Introducing: EssBench


What on earth is EssBench?  First…some background.  I have a number of clients who have transitioned to either new physical hardware, have been virtualized, or are being sent to the cloud.  All of these options bring along challenges around performance.  When you go to new physical hardware, you might end up attached to network storage.  When you go to a virtualized environment, performance generally suffers across the board, and when you go to the cloud, any number of things can happen.  So what do those clients do?

You really have three options to get IT to help you:

  • Option 1: Test your application on your old system and compare it to your new system
    • This presents a problem as the old system has a variety of differences, including the version of Essbase most likely
  • Option 2: Test your application on an independent system and compare it to your new system
    • This can be done, but it sounds expensive to either borrow another companies instance or have your consultant do this
  • Option 3: Test a standardized benchmark application and compare it to other tested configurations
    • If only something like this existed, this would be the best option, right?

Introducing EssBench

Well it’s taken me a couple of years to finally prepare it, but EssBench is finally ready for initial release.  The goal of EssBench is to provide a standardized Essbase application for benchmarking between environments.  The initial release is a basic BSO cube with the following characteristics:

  • Dimensions
    • Account (1025 members, 838 stored)
    • Period (19 members, 14 stored)
    • Years (6 members)
    • Scenario (3 members)
    • Version (4 members)
    • Currency (3 members)
    • Entity (8767 members, 8709 stored)
    • Product (8639 members, 8639 stored)
  • Data
    • 8 Text files in native Essbase load format
    • 1 Text file in comma separated format

In addition to the cube and data, there is a process included for Windows users.  I am working on putting together a better way to execute the testing, but this is a good start and let’s us start collected data for comparison purposes.  Included in this release is a combination of a PowerShell script and a MaxL script with the following characteristcs:

  • PowerShell Scripts
    • Creates Log File
    • Executes MaxL Commands
  • MaxL Scripts
    • Resets the cube
    • Loads data (several rules)
    • Aggs the cube
    • Executes allocation
    • Aggs the allocated data
    • Executes currency conversion
    • Restructures the database
  • Executes the MaxL script three times

Where Do I Get EssBench?

I’ve set up a landing zone and domain for EssBench.  You can visit that here.  There are three main components to download:

Installation Guide

Essbase Artifacts

Automation and Data Files

What Next?

I’m working now on two items.  First, I want to start collecting information so that we can have an actual database of test results.  This provides everyone the ability to compare without needing more than their own environment.  Next, I’m working on putting together an application that will actually execute the test.  It will also eventually collect the results and upload them automatically to a database.  Finally, I would like it to also collect system configuration information (CPU, Memory, Storage, etc…).  But that will be for another day.  In the meantime, go benchmark your environment today!

Kscope17 is a Wrap!

Kscope17 is officially over.  I was fortunate to attend several sessions this year along with presenting a few times myself.  It’s always great to get together with the ODTUG community and all of my friends that I only get to see a few times a year.  Kscope is a great event and I’m happy to have been a part of it.  I greatly appreciate the immense amount of work that went into making it such a great conference.  So long San Antonio!

Hello Orlando!  Next year, Kscope18 will be held at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin!

Kscope18 will also be a little bit earlier in the month of June than years past.  With some luck, I will be fortunate enough to be selected to speak next year so that we can all have some fun at Disney World!  And with that…I leave you with EPMMickey:

Kscope17 is Almost Here

The year has really flown by and Kscope17 is less than 2 weeks away.  I thought I would take a moment to highlight the top 9 sessions I’d like to attend this year.  But, before I do that, let’s start with a shameless plug of the sessions that I have to attend…my sessions.

IT Made Me Virtualize Essbase and Performance Sucks: Making Essbase Fast in Any Environment

When:  Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 11:45 am

Where:  Grand Oaks G

What:  We can’t all have an Exalytics box for our Essbase environment. In fact, if you haven’t made it to the cloud, then you are most likely already on a virtualized environment or being “encouraged” heavily to go to a virtualized environment. This presentation will focus on making sure that your transition is as smooth as possible. We’ll discuss specific settings in the virtual environment, the operating system, and Essbase to get the most out of your server. We’ll also compare specific benchmarks around different hardware configurations related to CPU, memory, and storage. Attendees will receive the new EssBench application for standardized benchmarks to see how your system stacks up. This application is deployable to any planning server to test various aspects of your server’s performance to identify areas for improvement.

