Eric Joins Mercury Technology Group

•June 22, 2016 • 1 Comment

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It is with great excitement I announce that I have joined Mercury Technology Group as Vice President of Application Services.  I will be specializing in providing robust cloud services for Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Business Intelligence (BI).

Mercury Technology is THE Cloud Services provider of choice for Oracle Services, Solutions and Support and I have cultivated great relationships as this company has proven success in providing seamless transitions to managed cloud solutions around Oracle.

I will be extending an already impressive portfolio of cloud hosting services around EPM, BI, EBS, etc, working with Oracle, partners, and customers alike.

Check out the Press Release here: http://www.mercurytechnology.com/Why_Use_Mercury.html#pressbox

The official kickoff will be next week at KSCOPE.   If you are going, please feel free to stop by the Mercury booth #124 to say hi.

Also – don’t forget to attend my session – the first session of the conference – early Monday morning:

Maintaining, Monitoring, Administering, and Patching: The Real Cost of Hyperion Upkeeping

When: Jun 27, 2016, Session 1, 8:30 am – 9:30 am

Of course, if you are interested in hosting your EPM or BI implementation or if you are a partner looking to establish those capabilities, please reach out!

Roadmap for On-Premise EPM

•April 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

On premise update from Collaborate.

According to Oracle, EPM today has achieved fantastic adoption in Finance. However, spreadsheets still dominate outside of finance. EPM has been widely adopted for larger companies, however not nearly as much in mid-sized organizations. While the push for low cost cloud options present more opportunities for the mid market, it also poses some new challenges as organizations try to align all LOBs with corporate EPM efforts.

So to expand Oracle’s footprint, the push is for

  • Adopting EPM outside of finance – ie operational planning
  • Pushing down usage lower in the organization
  • Striving for easier adoption, rapid value, mobile
  • Flexibility and seamlessness between on-prem and cloud

 

We see these themes in modern releases, patches, and roadmap – notable highlights

  • Enhanced user experience… user interface, valid combinations, excel type grids capabilities
  • Sandboxing, excel based grids, write back enabled dashboards, integrated real time reporting
  • Advanced member function support
  • Cloud innovations and integrations

 

We also see the dedication to Excel as a major platform for data interactions

 

Excel workbooks and worksheets

  • vertical and horizontal tabs

Interactivity with larger data sets

  • Rapid loading of large forms
  • Support for shortcuts
  • Sandboxing
  • X-sheet/Work book references through HSGetVal and HsSetVal

Instantaneous calculations

  • excel formulas in through smart forms
  • auto calculations
  • smart push – combine ASO ad BSO into 1Hybrid BSO

 

And of course, the inclusion of the simplified interface

  • modern
  • intuitive
  • simple
  • relevant
  • engaging

simplified

The next major release of the EPM suite will be version 12. It should be April/May/June next year. It will have a complete new support matrix, and will rev down version 11 on the support lifeline. However, there is much more to come in the way of patches still in the 11.1.2.4 code set. On-premise customers are reaping the benefits of Oracle’s accelerated software development lifecycle due to cloud innovations. While all new functionality is developed on the cloud first, it’s not long before its pushed to on-premise customers. This new model is having customers rethink their patching strategy by making it a core frequent function of IT administration – or they outsource it as a managed service.

Future releases will also become more in line with Fusion middleware stack. We should see common platform certifications with FMW12c as well as a simplification of the relational repositories.

Financial Reporting

You may have heard, there will be a new web based financial reporting studio. This is great news for those that use the studio over long WAN distances or have challenges pushing out fat applications to end users that do not have administrative access to their desktops. The studio should be introduced in the .300 patch. The first release is slated to have 85% features of FR studio client. The initial release will be missing some key items such as row/column templates, linked objects, and related content. In the short term, users will have the option to use both until Oracle achieves 100% parity, and then they will sunset the studio for good.

FR Web

The updated FR tool will have a completely updated charts/graphs engine. They will probably have demos of this at Kscope.

