Monday, July 25, 2016

Kscope16 Reflections

I've had a few weeks to digest all the Kscope16 content and experiences I absorbed. I really had a great, if exhausting, time at the end of June with all of my favorite EPM people. This was my second Kscope conference and I think that I got more out of this year's conference than Kscope15. Part of that has to do with relationship building. There's no good substitute for meeting people face to face, interacting with them and discussing things. I will note three main reflections from the conference.

People and Relationships

I put this first because I believe this is the single greatest benefit of Kscope. I do interact with people via Twitter, OTN, Network54, email but I am the type of person who needs personal contact. I got a chance to speak with people from around the world catching up with them on topics ranging from the latest technology trends to the Brexit announcement. It was really cool to hear the opinions of such a diverse bunch of folks. Having access to the greatest minds in the EPM world, including the Essbase product management team is pretty much a once a year opportunity and Kscope is it. I look forward to Kscope17 where I'll be able to further develop the bonds begun this year.


Much of my technical interest in the conference was directed toward Essbase Hybrid aggregation. The panel of customers and consultants who are running Hybrid in production was particularly enlightening. It seems clear to me from listening to Oracle product managers that this is the direction Essbase is headed. Having said that, I really feel like Oracle needs to have a single message related to Hybrid. I heard "Hybrid is just BSO", which is kind of true. Then I heard "Hybrid is BSO with ASO aggregations" which is also true. I think I heard a few other things. Couple that with the fact that the word "hybrid" means a lot of things, even just in the EPM world, and there is the potential for a lot of confusion. Having said all that, I'm looking forward to coming enhancements that will take Hybrid to the next level.

My Sessions

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I submitted three abstracts for Kscope16. I guess I forgot how much actual work goes into creating a technical presentation. Thankfully only two abstracts were accepted. I thought the presentations went fairly well but then I got back my evaluations yesterday. They weren't bad but it was funny to read them. Apparently my audience thought that their fellow audience members "asked too many annoying questions." Anyway, the feedback was important and hopefully I can use it to improve my future presentations. There are a few reasons I'd encourage others to present at a future Kscope. 1) When creating a presentation it really forces you to know your topic. You learn a lot during that preparation. 2) You get to show what you can do to potential future clients and co-workers. Imagine walking in to meet an interviewer and they remember you from the killer presentation you gave a couple of years ago. 3) The amount of interaction and discussions your session fosters with attendees is incredible. I cannot even count the number of people who came up to me in the hours and days following my presentation to thank me and discuss the topics further. Those were some of the best conversations I had all week.

Final Thoughts

If you haven't been to Kscope before, I'd encourage you to go. It really is a lot of fun. If you've been and haven't presented, I'd encourage you to think about submitting an abstract on a topic near and dear to your heart.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Getting Ready for Kscope16

Now that I've finally uploaded the final drafts of both my presentations I feel like I can get excited for Kscope16 in Chicago. I'm really looking forward to seeing old and new faces. I can't wait to see some of the presentations. A few stand out:

Hybrid in Production Panel
Hybrid, hybrid, hybrid is all I heard at Kscope15. Let's see what people are doing with it.

Essbase, the Cloud, and Why You Should Care
I have a feeling Kscope16 is going to be all about the cloud, cloud, cloud.

Strange Essbase Experiments
This sounds like it will be right up my alley.

I'll be speaking about my own experiments and findings with Hybrid on Monday at 10:15AM. I'll also be sharing my ASO tuning and calculation experiences on Monday at 2:00PM. Please feel free to stop by and say hello afterward.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Essbase.cfg setting QUERYRESULTLIMIT Follow-up

I had a couple of questions that nagged me a bit from my original write-up on QUERYRESULTLIMIT.

1. What happens when you set the value to zero?

In some Essbase config file settings a zero value indicates an "unlimited" setting. In this case when I tested a zero value it actually set the query result limit to 0 cells. So I don't think there's a way to set it to unlimited. I'm not quite sure why anyone would set the limit to 0 but it's there for you if you need it.

2. Does Essbase run the query and then quit or just figure out that the query is too big and never bother running it?

From the minimal testing I did on this, it seems like Essbase figures out how large the query is going to be and throws an error if it is too big, never actually asking the database for any data. I tested this by creating two identical cubes with different QUERYRESULTLIMIT settings. Then I fired an MDX statement that took about 7 seconds on the cube with a larger setting. The cube with the smaller setting returned the error immediately. More extensive testing on this might be necessary.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Essbase.cfg setting QUERYRESULTLIMIT

I had to piece together information from a few readme files to figure out what happened with the QUERYRESULTLIMIT essbase.cfg setting. It looks like the most complete information is in the Readme for the Essbase patch set which you can find here.

In a nutshell, this new Essbase configuration file setting now controls the maximum number of rows and columns that Essbase will return. This was formerly controlled by the APS file. The service.olap.dataQuery.grid.maxRows and service.olap.dataQuery.grid.maxColumns settings are deprecated as of Essbase versions and I'm not sure why since the setting is included in -- possibly because the APS settings aren't yet deprecated in that version.