Essbase Lunch and Learn

When:  Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 12:45 pm

Where:  Grand Oaks G

What:  Eat a quick lunch from 12:15 – 12:40 PM in Grand Oaks K-S/Cibolo Canyon 6/7 and at 12:45 PM join one of the information-packed sessions led by a panel of Oracle ACE Directors, ACEs, and ACE Associates. Bring your questions; these are the people who have the answers!

Introduction to Planning

When:  Wednesday, June 28, 2017 @ 4:15 pm

Where:  Grand Oaks I

What:  As part of an introduction to EPM series, this presentation will focus on Hyperion Planning and Oracle’s Planning and Budgeting Cloud Services (PBCS).  If you are totally new to the EPM space and would like to see what Oracle’s solutions have to offer, this session is for you.  Rather than PowerPoint everyone to death, a live demo will be provided and guided by the audience.

Now on to the fun stuff…the presentations that someone else has to build.

What’s New and Coming in Planning

Who:  Prasad Kulkarni

When:  Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

Where:  Grand Oaks I

What:  This is specific to On-Prem Planning…so I’m taking bets on it being a single slide that said “PBCS.”  Any takers? Kidding…

Mother/King/Queen of All CDFs Has Arrived

Who:  Celvin Kattookaran

When:  Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

Where:  Grand Oaks G

What:  Groovy can do basically anything, so I expect amazing things from Celvin in this session.  Don’t let me down!

The Future of On-Prem EPM

Who:  Matt Bradley

When:  Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 3:15 pm

Where:  Peony

What:  For all of you still holding out hope that On-Prem isn’t dead, this should be of interest.  Is it bad that a part of me expects this session to somehow get cancelled? 😉

Introduction to the EPM REST APIs

Who:  Jake Turrell

When:  Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 11:15 am

Where:  Cibolo Canyon 2/3/4

What:  While Jason and Jon focus specifically on the PBCS REST API, Jake is casting a broader net.  Knowing Jake, I bet we can expect some time of spectacular demo and/or document.  Also, something 3D printed for free (I know you read my blog, so I expect free things).

Understanding HFM System Tables

Who:  Keith Berry

When:  Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 11:15 am

Where:  Grand Oaks E/F

What:  The HFM system tables are a lot of fun.  Granted, I say that as a guy who has done this same presentation on the Planning side a few times, so I may be bias.  Either way, Keith always does a phenomenal presentation.  Whether you need to understand these tables for your project or you just want a better understanding of the back-end of HFM, this should be a great session.

Trends and Hot Topics in Finance for the EPM Professional

Who:  Natalie Delemar

When:  Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

Where:  Peony

What:  I may be a giant nerd, but I also enjoy the functional side of the EPM world.  That’s why Natalie’s presentation should be very interesting.  Kscope is not just about the technology, but the functional needs and trends that drive that technology.

The PBCS REST API Demystified

Who:  Jason Jones

When:  Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 3:30 pm

Where:  Cibolo Canyon 2/3/4

What:  I love coding…sometimes.  The REST API for PBCS is a fun way to do that…sometimes.  Jason and Jon should give us a great overview of the technology and how to use it.

Report Automation Techniques from Essbase and Hyperion Financial Reports with VBA and Smart View

Who:  Jennifer Guzik

When:  Wednesday, June 28, 2017 @ 11:15 am

Where:  Grand Oaks E/F

What:  I have more than a few clients that love to do everything in Excel.  Jennifer will be showing of a process that keeps us using Excel, but also leverages Financial Reports.  Add in a side of VBA coding, and you have my attention.  Plus, I love sessions entirely by customers and not just consultants.

Essbase Cloud – How You Do It (Live Demos) and Expanded Q&A

Who:  Tim German and Cameron Lackpour

When:  Thursday, June 29, 2017 @ 9:00 am

Where:  Grand Oaks H

What:  I’m sure Tim and Cameron will show us everything we ever wanted to know about OAC.  More importantly, I’m a sucker for a live demo.  And if the title is to be believed…we’ll get more than one demo!


