Kscope 15 interview and how to stay up to date with EPM?

I had the honor and privilege to be interviewed by Opal Alapat at Kscope in Hollywood, Florida. Did you know Opal has an excellent blog?

You can find more Kaleidoscope 15 interviews in this playlist.

I also take the opportunity of this post to discuss how to stay up to date with Hyperion related topic: we all have our preferences and I personally do mostly do 4 things:

  1. Read other blogs: you have a nice collection on the right of this post (under BLOGROLL).
  2. Check Twitter: start by following @oraclepmblogs: it is a compilation of all EPM-related blogs and EPM-related posts, from there, you can build your Twitter feeds by following people followed by @oraclepmblogs.
  3. Read the Oracle EPM documentation: here.
  4. Visit EPM boards: Network54 and Oracle EPM forums for Essbase and Planning.

Happy learning!

What’s new in Planning on the Cloud PBCS August 2015 Release (15.08)?

Intro

A new release of Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) code 15.08 (probably for August 2015) is just released. Users and implementers have great expectations for this cuvée so let’s have a look at what is inside this release.

Defining Valid Intersections

There is a very interesting post on Essbase Dimensional Irrelevance as described by Dan Pressman here.

With the ability to define Valid Intersections with PBCS, you are not going to resolve all issues related to Dimensional Irrelevance (performance in particular) but you will take care of the wrong data entries problem. When you define Valid Intersections with PBCS, you can make slices of data read-only, making forms easier to use.

Oracle created a great video to explain how to create Valid Intersections:

Excel Formulas in Planning

Creating Excel formulas is a dream for FP&A users and can be nightmare for consultants, opening the can of worms as we all like to say or opening Pandora’s box if you are into Greek mythology. This new feature is restricted to SmartView where you can create Excel formulas and execute it in Planning.

Again, Oracle has created a nice video to explain how to activate and use this feature, great job on the videos by the way:

Planning Sandboxes

I have heard about Planning Sandboxes feature for a long time: now it is real. What is it? You can create your own private version of your plan and keep it as a work in progress. Once you are done with your work on your private version, you publish your results with the regular “Working” version.

Again, thank you Oracle for the video:

Planning Forms Autosave and Undo button

This option makes the user experience more fluid: whenever a user moves from one cell to another, data is saved and values are aggregated to their parents immediately.

Affected cells turn green, there is no particular warning (like data is saved and calculation is successful) and the Undo function remains available. By the way, enabling Autosave activates the Undo function as well.

The Simplified Interface is the Interface

It is not a big surprise, now it is official: with the latest version of PBCS, the Simplified Interface is now the only standard. It is a change for developers, I still prefer to develop with the ‘Standard Interface’ but I will get used to it. From a user point of view, I think it is a million times easier to user the Simplified Interface, which is much faster and uncluttered.

Browser support

With the latest release of PBCS, Internet Explorer 11 is supported on Standard Mode. IE 11 Enterprise mode should not be enabled. More importantly, IE9 is not supported anymore. You should not be worried about the lack of support of IE9 because this browser represents only represents 2.66%of users as you can see here.

The good news is PBCS works very well with Chrome, Firefox, and Safari and I think that should be all you care about. The recommended browser for PBCS is Firefox, if you want to play it safe, just go with it. I personally recommend Firefox as well because you don’t need Remote XUL Manager anymore. Remote XUL Manager worked well but it was a bit painful to deploy on a large scale.

PBCS Goes mobile

I think Oracle has the right answer for mobile use for Planning: nobody is going to enter data with a mobile phone, the screen is too small, you don’t have a physical keyboard, and it is too error-prone. This is why I think spreadsheet apps have no success on mobile phones (even MS Excel!).

With the mobile app, you can work on the process management and check calculation status (and yes, you can open spreadsheets, to look at numbers only).

You have a video, which is better than a thousand words and a hundred pictures:

One more thing!

