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Reviewing “Developing Essbase Applications – Hybrid Techniques and Practices” from an ETL Architect perspective

Posted in Book, EPM, Review with tags , , , , , on January 8, 2016 by radk00

Hi guys! Today we are very happy to be reviewing “Developing Essbase Applications – Hybrid Techniques and Practices” for you. We will review the book not once, but twice and the reason behind that is that Ricardo and I (Rodrigo) have different backgrounds and this creates very different opinions around the book topics.

My professional career comes much more strongly from an ETL Architect position, so although I know the basics and principals around Essbase, for me it was always one more target/source system to pull/retrieve data from. Ricardo in the other hand has his major years working with EPM space and he knows/uses Essbase at its fullest. So based on that, let’s see how our reviews will differ from one another!

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ETL Architect perspective review

Developing Essbase Applications – Hybrid Techniques and Practices” may be considered the “second” book of the “Developing Essbase Application” series (“Developing Essbase Applications: Advanced Techniques for Finance and IT Professionals” is the first one and it is a must to have!) but it is completely different from the first book, since it cover different topics with some different authors. Speaking on topics, this is what you will find in “Hybrid Techniques and Practices”:

  • Exalytics
  • Hybrid Essbase
  • Young Person’s Guide to Essbase Cube Design
  • Essbase Performance and Load Testing
  • Utilizing SQL to Enhance Essbase
  • Integrating OBIEE and Essbase
  • Managing Spreadsheets with Dodeca
  • Smart View

The books is edited by Cameron Lackpour along with John Booth, Tim German, William Hodges, Mike Nader, Martin Neuliep, and Glenn Schwartzberg. Those names are more than a reference in the EPM community and it is great to see great minds putting their effort to create this book. We know that anything in life (it can be a book/work/presentation/project) will be great when the people that are involved in that process are passionate about what they do and this is well represented here. All these people just love EPM/Essbase and this passion alongside with their great knowledge about the topics created a fantastic book.

The chapters in the book are well separated, so you may read any topic in any order that you prefer. First topic will talk about Exalytics and its “Secret Sauce”. Hardware aficionados will love this chapter, but “not-hardware guys” like me may fell kind of lost. I got that Exalytics is great and do great things for Essbase, but all metrics and hardware comparison tables I’ll just leave for the hardware/environment guys 🙂

The second chapter for me is the shiny gem of the book and it alone is already worth the cost of the book (it couldn’t be different, since this chapter is also the book’s title). Hybrid is a very new concept in the Essbase world so you will read what it is, its architecture, what you can/can’t do with Hybrid right now and so on. For someone to understand what Hybrid means, he must also understand the concepts of ASO/BSO and these are well covered in this chapter as well. In resume, this is fantastic overview what Hybrid currently is and how to get along with it.

I read the third chapter before I got the book because it is available for free on OTN!  You may download it and read it entirely! This chapter I would recommend to everyone that will have any kind of iteration with Essbase, especially those people that ask requirements to be implemented :). Although the information may be considered “basic” Essbase design, it is the core foundation to have a good Essbase implementation. Fantastic chapter and as I said, it is free, so go there and read it (after you finish to read the rest of the post, of course)!

I was extremely glad to read chapter 4 because it talks about Essbase performance and load test. This kind of subject is very rare to be found and this chapter contains a very good overview on some techniques that could be applied to have a performance test on Essbase. This is a complicated topic since testing Essbase is not a trivial thing. There are too many factors to consider but this chapter does a great job explaining those details and how you could accomplish a good test scenario.

On the very beginning of chapter five, Glenn states that his chapter contains very basic information about SQL and if you know SQL already you may just skip the first part of it. Since SQL is in my blood for some years now, I skipped almost the entire chapter, just reading the end of it when it talks about how to use SQL within Essbase. This chapter is for people that uses Essbase but are now aware of what SQL could do for them. My opinion is that everyone that “works with numbers” should know at the least the basic concepts of SQL and it heavily applies for Essbase users.

Chapter 6 will give you a very good perspective of what you can do when reporting Essbase using OBIEE, its limitations, its good practices and the workarounds that may be used to implement some of the most common requirements that are “not natively” supported by the tool. A great chapter that I’ll just keep coming back to it whenever I have some doubt about the do’s and don’ts around Essbase and OBIEE integration.

I’ll talk about chapter 7 and 8 together since they talk about tools that can be used to interact with Essbase data. I must say that I just use Smart view to check if something got loaded or to do some basic tie out checks, so my iteration with those tools are pretty basic. Chapter 7 talks all about Dodeca and I got some pretty interesting information that I was not aware of, like its architecture, how it differs from other tools and so on. Chapter 8 goes deep into Smart View and tell us how it can be customized to allow the users to retrieve more value from the tool. From my personal perspective I don’t know how much I’ll be able to use it in my daily work but at least now I know where to find some answer if some more advanced Essbase user comes to talk to me about those tools.

Verdict

In resume, this is a great book to have and it will for sure bring you some great information about Essbase and the things that goes around it. My “personal award” goes to chapter two since I was really interested to learn what Hybrid was all about and it got accomplished reading it. One thing that I (of couse) would love to see would be a chapter around data integration but I get why there was none. The first book already talked about ODI integration with Essbase and since then there wasn’t anything new around this topic. At the last Oracle Open World, Oracle gave some insight around new ODI KMs for Essbase and Planning, as well as some new ODI components like Dimensions and Cubes, so maybe we may have something new to write about in a third volume of the book??? DEVEPM will be very willing to even contribute for this writing if that would be the case 🙂

And that’s it folks, I hope you have enjoyed this review. By the next days we will be posting about a more “Essbase experienced” kind of review, so let’s see how it goes!

See ya!

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