I started my career as an accountant and never had any aspirations of doing the same thing all day, every day.  While I struggled through what I considered monotonous job functions, I developed a knack for finding ways to automate my job.  As a result, I didn’t have to do repetitive tasks and I had more time to learn the business. Don’t get me wrong, accountants possess a unique set of skills and talent that I respect trumendously. It is a critical function of any business.  So, kudos to you accountants!

When I get involved with building new applications with Hyperion, or updating existing models, it pains me to see accounting, finance, and the staff who support Hyperion continue to perform repetitive tasks that dominate their time.  It can drive talented people to look for employment elsewhere.  It inflates salaries and jeopardizes credibility with an increase in human error. It also deteriorates the quality of business analysis, introducing a greater risk of poor decisions.  Inflated expenses and poor management decisions can be catastrophic to any business.

Automation in accounting and finance areas is critical to productivity.  Being able to support the constant push from management to become better and faster with less resources is always challenging.  If your Hyperion environment is supported outside of finance, IT areas are under just as much scrutiny.  How much of your time, or staff, is spent generating reports?  How much more time could be spent helping analyze the business and adding value to management decisions?  From an IT prospective, how much of your time is spent supporting the environment and responding to requests where answers could be automatically generated?  If 20% of your reparative tasks were eliminated, how much more effective you would you be?  How much more experience would you gain?  How much more marketable would you be both internally and externally?

Many of the possibilities for automation are never discussed.  Most people don’t even realize how much time they spend performing repetitive tasks that could be automated. Some think it would be impossible to automate and others think it would be too expensive.  The examples below were both accomplished in a matter of weeks.  The investment had a positive return within months.  The non-monitory gain was felt immediately.

Don’t think of why it can’t be done.  Think of a solution without constraints and ask, “How can we get there?”  With the proper guidance and background, massive improvements can be accomplished with minimal effort.

To spark some thought, think about these situations.

Monitoring Essbase jobs and keeping users informed of system status

Are you responsible for managing all the jobs that run on Essbase server(s) and are constantly asked if something has completed, or when something will complete, by your users?  Some organizations have a person dedicated to managing this information flow.

I implemented a solution at a large financial institution to conquer this problem.  The result was a solution that required zero effort to maintain and provided a summary of over 50 processes in one web page.  It gave the status of the process, when it last executed, if there were any errors, and a link to the log and error files if they were required.  Access was granted to all the Essbase administrators.  Another page was available for all users that displayed the status of the application, when it was last loaded, when it was last calculated, and several other useful sources of information.

The days of searching through folders on multiple servers are now long gone for system administrators.  Users are more informed and support tickets diminished substantially.  The estimated time savings was 4-6 hours per day.

This solution was built using existing technologies, limited to Maxl, Windows scripting, ASP.NET, and access to an IIS Server to host the website.  It was 100% maintenance free and built dynamically enough so that new applications could be added and applications could be renamed or deleted.  All this is possible without changing any code or processes.

Distribution of reports

A large international organization distributed over 150 reporting templates to an equal amount of people in the US and abroad.  These templates were distributed daily through the monthly close of business.  The daily adjustment cycle finished updating the reporting Essbase application around 2 AM.  When a finance staff member arrived around 8 AM, the work began.  The template was refreshed and saved for each of the 150 business entities.  Emails were then sent to each of the 150 people with their respective report.  This process took about 6 hours every day it was performed.

Using existing technology, a process was created to traverse through a spreadsheet that had 2 columns, which was maintained by finance.  The first was the business unit, followed by the email the report was to be sent to.  Using the Essbase toolkit and Excel, a process was initiated as soon as the database was updated that opened a spreadsheet that included the template, changed the business unit, refreshed the template, saved it, and emailed to the intended recipient.  This process took less than 1 hour and all the reports were distributed before 4 AM.  Customers received their reports earlier (those in Asia a day early), no human errors were made, and the finance staff now had an additional 6 hours to add value.


“Pre-Installation Requirements”

In installment #1 of this guide, we reviewed the architecture considerations and defined a simplistic architecture to use as a reference moving forward.  I recommend you read the previous post before you pick up this one.  I also recommend reading

Oracle Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management System Installation Start Here Release (128 pages)” from the Oracle Documentation Library.

To reiterate our general approach, the Hyperion architecture establishment and installation activities in our organization cover the following five areas.