There are actually more new features and this post concentrates to what I think are the main new features, you can find the entire list of features in the attached document: PBCS15_08_Whats_new

Update (September 7, 2015)

The transition to the Simplified Interface is now scheduled for November 2015. It is delayed to give more time for user adoption. Even though I am sure that it is a relief for many of us, it will happen anyways so be ready!

Kaleidoscope 2015 Recap: The best EPM Conference

This year I was lucky again to attend, present, and help prepare Kaleidoscope. For me and many others, Kscope is the best EPM conference and every year is better than the previous year.

Hollywood Kscope was my fourth conference, and when I look back, I always have a different reason to appreciate the conference and this it was all about content for me. ODTUG asks you to fill out an evaluation for every session you attend and this year, I gave 5/5 to all sessions I’ve been. You could clearly see presenters put a lot of hours into their presentations.

Exalytics

Kscope-1I wanted to learn more about Exalytics because I see more and more interest about Exalytics and I have the luck to work with a client where we have 2 Exalytics X4 machines (and not T4 like I wrote before, thank you John A Booth). I attended the Exalytics panel organized by Gary Crisci, it was a fantastic session with several real life clients using Exalytics and explaining why they chose it and why it worked for them. Before this session, I never realized you could save money with Exalytics. Yes, you read it right: Exalytics is actually the best solution to consolidate servers: there were cases of clients consolidating nearly 350 servers with 19 Exalytics machines!

Exalytics are big machines and you might want to have several virtual servers on the same physical box using the virtualization technology. Oracle recommends OVM (Oracle Virtual Machines) to run on the Exalytics box. I was a bit confused about this practice because if I can have the power of an Exalytics machine, I want to have a bare metal installation, especially for Essbase. Gabby Rubin, Exalytics Product Manager with Oracle said that roughly 60% of setups are with Essbase on OVM, of course your Essbase will take a hit but you will still have a better setup than any other configuration.

I was completely sold on Exalytics when I learned that there is an Intel engineer working in close relationship with the Essbase development team. I read somewhere that Intel processors were optimized with Essbase, now I know it is true. My understanding is that Intel have a special chip that can optimize the performance of the treatment by either increasing the number of cores or the frequency of the CPU, this is really impressive: if you need to perform a calculation, you increase the frequency, if you have a big number of users hitting your applications, you increase the number of CPU. Actually, the chipset will do the optimization for you, almost magic!

DRM

kscope-2
I attended my colleague and good friend Steve Davis presentation on Javascript scripting with DRM: this is a new way to write scripts with DRM and it complements the DRM scripting we had before. Steve and I discussed afterwards and I think Javascript scripting is here to make DRM on Exalytics possible. Gabby Rubin from Oracle told the audience in the Exalytics session that DRM on Exalytics is on the roadmap. Today, DRM runs only on Windows servers and I believe that moving scripting to Javascript, which runs on *nix will make the adaptation to Exalytics possible.

Sunset on EPMA

Some of us are looking forward to it, some others are in production with EPMA and can be concerned about a potential sunset of EPMA. I attended the Planning Deep Dive on Thursday and asked the question I wanted to ask for quite some time: “What is happening with EPMA?” We had a clear answer from Shankar Viswanathan, Product Manager with Oracle: there is no new development of EPMA but the tool will be supported as long as necessary. Now, if you ask the question: should I start a new implementation with EPMA? The answer is ‘NO’, clear enough?

What about EPMA DataSync then? Well, you have FDMEE, it comes free with the PBCS.

The Cloud

kscope-3Oracle is making the Cloud their strategic initiative, I think this is clear for every one of us.

The EPM suite is the best selling and fastest growing Oracle Cloud offering. It is crucial that Oracle succeeds in the Cloud to stay alive, they lost a battle with CRM against Salesforce.com, they are not doing very good with PeopleSoft HR against Workday, they cannot loose another battle against Anaplan or any other Cloud solution. If you don’t have a client on the Cloud and want to learn about EPM on the Cloud, you can use the Simplified Interface with 11.1.2.4, it is really close to the Cloud interface and I posted several articles on this topic.