I think it is important to note that the setting specifies the maximum number of cells, not rows, to an MDX or spreadsheet query. It's interesting to me that now I don't think there's a way to limit users to 256 columns on their sheet.

Also note that patch .009 warns: The default value is 1,000,000 and can be increased to 100,000,000 but no other value will be honored. I don't like this wording -- it makes it seem like the only allowable values are 1,000,000 and 100,000,000 but that's not true. The original readme file specifies an upper limit for 2^31 which is just over 2 billion cells. I want to talk to the user who needs that much data. For now I'm assuming all values between 0 and 100,000,000 are acceptable.

Like most Essbase configuration settings, the setting can apply to either the entire server or you can set it on a database level.

QUERYRESULTLIMIT [appname [dbname]] n

Some questions I had that I tested out on

1. Do member names count toward the number of cells?
No, they do not.

2. Does the setting apply to Report Scripts?
I don't think so. I tested it out and never got an error. I found no mention of Report Scripts in the documentation.

3. Does the setting apply to the old Excel add-in?
Yes it does.

4. I don't understand the .009 documentation -- which values work?
I successfully tried the following settings using

I couldn't get Smart View to give me back 100,000,000 cells so I didn't test those upper limits. I'm going to assume that the documentation means that any value entered above 100,000,000 will be treated as 100,000,000.

5. What happens when you hit the limit?

MAXL> SELECT {[Jan],[Feb],[Mar],[Apr]} on columns,
   3> [Stores].members
   5> on rows
   7> from [ASOsamp.Sample];

   ERROR - 1200766 - The number of query result cells exceeds the limit [1000] set by the QUERYRESULTLIMIT configuration setting.
   ERROR - 1241101 - Unexpected Essbase error 1200766.

Smart View


Please feel free to share with me any results you get that can add to this analysis.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

FAQ: MDX Crossjoin()

This is a post to address one of the most frequently asked MDX related questions or issues. Someone will ask: why isn't this CrossJoin function working?


The reason the above won't work is that the function is being fed three arguments and the CrossJoin function will only accept two. The CrossJoin function will take two sets and expand them into all possible combinations of tuples. In order to expand more than two dimensions, one needs to use more than one CrossJoin. The above can be re-written correctly as:


And will yield a set containing the following tuples:


You can nest as many CrossJoins as you like, adding one additional function for each new dimension you wish to expand.

On a related note, I also see people asking a similar question that I'd give a slightly different answer to. Why isn't this CrossJoin function working?


The same answer still applies here that too many arguments are being sent to the CrossJoin function. However, in this case, no CrossJoin function is needed as there is only a single member from each dimension. Simply using a tuple here will be sufficient. That would be written as follows:


Friday, April 15, 2016

Patching Essbase Recommendation

I'm sure everyone who patches their Essbase server reads all of the documentation thoroughly but just in case... Please note that the following recommendation is included in the Essbase patches:

Recommendation: After you apply a patch within the same release codeline, Oracle recommends as a best practice that you export the data from your databases, clear the data from the databases, and then reload the data.

For customers with a handful of databases this probably isn't a big deal. But for shops with 500 databases covering many terabytes of disk this could be a huge task literally requiring months of effort.

My best guess is that they've changed the format of files being written to disk but I'm not really sure. Also note that it's a recommendation. But not following those can come back to bite you when you're trying to fix a production down issue in the middle of the night and the level 1 support technician asks very casually, "did you do an export, clear and load after you patched this server?" You've been warned.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Smoking Hot Kscope16 Deal For Recent Graduates

I remember way back to the late 1990s when I started working with Essbase. I was a year out of college when I first learned the tool. I was very eager to learn so I'd go home in the evenings and read the Essbase DBA Guide which was a two volume paperback set.

I also had a manager who loved to talk about Essbase. He was a smoker and I was not but I'd still tag along with him on his smoke breaks so we could talk about Essbase. I'd fire question after question at him. I learned a lot quickly.

It was the spring of 1999 and the Hyperion conference was coming up. I asked him if he would take me. He didn't think I was ready to go. So being a brash young developer, I pushed a bit. I said, "If I get my Essbase certification will you take me?" I'm sure he figured this was an easy out so he agreed.

This pushed me to work even harder. I set a date to take the exam on a weekend and didn't tell anyone. I was able to pass the test and got to attend the conference in sunny Orlando, Florida.

It was at this conference that I made so many contacts in the Essbase world including a young Tim Tow just getting his company started. I also made a contact at Hyperion who invited me to participate in the v6 Essbase beta program. That experience got me a trip to Sunnyvale, CA for v6 training. That experience got me a slot giving a presentation at the Hyperion conference the following year in Las Vegas. I could go on and on about the cool people I got to meet and the great experiences that came out of that first conference I attended.

That brings me to my point: there is extreme value for recent graduates and newbies attending conferences like Kscope. The dividends pay off over years rather than days or weeks.

I'll close this posting with some really cool news. ODTUG is offering 50% scholarships to recent college graduates (2013 or later). Hurry up and try to get one of the 50 scholarships available.

I hope to see you in Chicago in June!