  1. Defining an Architecture – Work with the client to define the hardware, software, and the distribution of Hyperion components
  2. Provide Pre-Installation Requirements – Provide the client with a detailed list of activities prior to the installation
  3. Installation – Running the installation and configuration utilities
  4. Validation – Perform all functional activities necessary to validate the environment readiness
  5. Documentation – Provide the client with all the details of the environment as it is configured.

In this post, I will go through step 2 that the Hyperion architect, should deliver.  Steps 3-5 will be available in the coming weeks.  For the sake of simplicity I will be using the example of a common installation, primarily Hyperion Planning, Hyperion Financial Management (HFM), and the core BI applications.

As part of any installation, some items need to take place before the Fusion Installer is started.  I like to create a checklist of things that need to be done.  Often times these things are out of my control and I will rely on Database Administrator, Network Administrators, and other System Administrators.  This checklist contains the following elements.

  • Web Application Server Specifications
  • Relational Repository Information
  • General System Administration
  • Network Information
  • Additional Components
  • DCOM Configuration
  • IIS and .NET Configuration

I’ll start with the Web Application Server Specification.  Once the web application server platform is chosen from the table below, the installation and configuration often falls on System Administrators.  Items such as clustering, system account management, and JVM setting are managed outside of the Hyperion installation.  Other times, I’ll get admin access and manage it myself.  The first item to do is to validate the application server is certified.  This is directly from Oracle Enterprise Performance Management System – Supported Platforms Matrices “Oracle Enterprise Performance Management System, Fusion Edition Release” in the Oracle document library.  I recommend reviewing this document.  It can change from release to release.


Server Notes
Oracle Application Server 10g ( a If Oracle Application Server is used as the Web application server, Oracle HTTP Server is also required.  Profitability and Cost Management supports only Oracle Application Server 10.1.3.x.
Oracle WebLogic Server 9.2 (MP1 minimum) / 9.2.xb Shared Services requires WebLogic Server patch CR283953” for all platforms. You can obtain this patch at the BEA web site.
IBM WebSphere / 6.1.x C  


Embedded Java container d  


a Supports these editions: Java, Standard One, Standard & Enterprise. Includes support for Oracle Application Server Single Sign-On.

b WebLogic Express is supported for each supported version of WebLogic Server; non-base versions are supported only via manual deployment.

c WebSphere Express, ND, and XD Editions are supported for each supported version of WebSphere; ND and XD are supported only via manual deployment.

d For this release, Apache Tomcat 5.5.17 is the embedded Java container that is installed automatically on all platforms. Apache Tomcat is supported only in this capacity. If future EPM System releases embed different Java application servers, Apache Tomcat will no longer be supported. For deployments that require high availability or failover, Oracle recommends using a commercially supported Web application server that supports high availability and failover.

I request the URL and authentication information since this will be needed during the deployment.  If I am doing a manual deployment, I will request contact information from the web application server administrator and work in collaboration on the deployment.

The next item on my checklist is to get the Relational Repositories Information set up.  This is mostly straightforward.  In general, I like to create a tablespace/database for each component ((Hyperion Foundation, Essbase Admin Services / Business Rules, EPMA, Planning, Financial Management, etc).  A distinct tablespace/database for each component makes it easier to manage in my opinion.  Although it may not be strictly necessary, the documentation does not seem to be clear on the matter.  I say ‘better safe than sorry’.  For the installation and deployment, I’ll need credentials for each table.  Based upon some Q&A, I’ll make initial size recommendations.

The target installation servers have a General System Administration checklist containing the information that I’ll need to execute the installation.  This is made of the following items.

  • Operating Systems version/build
  • Account on each server to run the Hyperion services and account requirements
  • External Authentication information (MSAD, LDAP, or OID if applicable)
  • Drive/Volume information identified for installation of the Hyperion software.
  • DCOM and .NET account information if HFM or FDM are to be installed

Next, I identify the Network Information necessities for appropriate communication between servers.  This includes IP addresses, DNS information, validation of name resolution, trace between servers, subnet configuration, etc.  This is vital so the components can communicate via Fully Qualified Domain Name, Short Name, and IP address.  Some components use different variations of name resolution probably because the components were developed separately and have not been fully standardized.