Bottom Line (updated 8/23/2015, thank you Glenn Scwartzberg for the clarification)

The three current versions of Hyperion EPM will remain: Cloud first, then Exalytics, and then On-premises.

On premise will remain the choice for many organizations but I think we will see a significant increase of Cloud and Exalytics:

  • “simple” setups where you would use the Cloud in order to run your EPM: everything is hosted, you pay per user and everything you need is included (Oracle Database, Planning, HFM, FDMEE, backups, upgrades,..).
  • If you want to make the investment in an infrastructure, then you would go with Exalytics and own your entire solution

Read the comments if you want more clarification form Glenn.

Exciting times…

Going to Kaleidoscope? What else can you do in Sunny Florida?

I live in Miami so I know the region quite well especially that every time we have people visiting us, we give them a little tour of the area. So if you plan to attend Kaleidoscope this year, feel free to reach out directly to me if you need more information about what to do after the conference, I will be delighted to speak with you!

Last before we get to it, it is never too late to register: the Advanced Rate deadline is June 9th. On top of that, you can save $100 on your Kscope15 registration by using the discount code “TPDWN”.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

FL1Located at the south tip of Key Biscayne, this park is the home of the oldest lighthouse in the US. While you are there you can rent a bicycle (or a quad bike) and tour the area. Bring your best swimsuit when you visit Bill Baggs State Park. You can also see Stiltsville from there (these are the houses on the water you see south of the lighthouse on the photo).

The Venetian Pool

FL2This pool is a fortunate creation: it was an abandoned coral rock quarry sitting on an aquifer. Every night, the pool is emptied and filled out again every morning and the water is constantly at 78F. This pool has a grotto, a waterfall, and a small snack. On rare occasions, the pool is drained to allow the Miami Symphonic Orchestra to perform in the pool to and take advantage of the sound of the old quarry. It is one of a kind!

More on Coral Gables website.

Wynwood Walls and the Design District

WynwoodFL3 is to Miami what Soho is to New York. This neighborhood is vibrating and is definitely worth a visit, don’t miss the Wynwood walls, this is the new hot spot for street art. If you are more into luxury shopping, go a little west to the Design District, you will be amazed.

Fairchild Tropical Gardens

FL4Designed by landscape architect William Lyman Phillips, member of the Frederick Law Olmsted partnership who designed Central Park and Prospect Park. Fairchild Tropical Gardens present an extensive collections of rare tropical plants from all over the world. Don’t miss the tram tour given by lovely volunteer people and the butterfly greenhouse where they breed butterfly (they release new butterflies twice a day at mid-morning and mid-afternoon).

More on Fairchild Tropical Gardens website.

Gator Alley

FL5The Everglades is the largest National Park in the US, it’s ecosystem is unique with crystal clear freshwater running through mangroves. Take SW 8th St to the West and you will soon be surrounded by canals and rivers: look for gators there! Go for an airboat tour, it is really unique and you will discover why the Everglades is a fragile ecosystem and why it is more than just gators! You will have several airboat tours and I recommend Gator Park, I think they have the best tours and they are easy to find: they have a large Coca-Cola can with an airboat on top.

Have fun exploring the region!

Ain’t nothing like Kscope’s heat: 8 Sessions I am looking forward at Kaleidoscope 2015

pittbrown1In the song “International Love”, Pitbull and Chris Brown brag about the crazy amount of money they make and how they use their fame to get the attention of attractive women around the world. Armando Christian Pérez a.k.a. Pitbull, a longtime Miami resident, claims that nothing is like Miami’s heat to such a point that Chris Brown, a Tappahannock, VA native, agrees with Mr. 305 and also makes the statement that “nothing is like Miami’s heat” as they both make generalities about women country by country then city by city. Do Kaleidospcope speakers attain the same fame and do they leverage it to their own benefit? I am not so sure about it but I am certain of one thing: Kaleidoscope this year is packed with fantastic sessions and nothing will be like it!

