A lot has changed with Essbase since the early days back in the 1990’s. Essbase itself has grown and flourished into the world’s leading OLAP analytic software and now includes all of the bells and whistles you’d expect and more.
The purpose of this article is to go over some exciting new additions to the Essbase family. No longer is it just Essbase, the multidimensional OLAP database. The future of Essbase, beginning with Essbase version 9.x, is now Essbase System 9.
Essbase System 9 is now a suite of analytical applications or components of which Essbase is the cornerstone. Some of the components enhance the overall abilities of the suite and some are targeted more to specific computing purposes.
Overview of System 9 components
When Oracle purchased Hyperion and several other companies, they set out to organize their product catalog and bring together a standardized naming convention as well as standardized software versioning. The Essbase suite of tools and applications is no exception as Essbase version 9.x has become Essbase System 9, and there never really was a commercially released Essbase version 8.x. Oracle now has plans to further integrate the Essbase suite of tools and components into their product catalog and we’ll just need to wait and see how this plays out with version 11 and beyond.
What we are giving you in this article is a high level look at each new Essbase tool or component and also a slightly lower level look at the hot new additions to the Essbase family. Not to detract from any of the other Essbase family members, but the new Oracle Smart View, for one, is an awesome tool to have in your toolbox.
Essbase Analytic Services (Essbase agent)
The term Essbase analytic services, while commonly thought to refer to the Essbase suite of applications, actually refers to the common Essbase system structure that is built around the Essbase analytic database engine technology.
We know this sounds confusing, but here is how it works. In your Essbase toolbox, you can have many different tools. Some of them are optional and can be added at an additional expense and some of them must be included from the beginning for proper system installation. No matter what tools you want to add to your Essbase toolbox, the Essbase agent or Essbase analytic services must be included and it is the cornerstone of the Essbase suite of applications.
The Essbase agent is what you install on your server in order to make it an Essbase analytic server. The Essbase agent is what you use to build, deploy, and maintain your Essbase databases.
In a nutshell, Essbase Analytic Services is the heart and soul of your Essbase system.
Also known as Hyperion Planning or even Oracle Planning, Essbase Planning is a centralized Microsoft Excel and web-based planning and forecasting tool that combines data from various internal business activities such as finance, marketing, and so on, into one integrated tool. Planning uses the data to provide a closer look at the company’s overall business operations and helps improve the forecast predictability accuracy.
Planning makes use of Essbase in an ingenious way. The data for each business activity is stored in its own custom Essbase database or cube. Several business activities can share the same cube and have their own set of dimensions and members. Therefore, Essbase must be started and running in the background so Planning can access the cubes. The various Planning functions are then supported by Planning’s seamless accessing of the data from the Essbase cubes and by using the stored business rule feature to apply the customer defined business rules to the data for planning and analysis purposes.
The storing of complex business rules to facilitate proper analysis of the data is a huge benefit of Oracle Planning and is accomplished within the module by utilizing a small space on a relational database such as an Oracle or SQL server database.
With the aid of pre-packaged process modules, Essbase Planning can also greatly shorten the length of time typically required for budget and forecast cycles, thus lowering the total cost of ownership for this product.
It’s funny, but the word analytics is being tossed about rather often these days.Pretty much anything you do with OLAP or multidimensional database tools,can be termed analytics.
In Essbase however, Essbase analytics, to some, usually refers to Essbase’s other database engine, the ASO database engine. The reason given for this is that the typical Essbase ASO database is primarily used for presentation, analysis, and reporting which are all analytic functions. The Essbase BSO database, while analytic itself, can also be considered transactional as well.
The Essbase analytics nickname dates back to the advent of the ASO database architecture when all you had was the BSO architecture. The new ASO architecture was the analytic tool.
Yes, it’s funny how Essbase is an analytical package and inside that package is an analytic piece but that’s just how it is.
Try not to get hung up on the terminology here though. When considering your options, you need to look at all of the same things you have always looked at. How large will the system be? What are the business customer’s requirements? What type of system am I building here?
When you answer these questions, it will matter less what you call what you are doing than choosing the right tools.
Hyperion Application Link/Oracle Application Link
The name pretty much says it all. Hyperion Application Link is a suite of ETL tools that allows the user or programmer to integrate Oracle products, like Essbase, with other third party software packages, especially transactional database packages.
Hyperion Application Link (HAL) can integrate all of your data loading and ETL functions into one place and offer improved performance.
When gathering data for your Essbase application, you may encounter data from many different sources. HAL allows you to set up a link to your favorite Oracle database using an ODBC connection.HAL will also allow you to load data from conveniently delivered flat files too. In fact, you can usually accomplish just about all of your data loading needs for your Essbase System 9 installation by using HAL.
Oracle Business Rules
This tool can be a tremendous time saver. The Oracle Business Rules tool allows the programmer to create, store, execute, and manage complex business rules as specified by the business customer and as it relates to thebusiness process and the data. All of this is accomplished by using an easy to understand user interface with graphical depictions of the various elements that go into a rule.
Imagine a business process that dictates the values for next month’s sales commitments as follows:
This is just one example of a business rule being automatically executed against the data for the users of the system. There are endless possibilities on how to make good use of this tool.
The advantages of the Oracle Business Rules tool are clear, especially in today’s fast-paced business world where static structures in data load and calculation scripts need almost continual modifying.With the Hyperion Business Rules tool, the dynamic nature of the business can more effectively be supported with the creation of minimal maintenance dynamic rules.