is being used correctly, and to flag any data they need to review. These rules can auto-color cells and prepare user messages based on conditions that you set. You could set a “percentage total” cell to be colored red if the percentage amount is over 100%, yellow if it is less than 100%, and green if the amount is exactly 100%.

These rules can also be used to draw user’s eyes to important cells that need data to be entered, or to warn users that calculations may not work if data has not been entered.

3. Task Lists

Task lists are a great way to refresh user’s memories about the budgeting and forecasting process! Basically, you can set up a checklist where users check off steps, with detailed notes on what step to take next. You can also set steps to direct users to data forms, setting the default page drop downs for that data form. Using tabbed data forms with task lists is a great way to show users the way to use the Planning system.

Other steps could be business rules, where the only thing user has to do is click the “Launch” button, and the correct business rule will run. If you have a wiki or other webpage that could help users understand how to use the data forms, you can direct users to a web page from a task list step as well.

This is just scratching the surface of all the helpful things you can do to make Oracle Hyperion Planning data forms easier for users to use and to let them focus on what really matters, their inputs.

I really hope you find this Oracle Hyperion Planning data form primer helpful, please leave any other hints and tips you’ve found helpful below, or feel free to ask for more information on any of the tips above.

Author: Nathan Low, Performance Architects

 


© Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog, 2006 - present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Performance Architects, Inc. and Performance Architects Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.