This year again, I have the pleasure to present a session. My session is about HFM and Planning is on the “Financial Close” track: “HFM and Planning, best friends forever?” (Tuesday June 23rd at 3:30 PM Ballroom 1). I will present with Brian Willson and our presentation is already looking quite good. This post is about the 8 sessions I will do my best to attend. It is never too late to register, you can save $100 on your Kscope15 registration by using the discount code “TPDWN”.

June 22nd

Essbase CDFs Explained: Pulling Back the Curtain and Opening a World of Possibilities

Robert Gideon, Jun 22, 2015, 8:30 am – 9:30 am

I am biased because I worked with Robert a long time ago and I was amazed by his wide array of skills. CDF is a hot topic and I am sure this presentation is going to be awesome.

June 23rd

ASO Allocations: Why They Are Slow and How to Achieve Major Performance Increases

Daniel Pressman, Jun 23, 2015, 8:30 am – 9:30 am

Mr ASO strikes again with one of the most daunting topics with ASO databases: why my calculation is suddenly slow? Especially that last year, Cameron and Tim delivered an awesome session on how to leverage ASO Allocations for other types of calculations.

Next Generation Essbase Outline Extractor Tips and Tricks

Tim Tow, Jun 23, 2015, 11:15 am – 12:15 pm

The Essbase Outline Extractor has been through some major changes recently and nobody can share knowledge around the Outline Extractor better than Tim Tow.

June 24th

ASO, BSO, and Hybrid Calculations: What’s Fastest, How Hard Is It, and Which One Should You Use?

Cameron Lackpour, Tim German, Jun 24, 9:45 am – 10:45 am

I learn a lot when I attend Tim and Cameron presentations and I am sure I won’t be disappointed with this one. Their session on Hybrid last year was the best I attended and I am very excited about this one.

Advanced Calculations in Calc Manager

Ron Moore, Jun 24, 2015, 11:15 am – 12:15 pm

Ron and I work with the same company (TopDown Consulting) and I had the pleasure to have a preview of this session. Ron has an original approach to Calc Manager and ways to implement a driver based approach.

How Can I Use the New CDF Functions in Calc Manager?

Celvin Kattookaran, Jun 24, 2015, 1:45 pm – 2:45 pm

I really put an emphasis on CDF this year as I also plan to attend Celvin’s session.

Workforce Planning: Making the Out-of-the-Box Solution Work in the Real World

Juan Porter and Paul Hoch, Jun 24, 2015, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Juan and Paul both have a great wealth of experience with Workforce, they also tweaked the out of box solution to make it work quicker and better.

Hybrid: We Have a New Essbase Engine, and Its Fuel Is Data

John Booth and Chris Bolind, Jun 24, 2015, 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm

I’ve not made the move yet, but I know a lot of Planning applications that can benefit from Essbase Hybrid.

Sleep deprived? Learn how to automate Hyperion Planning tasks without Server Access. Chapter II, Job Scheduling

Sleep DeprivedUnless you are a very early morning person, you don’t want to wake up at 5:00AM in the morning to import data or metadata in a Planning Application. Fortunately, you can schedule Jobs from the Oracle Hyperion Simplified Interface. First you need to create a Job, how to do it? Check out this post. In this article I am going to share with you who to schedule Jobs to improve your own schedule and your work/life balance ®.

Scheduling a Job

Once your Job is created, it is rather simple to schedule it. Open the Console, click on the Agenda Icon, and select “Schedule Jobs”

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Select when you want to execute your Job, give it a name, then select the recurrence pattern: Once, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Yearly. If you select “Run now”, you won’t be able to have any form of recurrence.

