Friday, January 17, 2020

Cumulative Feature Overview - Updated for EPM 11.2

Oracle's Cumulative Feature Overview web page now allows you to compare prior releases against 11.2.

Sadly, when I picked the core modules HFM, Planning and Essbase, I didn't see anything about features removed (Simplified Interface, Workforce Planning, CapEx Planning, etc).

It isn't surprising no changes are listed for Essbase.  Essbase 11.2 is actually Essbase 11.1.2.4.033 under the covers.  (Looking at the Essbase client DLLs tells you exactly this)

I do see a 2 tuning confirmation options mentioned for HFM.  Here's a direct copy & paste:

"Two new configuration settings have been added for calculations.  MaxNumConcurrentCalculations - The maximum number of concurrent calculations allowed per server per application. The default value is 8.
ConcurrentCalculationWaitTimeInSecond - If the maximum number of concurrent calculations are running and a user launches a new calculation, the system will wait until the timeout and log a message in the system log about the timeout with the POV details. The default value is 30 seconds. If the maximum number of concurrent calculations are running and ConcurrentCalculationWaitTimeInSecond = -1, and a user launches a new calculation, then the system will wait infinitely until one of the calculations finishes."
An HFM Task Option feature is also mentioned. Quote:
"In Task Audit, the system now generates entries for Journal Period Opened, Journal Period Closed, Data Locked, and Data Unlocked. Each lock and unlock audit event will have a description indicating which cell or cells were locked or unlocked, including the Scenario, Year, Entity (and descendants if applicable), and Period."
Everything else I noticed pertains to the back-up technology uplift to Ora

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Windows 7 End of Life is Here

One of my colleagues shared his post about Windows 7 End of Life so I thought I'd mention it here.  I work with some customers who still have Windows 7 in their environment, whether it be physical desktops/laptops or virtual desktops (e.g. VDI).

Windows 7 is due to hit Microsoft End of Life today... January 14, 2020.

No pressure, right?

Fortunately, both Hyperion / Oracle EPM 11.1.2.4 and 11.2 work with Windows 10.  EPM doesn't care which desktop operating system you use if you're only using Oracle SmartView for Office and EPM Workspace.

If you're on EPM 11.1.2.4 and want to migrate to Windows 10, you may want to check out this Oracle Knowledge Base article:

"Enterprise Performance Management 11.1.2.4 Certification for Windows 10 with IE11 (Doc ID 2085672.1)"

I'm not aware of any Windows 10 caveats where EPM 11.2 is concerned.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

EPM 11.2 References to Java 6 Not Completely Eradicated

In troubleshooting why Planning RMI Registry won't bind to port 11333 and throws a "could not find the service start class" error in the Windows Event Viewer, I did some digging and noticed several places where either jdk160_35 or JRE\Sun\1.6.0 are still referenced.  This might not be my problem, but it led to some interesting research.

Without further ado:

\Oracle\Middleware\EPMSystem11R1\common\config\11.1.2.0\setJavaRuntime.bat

if exist "%EPM_ORACLE_HOME%\..\jdk160_35" (
set JAVA_HOME=%EPM_ORACLE_HOME%\..\jdk160_35
if exist "%EPM_ORACLE_HOME%\common\JRE\Sun\1.6.0" goto okSetJRE160

\Oracle\Middleware\EPMSystem11R1\common\RMI\11.1.2.0\InstallHyperionNTServiceRMI.bat

set JVM_HOME=%EPM_ORACLE_HOME%\common\JRE\Sun\1.6.0\bin\client

\Oracle\Middleware\EPMSystem11R1\products\FinancialManagement\Utilities\MetadataMerge\MetadataMerge.bat

set JAVA_HOME=%EPM_ORACLE_HOME%\..\jdk160_35

-----------------

Now let's pick this apart a little.

%EPM_ORACLE_HOME%\..\jdk160_35 does not exist in EPM 11.2.  The setJavaRuntime.bat script thus fails over to the Sun 1.6.0 JRE instead.

