Essbase 19C-20C - First Impressions

Published October 2 2020 by John Patterson
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The objective of this blog is to get to the bottom of what the new IaaS Essbase (19c and 20c) feels like for those of us who may not have had the opportunity to spend much time under the hood of Essbase in its first cloud release, OAC. Accounting, Finance, and IT departments have a decision to make soon about adopting cloud 19c or 20c Essbase or 20c on-premise. The next few paragraphs will show what can be gained from a transition to the cloud now.

In 2020, our nearly tricenarian software was decoupled from EPM and folded into the database world of Oracle. This organizational move has all but insured Essbase’s useful life will be extended a good deal longer than 30 years. Essbase is a critical component of several more Oracle SKUs beyond traditional EPM offerings.

Oracle paid homage to faithful Essbase clients. By transitioning from SaaS to IaaS, experienced administrators, analysts, and users regain advanced control over Essbase in the cloud. So far, the news is all great, if not outstanding.

As an Essbase devotee since 1998, and a self-acknowledged control freak, I had to do some fear setting before I ventured into the unknown. In full disclosure, I walked our dog a few miles, ran ten kilometers, emptied the dishwasher, folded clothes, and cleaned out the fridge before my first cloud login….you get the picture.

The login to the “cockpit” is less cornflower blue and more in keeping with Oracle’s latest interface themes. It also reduces eye strain and its rather intuitive for newbies and experienced resources alike. Score a soft “1” for 19c/20c.

Outline Navigation

Clicking on “Applications” reveals our apps straight away. From Actions, we can navigate the outline, a visually appealing experience, with more screen real estate than afforded by legacy EAS.   Outlines may no longer be opened side-by-side.   A side-by-side comparison view may be achieved using two browser sessions.

Or, better yet, leverage the SmartView Cube Designer for outline comparisons. Export entire cubes to Excel.   Copy and paste hierarchies from one spreadsheet to another and redeploy them from Excel. Even large dimensions can be viewed and edited in the SmartView Cube Designer. Our tests included dimensions with over 500,000 members. SmartView exported and imported them with ease in less than 60 seconds.

Multi-taskers rejoice. We may open as many 19c object editors as we want via browser tabs. This is the default behavior when working with multiple objects. The tabs stay connected for hours. Fretting about EAS session limits and java upgrades impacting EAS deployments is a thing of the past. Below is evidence of my OCD with 5 tabs open at once. I haven’t been able to hit a limit… yet.

Score 2 solid points for 19c/20c.

Essbase Object Navigation

From here, we can expand an app, highlight its cube and start to navigate as we did in legacy EAS by choosing “Inspect” from the right-click mouse-over menu to the far right of the cube.

Tab menus for Sample.Basic also look familiar, albeit with a few new entries:

The new “Files” tab enables users to see and sort (alphabetically or by type) all Essbase objects located in the database directory. This is an improvement over hierarchical EAS presentation. Better yet, we can see flat files, xml files, and Excel files in addition to rule files, report scripts, and calc scripts.

Objects can be selected and edited from the Files menu. It’s also notable to mention data files, rule files, calc scripts, and report scripts may be easily uploaded to cubes from this interface. Outlines are the exception. This every bit as good as having direct GUI access to the Essbase server to manage files and migrate objects. Essbase objects can also be found and edited in a sorted and filtered format from the Scripts menu:

Calc scripts and report scripts being textual in nature are nearly the same experience as EAS in the legacy on-premise world.

Data Preparation and ETL Functionality

Build rules and data load rules are somewhat different, if not improved. Klugey legacy navigation has been replaced with intuitive drop-down menus by column. Here’s an example of editing a parent-child dimension build rule in 19c. Take notice of the header record with multi-selectdrop-downs

The act of previewing a local flat file has been simplified to a simple drag and drop while the rule is being opened.

Properties are still applied by field. We do have some new properties to leverage, including the most useful “Remove if Null”.

 

Simple, yet transparent, “join”, and “substring” functions replace Field Operations in legacy rules. Within joins, it is possibe to add text characters or strings in double-quotes.

The Advanced Dimension Editor tab unveils the ability to restrict moves based on Generation 2, a new and much-needed feature.   This is especially useful for ASO and Hybrid Applications where the 2nd generation contains specific properties we want to remain static.

Unlike legacy versions, we have transparency into connections and can edit them in one place instead of within each rule artifact.   New connection types include Oracle ADW and even other Essbase cubes via the magic of MDX.   Here’s how it works:

First, set up and Connection to the source Essbase Environment:

It only takes 4 simple steps to create a Data Source using the connection from the last step. When the connection is chosen, the specific options for Apps and Databases will appear in a drop-down. Write MDX in Columns and Rows. Click on the “2” or “Columns” button:

 

When the MDX is correct, step 2 will display a preview of the columns.

Proceed to Step 3 & finally 4 to preview sample data:

And finally, we have confirmation of a Cube as a data source. Who needs replicated partitions?

Score 3 for 19c.

 

This is the first in a series of blogs that will explore 19c. Upcoming blogs will dive deeper into new Essbase features that will make your job easier and put to ease any reservations or concerns about transitioning from ground to cloud.   Topics will include scripting and automation, Analytics with Data Visualizations, and the game-changing functionality of Smart View Cube Designer.  

For comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics, please reach out to us at infosolutions@alithya.com.  Visit our blog regularly for new posts about Cloud updates and other Oracle Cloud Services such as Planning and Budgeting, Financial Consolidation, Account Reconciliation, and Enterprise Data Management.  Follow Alithya on social media for the latest information about EPM, ERP, and Analytics solutions to meet your business needs.

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