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Friday, January 30, 2015

Say Hello To HFM 11.1.2.4

As many of you may already have heard, the Oracle EPM release 11.1.2.4 was made available on Oracle Technology Network earlier this week. Social media has been abuzz with activity since and many bloggers have already written posts about all the new features. Instead of making another set of installation screenshots I wanted to take a closer look at Hyperion Financial Management as HFM is the product that has gone through most changes in this version.


As rumored long time ago, HFM 11.1.2.4 has been ported to Java and is now "platform independent" software. At the moment this means that you can install HFM on Windows Server and on Oracle Exalytics. Currently there is no support for commodity Linux servers which is a pity... Hopefully Oracle will consider adding this possilibity in the future as it would open interesting new possibilities for on-premise installations.

Most notable new features are:
  • Reworked HFM engine:
    • HFM application server components implemented in Java partly written in Java (the cluster controller part) and partly in native C++ code (the HFM application process). HFM no longer relies on Windows technologies like IIS and DCOM.
    • Oracle reports that HFM performance is improved for consolidations and data retrieval tasks due to optimizations in the datasource engine. The user interface has also been optimized for better responsiveness.
  • Most of the HFM utility programs are not available in this version anymore. See more details about the utilities later in this post.
  • Configuration Settings: Memory parameters and other HFM application server settings have been moved to the web interface. The settings are now stored in the HFM database.
  • New web based profile editor for creating .PER files (in case you want to use "classic" HFM administration for creating applications)
  • Reordering Tabs: Nice small tweak to the web user interface - you can move around tabs (forms, grids, system reports etc.) that are open in an HFM application in Workspace
  • Browser support: Internet Explorer 9, 10, 11 and Firefox 31 ESR (note that support for IE8 has been dropped)
  • Supported server platforms: Windows Server 2008 and 2012 (including all SP levels and R2), Oracle Exalytics
  • Database server support updated with Oracle 12.1.0.1+ and MS SQL Server 2012

Let's have a look at Workspace and HFM web interfaces in 11.1.2.4. Apart from the black title bar there are no obvious changes in Workspace design and layout. 





The Consolidation Administration view also looks pretty much the same as before. Two new features are visible here: menu item for the web based Profile Editor and another for the Settings view.


In the Profile Editor you can create and save new .PER files and also create new HFM applications based on the selected settings.



The Manage Settings view lists the HFM system settings. Each setting includes a description and also information about supported values. The settings can be set globally or per applications and they are stored in HFM database in a new table called XFM_PARAMETERS.


Besides the old memory settings there are some interesting new ones (just to mention a few):
  • DefaultColFetchSize/DefaultRowFetchSize: Set the number of columns and rows to be pre-fetched when loading forms and grids (may be used to eliminate the "fetching data" message that some users find annoying)
  • EnableRulesLogging: Enable debug logging for HFM rules

Note that the default memory settings are much higher compared to previous versions:
  • default MaxNumDataRecordsInRAM = 30000000
  • default MinDataCacheSizeInMB = 2250 MB 
  • default MaxDataCacheSizeInMB = 4450 MB
This is a nice feature for production setups but for private sandbox VMs you may want to decrease MinDataCacheSizeInMB to prevent all HFM application processes from consuming 2.5 GB of memory right from the start.


The HFM sample application files are included in the HFM client installer just like in previous 11.2.3 releases. The Windows client still exists in this version but according to Oracle it will be replaced by a web based metadata editor at some point in the future.


I used LCM to load the sample application artifacts from Comma4Dim_LCM.zip. Here you can see a new LCM feature that is easy to miss: Application Snapshots. This functionality replaces the classic CopyApplication utility as it can be used to save the complete state of an HFM application.


An application snapshot consists of XML metadata and a backup file that includes dumps of all database tables belonging to the application.




Note the following statement from the EPM Lifecycle Management Guide:
"Application Snapshot migration requires all users to be logged out of the application. The system logs out all users and shuts down the application if there are no active tasks present for the application. The Application Snapshot is exported at the end of the migration after processing other artifacts. When importing, the Application Snapshot can not be selected with other artifacts."

After loading all application components we can start the application. To me the HFM web interface looks identical to that in version 11.1.2.3. I ran my initial tests on a VM running on my (rather sluggish) laptop so unfortunately I can't really say if the UI is more responsive compared to previous releases or not.


Web grid:


Web form:



This is what's happening under the hood... A new service named "Oracle Hyperion Financial Management - Java Server" now takes care of HFM cluster management tasks and therefore replaces the old HsxServer.exe process.



When an HFM application is started the Java Server starts an application process. Instead of HsvDataSource.exe the process is now called XFMDataSource and is implemented in Java (update after digging deeper) in C++ using cross-platform libraries. Note the amount of memory consumed by the application when using the default MinDataCacheSizeInMB setting.



The way HFM logs are generated has been changed. I have yet to figure out the changes though because the EPM Troubleshooting Guide is not updated to match this version (still refers to the HFM Errorlog Viewer utility that no longer exists).



ODL format is the only available logging option - the HsvEventLog style is now a thing of the past. The actual content written in the logs still looks familiar though.