%EPM_ORACLE_HOME%\common\JRE\Sun\1.6.0\bin\client does exist in EPM 11.2.  In the same JRE\Sun folder there's also a subdirectory for Java 8 in 11.2.  In the case of InstallHyperionNTServiceRMI.bat, however, we can't just swap out the reference to 1.6.0 to Java 8, as if you look closely at the script, all it wants from the Sun JRE (I believe) is jvm.dll, which resides within a slightly different subfolder.

For some of my customers, the presence of %EPM_ORACLE_HOME%\common\JRE\Sun\1.6.0 will present a problem.  Their IT shops run vulnerability scanners that seek out all occurrences java.exe considered to be vulnerable.

It ought to be OK to swap out the references to jdk160_35 with jdk1.8.0_181, but I haven't had time to fully regression test this.  In 11.1.24, we'd swap jdk160_35 with a generically named jdk7, so as to reduce further script maintenance when the quarterly Java patches come out.  I'm inclined to do the same thing for jdk8, but there are many other things to look into before I pull the trigger on that (Windows Registry, deployment scripts, etc...)


Saturday, January 4, 2020

EPM 11.2: Got it Online!

After taking some time off for the New Year, I finally had time to sit down and research why things we're looking quite right.

The Death Star is now operational!

Now the fun really begins... working through application migrations from an Oracle EPM 11.1.2.4 instance to an Oracle EPM 11.2 instance.

At first glance, Essbase is looking to be a piece of cake.  I need to spend time digging through some of the guides to see how we'll deal with, for example, FDMEE making a big leap from 11.1.1.7-based technology to 12c.

I like how the ODI 12c Console is automatically installed where it is needed. This is nice improvement!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

EPM 11.2, RCU and You!

There's a venerable utility for Oracle Fusion Middleware that has been available for quite some time.  Those of us who configured Oracle Data Integrator in the pre-FDMEE days, Hyperion Financial Close Management Suite 11.1.2.1 through 11.1.2.4.2xx, or Oracle Business Intelligence know what I'm about to discuss.

Oracle Repository Creation Utility, or "RCU" for short.

In EPM 11.1.2.4 and prior, you didn't need to worry about running RCU if you weren't using the modules I mentioned within my first paragraph.

Those days are behind us now.  EPM 11.2 requires that you run through the RCU process before you attempt to create your Oracle WebLogic domain and deploy your EPM Foundation web service.

R2D2 says: "Technically, EPM Foundation is an Oracle WebLogic Managed Server."
C3P0 responds: "Don't get technical with me [further insults added here]."

So let's talk about what has changed in EPM 11.2.  Your actions will depend upon if you're using Microsoft SQL Server or an Oracle database.

If you're using Microsoft SQL Server, the steps are a little more complex because your DBA needs to create an empty database for you.  Furthermore, the DBA needs to run these queries against that database before you may continue and run RCU.  Let's assume the DBA has named the RCU database "epmrcu":

ALTER DATABASE epmrcu Set READ_COMMITTED_SNAPSHOT ON
GO
ALTER DATABASE epmrcu Set ALLOW_SNAPSHOT_ISOLATION ON
GO
ALTER DATABASE epmrcu COLLATE LATIN1_GENERAL_CS_AS
GO


Note the COLLATE option is slightly different for RCU's database vs. everything else EPM wants to use.

Source:  SQL Server Database Creation Requirements

The above steps aren't needed if you're using an Oracle Database; RCU creates the schemas and associated users for you.

Now for both MS SQL Server or Oracle Database, you need to fire up Oracle/Middleware/oracle_common/bin/rcu.bat and follow the instructions here:
Using RCU 

Unless you're a DBA, you will need a DBA's assistance.  The RCU utility requires someone with elevated rights to type in their credentials for a DBA superuser account ("sa" for MS SQL or "sys as sysdba" for Oracle).  There's the option to save the commands to a SQL query so your DBA can run it on their own, but I've experienced mixed results with this in the past.

So you now have your RCU database initialized.  There's just one more manual step to do.

