Oracle are buying Hyperion,1759,2099636,00.asp?kc=EWRSS03119TX1K0000594

I find this very interesting in several ways.

  1. The main one, Essbase should become easily and freely available for developers to play with (Oracle are very generous at letting devs access their technology, Hyperion, not so)
  2. It means Essbase is likely to go from strength to strength, meaning more potential work
  3. BI may actually be finally taking off, meaning more more interesting work
  4. It could mean Oracle have registered a real challenge from MS SQL Server and Analysis Services, meaning MS are picking up BI mind share.

It also makes me wonder whatever happened to Oracle Express?

I was just about to update my AS skills to 2005, but I may focus on Essbase instead, as it has a strong showing in the financial services sector where I mainly work. Mind you its not like I’m short of stuff to do!

BTW MS just released some AS 2005 add-ins for Excel – first heard here. Excel 2007 only sadly.

Anyone else into, or getting into the BI arena? I have a feeling its no longer called business intelligence, it might be CPM -Corporate Performance Management, or that might have been the name in January.



11 Responses to “Oracle are buying Hyperion”

  1. Marcus Says:

    I worked on an Essbase BI project in a bank a few years back. Getting tech support was a nightmare and documentation was scarce. At that time Essbase (5.5/6) still used ReportScript and had stringent rules on node naming conventions. Data via the API were returned as strings which had to be parsed (Simon: let me know if I’m missing something here).

    12 months later we migrated to MSAS. The major inventive was price. Essbase 50k p.a. (server) vs. MSAS free.

    MSAS employ a more natural hierarchical structure (I think) and it’s a breeze to pass an MDX statement via ADOMD and return a proper recordset. Excel also integrates well with MSAS. I’ve seen fewer Essbase implementations and more MSAS one. I liked the ability to create local cubes – some execs took their laptops on the road – although I believe that 2005 has removed that functionality (can anyone confirm this?)

    I still feel that the extra work to implement an OLAP solution is wasted on most clients. Most output, typically Excel or Web, is static. Very few report consumers I’ve dealt with slice’n’dice cubes and really use the technology to its potential. Shame really.

  2. Rob Bruce Says:

    Didn’t Oracle used to have an OLAP product? I’m sure I went on a (horribly dry) course in Braknell about a decade ago. I think Oracle canned the product very soon after. Can’t remember its name – PC something? All I remember is that it was a stand-alone product with very little connectivity to anything else and failed our evaluation test – we decided to wait for MS’s solution which was at the time code named PLATO, I believe.

    I kind of work in the BI area, but these days I specialise in helping small and medium sized organisations to build BI solutions on top of their existing systems. They usually don’t want or need warehousing, web services or any of that enterprise level stuff, they just need to consolidate, collate and analyse existing data. Excel, VB and JET/SQL Express is perfect for that level of system.

  3. Marcus Says:

    Hi Rob,

    I have a friend who used to work in Pre-Sales for Oracle (Pre-Sales? Think boozy lunches). Oracle has (had) somewhere in the vicinity of 160 products. I’m sure there was a BI product in there somewhere.

    As a side note, MS purchased what became Plato and the MSAS from an Israeli company rather than writing a product from scratch.

    Cheers – Marcus

  4. MikeC Says:

    Simon: currently named the “Solutions Centre”. I have no idea why…

  5. Rob Bruce Says:

    Oracle Express. That was it. Horrible.

  6. Simon Says:

    I remember doing the data cleaning for a (doomed) Oracle Financial Analyzer Excel replacement project. I was there with Access QBE, drag and drop, VBA colour coding, intellisense etc etc. The Oracle Express guy basically just had Notepad.
    It got canned long before it made any in roads into the rats nest of linked spreadsheet hell that was the analytics in the co.
    Essbase 7+ supports MDX, although its the Essbase Add-in that I like. ADOMD/MDX against MSAS is excellent too. Price is a valid point too, I have a client in that exact position at the moment. Maybe Ora are planning to give Essbase away to drive uptake of 10g??

  7. Marcus Says:

    I didn’t mind the Essbase Excel Add-In either although I needed more flexibility – from what I can recall a worksheet could only be linked to one cube (we had 14). I ended up writing a class to connect to Essbase, pass a ReportScript query, return a recordset, parse it to an array and paste the array to a range. This allow me to build a report derived from several cubes.

    On the QBE side, has anyone come across a decent MDX query designer of the Access QBE caliber, even as a third party ActiveX control?

    Cheers – Marcus

  8. Simon Says:

    I’ve written the same class, well similar, list of databases, list of criteria ranges, and which db to connect each to. No report script though, just the spreadsheet toolkit (I think there are versions for other s/s, OOo at least I think).

    Re MDX designers, I wrote a pretty crappy one, if that counts! (I wouldn’t even have the code anymore) didn’t the sample app have reusable controls?
    I don’t know of any decent ones, but I’ve not looked at this for years, hopefully someone else will know more?

  9. Will Riley Says:


    I’m almost exclusively working on BI projects now, currently using SQL 2005 and Office 2007.

    Incidentally, there is an Addin for Excel 2002/3 in order to interact with cubes, but personally I found it somewhat lacking in functionality – you can get it here but it requires MSXML 6 and the updated Analysis Services 9.0 OLE DB Provider.



  10. JonR Says:

    I’m an essbase developer and was wondering if anyone has used essbase and MSAS. I’m interested in understanding the similarities and differences between them.

  11. Marcus Says:

    Hi JonR,

    I haven’t worked on Essbase for a couple years (so some comments may be out of date) but have recently worked with MSAS. Also my work with Essbase has been limited to client side development. Perhaps there are others who can comment on the server side?

    Naming Conventions
    Essbase has (had) a naming nomenclature which insisted that each node have a unique name. Thus if you wanted two nodes (in different dimensions say) to have the same name you’d need to have a naming convention which allowed it. For example: [EuropeQtr1] and [AsiaQtr1]. I believe this had to do with indexing.

    MSAS employs a hierarchical naming convention which allows a name to be used by more than one node. For example:

    Query Language
    Until version 7, Essbase only employed a proprietary query language called ReportScript. It now also uses MDX. MSAS has used only MDX.

    Essbase has a reasonably decent Excel Add-In which allows you to interrogate cubes. From what I recall it only allowed you to link one worksheet to one cube and there was some slight overhead – e.g. the first row in the worksheet was reserved for dimension parameter values. If you want more granular control over a report or have a report which derives from multiple cubes, you’ll need to use the API to query a cube directly.

    Record sets.
    Via the API, Essbase returned a delimited string which needed to be parsed. MSAS returns a true record set using ADOMD (ADO Multi Dimensional).

    At the time documentation for Essbase was nonexistent. There’s plenty for MSAS.

    MSAS is easily available to install, play with and learn even if you can only get the 120 day SQL Server trial. No so with Essbase.

    Cheers – Marcus

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