In addition to the Hyperion Software, Web Application Servers, and Relational Repositories there are a few Additional Components that need to be installed.  A PDF writer is needed for Reports Server to render .pdf reports in Workspace.  This can be GhostScript or Acrobat distiller.  I suggest referring to the “Start Here” documentation to see what is currently supported but we often go with GhostScript due to its cost.

For the Windows Administration, we provide the DCOM Configuration information needed to support FDM, EPMA, and FDM.  This includes the DCOM account information, permissions, and authentication information.  Although this is spelled out in detail in the “Start Here” manual, I like to provide step-by-step information with screen shots since DCOM is often confusing…well it is to me at least.

The last thing we review is the IIS and .NET Configuration.  IIS is often not installed as part of a standard OS build.  We make sure this requirement is specified, ensuring .NET is installed, and validate it is the appropriate version.

As with any installation, I recommend the Installation Architect read, and re-read, the Hyperion Manuals on there own rather than relying on this information or intuition.  It can always change and your installation may have some caveats that I have not covered.  For our purposes, with all the above activities completed and validated, we should be ready to start laying out the binaries and start the Hyperion Installation.  We will review the Fusion Installer and Hyperion Configuration Utility in our next installment.


Many developers that work with Hyperion products, as well as many any other software product, use virtual machines.  Virtual machines are an easy way to create multiple environments for testing and developing multiple product versions

The 3 main applications to create and use virtual machines are

I have used all 3.  Opinions can be found that promote all 3.  Many IT professionals prefer VMWare.  I have found it to be a little cumbersome to use, and find sharing virtual machines to be a frustrating experience.  I am not a stereotypical IT professional, but rather a business person with an aptitide for technology.  That said, I prefer VirtualBox.  For me, VirtualBox is easier to install and manage the virtual machines.  It is easy to move virtual hard drives to another computer, simple to duplicate a virtual hard drive and allows users to take snapshots, which allows, for lack of a better explanation, a huge undo if required.

Through my VirtualBox travels, I have found the following knowledge to be very valuable.  Here are some HOW TOs that might be useful if you decide to use Sun’s VirtualBox.

How to reduce the size of a virtual machine
The use of virtual machines (just like any system) cause fragmentation and the size of the virtual hard drive to grow, sometimes substantially.  Managing the size of the virtual machine is relatively easy, and is not time consuming.  It involves 3 actions (defrag, delete free space, and compact the virtual hard drive).  Here is one way to accomplish reducing the size of your virtual machine / virtual hard drive.

  1. Open the virtual machine that needs compressed
  2. Download sDelete, and extract the sDelete.exe to c:\
  3. NOT REQUIRED:  Download and install Smart Defrag – this is a free disk defrag tool that I have found to be more effective than the one that comes with the Windows OS.
  4. Use the disk defrag tool that comes with Windows or the one above, and defragment the hard drive.
  5. Go to Start/Run, and enter “c:\sdelete.exe -c”
  6. Shut Down the OS on the virtual machine
  7. On the host computer, open a command window (Start/Run, and enter cmd)
  8. If VirtualBox was installed in the default location, change the directory to the VirtualBox directory by entering “cd C:\Program Files\Sun\xVM VirtualBox\”
  9. Enter “VBoxManage modifyvdi HardDrivePathAndName compact” where HardDrivePathAndName is the full path to the hard drive the virtual machine is using.

If the virtual machine/hard drive has free space, this process will find it and reduce the overall size of your virtual machine/hard drive.

How to duplicating, or clone, a hard drive
Often times there is a need to replicate a virtual machine on the same host environment.  Copying the file doesn’t do the trick, as every virtual machine’s hard disk must have a unique key.  VirtualBox comes with a tool to duplicate the hard drive and assign it a new key.  To accompolish, follow the following steps.

  1. Reduce the hard drive size (see previous topic)
  2. On the host computer, open a command window (Start/Run, and enter cmd)
  3. If VirtualBox was installed in the default location, change the directory to the VirtualBox directory by entering “cd C:\Program Files\Sun\xVM VirtualBox\”
  4. Enter “VBoxManage clonevdi Source Destination” where Source is the full path to the hard drive the virtual machine to duplicate and Destination is the location of the new virtual machine hard drive.
  5. Open VirtualBox and create a new virtual machine that points to the newly created hard drive in the previous step.