Saturday, October 31, 2009

greenEPM: Powered by Dodeca

We recently issued a press release that announced that greenEPM is building their environmental planning, reporting and analysis system on the Dodeca Framework. Their application shows the flexibility of the Dodeca plug-in architecture. This architecture allows us to quickly respond to customer requests for new functionality and, in addition, makes Dodeca the perfect platform for vertical application development. The plug-in architecture runs so deep in Dodeca, in fact, that our robust Essbase functionality is actually implemented as a plug-in. Likewise, the greenEPM functionality is a plug-in on top of the Dodeca Framework. The Dodeca Framework provided a tremendous jump-start in development of the greenEPM product.

The greenEPM application looks much different than anything that we have ever created in Dodeca, which is a testament to the flexibility. Here are a couple of screenshots of the greenEPM application (click on the images to view a full size version of the image). greenEPM provides sustainability reporting modules that allow firms to stay in compliance with both regulatory requirements and voluntary standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative and the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. You can learn more about greenEPM on their website at

As an aside, the dataset that is being displayed in these screenshots is filtered for the town where I grew up, Crystal, MI. For what it is worth, Crystal is a nice little resort lake town where my family has an entrepreneurial history. I guess entrepreneurship runs in my blood!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Recession helps BI

I was invited to attend an invitation-only Management Excellence Forum at Open World a couple of weeks ago. One customer panelist, who happens to be one of our customers, made this interesting comment:

"With the economy down, we no longer see a laissez-faire attitude regarding business intelligence."

For those of us in the business, it sounds like we will all remain very busy not only during this slowdown, but also for some time to come.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beyond Virtualization - Post Webcast

The AppTransport webcast at helped me understand the technology a bit more and it looks pretty cool. The AppTransport technology, which is used to create Virtual Application Appliances, or VAA's, is very similar in concept to VMWare. VMWare virtualizes and isolates the operating system; VAA's do much the same for a single application.

You can learn more about the technology at the EPMCloud website.

VBA to Create Sample Budget Data

Yesterday I was working with one of our partners to create a proof of concept using Dodeca and one of the issues that came up was creating some sample budget data to go with the actual numbers obtained from the customer. The partner wanted the budget numbers to be within the range of actual +10%/-15%. Not a problem, so I dug deep into my Excel experience and came up with the following VBA algorithm in about 10 minutes.. I *think* it did what I wanted so I thought I would share it:

Option Explicit

Private Const MIN_VAR_PERCENT As Double = -0.15
Private Const MAX_VAR_PERCENT As Double = 0.1

Sub AdjustTargets()
Dim oRange As Range
Dim oCell As Range
Dim vNumber As Variant
Dim iPlaces As Integer

''' use the selected cells
Set oRange = Selection

''' loop the selected cells
For Each oCell In oRange
''' if the cell contains a number
If IsNumeric(oCell.Formula) Then
''' grab the number
vNumber = oCell.Formula

''' get the number of decimal places
If InStr(CStr(vNumber), ".") > 0 Then
iPlaces = Len(CStr(vNumber)) - InStr(CStr(vNumber), ".")
iPlaces = 0
End If

''' compute a random value between the bounds and
oCell.Formula = Round((vNumber * (1 + MIN_VAR_PERCENT)) + (Rnd() * (MAX_VAR_PERCENT - MIN_VAR_PERCENT)) * vNumber, iPlaces)
End If
End Sub
The HTML rendering on the blog is sometimes not very good, so here is a screenshot of the VBA window (click on the picture to see a full sized version).

To use the VBA, select a range in an Excel workbook and run the macro.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One Good Reason to Stick with Supported Versions

I have been using Essbase for over 14 years now and have got it to run just about anywhere. Sometimes it took a few tweaks and sometimes, such as in getting it to run on Windows 7, is quite a bit more involved. Still, I got it working.

Recently, there was a post on the Network 54 board about a problem getting EAS running on Windows 2000 Advanced Server:

Typically, I wouldn't expect this to be a problem but it was. We did a bit of research and found that one of the dlls, jmaxl.dll, called a function in the operating system that apparently did not exist in Windows 2000. When you see this, there is basically nothing you can do.

Last week, we saw a similar issue with while doing QA on the Olap Underground utilities. We found the Essbase VB API for does not appear to initialize properly on Windows 2000. What that means to Olap Underground users is that those products will no longer work on Windows 2000 if they upgrade to

Monday, October 26, 2009

Virtualization Update

I got an email from Tommy James at EPMCloud about the new AppTransport technology they are featuring. The new technology, which is from a company called AppZero and is packaged/branded AppTransport by EPMCloud, allows customers to essentially drag and drop an application, including all pertinent registry/directory/file settings between servers. Tommy wanted to clarify that the current technology will allow you to drag/drop an application between Windows servers. Further; AppZero is working on enabling the technology on Linux/Unix servers.

