Eric Runs for ODTUG Board of Directors

•October 4, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Dallas, TX News today from the ITSide in a momentous announcement that Eric Helmer is running for the ODTUG Board of Directors.

Mr. Helmer was met with hundreds of reporters this afternoon outside his lavish mansion in Dallas, TX where he officially announced his intent to serve the user community on the ODTUG board of directors.

Scores of reporters and photographers amidst high security officials filled the streets as Eric made his announcement about 11am Tuesday morning.

Eric Proclaims:  “It would be an honor and a privilege to serve this user community.”  He also suggests that the position is for an organization that should be called the “Board of Representatives rather than the Board of Directors” which was met with an unprecedented cheering and applause from the reporter audience.

He also announced the launching of his campaign site,, which articulates his goals and platform.  He also hinted at a possible smear campaign that will target the 15 other nominees jockeying for one of coveted slots on the board, saying that frequent updates will be made throughout the campaign that will uncover the hidden agendas of his competition.

Eric’s platform is one of making progress, unifying the user community, increasing available content for the members, and modernizing the organization.


Newest Trend: Best of Breed Approach to Managed #OraclEPM Hosted Solutions

•October 3, 2016 • Leave a Comment


During the Oracle ACE Director pre-OpenWorld briefing , Deepak Patil gave us an update on Oracle’s advances in their Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings.

Formally with Microsoft on the Azure team, Mr. Patil has extensive experience in providing IaaS solutions. During the session, he shared with us some research he’s conducted on how the hardware industry has changed in the last year.


Some if his interesting statistics:

  • Across all hardware vendors, there have been 60M servers shipped in the last 5 years.
  • 5 years is the optimal life span of a server
  • 6-7% of the servers shipped went to cloud vendor companies
  • In general, server shipments increase 9-10% year over year.
  • Server shipments to cloud providers increased 35-42% last year.
  • In the next 5 years, it is estimated that the majority of servers shipped will be to cloud vendors.


Obviously, more and more companies are moving to managed cloud platforms. Already, 7% of the world’s workloads are in cloud vendors.

In a recent survey, it was found that 87% of organizations are using some sort of SaaS or hosted solution. In that survey, many are or intend to use 1-3 different providers.

This is true. We continuously see companies move away from standardizing on one single vendor to host their entire enterprise. Additionally, companies are realizing that their on-premise datacenters and personnel are not optimal to service all solutions.

The old argument of a “single throat to choke” has lost its value in modern days. The advent of solid VPN encryption technology, faster networks, easier data integration methodologies, and the explosion of different products have moved the industry into a specialized best-of-breed hybrid approach for managed solutions rather than standardizing on a single monolithic hosted platform.

The catalyst for this has been the adoption of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). PaaS takes IaaS to the next level by being application specific and application aware.

Today, hardware and software are viewed cooperatively together as two equally pieces as an overall solution. As a result, hardware is becoming more software aware, and visa versa. Oracle has developed specific hardware and software designed to work together. It is now widely understood that hardware, as the key enabler for software, should be specifically configured for a particular solution and requires specific resources and skillsets to run, administer, monitor, backup, troubleshoot, etc.

In short, software simply runs better on different kinds of hardware, data centers, and administrative staff. I would not use the same servers/disk/network/team for my Microsoft Exchange system as I would for my Hyperion or BI system. Same thing with transactional systems vs. reporting solutions, ERP vs. CRM, Web servers vs. database servers, and so on.

This gives way to newest trend in managed cloud concepts – Solution-as-a-Service. Companies are realizing that hardware enables software, which, in turn, enables a solution.

Hyperion and BI are no longer department side projects – they are global mission critical sensitive systems. Today’s customers need more than simple hosting solutions. They need managed cloud providers to understand their applications deeper and provide deeper support with rapid response. So when companies consider a third party hosting platform, they choose vendors that outsource the entire solution, not just the infrastructure.




Application agnostic vendors that host everything have no choice to be a mile wide and an inch deep, unable to offer complete solution services, making them little more than providers of electricity and servers. In this case, customers are on the hook for application administration and managing meaningful application level skillsets.




Similarly, the small number of companies left that have strict all on-prem, no-hosting policies either struggle with performance, stability, efficiency, quality of administration/support, and incur massive costs staffing competent resources.   These organizations commonly have a pool of IT resources that are foolishly expected to maintain/monitor and support a wide range of very different technologies and products with little success.