Hyperion Planning and PBCS: Dynamic Forms

Have you ever built a form in Hyperion Planning (or PBCS) that really needed to have the same dimension represented in both the user selectable page and the rows or columns?  Normally, we want to give the user the ability to filter a form dynamically.  As an example, perhaps I would like to select and upper level parent of a product in the page, but I want to see all of the descendants of that selection in the rows of a

form.  As another example, I’d like to select an upper-level cost center in the page, but have it show me all of the descendents of that selection in the rows of the form.  I recently encountered that very request from a client.  As it happens, I recently had a request come in via a comment on this site as well.

So how can we do this?  I know how to build forms, and a dimension can only be part of the POV, the page, rows, or columns, right?  If we look at the form designer, that’s totally how it seems.  This is where the form designer is a bit deceiving.  Let’s start with a cool screen shot:

If we look at the green box in the top right corner, we have the product dimension.  If we look at the yellow box on the left…we have the product dimension.  So what happens if I click on green box?

Look at that!  It’s not quite as cool as a drop-down in the page, but it still let’s us select a member from the product dimension.  Now let’s take a look at the form designer:


Looking closely, we’ll notice that the product dimension only exists in one place in the designer…the rows.  But wait, we should make note of one other thing: the ProductFamily variable.  This is not a substitution variable.  This is instead a dynamic user variable.  Let’s check out the Other Options tab:

There’s the magic!  We have a dynamic user variable added to our form.  This automatically places the member in the POV, but enables a member selector.  So there you have it, a super-simple provide a solution to a complex user request.  So how do I create a dynamic user variable?  Click Administration, then click Manage, then click Variables:

From here, you can easily add your user variables.  The only real downside to the method is that if the users don’t have the variable defined yet, it will let them know that they need to before allowing them to open the form.  This looks great in the web, but what happens when I try it in Smart View?

It still works!  Let’s be honest, you have to check these things in Smart View because we just never really know.  That’s all for a quick post  on a neat feature that I’ve found to be somewhat obscure.


EPM Marshall Weekly Newsletter, Sign Up Now!

As Kscope17 rapidly approaches and I continue to look for new ways to procrastinate on the final preparations necessary for my presentations.  In the meantime, I welcome you to sign up for the new EPM Marshall Weekly Newsletter!  The newsletter is an automatic, once a week e-mail with the most recent posts on this blog.  I’m also in the process of reconsidering my Monthly updates, which I’ve clearly failed at providing recently.  So be on the lookout for a possible re-occurrence of the EPM Week in Review.

Sign Up Now

But, while you wait with baited breath for that decision, sign up for my new weekly newsletter:

Once you complete those two simple steps, you should receive and e-mail to confirm that you wish to be added to the list.  This both validates your e-mail address and ensures that you really did want to join the list.

Around The Lab: Garage Data Center

It has been quite some time since my last lab update!  I’ve done quite a bit of updating since my post in January.  Today we’ll focus on my new Garage Data Center.  My Oracle rack has finally filled up for the most part and as a result, it has become a little loud and a little hot to stick around in my office.  I decided to put my extra garage to use!  I took a corner of my garage and put together my very own garage data center.  Check it out:

Fully framed:



And installed:

Glamour Shot:

Summer is Hot

The good news is, the servers can be as loud as I want them to be, the bad news is that summer is here and my air conditioner failed.  It didn’t even make it a year, which is very disappointing.  Luckily I was able to pick one of these up on Craigslist the same day so that my servers didn’t melt in the Texas heat:

Are you married?

Yes!  What’s the best way to get your garage cleaned?  Promise your husband that he can build a data center.  Done!  Kscope17 is coming up soon, so I’ll have a post about that early next week.  Until then, have a great weekend! is now

You may have noticed a massive change in the way things look around here. is now!  And yes…this is a totally corny play on words, and I’m okay with that.  I’m Brian Marshall and I like to blog about EPM.  It also makes for a cool looking badge logo.  As it happens, works too if you are interested in spelling it correctly. will also continue to work.

All of my existing content will still be here and everything will work just like it did.  I decided to change the site up for a few reasons.  First, if you google Hyperion EPM, you can’t get right to my website.  There are too many other companies that have the top slots (I’m looking at you, Oracle).  Second, Hyperion is not the only EPM technology out there.  I may not blog about other technologies yet, but at least this gives me more options.

That’s all for today.  I should have a lot more content coming as I finish off my presentations for Kscope17 and try to regain some of my blogging time as things hopefully slow down a little at US-Analytics.  In the meantime, enjoy a giant version of my new logo: