Thursday, May 8, 2008

Collaborate 08 - Essbase New Features Presentation

As promised, I am starting a series on the Collaborate 08 presentation by Aneel Shenker that discussed new features scheduled for the next version of Essbase. This presentation, as any presentation you see from Oracle on unshipped product, has the following disclaimer:

"The following is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information
purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle."

The fact that you hear it from me certainly doesn't change the above disclaimer as I can't/don't speak for Oracle.

That being said, here is a list of the things presented with a brief description of benefits of these features:
  1. Varying Attributes (aka Slowly Changing Attributes) - Slowly changing attributes let you change how members rollup based on time. A common usage scenario would be in a corporate reorg where 'Dept 100' rolls up to 'Mgr A' until July 2007, then it rolls up to 'Mgr B'. Without slowly changing attributes, a 'reorg' in the Essbase outline moves all history to roll up to 'Mgr B'.
  2. Time Intelligence enhancements in block storage. These were introduced in 9.3 but were ASO only; now some of that same functionality will be available throughout Essbase.
  3. Date and Text Measures - Allows you to display text instead of a value as the result of an Essbase query. To me, it looks like an enhanced 'Missing Text String' type of functionality except the 'text' values are controlled by the database designer.
  4. Improvements to backup and logging. The thing that stands out for me on this is the ability to audit logging capabilities. It appears Essbase will now track all write operations to the database including outline changes, data load, calculations and lock and send. Further, there will be new 'replay' feature that lets you 'replay' these 'writes' to your database; it looks very useful in the case where you have to restore from a backup.
  5. ASO Improvements including the ability to do a 'Partial Clear' of the database and ability for ASO databases to be the target of a partition.
  6. Essbase can be a physical database source in the OBIEE BI Server. For those of you that have always wanted to use SQL to go against Essbase, essentially the BI Server layer will allow you to do that; I would guess they are putting a virtual star-schema layer on top of Essbase in the BI Server layer.
  7. XOLAP or 'eXtending OLAP on a relational database'. Essentially, XOLAP is dynamically sourcing the cube from a relational datasource. I think this could be a very exciting development that could allow us to write some very cool applications in the future that were difficult before. For example, payroll planning applications where the user wanted to add, on the fly, new employees to plan for may be much easier in XOLAP. I can't wait to get my hands on it so I can see how far we can push it.

The presentation also talked about Essbase Studio and some future Essbase things as well. I plan to post a bit more on this topic and include some screenshots as time allows.

If you want to learn more about Essbase 11.1.1, I would urge you to attend the ODTUG Kaleidoscope conference in New Orleans. The Essbase Symposium on Sunday, June 15 is dedicated exclusively to 11.1.1 and future versions of Essbase; speakers for the day are all from the Essbase development organization and it will give you the unique opportunity to get your questions answered directly from the developers. Information on Kaleidoscope is located at


GlennS said...

I think your view of Date Text measures might be a little off. If I remember, you can have Text replace values so if a member has a value above 90 you could display "Good" instead of the value. 80 - 50 might be "Average" etc. The date changes also were pretty significant, being able to get the difference between dates, etc. Things we had problems doing before. I am looking forward to the session at Kaleidoscope. I think I'll learn a lot.

Tim Tow said...


I certainly understated the value of the Date and Text measures in this post; I plan to do a post that shows some screenshotes from the presentation to show more concretely how they can be used.

That being said, I still think they will behave much like the missing text value; they are text that can be configured to display instead of values. One big improvement, however, is that I believe the values will be configured by the administrator on the server instead of by the user on the client.

I agree the time intelligence is quite significant. I can't remember how many times I have done 'date math' on the frontend of an Essbase application to 'calculate' the members +/- 24 mths, etc.. Considering that doing the date math was even possible in VB/VBA/Java where it wasn't available in calc scripting certainly makes it huge thing..