Hyperion/BI is a great example. IT admins, in general, are more focused on larger ERPs, data warehouses, customer facing systems, etc and are not versed on the intricacies of financial systems. Which makes sense, as it’s not a full time job…. But that’s a problem when organizations are in the middle of a close and need high-speed rapid support response with knowledgeable experts focused on solving time-sensitive issues.

The solution is to use multiple specialized vendors for hosting solutions.   Lets face it, if you are hosting 100 servers, does it really matter if they are divided up between multiple vendors and on-prem? Not anymore. Companies experience many advantages hosting-by-function, hosting-by-skill set, and hosting-by-solution.




High speed secure interconnects today eliminate the latency and security concerns. VPN tunneling make distributed server locations look as one topology, making the location transparent and seamless to the user. Multiple vendors keep prices down by keeping competition high. Many companies pay LESS by using multiple vendors than using one.

For example, a company might choose hosting cloud vendor that specializes in SAP to outsource SAP/Hana as a solution. They may choose an IBM specialized partner for DB2 and Cognos. Each have their own architecture, requirements, and unique skill sets to maintain and administer.


Considerations for a hosted solution provider:


  • 24-hour staffed monitoring operations service center
  • Level-2 and level-3 application DBAs on staff, awake, working, in the office 24-hours.
  • No Level 1 support. Service desk starts with knowledgeable application DBAs and IT technicians immediately looking at issues.
  • Clear SLAs on uptime and issue response time
  • Compliant in SSAE16 and SOC
  • Strong change control methodology, approval process, and auditing.
  • Application-aware IT services – backups, log rotation, file system cleanups.
  • Application code migration
  • On demand unlimited environment cloning, data refreshing
  • Application software patching and upgrading
  • Assistance with data loading jobs, job monitoring, data integration
  • Database Administration
  • Artifact, application, and data level backups (not just server backups)
  • Long time experience working with all consulting firms and implementers. Familiar and clear working relationships, roles, responsibilities.


  • High speed Infrastructure, fast network
  • Latest state of the art servers
  • All solid state storage
  • Data center disaster recovery real-time replication
  • Strong security and intrusion detection with frequent 3rd party intrusion and denial of service testing and audit
  • Biometric physical security in secured fortified buildings.

Mercury Technology Group meets all of these requirements and then some.  For Oracle Application hosting, MTG is the clear choice for full outsourced IT hosting solution as a service.




Mercury Technology Group (MTG) provides managed private hosted cloud solutions specializing in Oracle EPM, BI, EBS and associated products.  Better performance, exceptional 24-hour rapid response support, and proprietary capabilities,  all for a lower cost of on-prem or leading hosting providers.



#OOW16 News: Oracle selling on-prem software licenses on-line. Is cloud really cheaper?

•September 19, 2016 • 1 Comment

Oracle selling on-prem software on-line.

In a surprise announcement this week at OOW, Oracle announces that it has developed a new on-line shopping experience for easily purchasing software…. Not only cloud solutions but a marketplace for on-premise licenses as well.

On Premise Software includes:


  • Database Server
  • Database enterprise products (RAC, Partitioning, Dataguard)
  • Database Security
  • Database Management: Tuning pack, Diagnostic Pack, Lifecycle Management Pack)
  • TimesTen
  • Berkeley DB
  • MySQL
  • NoSQL


  • Application Server (Weblogic, Coherence, Glassfish)
  • WebCenter:
  • Data Integration (Data Integrator, GoldenGate)
  • Business Intelligence (OBI standard, OBIEE, Publisher)
  • Development tools (Forms and Reports, Internet Developer Suite)
  • Enterprise portal
  • Hyperion BI (Financial Reporting, Interactive Reporting, SQR, Essbase Plus)
  • Identity Management
  • Java
  • Middleware management
  • Real-Time Decisions (Crystal Ball)
  • Service Oriented Architecture (SOA Server, Oracle Service Bus)
  • Transactions Processing (Tuxedo, MessageQ, SALT)


  • Applications Management packs for BI, EBS, PSFT)
  • Application Quality Management (Load and Functional testing)
  • AutoVue
  • Primavera


  • Linux
  • Solaris
  • Oracle VM


  • Sparc Servers
  • Networking
  • Desktops
  • Storage devices
  • Engineered systems including Exadata, Exalytics, Exalogic
  • Spare parts (can search by SKU)


They even are selling components for the MICROS point of sale system and some consulting services.