[2015-01-29T14:39:37.763123+02:00] [XFM] [TRACE:1] [EPMHFM-00000] [XFM] [ecid: XDS.0000.0000.0000.0001] [File: Pager.cpp] [Line: 187] [userId: ] [appName: COMMA4DIM] [pid: 2220] [tid: 6832] [host: epmtest1] [nwaddr: [fe80::ac76:f6a6:743a:a01%12]:0;192.168.245.134:0;] [errorCode: 0] [srcException: NotSpec] [errType: 1] [dbUpdate: 1] [11.1.2.4.000.4847]  [[Pager(wof) Settings : MinDataCacheSizeInMB = 2250 MaxDataCacheSizeInMB = 4500 GrowByDataCacheSizeInMB = 25 MaxCacheSizeInDataRecs = 42130285 lMaxNumDataRecordsInRAM = 30000000 lPageInBatchSize = 500 COTFSize = 20480]] 
[2015-01-29T14:42:29.741167+02:00] [XFM] [TRACE:1] [EPMHFM-00000] [XFM] [ecid: XDS.0000.0000.0000.0001] [File: CHsvDSData2.cpp] [Line: 708] [userId: ] [appName: COMMA4DIM] [pid: 2220] [tid: 6832] [host: epmtest1] [nwaddr: [fe80::ac76:f6a6:743a:a01%12]:0;192.168.245.134:0;] [errorCode: 0] [srcException: NotSpec] [errType: 1] [dbUpdate: 2] [11.1.2.4.000.4847]  [[CHsvDSData2 : 64-bit : PID=2220 : COMMA4DIM : Registry Settings: LogDebugInfo = 0; SQLCommandTimeout = 60; EnableEntireCubeReloading = 0; NumMinutesBeforeCheckingLRU = 15;
[...etc...]


As I mentioned before the utilities that have previously been bundled with HFM have mostly disappeared in this version. This message can be found in the installation directory ...\EPMSystem11R1\products\FinancialManagement\Utilities:


"Financial Management Utilities are deprecated from 11.1.2.4 release."

Notes for the individual utilities:
  • The HFM Metadata Merge Utility: User can view and accept or decline the changes in a metadata file. Generates an HTML report and a file with the merged data. See the Financial Management Administrator’s Guide for additional information.
  • Application upgrade utility is deprecated. EPM System Configurator is used to upgrade database schema to the latest version.
  • Copy Application Utility is deprecated. The Application Snapshot functionality in LCM can be used to backup and restore applications.
  • Notepad++ is recommended for editing HFM Rules and Member Lists files (*.rle or *.lst).
  • Rules Migrator is deprecated. Use application extracts to extract rules in XML format. Alternatively RLE files can be imported into Calc Manager.


Most of the changes in HFM 11.1.2.4 seem to have happened "under the hood" as was expected. I am planning to run tests with real HFM applications on proper server hardware to see what kind of effect the new engine has on consolidation times. I would be delighted to hear your experiences about running your applications on the new version too! I will be posting mine on this blog and also on my Twitter account @HVilminko.


Useful links:

14 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. EPM Architect will remain Windows-only. Therefore it has to be deployed for example on a virtual machine of its own if you're planning to use HFM on Exalytics.

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  2. Great post Henri, as usual!
    Hope you're well.
    Did you you install on Win2008 or Win2012?
    Works fine for me on Win2008 + SQL Server 2008.

    Bye bye.

    Cédric.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cédric! I forgot to mention it but I did the installation on Server 2012 (non-R2) and SQL Server 2012. The security policies seem to be slightly tighter again in Server 2012 so you may need to tweak the Windows registry to completely disable UAC for example.

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  3. I have also found this parameter: GrowByDataCacheSizeInMB = 250. Could potentially be another value to tune.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Henri,

    Excellent summary - do you know what they've replaced the old DCOM API with for programmatically accessing HFM metadata and data?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The old DCOM API has been replaced with a Java based interface. You can find the new API documentation on Oracle Help Center: Oracle Enterprise Performance Management System Documentation
      Release 11.1.2.4 - Financial PM Applications
      (see the Developer and Customization Guide). If you install the HFM SDK uing EPM Systen Installer you will get some basic examples to study and try out.

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  5. hi,
    how to create classic HFM 11.1.2.4 app.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Workspace select Navigate > Administer > Consolidation Administration > Applications. From there you can select Actions > New. From there you continue more or less like in previous versions by selecting the HFM cluster name, entering application details etc.

      After applying HFM Patch Set Update 11.1.2.4.100 you will also have access to the Application Creation Wizard which will allow you to create a Classic application by specifying the profile details or by loading a previously created profile file (see my post on HFM 11.1.2.4 PSU .100 for more details).

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  6. Hello,

    Very nice information shared.

    Sir, Where should I get the Student Guide of HFM 11.1.2.4 ?


    Regards

    Nishant

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The HFM documentation can be found on the Oracle Help Center site. Training material from Oracle courses is only available to people who pay for and attend to the courses.

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  7. If upgrading, would you recommend EPMA or classic? There seems to be some issues with EPMA in previous versions around shared members. Is this resolved in the latest version?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Really very good information

    ReplyDelete