Planning Roadmap

 The Planning roadmap and new functionality are focused in three major categories: The User interface, “agile planning”, and Enterprise Readiness

 

Planning Roadmap 0-12 months:

Enhanced User Interface

  • Enhanced User Interface
  • Valid Combinations
  • Excel-type grid capabilities
  • Robust Dimension Management
  • Document Upload & Duplicate Alias
  • Attributes as a separate dimension
  • Out of the Box Custom Currency support
  • Custom Localization
  • Customizable Navigation By Roles
  • Advanced member function support

“Agile Planning”

  • Sandboxing
  • Excel based grids with formula and formats
  • Write back empowered dashboards
  • Integrated Real Time Reporting

Enterprise Readiness

  • REST Web Service for external Integration
  • Groovy Scripting for customizations

 

 

Planning Roadmap Post 12 months cycle:

Enhanced user interface

  • Build from scratch dashboards, charts, and conditional formats from Excel
  • Adhoc dashboards

“Agile Planning”

  • predict model drivers
  • web based predictive planning
  • forecast simulation and Optimization
  • build models from user excel templates

Enterprise Readiness

  • Usage audit reports.

 

Financial Consolidation and Close Roadmap

As you may or may not know, there have been some recent Highlights, most notably the once Exalytics-only HFM Insights and rules profiler are now supported on Commodity hardware in the way of patches.

HFM Insights provides visibility into the running of HFM, resource consumption, CPU utilization, Per-application activities, user loads, etc. You can even restart HFM from the App.

 

Rules Profiling shows time spent Calculating, translating, and consolidating. It gives insight into where the time is bing spent and assist with application tuning by identifying bottlenecks.

 

chart2

 

11.1.2.4.200 introduced a web based application copy which quickly quelled the proverbial riot in the industry after removing the copyapp utility. Going forward we will see continued improvements to this web based copy app program as well as Enhanced visualizations and

For the roadmap, 11.1.2.4.300 will be released in the summer. We will see:

  • A very interesting feature called auto consolidations that will run consolidations automatically when there is available CPU
  • Dashboard improvements
    • Allow consolation of multi- form/grid dashboards
    • Make dashboards 1st class objects
  • Updated FR Charts and Graphs

 

In future HFM releases, the following are on the roadmap:

  • Real time consolidations
  • Journals enhancements: impact analysis
  • Web based member list editor
  • Updated intercompany and journal reporting
  • Auto archive of data audit
  • Multithreaded metadata load
  • More web based utilities
  • Web metadata editor

 

For the Financial Close Manager (FCM) roadmap we should see:

  • Archiving, updated rules configuration
  • Migrations utility to the cloud.
  • Transaction matching

 

For Hyperion Tax Provisioning:

  • Upgrade automation enhancement’s
  • Apportionment calculation

 

For Disclosure management we should expect tagging into EPRCS

 

 

Data Integration

For metadata, lets be clear: in spite of all the rumors, EPMA is not going away. It does what it is supposed to do – simple metadata between the Hyperion products. What Oracle is hearing is that customers want DRM-like capabilities put into EPMA, and they are simply not going to do that. They will not be investing in more features in EPMA. Use it or not, but if you have functional needs outside of EPMA, the direction is for you to purchase DRM.

FDMEE will continue to be the single place to move data. They realize data sync in EPMA is leaves a lot to be desired. Oracle is clearly investing in and selecting FDMEE as the main data movement tool across on-prem, cloud, etc

Case in point: FDM before only allowed Hyperion products to be used as a target. Oracle wants FDMEE to have any system be a source or target to the point that even non Hyperion customers could consider implementing FDMEE for orchestration to other technologies.

  • ERP to EPM
  • EPM to EPM
  • EPM to ERP
    • write back supports budget or actual
    • EBS and PeopleSoft only
  • ERP to ERP came in at 11.1.2.4.100 (already out)

 

Also in 11.1.2.4.100 we received a FDM to FDMEE conversion utility which moves classic FDM applications to FDMEE (minus custom scripting). Also we received a universal data adapter that allows users to connect and map and drill back to any database. We also got FCM integration and the ability to load exchange rates to HFM.

 

The .200 patch just came out recently.  In this patch we got Hybrid cloud integration so we can use FDMEE to load PBCS, however you have to buy FDMEE it and run it on prem.

We got DRM integration so we can:

  • Extract hierarchies from EBS and PeopleSoft (select DRM as target for metadata rule)
  • Load mapping rules from DRM to FDMEE
    • Generate “explicit” mapping rules from DRM
    • Load directly to FDMEE

FDMEE dRM

 

Future patches are coming for the close suite that will have more cloud integration, specifically with FCCS. Future releases should support cloud-to-cloud integration.