Of course you can also purchase a lot of their cloud offerings as well like the database, middleware, java, GoldenGate, and BI Cloud Services.


So lets look at the Hyperion Software:


The ONLY Hyperion products that are currently offered is Oracle Essbase Plus, Financial Reporting, Interactive Reporting, and SQR. Not sure where the other products are or if they intend to add them or not – I’ll try to find out.

You might ask if this going to upset the Hyperion Sales Reps or take away from their commission/structure.  Nope. Why? In a recent change within Oracle, many Oracle sales reps are now only getting compensated for CLOUD purchases and receiving nothing for on-premise.

Lets take a look at the pricing model. I’ll use Essbase plus as an example

You have the ability to purchase an on-prem license by processor or Named user. You can also purchase the license for a term limit or perpetual.


Checking out is really simple. You simply add what you want to your cart and checkout with a similar and easy interface. When it comes to payment, you can upload a Purchase Order.


So let’s compare a full use Essbase license vs what it would cost for the SaaS Essbase Cloud Service when it comes available.  We will a full use on-premise Essbase license would be $580/year per user – which is about half the cost of the rumored $100/month for the Essbase cloud service, however, there is the licenses and support fee of $638.  So for one year, 20 licenses – the total would be about $24,000. cart

Unfortunately we do not have pricing information on Essbase cloud service for comparison.  The rumor is that it will be a tired system depending on the configuration,size, environments, etc.  But for the purpose of the exercise, lets assume the average would be $200/user.  So for the year the total would be $48,000, twice the amount of the on-prem license.

Of course, the Oracle’s Cloud Services, you get the Hardware infrastructure as well, and that certainly needs to be taken into consideration.

At MTG, we could host a small 20 user system for roughly $3,000/month, or $36,000.

Updating the comparison:

Owned Licenses (20, 1 year) :  $24k license + 36,000 hardware:  60,000

Rented SaaS (estimated):  $48,000

So the difference from renting to owning is $12,000/year, or $1,000/month, or roughly 20% higher.

So it’s possible that you could outsource the Infrastructure to a third party as a managed cloud, AND have a full use, unlimited transferable software asset all for relatively small incremental cost increase.  Would it be worth it?  Some would say absolutely! There are significant advantages to owning a licenses rather than simply renting the use of web site.

Advantages of owning the software

  • Completely transferable to any hosting vendor or on-prem, or combo.
  • Full access to servers, logs, utilities
  • Hosting providers create a dedicated highly secured VPN tunnels to your corporate network that gives seamless integration, drill-back, and ETL to source systems without the need to upload flat files.
  • You can schedule patches/upgrades when you want and are not forced to suffer downtime. (MTG does all patching complimentary for all our customers, on-demand and scheduled)
  • Can easily add resources and scale at will. Tweak and tune performance as needed.
  • Get full transparent insight and visibility into server, network performance and utilization
  • Can use any hardware, software, operating system, or database you choose
  • Can install additional products or components that are not available as a SaaS cloud.
  • You get access to the full Oracle product support system, not just the cloud support desk.
  • Can create you own customizations, automation, scripts, utilities, etc.
  • Can choose a hosting provider that meets specific regulatory requirements, compliances, change control, uptime, security standards.

Of course, this is a HUGE swag made with simple assumptions.  The point is to just go through the exercise.

The moral of the story? There are many considerations when looking at deploying EPM and BI and there are many different kinds of “Cloud”. Due to current Oracle sales incentives you undoubtedly will be strongly pushed into the cloud from Hyperion reps. A lot of reps will be very resistant in selling you on-premise licenses as it’s not worth the time for the paperwork for them. It will be 100% up to you do your due diligence to fully compare all options in a holistic and unbiased fashion.

Beyond simply surface level costs, it important to evaluate the results of making decisions.  For example, If you convert on-premise licenses to Cloud, are you making a one-way trip? Are you, in essence, selling your license asset back for pennies on the dollar and loosing your entitlement to come back on-premise?  If you decide to leave the SaaS cloud, will you have to re-buy the software licenses?   Important questions to ask.

Of course SaaS is a no-brainer choice for some customers.  However, It’s important to evaluate EVERYTHING when choosing a deployment platform and understand peoples motivations an biases when you are being advised. Smart companies look at more than just cost-per-user and learning lessons from some early adopters that are now seeing the affect on burden of maintenance, integration, performance, security, flexibility, and functionality that could potentially cost them more in the long run.

