Kscope18 Recap and Presentations – Take 2

So…I posted my presentations here, but then forgot to update them on the Kscope18 site.  So, if you prefer to get them from the Kscope18 site, they should now be updated to the same version as below.  Also, there was another Kscope18 recap, so I thought I would mention here as well.

Kscope18 Recaps

Kscope18 Presentations

And just in case you would rather get them from the US-Analytics site…here they are:

ASO and BSO and Hybrid! Oh My!

I’ll say that this presentation left me a little unnerved.  I’ve never had a presentation with so few questions.  We had questions at the end, but very few if any during the presentation.

Teaching On-Prem Planning Some PBCS Tricks

This presentation was actually sited as a “featured presentation” by ODTUG.  So…no pressure.  I actually felt much better about this presentation simply because there were a ton of questions.  And they were really, really great questions.

Wrap Up

Overall, Kscope18 was a great experience, as always.  This was my 9th Kscope in a row.  I am really hoping to have a presentation selected next year to make it an even 10 years!  So…hopefully I’ll see everyone next year in Seattle!




What is a Homelab and Why do I Need One?

I’ve blogged about EPM for a few years now but I have recently decided to try to spend some more time dedicated to just homelab content.  So…what on earth is a homelab and why on earth do I need one?  I’ll try to answer this question and provide some resources for those of you interested in starting down the homelab path and wondering where to start.  I’ll approach this question from two different perspectives:  EPM people and non-EPM people.  This should allow you to skip sections of content that just don’t apply to you.

Introduction to EPM

With my recent uptick in content related to homelabs, there is actually a large portion of my readers that wonder…what is EPM?  Well, for starters, EPM is my day job.  EPM stands for Enterprise Performance Managements.  EPM is essentially an industry acronym use by Oracle and others to define a segment of their software products.  Oracle has their Hyperion products, OneStream has their CPM (Corporate Performance Management) products, and a variety of other vendors out there like Anaplan and Host Analytics are in this space.

So what is this space?  Essentially, medium to large companies have a set of financial activities that they perform each month, quarter and year.  Some of those activities are more accounting specifics, like consolidating hundreds of legal entities into a single set of reporting.  Others are more finance driver like putting together a budget or forecast for the month or year.  The list of buzz-words goes on, but basically EPM includes Financial Consolidation, Planning, Budget, Account Reconciliation, Profitability and Cost Management, Strategic Modeling (long range planning), and financial and sometimes operation reporting.

Traditionally, EPM has been reserved for companies generally in or around the Fortune 1000 list.  Companies whose revenues are generally in the billions of dollars or at the very least hundreds of millions of dollars.  Why?  Because the software has been very expensive and the implementations aren’t exactly cheap.  These days, the landscape has changed a bit.  Companies of all sizes can now start to afford many of the cloud-based products that require shorter and less expensive implementations.

The larger companies are of course still using it, but the installed base of Oracle’s Hyperion Planning has more than doubled since it became a cloud-based product named PBCS (Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service).  This of course shouldn’t be a shock given the price difference.  Hyperion Planning is $3500 per user initially plus 20% per year forever.  In contrast, the cloud-based product (PBCS), which boasts considerably more functionality starts at only $120 per user per month.  So, with the price of the cloud being so attractive, why would I need a homelab?  We’ll get to that…

Introduction to a Homelab

So what exactly is a homelab?  A homelab, in the simplest terms is a sandbox that you can learn and play with new or unfamiliar technologies.  They can be as simple as a set of VM’s on an old PC or laptop to as complex as my lab (or even more complex than my lab in some cases).  Some people will use a lab to learn things for a certification around networking or virtualization.  Some people will use their homelab to try out a variety of new software options that they are interested in.  Others will be more interested in the hardware aspect of things like say, networking and switches.  Still others may just be toying around with cryptocurrency.  At the end of the day, a homelab is whatever you want it to be.

Why do I need one (EPM)?

As the EPM industry continues to change with the major push to the cloud, I often hear that I don’t need an on-premise environment any more.  While the cloud has certainly changes the landscape, I believe that having an on-premise environment is still critical.  Why?  Because the cloud provides us so much and so little all at the same time.  I get all of my infrastructure and patches…and zero access to things we look at all the time when implementing on-premise software.  Things like the outline file.  Here are a few use-cases that I’ve run into in my implementations of various Oracle EPM Cloud products.