On each server where any Oracle WebLogic components run, you need to manually edit this file:

Oracle\Middleware\EPMSystem11R1\common\config\11.1.2.0\RCUSchema.properties

Here's the fun part:  passwords are exposed in plain text until you run through configTool on the server, at which time the passwords become encrypted.
Source: Updating RCU.properties File

(Edit: I blew away my MS Server 2016 VM and spun up MS Server 2019, after being advised by Oracle that Server 2016 hasn't been certified yet for EPM 11.2.  After running through RCU, I inspected the RCU.properties file and noticed encrypted passwords.  I still had to update the JDBC URL and some other information)

Once you complete all of these tasks, you may finally launch configTool and deploy your WebLogic Admin Server and your various WebLogic Managed Services.  If you overlooked these instructions from the config guide, unfortunately you will need to blow away the entire domains/EPMSystem folder structure and start over.

Eying the Christmas Dinner leftovers in my fridge.... I may be a little delayed on writing my next post!  👀


Saturday, December 21, 2019

Installing EPM 11.2: Things Waiting to Trip You Up

Christmas 2019 came early this year, and just about every EPM gear-head I know is trying to install EPM 11.2.0.0 so it may be taken for a spin.

Not so fast!  There's a few things to take care of first!

Christmas Eve 2019 update: Stay tuned!  New information has come in from Oracle and I will update this post after I finish a few plates of Christmas Day ham.  First and foremost, Windows Server 2016  is NOT certified by Oracle for EPM 11.2 at this time.  Please upgrade your sandboxes to Windows Server 2019.  Use Oracle 12 or SQL Server 2016 as your RDBMS until further guidance.

January 2020 update: Oracle's feedback is posted here: EPM 11.2 Certification Matrix post
Look for the text in red font.

EPM 11.1.2.4 only worked up through MS Windows Server 2012 R2.  EPM 11.2 works on 2016 and 2019.  (My previous post about the 11.2 Certification Matrix mentions 2016 as a potential omission)

MS Windows Server 2012 R2 imposed some new changes that weren't a problem for us in 2008 R2.  Server 2016 and 2019 present the same challenges, plus newer ones.

Before doing anything, change this Windows Registry key from 1 to 0 and reboot.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\system]
"EnableLUA"=dword:00000000

You will thank me later.  If you find a few days later that the key's value reverted from 0 back to 1, contact your IT department and get an exception to Group Policy Update so your EPM servers are excluded from the change to this key.

Here's the classic symptoms this key is wrong:
  • Pop-up message asking for permission to change something within a directory.
  • You try to pick a folder for the Oracle eDelivery download helper, and it says your access is denied.
  • You manage to try a deployment and notice a folder named "Oracle EPM System" in the root of your Hyperion/EPM drive.
 Now for the fun ones:  Windows Defender and Windows Firewall

Windows Firewall.  Don't stop the service.  Your Remote Desktop session will immediately be terminated and you'll need someone with console access to turn the service back on.  Instead, go into the Windows Firewall settings and turn off notifications and blocking for Domain and Local network.  Leave it turned on for Public network.  Otherwise you will have to deal with a mess of individual port exceptions.

Windows Defender.  Go into the Windows Defender panel and add on-access scanning exceptions for where you're downloading the software to, and where you're installing it to.  Otherwise, look forward to a 20-30% performance degradation.  Unlike 2012 and prior, you can't disable or stop this Windows service.  There are also firewall settings in this service and you'll need to inspect and modify them.

Finally, was the install/config so bad that you need to blow away either user_projects or EPMSystem11R1?  You may hit the "path too long" error Microsoft helpfully introduced.  The poor man's solution is to install freely available 7-zip.  Launch 7-zip, do File->Open and pick the parent folder.  Then left-click the child folder to be deleted, and click Shift-Delete.  This will blow it away without encountering the Microsoft error.

Thoughts On EPM 11.2 Certification Matrix

I updated my earlier post Important Oracle EPM 11.2 Links with a link to the EPM 11.2 Certification Matrix

I'd like to share a few thoughts about what's currently in this matrix.


Christmas Eve 2019 update: Stay tuned!  New information has come in from Oracle and I will update this post after I finish a few plates of Christmas Day ham.  First and foremost, Windows Server 2016  is NOT certified by Oracle for EPM 11.2 at this time.  Please upgrade your sandboxes to Windows Server 2019.  Use Oracle 12 or SQL Server 2016 as your RDBMS until further guidance.