They have a webcast coming up Wednesday to show off the new technology. You can register on their website at

Thursday, October 22, 2009

ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2010 Abstract Deadline

The deadline for submitting abstracts for Kaleidoscope is fast approaching. If you have deep technical knowledge of Essbase or the other Hyperion products that you would like to share with your peers, go to and let us know. ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2010 will be at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. from June 27 to July 1.

For those of you are are really geeky (like me), let me express it in your terms:

if (essbaseOrHyperionExpert && wantToShare) {
// act before Oct 27

// Hyperion SIG board action required

// assuming the abstract rocks!
} else {
// future deadline

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Beyond Virtualization?

At Open World, I talked with Mike Dayton from EPMCloud and he mentioned a new technology they are working with that effectively allows you to develop on the cloud and then painlessly move the application to an on-premises machine. Very intriguing!

Today, I got an email from Mike about an upcoming webinar on the technology which is from a company called AppZero. They claim to wrap an application, including all of the baseline OS settings, registry, directory and file settings in such a way that you can even move the application from one OS to another using drag-and-drop. If that works, this technology could be pretty cool. Want to try Essbase on Unix instead of Windows? Drag-and-drop it!

Who knows if it works that easily but I am going to try to catch the webcast scheduled for October 28th entitled 'Click to Move EPM Apps Between Cloud and Data Center With AppTransport'. You can get more info on the webcast at

Friday, October 16, 2009

Open World 2009 / More

One of the coolest things happened after the conference was over. We were walking back to the Intercontinental Hotel, where my team stayed, and there was a bunch of police around the hotel including a number of canine units in the lobby. I literally thought it was a police dog convention until I found out President Obama was staying at the Intercontinental that night! I got to see him twice when his motorcade was leaving the hotel, first for a fundraiser and later to depart. They had everyone off the street, but I was standing just inside the glass doors of the hotel. When his car drove by when he left for the fundraiser, he glanced out the window and I gave him a thumbs up, wave and smile. He looked at me, broke out in a big smile and waved back! Half of my friends will think it was very cool that I slept under the same roof as the President (and apparently passed the background check I hear they did on all hotel guests). The other half will think I am nuts.

After leaving the hotel, my trip home from Open World was much smoother than my trip to San Francisco. My original seat assignment out of SF was a middle seat and I was fretting the trip. I tried to change my departure time in an effort to get a better seat but was told all flights were sold out until Sunday! Thank goodness for my (overpriced) American Express Platinum card! One of the primary benefits of this card is admission to many of the airline clubs including the American Airlines Admiral Club. There, the agents found me an exit row aisle seat. Perfect!

The plane was loaded with people returning from Open World. Interestingly enough, the person next to me was an Open World attendee who is an EPM consultant who concentrates on HFM. We spent nearly the entire flight to Dallas talking about EPM things and spent a bunch of time looking at, and discussing, Dodeca. There were some very interesting ideas that came out of the impromptu meeting. We even did the tourist thing of showing off pictures of our family before we got to Dallas. As it turns out, we both have beautiful wives. I wonder if that is yet another benefit of Oracle EPM?

Finally, due to innovations such as GotoMeeting, I don't travel much anymore. In fact, this is the first flight I have ever been on that has wireless. My wireless was free due to a try-it-free coupon I got at the Admirals Club (thanks again AMEX). I couldn't resist but to write my first blog entry at 35,000 feet!

Open World Wrapup

Oracle Open World 2009 is now in the history books and I think it was a success both for our business and for Oracle customers in general. Some of the things I liked about Open World this year:
  • The Hyperion Pavilion put many of the Hyperion EPM sessions in the same area. It also provided a place for Hyperion oriented vendors to display their wares via kiosks located in the Pavilion itself. As a vendor, we thought our participation was very successful as we were in and around our friends in our business and not lost in the crowd like the Hyperion vendors that chose to display in the larger Expo halls.

  • The message from Oracle continues to be that both EPM and Essbase have very important strategic positions within the Oracle application stack. This is great news for everyone in the Hyperion/Essbase ecosystem.

  • There seemed to be more Hyperion and Essbase sessions though none of them are technically oriented; Kaleidoscope is the place for technical Hyperion sessions.

  • As part of my ODTUG Board of Directors responsibilities, I continued working with the Board of Directors and with the other user groups to provide great educational opportunities for our community.

  • The Appreciation Party on Wednesday night rocked with Aerosmith, Roger Daltrey and others.

  • It was great seeing the other ACEs and ACE Directors and discussing how we could collaborate in the future. The ACE Dinner was at a restaurant near this really cool Dodecahedron sculpture that was inspirational to me when we designed (and named) our Dodeca product.

Things that could be improved:

  • The Essbase sessions were not in the Hyperion pavilion as that product is now sold by the 'Business Intelligence' sales team and not the 'EPM' sales team. Customers typically associate Essbase with Hyperion regardless of the sales rep, so perhaps in the future conference planners can look at it with that approach.

