Friday, November 20, 2009

Dodeca Patent Progress

The thing that sets Dodeca apart from all of our competitors is architecture. We spent much time and effort looking at the problems potential customers were seeing with the products they were using. Based on what we learned, we engineered Dodeca to minimize or eliminate those issues. Our primary goal was to create a software product that would be so flexible and functional that we would rarely need to say no to even the most extraordinary user requests. Believe me, some of those requests can be very extraordinary! After man-years of work, I am glad to report that we have met this goal and increased ease of use.

Ease of use means different things to different people. For end users, ease of use means they can explore their data and get the information they need in very obvious ways with only the slightest bit of training. For administrators, it means they can configure the system easily and quickly deliver applications to their users. Finally, for IT departments, the deployment and on-going maintenance of an application must be painless.

One key feature of the Dodeca architecture is the modular design that allows us to very easily plug in new functionality. This modular concept runs deep within Dodeca. In fact, Essbase functionality in Dodeca is a plug-in module. The plug-in concept also allows customers to remove functionality from their distribution. For example, if a customer wants to use only relational databases with Dodeca, they can simply delete the Essbase module files in their deployment.

A second key design aspect of Dodeca is its metadata driven nature. Everything that can be configured within Dodeca is stored as metadata, in a relational database, on our server. When a piece of metadata is required at runtime, it is requested by the Dodeca client via web services and returned, as XML, over the network via HTTP. Metadata transmitted this way includes report definitions, spreadsheet templates, Essbase connection information and toolbars. Similarly, relational data and Essbase data, including outline information, is transmitted via web services.

The use of XML adds significant flexibility to Dodeca. As an added benefit, it makes in-place upgrades easy. We have customers with thousands of users who have upgraded their Dodeca version in about 15 minutes. XML also gives Dodeca flexibility on the Essbase side. A single version of Dodeca works with every version of Essbase from 6.5.3 to the latest; we even support multiple retrievals, from any supported version, into the same report.

The modular architecture and the metadata driven aspects of Dodeca also work together. Some customers and partners, such as greenEPM, have leveraged our modular architecture to build extended functionality on the Dodeca Framework. Extensions are built in Visual Studio using C# or VB.Net and packaged using XML descriptors. Custom modules in Dodeca are treated as metadata and are delivered to the client via web-services. We believe this is a unique aspect of our product and is the subject of one of our pending patents.

This week, we received notice from our Intellectual Property attorneys that our patent application has been published; it will be quite a while before it is rewarded. It was a large time investment to complete the patent application, but, hopefully we will be patent-holders in the near future.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How Much Work Has Gone Into Dodeca?

So, exactly how many man-years have gone into creating Dodeca? A lot as evidenced by a look at the keyboard of Amy Tate, the Dodeca Architect. This is a relatively new Dell Latitude D830 laptop but she has polished off some of the letters in our quest to create great software..

Obviously you can see how hard we have worked on the product. If you want to really find out how we hit the mark on the greatness aspect, just ask our customers. After all, some of our customers may be your competitors!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No Wonder the Excel Add-in Installer Is So Large

Our Dodeca architect, Amy, was having problems with the classic Excel add-in (v11.1.1.3) on her laptop and so I took a look. I decided to look to see if the problem as a rogue copy of the xll file on here systems so I did a search for all of the xll's on her system. Here is what I found:

There are 28 localized versions installed by default. No wonder people are complaining about the size of the download. I didn't check to see but I would guess each of these directories contains a full client (localized) API which would be huge.

I hear they are planning improvements for 11.1.2. For the sake of those still on the classic add-in, I hope so.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

There is More to Life Than Essbase

Thursday night I saw a couple of bands that currently dominate my playlist. Marcy Playground and Hot Action Cop played at the WorkPlay Theater in Birmingham. I had not really listened much to Marcy Playground except, of course, to their mega-hit from the late 90's 'Sex and Candy' (video here). My wife, though, was a fan and we saw them in Huntsville earlier in the year. Now, I can't stop listening to their new CD 'Leaving Wonderland... in a Fit of Rage'. If you are interested in hearing some of their music, some of my favorites from the new album include:
  • Good Times (video here)
  • Gin and Money (which sounds like it should be in a Bond movie - video here)
  • Devil Woman (video here)
This album is the very personal artwork of Marcy Playgound frontman Jon Wozniak dedicated to his wife Raine. As I think I have the greatest wife ever, the album resonates with me. One of the cool things about seeing them at a small venue is that you get to talk with the band afterwards. In fact, Marcy Playground bassist Dylan Keefe stood next to me during much of the opening act, Nashville-based Hot Action Cop.

Hot Action Cop features alternative music, sometimes with a hint of funk/rap (and warning.. sometimes R-rated lyrics). Their new EP has a bit more of a rock tilt and a couple of my favorites include:
  • La Dee Da (listen here)
  • Baby Bottle (listen here)
If you are into music, I hope you enjoy these cuts.. Otherwise, back to Hyperion content tomorrow!

Addendum: If you are interested in checking out Marcy Playground, they are headed to Texas and will be in Dallas on Wednesday, 11/11, and hitting Houston, Laredo and Austin on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Issue Upgrading to

I got an email this week from old friend and Essbase practitioner, Bryan Bain, about an issue he was encountering when trying to upgrade a customer from Hyperion to Hyperion As we focus on software development, we don't run production systems on our servers and thus never have a need to upgrade

Bryan emailed me back a short time saying he had "found the solution and it's pretty cool. You should probably blog about it, but you have to give me credit. :)". Better yet, I convinced Bryan to be a guest blogger here. So, without further adieu, here is Bryan's writeup:

The issue was encountered with a system being upgraded to

When we attempted to upgrade to using the Oracle installer, the “Apply maintenance release” option was disabled. Click on the graphic below to see a full size copy of the dialog.

We determined the original installation was performed while logged into the Windows server as . Unfortunately, had left the company and thus the login was no longer available. As in many companies, getting IT to resurrect the login would’ve taken an act of Congress.

After some research, we found the initial installation places a small file, called oracle.products, in the users home directory (i.e. C:\Documents and Settings\). The Oracle installer apparently looks for this file and, if it is not found, the installer will not recognize that any Oracle products are installed and thus applying a maintenance release would not be possible. The simple solution was to copy this file from the home directory to the home directory for the user login we were using.

The lesson for all of us doing infrastructure work is to always perform installation steps using a permanent, non-expiring ID. When I set up an environment, I typically ask for a non-expiring ID that will be used for the installation and to run the EPM services. If you run the install using this ID, you would never run into this issue during subsequent upgrades/patches.

Thanks Bryan for sharing this information!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

greenEPM Webcast: Wednesday

I just found out that Oracle and interRel are sponsoring a webcast featuring greenEPM on Wednesday, November 3 at 12 noon central time.

The session features John O'Rourke, VP of Product Marketing for Oracle EPM Global Business Unit, who will provide his insight into Oracle’s sustainability strategy and the environmental reporting and performance management challenges facing Oracle customers today. I don't know if they are planning to show a live demo of the greenEPM software. I hope they do as their application is built on Dodeca and Essbase.

You can register for the session, entitled "Environmental & Energy Performance Management: A Profit Story", at