New Years Day Update January 1 2020: Answers to my questions below have been addressed by a senior person in Oracle.  I posted the answers in red text immediately after the relevant question.  If you are color blind, fear not as I prefixed the text with "ORACLE'S ANSWER".  I offered to provide accreditation to the Oracle person who was kind enough to read through this post thoroughly and provided a thoughtful response, but the person asked not to be named.  Again, a big THANK YOU to the person at Oracle who provided these answers!  We now have more clarity, as you will see in the red text below!  As the Oracle person asked not to be identified, I paraphrased the answers in my own words.

Questions posed:

  • Why isn't Windows Server 2016 listed?  ORACLE'S ANSWER: Windows Server 2019 was the focus of Q&A testing because it has the "longest runway" from a Microsoft Extended Support perspective.  It might work on 2016 and 2012, but your mileage will vary and is not guaranteed.
  • Yes, Windows Server 2012 R2 is coming out of Microsoft Extended Support in a few years, but will it work there? ORACLE'S ANSWER: As above, not worth the R&D / Quality Assurance time as Server 2012 has a limited shelf-life from a Microsoft perspective.  DATAVAIL ANSWER:  Ping me in LinkedIn if you couldn't attend my ODTUG webinar on this topic and I can quickly debrief you.
  • The only version of MS SQL Server listed is 2016.  (One person told me they tried it on 2019 and it didn't work, so he's downgrading to 2016).  ORACLE'S ANSWER: From a Microsoft perspective, SQL Server 2016 is the version certified for Oracle Fusion Middleware 12c.
  • The Firefox ESR version numbers are not listed.  In EPM 11.1.2.4, certain EPM screens stopped working once you surpassed a certain Firefox version.  Has this been fixed in 11.2?  PERSONAL ANSWER: Once the 2020 New Year champagne wears off I need to go back and check if this was answered.
  • Windows 10 is the only supported Windows OS listed.  What about 8.1?  Not everyone has finished their migration to 10 yet.  ORACLE'S ANSWER: 8.1 is coming out of Microsoft Extended Support soon, so testing/QA emphasis was spent on Windows 10 from a desktop perspective.  DATAVAIL'S ANSWER: Windows 7 is close to end-of-life and a desktop upgrade to Windows 10 is recommended.
  • Why is Windows Server 2012 listed as a certified client OS, but not as a certified server OS?  ORACLE'S ANSWER: As above.  Server testing was focused on MS Server 2019 due to the predicted shelf life.  PERSONAL ANSWER: Server 2012 is essentially the same technology as Desktop 10, so this kind of makes sense.
  • JRE 8 is the only client Java plug-in supported?  Is the EPM system not backward-compatible for organizations who haven't completed their client desktop updates yet?  ORACLE AND PERSONAL JOINT ANSWER: Java 6 came out of Oracle Extended Support on Jan 1 2019.  Java 7 has a limited shelf life and the security updates for it are only available to paying customers; the general public doesn't have access to those updates.  Java 8 has the longest shelf life until a subsequent patch is issued for EPM 11.2 that certifies newer versions.
  • Certification Matrices for 11.1.2.4 and prior listed Microsoft Office versions.  Microsoft Office is conspicuously missing here. We know 365 Cloud won't be certified until a newer version of SmartView is released, but could we get some details in the meantime.  ORACLE'S ANSWER: Oracle SmartView for Office is the only desktop client remaining that cares about the version of MS Office.  A conscious decision was made to remove Office from the matrix so as to reduce confusion.
No mention of Microsoft Edge.  We know this is on the roadmap, but it would be nice to see a statement in the matrix to the effect of "not supported yet; to be certified in a subsequent patch" or "it is certified now".  ORACLE'S ANSWER: IE11 for now. Stay tuned.

Speaking for myself, I've got a secret underground bunker / mad scientist lab with a 6-month Trial Edition of MS Windows Server 2016 and MS SQL Server 2016 Developer Edition.  I've gotten through the EPM 11.2.0.0 install and config, and everything works fine except for Oracle HTTP Server 12.  I'll write a separate post on that once I complete the troubleshooting process and can actually login.

The certification matrix is widely considered to be a "one stop shop"on these types of questions, rather than having to wade through a variety of readmes, installation and admin guides.  I'd love to see the matrix tightened up and improved.

Did I miss any of your questions?  Post them in the comments below!