Dynamic Smart Lists in PBCS

We implemented the dynamic smart-lists based on dimension in a PBCS implementation.  We discovered that when you migrate the application, the HSP_OJECT ID’s change.  Because the alias table where these ID’s exist is hidden by PBCS, we had no idea that when we migrated, it didn’t take that into account.  Instead, our business rules based on the dyanmic smart lists just started producing incorrect results.  Once we took at look at the outline file, we were able to determine the issue and build a work-around.


This one may seem basic, but I’ve had it bite at least three very seasoned consultants.  Basically if you have a member shared between plan types, that member will be dynamic with a system generated formula in the non-primary plan types.  The way you turn this off is to add a UDA to the member (HSP_NOLINK).  The problem is that you can’t see the formula, so if you just look at the member in PBCS, it is set to stored and there is no formula.  But, if you download and open the outline, you will see the formula on the member and setting of dynamic.  Then you remember that you forgot to add the UDA and move on with your day.  Without the outline, you could spend hours trying to fix a very simple mistake.


Yes, because.  Because many of us just want to play with the software and push it to its limits.  The cloud doesn’t let us do that as we don’t really have a place to play.  And even when we do play, we can’t really see whats going on.  So you need a homelab as an EPM professional…because.  Be sure to use this reason with your significant other should they question the need.  Hopefully it works better for you than it did for me.

Why do I need one (Non-EPM)?

If you are a non-EPM person, you are likely just interested in learning new things.  I won’t dwell on this, because most of you already want a homelab if you are reading this post anyway!  So what does a non-EPM person generally do with a homelab:

  • Network Learning (CCNA, etc.)
  • Virtualization Learning (vmWare, etc.)
  • General IT-related administration activities
  • Learning new software
  • Development of new software
  • This list can go on and on

How do I start building a homelab?

Where you start will all depend on your specific needs.  When I started this 20 years ago, virtualization wasn’t even a thing, so I just had a few physical boxes, mostly older system from upgrades of my gaming computer.  Now…it may be as simple as a memory upgrade to your existing desktop so that you can use a desktop-based virtualization.  For those of you that are looking to build or buy a separate box, I’ll have an updated series on this topic coming over the summer.  In the meantime, you can check out my older series:

Great Resources

I’ve found that there are a lot of great resources in the form of communities for homelabs.  Here are a couple of my favorites:


Hopefully this was a helpful introduction for those of you considering a homelab.  Good luck on your quest and be very careful as homelabbing can be addictive.  You could end up with something like this:

Build a Homelab Dashboard: Part 1, An Introduction

If you’ve read much of my blog, you know at this point that I like to create “series” of blog posts.  Welcome to the latest addition.  The topic of this extremely long series?  Homelab Dashboards.  So what is a homelab dashboard?  If you don’t know the answer to this question, you will likely not enjoy the rest of this series…but just in case, I’ll give a brief description and then we’ll get started into some of the technologies that I have used and will demonstrate.  A homelab dashboard is quite simply a dashboard that provides a nice interface to your homelab and all of the things you want to know about your homelab.  So…if you don’t have a homelab, either build one, or probably ignore this series!

Homelab Dashboards

I’m going to cover a variety of technologies that make up a homelab dashboard in this series.  You have all of the back-end plumbing that provides information for your dashboard, you have the dashboard itself, and generally some other interface to put it all together.  Let’s start and the end and work our way back to the beginning.  I like having a place to see all of my statistics and status information, but I also like having a single landing zone to get to all of my interfaces.  For me, this might be pfSense, FreeNAS, my Hyperion environments, or any number of other things I go to many times a day.  For this, I need more than just a pretty set of graphs.  I started off going through a list of dashboards on /r/homelab to see what other people were using.  You can see a list here of a variety of homelab dashboards.  As I went through this list, the author of this post had a nice custom dashboard that was easy to modify and easy on the eyes.  So I started there:

This dashboard was create by Gabisonfire and he has distributed it on Github here.  He was very helpful in getting everything set up and hopefully we’ll see some of my modifications rolled into his code soon.