For the future Roadmap of FDMEE:

  • Metadata loading (it will be interesting to see another viable metadata option along with EPMA and DRM)
  • Non-numeric planning data
  • Mapping review mode
  • Mobile access to drill-through page
  • Filter balance sheet and income statement account
  • Additional minor parity items and selected enhancements.

Future DRM enhancements:

 

HPCM

HPCM Roadmap. We are going to see some great improvements in the HPCM suite since it will be coming to the Oracle SaaS cloud soon. Some key items:

  • Big time New UI for design and management
    • Rules oriented
    • Rules sequencing and documentation
    • Improved design flexibility
    • Simpler ad more immediate reporting
  • Same Product user focus
    • Business analyst skill set
    • Point and click design
    • Zero coding
    • Easy calculation control (unlimited reverse and redo)
  • New ledger model type for expanded coverage of management reporting
  • Parallel calculation improvements for performance
  • Operation transfer pricing solution
  • Financial Close Manager (FCM) integration

The main focus is to make HPCM business user managed and limit the burden of administrators by making it UI and rule driven, easily validated, and easily auditable.

 

The move to Embedded Analytics

Embedding Analytics in EPM all applications is a big push. For DRM, we are seeing some great analytical capabilities delivered out of the box:

 

Master data change analysis & Growth trends

  • In-flight governance request monitoring
  • Workflow model analysis
  • Security and administration reports

 

For HPCM the embedded analytics will tool provide:

  • Population Profit Performance Charting via Whale Curve and Scatter Plots
  • Dimensional Contribution reports
  • Allocation trace
  • Pre-built KPIs and dashboards

DRM analyytics

 

Essbase

We will also see some Essbase improvement since Essbase Cloud service is right around the corner as well (end of year or beginning). Some notable items are:

  • Enhanced parallel scripting
  • Multi-user scalability for concurrent query and calculation operations
  • BSO/ASO hybrid aggregation mode
  • In-memory enhancements

Essbase will be re-designed a bit to use a J2EE-based Essbase agent, which will eliminate the essbase.sec security file which will most certainly be met with cheers from the entire community.

We will also see an Oracle R plugin to Essbase.

Other things coming soon to Essbase:

  • Sandboxing
  • Lightweight workflow
  • See how a cell was modified (loaded, input, derived, dynamic, calculated)
  • Run time variables that are POV aware so you can select variables in a calc script in smartview.

In the distant future we can expect more integration with Oracle R, such as embedded R in calc scripts, and generic capability to allow extensibility with 3rd party languages.

 

Credit: Information, excerpts, and screen shots taken from public presentation by Oracle at Collaborate in Las Vegas, NV.

 

Sneak Peak into Financial Consolidations and Close Cloud Service

•April 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Introduction to the new Financial Consolidations and Close Cloud Service

Report from Collaborate 16.

OVERVIEW

 

Early next month, Oracle will release the latest of it’s EPM cloud offering – this time focusing on close and consolidation. It will be called the Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud Service or FCCS.

You may notice that Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud Service has 3 C’s, but the official acronym will have only 2 C’s.  I guess it’s up to you to pick which one is silent.

The main purpose of this tool is to:

  • Address management and legal entity consolidations needs for a broad spectrum
  • Provide significant out of the box functionality with limited need for customization
  • Provide out of the box calculations, hierarchies and reports for quick deployments.
  • Offer built-in task orchestration for management of overall process
  • Allow flexible robust reporting
  • Integrate with other EPM cloud offerings

 

It is important to note that this is not Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) in the cloud. This is confusing to many as this is the current Cloud landscape:

  • Oracle Planning and Budgeting on the Cloud (PBCS) is Hyperion Planning on-prem offered as a Software as a Service.
  • Account Reconciliations Cloud Service (ARCS) is the Account Reconsolidation Module within the close suite on-prem offered as a Software as a Service.
  • Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud Service (EPRCS) is a NEW TOOL (Not Hyperion Financial Reporting)
  • Financial Consolidation and Close  Cloud Service is a NEW TOOL (Not HFM)

 

As a matter of fact, FCCS is actually built on top of the PBCS cloud framework… with the same architecture based on Essbase as the data storage technology, unlike HFM which stores data relationally.

Why two tools?

HFM is great for doing anything you want. It’s flexible and customizable. If you don’t like how the standard consolidations are done – write you own. It’s great for complex situation and unique environments that need to make a consolidation tool fit the needs of the business.

FCCS takes the opposite approach. The target is for customers with general consolidation needs in fairly normal situations that want a simple out of the box tool that has standard calculations, standard reports, etc.

The idea of FCCS is to simplify the process into the two basic steps: Consolidate and Translate… that’s it.   HFM has a bunch of other options in the process.

The first release of FCCS will have these functional activities:

  • Predefined dimensions
  • pre-built forms and reports
  • standard consolidations and eliminations
  • current translations and FX adjustments
  • built-in KPI ratio analysis
  • Custom calculations using member formulas
  • Automated cash flow
  • Data source detail tracking with drill through
  • Multi-GAAP support
  • Approvals
  • Journal entry and approval workflow
  • Intercompany matching
  • Data audit
  • Close Calendar
    • Task management
    • Workflow
  • Supplemental schedules
    • Data collections
  • Dashboards

It will have some standard tools consistent with the other cloud offerings:

  • Application creation wizard
    • Wizard UI asks questions and allows you to select options such as:
      • Fiscal year and calendar specification
      • Single or multi currency
    • Enable what features you want:
      • Types of data source
      • Support for intercompany
      • Enable journals
      • Cash flow analyses
      • Multi-GAAP Reporting
      • KPI ratio Reporting

 

So, basically, tools that make it easy to stand-up an application using the features you want and hides the features you do not want. Currently you can add features, but cannot subtract so you will want to be careful.

There will be 11 pre-defined dimensions such as scenario, year, period, view, currency, etc. you may define only up to 2 custom dimensions. Included are a couple of interesting dimensions. There is a Consolidations dimension (similar to the HFM Value Dimension), which tracks consolidations, and a Data Source dimension, which tracks the source of data.

For example the Consolidation Dimension Tracks Calculations and locked status:

  • Consolidations status:
    • no data
    • OK
    • Impacted
    • Systems Changes
    • Translation needed
  • Locked Status
    • Not started
    • Locked
    • Not locked

 

There will be built-in compliance rules to ensure one user cannot do everything. For example, journal submitters cannot also be the approver of the submission.

Of course, all the history and auditing will be in place. You will easily be able to see all the historical transactions – who posted, approved, submitted, etc.

Standard reports will be available such as an Intercompany matching report. You will be able to kick out reports in PDF, Excel, etc. You will not be able to create your own reports.

There are some options for data entry:

  • Manual input
  • Data import
  • Supplemental details
  • Data Management (a kind of FDMEE-lite built in to FCCS)
  • On-prem FDMEE (but you will have to own this on-prem)

There will be limited UI Customizations, like the rest of the cloud products such as defining a landing page, creating customized announcements, and editing some user preferences.

 

THE INTERFACE

The main screen is familiar. When you log in you see the basic tiles or “cards” where you can launch the different functional pieces. FCCS will come with the following main tiles:

  • Dashboards
  • Tasks
  • Data analysis
  • Journals
  • Reports
  • Approvals
  • Rules
  • Console
  • Settings
  • Academy

 

On the left you will see an area for announcements, as well as a list of your immediate tasks that are hot-linked to the corresponding action.

 

Main

There are three kinds of Dashboards

  • Close overview dashboards
  • Compliance dashboards
  • Financial Dashboards.

The close overview dashboard keeps track of the overall close items.

  • Number complete, incomplete tasks
  • Number of Journals complete/incomplete
  • Supplemental data complete/incomplete.
  • Overall percentage complete for entire close.

 

Close Overview

The Compliance Dashboard will show alerts for things that are due/late. It shows the percentage approved on time or late, and it does so by user, so you know who to go beat up. In this case, we see Bob Smith is a real s slacker.

Compliance Dashboard

 

There are some standard Financial Dashboards as well.

The Cash Flow Dashboard allows you to show cash flow and filter by entities, by currency, by periods, etc. You can see cash flow by month, by quarter, etc. All sub dashboards can be drilled into.  Similarly, an Income Dashboard is available.

These dashboards follow the Standard dashboard format for Oracle Cloud: they have a section on top with summarized key metrics, with sub dashboards below to interact with the data.

 

cash flow

Income

When looking at data status, can edit data and, plus launch a bunch of actions, see supporting detail, or quickly jump out and interact with it inside excel like via Smartview.

data entry

 

What’s cool is that data viewing and chart views are all on the same screen. Plus actions can be launched directly such as kicking off a consolidation.

gross profit

 

FCCS introduces Journal groups, so you can create grouping and categories of Journals for easier navigation and organization.

journal Groups arrow

Within the Journals, you can launch actions such as submit, reject, approve, post, etc.

Journal Group actions

There are standard available reports such as:

  • Cash flow
  • Income statement
  • Income statement trends
  • Journal reports
  • Balance Sheet
  • Intercompany reports

 

report2

 

You can hard code elements in the report, but there is a lot that can be selectable.

selectable

result report

The Console Tab is for administrators. End users will not even see it as an option. Here is where we can define valid intersections. Just a note, you have to do it one by one, and cannot bulk upload valid intersections.

valid intersections

 

In the Settings Tab you can define Announcements – with different start and stop times so a different message can be displayed depending on the date and time complete with formatted text like color, italics, etc.

 

As you would expect there is also a comprehensive Academy. It will contain videos and tutorials, 2-3 minutes overviews on specific topics. Oracle will continuously add content via updates and patches.

acadamy

There will be a way for users and administrators to provide direct feedback to oracle and get support. When you click on support, in the background, the system will compile current screen shots, and logs that will be automatically attached to the trouble ticket for fast resolution.

feedback

One last note about FCCS: You will have to manage your own historical data and close snapshots … so if you want historical backups or snapshots to capture the system, say, at the end of each month and store them for historical tracking, you will need to do that extract and send to on prem for safe keeping.

Stay tuned for more updates and Roadmaps from Collaborate 16.

 

 

 

 

 

The 8 Most Common Misconceptions about Oracle Exalytics

•March 21, 2016 • 1 Comment

 

I get a lot of different questions and confusion about Exalytics. While it has been out for quite some time now, the new certification for HFM on the Exalytics platform has been a game changer for the engineered system. Here are a few common misconceptions I hear when at user group meetings, conferences, and clients about the Exalytics system.

 

1.) It’s a pre-configured appliance

An appliance is a server that is preloaded and configured for a specific task, such as the Oracle Database appliance. It comes preloaded with Oracle Linux and has an Appliance Manager that guides you though database sizing, creation, etc. It’s meant to plug in and hand over the users quickly.

An engineered system is for software that is developed specifically for that hardware, or at least aware of the hardware to take advantage of the architecture specific to the platform. In the case of Exalytics, the EPM software is engineered to be aware of its high system resources and can do things like in-memory computing. It also has a specific network interface, infiniband, that is a high speed interface specifically to talk to other Exa systems such as Exadata and Exalogic. It also has certain product features and tools that are only available on Exalytics platform.

Exalytics is not an appliance, it is an engineered system. It does not come pre-loaded with anything, and you would install only the specific components you use or have purchased.   As the engineered system evolves, product specific instruction sets are even being put on the chips, most notably Essbase operations.

Setting up an Exalytics server can be a very lengthy process. In order to finalize the purchase, a site survey should be done to understand all the components needed. One of the biggest hang-ups in an Exalytics set-up, believe it or not, is cabling. Once racked and stacked, the operating system needs to be installed, Oracle Virtual Machines (OVM) created, and the EPM/BI software installed. If you are considering Exalytics, plan accordingly for the hardware and software onboarding process.

 

2.) Exalytics is more expensive than commodity

Not necessarily. In some cases, it can actually be cheaper over a 5 year total cost of ownership. A lot of people just look at the surface costs of servers – simply comparing the costs of commodity hardware vs. Exalytics hardware and immediately come to the conclusion that Exalytics is more expensive. However we have done many deep-dive TOC assessments with customers and shown how, in some cases, consolidation of servers on Exalytics is much more financially favorable if you look at all the factors.

  • Software licensing
  • Operating system licenses
  • IT Labor costs
  • Storage costs
  • Network costs
  • Electricity and cooling
  • Patching, administration, maintenance
  • Datacenter space

 

For example: Here is a recent case study we did that showed a cost savings of about a half a million dollars:

exa

3.) I only need to buy 1 Exalytics machine

Can you buy just one? Of course. Should you? Probably not. In actuality, most customers purchase 2-5 Exalytics machines. In general, one box is used for the production instance, and then at least one more are used to house lower supporting environments such as DEV and TEST. Also for those looking for a highly available configuration then you will want to have 2 Exalytics machines in Production for load balancing and failover. Additionally, don’t forget that you may want to consider disaster recovery environment as well in another datacenter.

It’s also important to remember there are components of the EPM suite that are still Windows-only or not supported by the engineering team to run on Exalytic, so you may need to have additional servers outside the Exalytics to house these items. Examples are:

  • Enterprise Performance Management Architect (EPMA)
  • Data Relationship Management (DRM)
  • Strategic Finance (HSF)
  • The Database

There are many techniques to minimize the number of servers you need by using them for multiple purposes, virtualization, etc which can be vetted out by a thorough hardware design.

 4. I can virtualize it anyway I want

While there are options to virtualize Exalytics into multiple virtual machines, there are limitations. According to an Oracle statement in August 2014, there was a limit of only allowing 4 virtual machines, with a maximum of 28 vCPUs and 800GB of Memory each.   However, I believe Oracle increased the supported number of VMs to 10 now. If you find the need to configure things outside these limits, it may not be supported by Oracle. Remember, you always have the ability to install multiple instances of EPM on a bare-metal Exalytics (no virtualization), however each instance will need to be configured on different ports to avoid conflict.

The virtualization technology is different depending on the model you purchase. The X series runs Oracle Linux and uses Oracle Virtual Machine (OVM). The T Series runs Oracle Solaris and uses Solaris Containers.

Other OVM considerations:

  • An external server or a virtual machine must be provided to run Oracle Virtual Manager(OVM) and Enterprise Manager Cloud Control.
  • Is free, but must pay support http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/els-pricelist-070592.pdf
  • In general, CPU and memory performance is similar to bare-metal, however disk performance can be a bit degraded, which could affect I/O intensive applications such as Essbase.
  • You cannot use Infiniband with virtualization, so if you plan on using Exalytics with Exalogic or Exadata, you must install bare-metal to take advantage of the networking platform.

 

 5. I need Times Ten for in-memory computing

Times Ten is not really used by EPM / Hyperion.  The use case is with OBIEE.  Times Ten is used as an in-memory database running on Exalytics as a source for OBIEE.  It allows loading a bunch of the database in-memory and other features for better performance.

However, now that the 12c database with in-memory is available on Exalytics, that could be the more robust and higher performing option.  It is positioned similar to Times Ten, depending on the exact use case.

 

 6. I cannot run any other software on Exalytics than the software listed as supported

Not (necessarily) True. It comes down to which group will support you. If you purchase an Exalytics, you get support with Oracle’s elite Engineered System Support Group that specializes in engineered systems. The following products are currently supported on Exalytics by the Engineered Systems Group:

  • Financial Reporting
  • Financial Close suite
  • Hyperion Financial Management
  • OFMA
  • Smartview provider
  • Planning
  • Foundation/Shared Services
  • Essbase Analyic Link
  • Profitability and Cost Management (HPCM)
  • OBIEE

Customers may run other software applications on Exalytics as long as that software runs on a separate Oracle VM guest based on Exalytics Oracle Linux OVM template. Customers shall be responsible for application supportability, sizing, deployment, availability and other lifecycle aspects of the deployment. Oracle may request such VMs to be turned off if they are found to interfere with the normal operation of Exalytics software. The same applies to Exalytics T5-8 implementations using Oracle VM for Solaris 64

Third party monitoring and backup software can be run on Exalytics, however Oracle does not certify them. Customers need to understand that these software programs may affect performance of the system. Should the software cause any issues in Exalytics system, Oracle support may request the customer to reproduce the issue without these monitoring/backup software programs running on the system.

Remember, OVM is a virtualization technology like any other, you can create a guest using any operating system in theory.

  • The X Series uses OVM and you can put a Windows Virtual machine with it, however the T series uses Solaris Zones and you CANNOT put a Windows VM on it.
  • You can run non-EPM software on an Exa platform, including the Oracle Database, however, the following applies:
    • It cannot run on bare metal and must run in a separate OVM/Zone.
    • It will not be supported by the Engineered System Team. You would need to get support from the third party vendor or normal Oracle support for Oracle products.
    • The disk system is shared, so be mindful of performance impacts

7. Oracle will supply Exalytics Patches

Yes, but not all in one place. Remember the Exalytics machine is just like any other wholly owned piece of hardware and will require the same maintenance. Customers are responsible for all patching:

  • EPM Software patching
  • OVM Patching
  • Operating System Patching

These are totally different patches, located in different areas, on a different release cycles, on a different version standard.

Also note that patching firmware and Kernel on the Exalytics is not supported, so you will have to leave that alone.

8. Oracle Professional Services must install the Exalytics machine to be certified

Not at all true. This is the most common misconception that I run into. Many customers and even Oracle sales reps believe that in order for an Exalytics environment to be certified and supported, Oracle Consulting has to set it up and install it.

I was once told by a senior member in Oracle that it is against Oracle policy to require Oracle be the one to set up any Oracle Software. Oracle Software is designed to be implemented by customers and Oracle partners alike.

Having said that, it might be a good idea to have Oracle assist with a site visit and ensure all the cabling and networking is in place. They have a very comprehensive 16-page questionnaire that covers logistics, networking, software, virtualization, capacity on demand configuration, ports, etc that is useful in staging the physical hardware, especially if infiniband is in play. However, outside of that, you can choose to work with a partner like ADI Strategies for installation, configuration, tuning, patching, artifact migration/upgrade, ongoing support, and managed services.

When considering an Exa platform, it’s important to do a comprehensive hardware design to ensure you are right-sizing and not overbuying. Contact me for more info.

 

Cloud Update for Q1 2016

•March 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The pressure for cloud

2 Trillion of global GDP out of about 75 Trillion is spent on IT. Of that two trillion, about half is consumer spending, and the other half is corporate spend. Of the corporate spend, 18% is spent on innovation, which has been fairly flat over the years, while consumer spending has been on the rise (due to devices)

 

However, in the last 7 years revenue has been less than 1% growth. Sustainable revenue has come from cost cutting. Cloud solutions offer opportunities to cut IT operational costs while still achieving functionally and agility.

And the competition is fierce. There is clearly a race to not only bring EPM solutions to a all business shapes and sizes, but grow EPM into every major business function.

EPM everywhere

 

EPM is evolving from financial reporting and dashboards.  Its is becoming a critical tool for gaining business insight and decision making, providing a tool to manage goals and performance, and aligning behavior to actions.

Innovation has been centered on user adoption, which means a focus on simplifying the user interface, and reducing footprint, and rapid support. Focus areas of modern software companies

  • Millennials – work anywhere on any device, on the go. Today Millennials make up 36% of the workforce, it will be 50% by 2020.
  • Flexibility to change priorities on the fly
  • Instant seamless scalability to handle globalization, acquisitions
  • Push corporate capabilities to all levels of the organization
  • Mobile delivery
  • Easy adoption and rapid value.
  • Agile
  • Collaboration

Your Cloud Options

When evaluating the cloud, it’s important to note there are many options. The first thing is to figure out what exactly you want outsourced. For those that want a simple, rapid solution, Oracle’s Cloud solutions such as Planning and Budgeting on the Cloud Service is a great choice if your requirements fit within its capabilities.

But for others that may have needs outside current SaaS capability, already own the software, and just want to outsource hardware and the associated maintenance overhead, perhaps an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is really the cloud type to consider.

 

cloud options

Cloud Roadmap Summary

 When considering your cloud strategy, it is also imperative to be in the know on Oracle’s Cloud roadmap to ensure it meets your timelines and capability requirements. Here is what I am hearing… as usual, these are my guesses only and nothing official at all, and these change all the time.

  • Oracle Planning and Budgeting on the Cloud service. Currently available, launched in Feb 2014. One classic planning application only. Currently there are about 1000+ Subscriptions.
  • Oracle Performance Reporting Cloud Service. Currently available.
  • Oracle Account Reconciliation Cloud Services. Currently available. Read this for more info
  • Essbase Cloud Service. Originally I heard it was gong to be released in the next month or so, but then I heard it was pushed out to the next fiscal cycle.   It will have sandboxing and workflow built into it. It will have the ability to import data from BI Cloud Services (BICS) and Database cloud service. They claim that consumers of Essbase Cloud will not need to have Essbase skills as there will be guided database creation wizards and guides.
  • Enterprise Planning and Budgeting on the Cloud service (EPBCS). This is PBCS with all the modules – CAPEX, Work Force, Project, etc. You will get ALL the modules with your subscription and you simply enable the modules you want. It’s designed to start with one and incrementally add functionality. At this time I do not have any information on the license methodology nor the technical methodology to migrate from PBCS to EPBCS. I think that is still being ironed out. Price is $250/user/month
  • Financial Consolidation Cloud Service (FCCS). Around May-July. Should be integrated with current cloud offerings, but will not be immediately migratable from on-prem. The Initial release is intended for net new customers and will have limited functionality. Think of it as having the same features as the initial release of HFM – the basic close:

 

    • Address management and legal entity consolidation.

