In April, Oracle released the 2nd Service Pack for its most recent Enterprise Performance Management System (Hyperion) – 126.96.36.199. Although the version numbering may appear like a minor patch, there are tons of new features packed into this latest release. The sheer number of new features can be overwhelming when trying to determine if you should consider upgrading. Therefore, we at Cervello have tailored a selection of observations for both the User and IT side of that discussion.
For Users and Administrators the questions regarding a new version usually center on:
• What functionality does it have now that my current version does not?
• Is it faster, cooler looking, and/or compatible with our current Web Browser or MSOffice version?
• Is xyz bug fixed because it constantly causes us problems?
Thankfully the 188.8.131.52 release has a little for everyone in the categories above.
Look and Feel Enhancements to Web UI for Planning and HFM
For anyone who has been working with these applications for a long time, the long awaited rebranding, repainting, renaming, and “Fusion” of all the EPM products has finally become a reality. Oracle took a “Web 2.0” paintbrush to the UI of Planning and HFM. For any organizations using OBI 11G, the color palette and general feel should look familiar, as Oracle is bringing a more unified look and feel between applications. These new interfaces require the latest generation of Web Browsers and horsepower, so this may be a good chance to lobby IT for that PC upgrade.
At long last, Smart View has achieved functional parity with the Excel Add-In.
This release actually came out between 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11, but it was only available via patches found on the Oracle Support site. 18.104.22.168 is the first time that upgraded Smart View and Hyperion Provider Services are part of the default installation packages.
Some of the “new” features that Add-in loyalists will appreciate are:
• Show Member Names and Aliases on the row set
• Substitution Variables can now be retrieved via Smart View
• Multiple grids on one worksheet connected to one or more applications.
• Options can now be set at the sheet level (previously were at the workbook level)
• Butterfly reports are now supported
With this new release comes news that the Add-In will be decommissioned in the next few years. This long awaited parity should get even the staunchest of Add-In supporters (the author included) to embrace Smart View.
Substitution Variables can now be managed through Planning
It seems hard to believe that it took this long, but Substitution Variables can now be created, managed, and updated via the Planning web. Since Sub Vars are such a crucial part of Planning, it always seemed backwards that you had to create them in Essbase before leveraging them in Planning. This is a welcome addition, and also reduces the number of places Administrators needs to go to manage their applications.
Business Rules are discontinued in favor of Calculation Manager.
It always seemed a bit unusual that Planning, a mostly web application, would require its calculations to be written in the Essbase Administration Services client. That is no longer an issue, as business rules have moved to Calculation Manager. Calculation Manager has been around since the original 11.x release of Oracle EPM, but this is the first time that we are seeing it required as your de facto calculation headquarters.
For organization’s interested in upgrading, they should look at the specific manual prerequisite steps required to migrate existing Business Rules to Calculation Manager found here: (http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E17236_01/epm.1112/epm_install_1112200.pdf) – page 127. Saying farewell to Business Rules is not a major product surprise, but it certainly increases the complexity of upgrading to the 22.214.171.124 version.
For the IT Crowd
For the IT crowd, the release of a new version can bring a lot of stress. Users or Administrators see a demo or a web cast of cool new features, and want to upgrade immediately. IT then has to comb through the documentation to understand the full ramifications and feasibility of an upgrade. Below are a few of the “under the hood” highlights of this most recent release.
IBM Websphere is now a supported Web Application Server.
Until now, Oracle did not support IBM Websphere in any of the 11.x releases, so this should come as great news to any organization currently using Websphere as an IT standard. There are some manual configuration steps listed in the deployment documentation, so it is more involved than doing a typical installation using the Weblogic packaged with the EPM installation files. As such, since Webpshere does not deploy as “automagically” as Weblogic does, going this route can introduce new infrastructure and support complexities. However, if Websphere is your organization’s IT standard, IT should be equipped to handle any of the configuration/deployment tasks required.
EPM applications can now be installed and run on Oracle’s Exalytics platform.
Exalytics is Oracle’s EPM/BI appliance designed to run EPM/BI systems at optimal performance, while simultaneously minimizing system maintenance/tuning. Normally, clients purchase Oracle EPM/BI software and install it on their own procured/configured hardware. The variability of this hardware/software (Linux vs. UNIX vs. Windows, SAN vs. Local Storage, Physical Server vs. Virtual Server, etc.) can have dramatic effects on performance. Exalytics is extremely powerful hardware paired with purpose built software. It is designed to remove the performance and support headaches that come with maintaining EPM environment. Exalytics is a brave new world in EPM/BI development, and we are excited to see what kind of traction it gains in the market.
Individual Client Installers are provided for EPM client tools (EAS, Essbase Client, Essbase Studio, etc.)
For anyone who has ever deployed EPM client tools to a large user base over a wide geographic area, this is a huge help. No longer is a 10GB shared drive housing all of the EPM installation files required for simply installing the Essbase Studio Console or Essbase Client. Individual installers have gradually trickled out via Oracle Support, but this is the first time that we are seeing them completely packaged and available from E-Delivery. Furthermore, for IT departments with sophisticated installation/delivery tools, the existence of simple .msi files should make widespread deployment significantly easier.
Oracle Enterprise Manager – Fusion Middleware Control can be used to manage your EPM WebLogic domain and Java Web applications
Starting with this release, Fusion Middleware Control is deployed and configured during the default installation process. FMC is mainly helpful for monitoring the general health and performance of EPM web components. Considering the wide array of EPM web applications possible in a deployment (HFM, DRM, Planning, Calculation Manager, Reporting and Analysis Framework, EPMA, Shared Services, Workspace, etc.), having a centralized place to monitor and manage them could prove very helpful.
There are a ton of interesting new features/changes in the latest EPM release. The above is a selection of features that we found interesting/noteworthy. If you are interested in some further “light” reading, the full documentation can be found here: http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E17236_01/index.htm , or contact us for more details.
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