I really enjoyed working with this dashboard and finally posted my results of working with it.  Imagine my surprise when someone mentioned a piece of software in that post named Organizr.  This is basically what I was using, but far more advanced.  So next, I turned my attention to setting up Organizr and giving that a whirl.  My attempt looks something like this:

Organizr Homepage


Nifty Admin Interface

Custom vs. Pre-Built

When it comes to the decision of custom vs. pre-built dashboard software, its a complicated answer for me.  Let’s take a look at a few Pro’s and Con’s:

Organizr Pro’s

  • Ton’s of pre-built integrations (Plex, SABnzbd, Sonarr, Radarr, etc.)
  • User Management
  • Really nice administrative interface
  • Very Pretty

Organizr Con’s

  • Much harder to tinker with (IE, play with the code)
  • User Management (yes, this can be a con…its just one more thing for you to manage in your homelab)

Custom Pro’s

Infinite flexibility to tinker

I still prefer the look of the option I selected over Organizr

Custom Con’s

Way less pre-built integrations

Less refined administrative interface

My Homelab Dashboard

In the end, I have both up and running and will likely build tutorial for both.  At the moment, I still prefer the custom dashboard, and I’ve gone through and extended it quite a bit with logos on the interface and a brand new administrative engine.  Take a look:

Custom Homepage

New Admin Interface

Grafana Fun

More Grafana Fun

The TIG Stack

Hopefully you are looking at my dashboard saying…”That’s really cool.  What else does it take to do that?”  If you aren’t saying that, keep it to yourself and let me live in ignorant bliss.  So what else does it take?  Enter the TIG stack.  Telegraf, InfluxDB, and Grafana.  These are three open-source projects that make all of the really cool visualizations possible.


Telegraf is an open-source product with a ton of plug-ins that gives us the ability to write statistics to a database on an interval.  For instance, it might look at the CPU usage on a server and then write that to a database every 30 seconds.  The Telegraf agent will track all types of things like CPU and memory usage, SNMP metrics, and anything else you can write a plug-in for.  But what kind of database does it write the data to?


InfluxDB is from the same development team as Telegraf.  It is also open-source and provides a streaming database specific to time-based data.  This means telegraf and anything else that can stream to a web-service can write to InfluxDB.  Once you have InfluxDB configured and Telegraf sending data, you can move on to making pretty pictures with Grafana!


What good is a homelab dashboard if you can’t make pretty pictures?  Exactly,  And this is where Grafana comes in.  Grafana is yet another open-source piece of software, this time geared towards the actual dashboarding part of a homelab dashboard.  Basically, it can take anything from InfluxDB and make it pretty (and useful).


I guess the P is silent?  For all of the things that Telegraf can’t handle natively, I have a bunch of custom PowerShell scripts that give us statistics.  This includes things like VMware and service status.

What’s Next?

As I already mentioned, I love blog series.  We’ll have at least one blog post dedicated to every step in the process of building your own homelab dashboard.  In an ideal world, this will be a soup-to-nuts solution for anyone looking for pretty graphs and a central location to management their homelab.


(DreamHost Test Note)

Kscope18 Recap and Presentations

As it does every year, Kscope18 has come and gone in a blur.  It’s been quite some time since my last post, something I hope to change now that Kscope18 has concluded.  This year, as has become the unfortunate trend for me, was another quick trip.  I flew in on the day of my first presentation and out the very next day of my last presentation.  I was fortunate enough to spend some time with old friends and people did show up to my presentations, so I’m calling this year a success!  While I didn’t get to spend much time at the conference, many of you did, and several of you were kind enough to put together a real recap.

Kscope18 Recaps

Kscope18 Presentations

This year I was honored to have two presentations.  You can download them from either the US-Analytics website or the Kscope website:

ASO and BSO and Hybrid! Oh My!

I’ll say that this presentation left me a little unnerved.  I’ve never had a presentation with so few questions.  We had questions at the end, but very few if any during the presentation.

Teaching On-Prem Planning Some PBCS Tricks

This presentation was actually sited as a “featured presentation” by ODTUG.  So…no pressure.  I actually felt much better about this presentation simply because there were a ton of questions.  And they were really, really great questions.

Wrap Up

Overall, Kscope18 was a great experience, as always.  This was my 9th Kscope in a row.  I am really hoping to have a presentation selected next year to make it an even 10 years!  So…hopefully I’ll see everyone next year in Seattle!