    • Not meant to be HFM on the cloud. (It’s actually built on top of PBCS, with an Essbase back-end)

    • First release: Out of the box functionality with limited customization. I believe you will get 2 custom dimensions

    • Built in orchestration

    • Standard consolidations and eliminations only.

    • Currency translations and FX adjustment

    • Automated Cash Flow

    • Task management, status. Workflow.

 

As you would imagine, it will have tablet interface, social interactions, etc. I heard the price will be $120/user/month.

 You might want to shy away from the first release if you are an existing customer with custom scripts, rules, or complex things like equity eliminations, allocations, a lot of multinational GLs, etc.

Way Further Out (2017)

  • Tax Provisioning Cloud Service. Should be integrated with FCCS and I believe it will have a migration path from on prem HTP. Second Half of 2017.
  • Profitability and Cost Management Cloud
  • Dimension Management Cloud – think DRM

 

The Hybrid Approach

What we are seeing today is that everyone’s situation is a bit unique. While many companies would like to use Oracle’s SaaS cloud, they have situations where they have some products or features that are not yet available. For these, often a hybrid solution can be used to create a mix of different products and cloud services that is the most cost efficient and delivers the features and functionally that is needed. For example, if a customer has planning and HFM, we can use a combination of PBCS and a ADI hosted IaaS to seamlessly deliver an overall cloud approach. The trick for the seamless integration is active oversight and managed services as it relates to data integration, process orchestration, and metadata maintenance. If done correctly the actual physical platform is transparent to the customer and fully administered behind the scenes – all at a lower cost of ownership.

hybrid

 

The On-Premise Warriors

I know, you know, and Oracle knows there are some customers that will never go to the cloud.

Generally I see these being customers that:

  • have mature IT departments
  • want to capitalize software and hardware assets
  • have mature or custom internal processes, compliances, business continuity models.
  • have specific performance needs (Exalytics/Exadata), high I/O or Network requirements
  • are generally more comfortable having their data internal to their own data center.

For those customers – not to sweat.  All the functionality that is available in Oracle’s SaaS EPM services will be eventually available on-premise.  Just know that it will be applied to the cloud instances first and more frequent.

Summary

If your requirements align with the capabilities of Oracle’s SaaS cloud offerings, then it might be worth considering waiting and giving them a try when they are released.

Can’t wait and want to get the cloud now? Contact me for information on our Infrastructure as a Service outsourcing and Managed Services to get you up and running in no time with no limitations. We can chose between all the different options, including a customized hybrid solution that fits any situation.

 

 

Announcing Oracle Essbase Cloud Service

•October 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Oracle Essbase Cloud Service

Acronym name: ESSCS

Home

At Oracle Open world, Essbase cloud service was announced. This is a cloud based service to deliver the power of Essbase as a software as a service model.   This will be a tradition Software as a Service model, similar to Oracle Planning and Budgeting on the Cloud Service that will be priced by user by month. It should be added to the other cloud services under the Enterprise Performance Management applications along with Planning and Budgeting and Enterprise Performance Reporting.

cloud ora

It has some interesting features

The ease of creating and managing Cubes

To create and manage and Essbase cube, you can use the full suite of options within the user interface to create your application. However, one of the great features is that you don’t really have to know Essbase much at all. You can simply upload a spreadsheet, structured or unstructured data, and the application will be created and managed. Similarly, you can export to a spreadsheet.

According to Oracle, they assume 90% of your modeling will be done in Excel and uploaded. You can create ASO, BSO, or Hybrid cubes. Of course, you will be able to LCM applications from on-prem to ESSCS as well.

You can manage your storage types…

Storage

A calc script editor is embedded in the interface.

Calc

Sandboxing

Users can create sandbox version of their essbase cubes. The concept of sandboxing is not new, and is available in PBCS today. However, ESSCS takes it to a different level by allowing an approval process. Users create sandboxes, and different users can approve or reject those changes to be moved into the production cube.

Sandbox Screens

Sandbox

Sandbox Zoom

Here you can approve or reject the sandbox…

aproval

Limitations and Usability

It has still not been determined what limitations there will be for ESSCS. Rumors now are that you may be limited to 10 applications, and there will be a storage limit.

The primary reporting wool will smartview. There should be integration into the BICS cloud as well. Currently, Hyperion Financial Reports will not be supported, however there is talk to either support on-premise Financial Reporting or embed is into the ESSCS clouds somehow.

Excel

 
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