Take a look!  When you are ready to shop… check out the new site:

Mercury Technology Group (MTG) provides managed private hosted cloud solutions specializing in Oracle EPM, BI, EBS and associated products.  Better performance, exceptional 24-hour rapid response support, and proprietary capabilities,  all for a lower cost of on-prem or leading hosting providers.

The Hyperion Guide to Open World. Schedule and Session Suggestions

•August 29, 2016 • Leave a Comment


It’s that time of year again when the city of San Francisco is completely overrun with 40,000-50,000 people from all over the world that come together to meet, socialize, and educate around the Oracle solutions….and it’s right around the corner.

Of course, Mercury Technology Group will be at Oracle Open World in full force. Be sure to stop by space Moscone South space 501 to say hi, learn about Mercury’s managed cloud solutions, and register for your chance to win one of three Apple TVs. We also will be having an appreciation event on Tuesday night. Please let me know or stop by the booth to get your invitation.

Sessions start at 11:00am on Monday, however many people forget that OOW starts on SUNDAY. There are a lot of events that happen that day, including a lot of OAUG, ODTUG, and GEO User Group meetings and meet-ups.

At 1:00pm the OAUG Young Professionals Forum Moscone West—2000

I’ll be presenting at the OAUG Hyperion Special Interest Group Meeting 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 Moscone West—2001. Be sure to stop by this one.

The ODTUG BI Meetup is at 4:15.

And the official Welcome reception is later at the Oracle Cloud Plaza @ Howard Street


Throughout the conference, I suggest taking time to stop by OTN Lounge at Moscone South Upper Lobby. There are frequent community meetups, IoT workshop, and CommunityCasts. There is even food/beer/wine and you can make Your Own T-shirt with cool designs.


If you are a Java nut, be sure to check out Java Hub, Hilton. Meet the Java team for IoT coffee demo, Nighthacker live video recording, Cloud Art Experience, and much more.


I also suggest stopping by the Oracle Support Stars bar. Support staff encompassing most all of the major Oralce Products are there. Come armed with some tough questions or stop by to say hi and meet some of the staff in person.


Of course there are demo grounds as well, where you can see demos of products and future releases.


Exhibition Halls open each morning at 10:15 AM. And of course, the appreciation event with Billy Joel is Wednesday night. (Be sure to bring a jacket, it can get cold on that island!)


Finally, check social media a lot. There will be a lot of news and happenings on things like Twitter. I will be live tweeting relevant EPM and BI news as it happens.. Follow me @erichelmer


Here are some sessions I recommend people attend. One of the best things you can get out OpenWorld is product strategy and roadmap direction which can help anyone in planning there next steps in the coming year or so.



General Session: Executive Briefing on Oracle’s EPM Strategy and Roadmap [GEN6336]

Hari Sankar, Group VP, Product Mgmt., Oracle

Matthew Bradley, Senior Vice President, Oracle

Scheduled Monday, Sep 19, 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. | Moscone West—3008


Oracle Enterprise Performance Management On Premises and in the Cloud: Taking a Hybrid Approach [CON7505]

Kumaresh Sankarasubbaiyan, Senior Director, EPM Product Development, Oracle

Marc Seewald, Senior Director, Oracle

Scheduled Monday, Sep 19, 1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. | Moscone West—3018




Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Applications: Strategy and Roadmap [CON6337]

Hari Sankar, Group VP, Product Mgmt., Oracle

Matthew Bradley, Senior Vice President, Oracle

Craig Barrow, Vice President, EPM Global Go To Market, Oracle

Scheduled Tuesday, Sep 20, 11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. | Moscone West—3020



Product Development Panel Q&A: Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Applications [CON7538]

Matthew Bradley, Senior Vice President, Oracle

Rajesh Bhatia, VP of Product Development, Oracle

Doug Cosby, Software Development VP, Oracle

Toufic Wakim, VP Software Development , Oracle

Scheduled Wednesday, Sep 21, 4:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Moscone West—3018




Application Integration: EPM, ERP, Cloud, and On Premises—All the Options Explained [CON7497]

Rich Wilkie, Oracle

Kumaresh Sankarasubbaiyan, Senior Director, EPM Product Development, Oracle

Scheduled Thursday, Sep 22, 10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. | Moscone West—3018




Eric Joins Mercury Technology Group

•June 22, 2016 • 1 Comment



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:

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


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 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 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, 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 (already out)


Also in 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



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 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



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.



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 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.



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


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




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


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.


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:


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
  • 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)

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.



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.


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.