Many of my readers are looking at a situation where something needs to be done to their EPM system in Fiscal 2021: Either upgrade, move to Oracle EPM Cloud, or move to a 3rd party solution such as OneStream.
The deciding factors are End Of Life for Hyperion / Oracle EPM 220.127.116.11 in DEC 2021, Microsoft IE11, Microsoft Server 2012 and prior, Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and prior, Linux 6, and so on. I've written about these topics before and you can find details if you search through this blog's history.
One thing I would like to caution my readers about is conflating multiple significant changes in a single shot. Such as: Upgrading from EPM 18.104.22.168 or prior to EPM 11.2.x, AND doing a shift at the same time from an on-premises data center to a hosted cloud such as OCI, Azure, Amazon AWS, CenturyLink, etc.
Yes, many organizations combine these activities into a single project, often with success. But please do consider one factor that goes beyond technology: your friends in Finance.
Finance MUST be involved in a significant project such as this, as they will need to validate the new system has apples-to-apples data results and performance (or better).
I mention this for the case where things don't quite match up right: data is wrong, or performance worsened. Combining a significant version upgrade AND a shift in data center hosting leaves doubt as to where the problem stems from.
This being said, I'd like to offer general answers to questions I've received over the past few years along these lines. Bear in mind these are general answers and every organization is different. As I pose general questions & answers, if anything I say below triggers a further question, I highly suggest finding a Partner and locking them in now. Don't wait until Spring/Summer 2021 as by then many Partners will already be booked for the year for their 2021 EPM 11.2 upgrade projects.
My favorite analogy along these lines relates back to my experience living in the US MidWest: try finding a competent roofer after a major storm passes through town. The local experts are all booked, and you could be stuck with somebody from out of town - dubious credentials - who won't be around when you find problems later.
So without further ado, here we go....
Q: Any certification issues between Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) that I need to know about?
A: No. Certification revolves around the guest virtual operating system and relational database, not the physical host. If you speak with Oracle Sales and if you are using Oracle RDBMS for Hyperion, you will be "guided" toward OCI because of database licensing. This topic can get pretty detailed and is beyond the scope of this blog article. Suffice to say, if you're using Oracle RDMBS and are looking at shifting from on-premises to hosted, make sure BOTH an IT Director AND your IT Procurement folks are involved.
Q: May I use my existing hardware to host EPM 11.2?
A: You can... but consider this upgrade project as an opportunity to leverage a hardware refresh for faster performance. If your EPM platform is virtualized, the virtual guests can be moved to faster hardware as IT finds capacity. If your EPM platform is physical and not virtual, you should either consider virtualizing (a topic for another blog post I could spend some time writing) or a hardware refresh. Your physical EPM 22.214.171.124 servers are at least 5 years old and it is time for a speed upgrade.
Q: I want to change my database platform from X to Y. Any issues?
A: If you're just running Essbase, no issues and go for it! If you're running HFM or Financial Close, be careful. By "change my database platform" I'm not talking about a version change -- say from Oracle 10 to 19, or MSSQL 2012 to 2016. I'm talking about switching between Oracle & MSSQL in either direction.
The Hyperion Financial Close / Account Reconciliation suite for on-premises is a special animal. You really should look at involving a Partner if you're on 126.96.36.199 or older.
HFM is very touchy when it comes to its database artifacts. If you are switching between Oracle & MSSQ, just expect your project will see a 15-20% overhead due to working Service Requests (SRs) with Oracle. Switching your database type for HFM isn't supported out-of-the-box and you will hit issues.
Q: How is EPM 11.2 different in terms of requirements for CPU cores, memory and disk?
A: The EPM Foundation 11.2 service takes a minute or two longer to start up, unless you have the WebLogic Admin Server (WLS) process running. WLS is a bit hungerier for memory in this release.
Generally speaking, the various web processes (CalcMgr, EAS, Foundation, APS, etc) have about the same requirements in EPM 11.2 as in EPM 188.8.131.52.500 through EPM 184.108.40.206.x. That is, you want to reserve 1 CPU core and 1.5GB-2GB of RAM for each web process. Hyperion Planning and Hyperion Financial Reporting are exceptions due to a Java memory leak: set aside 8GB for each.
The above is just general advice. Think of it as a rough rule of thumb. When in a formal upgrade project, I'd want about an hour to speak with the IT Director/architect and DBA to dive into the details and develop an environment diagram appropriate to the situation at hand.
Q: Which is better? Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), or 3rd party host XYZ?
A: How much money do you have? All kidding aside....
Spinning up EPM 11.2 in a hosted environment looks and feels exactly the same as on-premises. Your users' experience ultimate depends upon several things:
- Network connectivity between the users' location(s) and the hosted data center.
- In the specific case of Essbase, is the Essbase server able to use disk equivalent to solid state or not?
- In the specific cases of HFM, FCM and/or ARM, how fast is the database?
- Backups and disaster recovery. Can you control the backup retention, and is the backup / DR plan reliable?
- Bad guys. Assume 2021 will be worse than 2020 in terms of malware, data leaks, extortion, etc. Couple this thought with what I just mentioned about backups and DR. If you stay on-premises, you have your IT Security folks to yell at. If you shift to a 3rd party host, now it is their problem to deal with, there must also be trust between you and them.
Q: IT wants to enact Secure Socket Layer (SSL) for everything. What do I need to know about EPM 11.2?
A: This is a growing trend I've observed. Be careful if you're using MSSQL Server and your DBA wants to turn on SSL. EPM 11.2 requires Oracle's Repository Creation Utility (RCU), and it doesn't like MSSQL with SSL enabled. Last I checked, no workaround has been published by Oracle for this specific configuration. Be warned and be careful.
The good news is on the Oracle WebLogic and Oracle HTTP Server (OHS) side of the fence, EPM 11.2 allows more secure SSL/TLS protocols than EPM 220.127.116.11 and prior. It is still messy as you have to deal with SSL certificates that eventually expire, but EPM 18.104.22.168 and prior use insecure SSL protocols that are essentially worthless. EPM 11.2 leaps forward multiple generations on the back-end, and as a result TLS in particular is much better.
I've just scratched the surface here, but I hope you have a few things to consider now. Again, as I said previously this blog article is general in nature, and may not be suited for your specific circumstance. Safe Harbor, yada yada yada.