I will be back next year!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fun Essbase Fact

Interesting Essbase fact from the John Kopcke Oracle Open World presentation. The largest known (ASO) Essbase outline currently:
  • 104 dimensions
  • 50,000,000-member Customer dimension

How does this compare to your Essbase cubes?

OOW 2009 Live Video Streaming

This year, Oracle OpenWorld 2009 will feature live video streaming for the first time. You can track the streaming on the Oracle wiki page at . You can see the streaming at the following URLs:

The live streaming is scheduled for the following times (pacific time):

Sun 10/11: 12:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Mon 10/12: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue 10/13: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed 10/15: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

They will also replay parts of the program through the night.

If you are at OpenWorld and want the chance to be 'on-camera', stop by the video streaming studio at the OTN Lounge in Moscone West. The OTN Lounge is also the place to go to talk tech with the Oracle ACEs, pickup some cool geeky Oracle T-Shirts and get your fill of Red Bull. See you there!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

OOW 2009 Ace Directors Briefing

One of the biggest benefits afforded Oracle ACE Directors is the opportunity to be briefed on upcoming product developments by Oracle product managers. This was the first such briefing I was able to fit into my schedule at Oracle headquarters and it was very interesting to hear about some of the upcoming features in the expansive product line.

The briefing was all day Friday and thus I flew out Thursday on American Airlines. One of the reasons I picked American is due to the ads they ran a year or so ago where they claimed to have added 5" between the rows to give passengers more legroom. In my seat, it seemed as though they took 5" *away* between the seats. To use my laptop, I literally had to put the keyboard in my chest and look down at the screen in my lap. I normally fly to the west coast on Southwest despite the fact that I have to get to Nashville to catch the flight; this seems to be the most frequent destination for my personal airplane as I fly myself to Nashville, then ride Southwest from there. I think I have learned my lesson and will be on Southwest next time.

Oracle put all of the ACE Directors up at the Sofitel on Thursday night. I checked in, dumped my stuff in my room and headed downstairs. In the lobby I ran into Tracy McMullen, another EPM ACE Director and co-author of a number of Essbase and Planning books with Edward Roske. She was in town to work on the Planning beta, so we sat and talked for a bit. If you haven't had the pleasure to meet Tracy, she is not only one of the brightest minds in EPM, but she is very proud Mom who was heading home Friday for a birthday celebration for her 5-year-old.

At the briefing on Friday, there was some content on BI and EPM, however, much of the content was an introduction for the ACE Directors from other disciplines. One thing that was apparent from the presentation is the continued integration of EPM, and particularly Essbase, into the remainder of the Oracle product stack.

When the briefing was over, the ACE Directors boarded a bus for our hotel in San Francisco. All of the ACE Directors are at the Intercontinental Hotel beside Moscone West. It just so happens the Hyperion pavilion with a concentration of Hyperion vendor kiosks, is located at the Intercontinental. If you are coming to San Francisco, be sure to stop and visit our kiosk there (and pickup a Dodeca long-sleeve T-Shirt while supplies last!)

My evening ended after dinner with Edward Roske at a restaurant owned by an old friend. Gino Assaf, who formerly owned my favorite restaurant in the world, Restaurante Gondola, has opened a new Italian place in the Mission District called Speccio. If you get to San Francisco, I highly recommend you visit Gino and tell him I said hello!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Corporate Pilot

My best friend in college tried to get me to come to flight school with him but I thought the wiser of it and, instead, toiled away as a CPA. I worked countless hours in a relatively thankless job.

Mark, on the other hand, had some lucky breaks and very quickly landed a job flying cargo at night. He had the perfect job as he went started his work week on Monday night and was off for the weekend early Friday morning. His motto was "Perpetual vacation, that's my destiny.." Of course, the only good response I ever had was that I told him that "someday, I will sign your paycheck." That must be the ultimate revenge, right?

Fast forward 25 years and now I own a company and have a corporate airplane. Mark, on the other hand, flies a jet for a big company, so my plane isn't quite enough to keep up with his 'jet set' tastes. Still, this week I could picture it happening.

Mark was in my plane, unfortunately, for the wrong reasons. Mark flew to Nashville and flew with me up to Grand Rapids, Michigan. One of our good friends, Dave, perished last week in a plane crash and we made an honor flight, of sorts, for him on the way to his services. I would expect Dave would have done the same for us.

Dave was a excellent pilot and it is thought he was the victim of equipment failure. I had flown with him many, many times when I served as his safety pilot for IFR currency training. We had many other adventures in airplanes though most of them were back in the late 80's. I believe his accident will eventually be blamed on either an oxygen system failure or carbon monoxide poisoning due to an exhaust leak. We will fondly remember, and miss, Dave's smirk.