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Select the Job you want to schedule, our case is simple, we only have one “Import Job” created:

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Once you’re done select “Next”, Review your Job then you can click “Finish”

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Once you are done, you will be taken back to the Console where you can check the execution of Jobs, Edit, or Delete Schedules:

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Click on a Scheduled Job to see details, in our case we see that there is no “Scheduled End Time” defined:

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Click on the Settings Wheel, select Edit and add an End Date.

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Scheduling any type of Job (Import or Export, Data or Metadata) will follow the same process.

Review the execution of a Job

The Console shows “Pending Jobs” as well as your “Recent Activity”:

Picture8

When you click on a Recent Activity item, you can access information about the execution. By Default you only see errors, but you can also select to see Warnings, Info, or All messages

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When you select “All”, you have something looking like an Essbase log:

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You can also Download the Exported file:

Picture11

You might wonder, why did the Import Job I created earlier failed?

Picture12

I click on the hyperlink next to Job Status and I see that the file I was pointing did not exist.

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this is because I wanted to import data before I exported it…

Migrating Jobs and Schedules

Another good thing is the possibility to use LCM to backup, export, and import Jobs and Schedules.

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Schedules are grouped by frequency:

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Bottom Line

This method is the way to go if you have PBCS but I also find it very useful if you have an on premise infrastructure.

It is one place to go to schedule and review Job execution, it also makes migration from one environment to another more simple as system admins don’t need to see you playing with Windows Schedules, cron, or Control M.

Last, I have seen many admins not having Server Access, it makes scheduling challenging and this is the solution for them.

Sleep deprived? Learn how to automate Hyperion Planning tasks without Server Access. Chapter I, creating jobs.

Sleep deprived hyperion AdminThis article is a follow up of the article on the automation of Business Rules without Server Access. I am going to show you how to Import Data, Export Data, Import Metadata, Export Medatata, and Refresh Database on a Planning Application without server access. In the next article, I will show you how to schedule these Jobs without a server access. Say goodbye to coffee, 5 hour energy, and Red Bull!

You might have noticed that when you want to use the Simplified Interface Job Scheduler, the type ofJobs you can schedule are not limited to Business Rules:

All types of Jobs that can be automated

In order to schedule a Job, you first need to to create the Job.

Create an Import or Export Job

Open the Console from the Simplified Interface:

Hyperion Planning Simplified Interface Console

Under “Action”, you will find a menu to Export or Import Data. In our case, we will first create a job to export data, then we will write another Job to import the same data.

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Click “Create”:

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Select your rows and columns, I selected the Account dimension in rows and the Period dimension in columns. As shown here, I select the entire dimension.

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I can select only certain members, clicking on the Member Selector. The Member Selector has all the bells and whistles you can imagine:

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You can show aliases, show a member count, add filters to filter by Attribute, Level, or Generation. You also have functions (similar to what is available on a Webform):

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Make sure you have a checkmark next to the member or members you selected. In my case, I selected Level 0 Descendants of YearTotal.

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Go ahead, define the slice you want to export and then Click on “Save as Job”

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and give it a name:

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Your job now appears in the list of “Export Data” Jobs, if you click on the link, you can edit it:

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Creating a Data Import Job is basically the same as creating an Export Data Job:

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Create a Job to Export Metadata

You need to go to Dimensions under the Console to create a Metadata Job.

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Click “Create”

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Select the dimensions you want to export and then click “Save as Job”:

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In my case I am going to export all dimension and save it as “Dr Export Metadata”:

sd17 it will actually create a zip file under your Import/Export folder:

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Create a Job to Import Metadata

The process to create a Job to import metadata is a little bit different. First, you need to select “Import”:

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Enter the name of your file admin_ExportedMetadata_Account.csv. Not that it follows the following structure Username_ExportedMetadata_DimensionName.csv:

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You can optionally clear members before you refresh metadata.

Click “Save as Job” enter a name for your Job:

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Note that you can Refresh the Database if your Import Metadata is successful, pretty neat, isn’t it?