Who am I and why should you read this blog?

I've been working with Business Intelligence software in one form or another for the past 10 years. Beyond my BI experience, I have a finance background ranging over 17 years. Primarily in recent years I've focused on working with the Oracle/Hyperion Essbase OLAP product. Over the years I've been an end user, administrator, developer, consultant, and most recently I am a Vice President for Financial Systems Development at a large financial brokerage firm. I was certified on Essbase in 2004 and received an Oracle Ace award in 2008. I can honestly say I've gotten a lot out of working in this field and I like to give back as much as I can. I've always been very active in user forums and I thought I could be of more service to my fellow developers (presumably by sharing my ideas) if I started a blog to share some of my experiences. Beyond Essbase and its related products I am also a heavy relational database user/developer and ETL developer. So you can expect to find more on this blog than just Essbase. I love the idea of manipulating data and turning it into something useful and when I can, I'll share with you how I do it.
Beyond the technical talk, I find BI to be an architecture for management and when applicable I'll also be talking about the human side (some say the ugly side) of Business Intelligence. I hope you enjoy and can make use of the content you find here.

Best Regards,

Gary Crisci

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dusting off this blog

Well - it has been a while since I have posted to my blog and figured it was time I get something new out there. I've been pretty busy lately, which puts me in the paradox of having lots to share on my blog, but not enough time to write blog posts. Ironically when I have time to blog, that usually means I don't have anything to talk about. But this is an exception and I am motivated to publish some information given a number of things going on, particularly on the heels of my recent trip to San Antonio Texas to check out the site of this year's ODTUG KScope12 conference.

But before I get into that, first I would like to share some news that will also explain my hiatus from blogging. Over the past year I have been working on a book project with a number of well known and highly respected Oracle Essbase professionals. If I am to be judged by the company I keep, then I have managed to work my way into something special. This project is headed up by friend, colleague, and fellow ODTUG'r and Oracle Ace Cameron Lackpour. Cameron is a top notch Essbase guy and apparently the only one among us who was brave enough to take on the project manager task and actually secure a publisher for our content. For that we are all eternally indebted to Cameron.

The book is a compilation of various Essbase content that even the most seasoned Essbase developer should be able to pick up some tips from. I had the privilege of authoring the MDX chapter. So for anyone who reads my blog, you can now get the same information I provide here for free buy purchasing the book :) I know that doesn't seem like the best deal, but I assure you I compiled a good amount of information on MDX that has not made its way to my blog or OTN posts. Beyond a fascinating chapter on MDX, my co-authors have written on various topics from ASO optimization to how to perform a successful Essbase implementation and various other topics that any Essbase developer would be interested in. The book is in final drafts and should go to print soon. I will be sure to update more on that as dates become available.

In addition to working on the book project and my full time job I have also had the opportunity and privilege to be a part of the ODTUG KScope12 conference committee this year. My role is Vendor chair and I am excited to be working with such a top notch organization as ODTUG and their conference partner YCC. This year's conference is shaping up to be the best so far and while I know I say that every year, so far I have not been wrong. Each year this conference manages to surpass itself, when it seems impossible to do so.

For starters, interest in the conference this year is the greatest it has been as evident by the record number of content abstracts received and the number of registrations to date. It is clear that the message is out there that ODTUG KScope is an amazing conference opportunity for people in the Oracle community, particularly in the EPM space, to get fresh up to date information on product functionality and future direction directly from Oracle product managers, along with the best in-depth training opportunities. In the past I raved about the technical deep dive sessions and the hands on labs. This year will be no different, but add in the fact that we have broken through the tech-manager barrier and will have a good amount of business content as well. One thing we know in the former Hyperion world is that many of the people using the products are not tech people. They should not feel out of place at KScope, there is a place for them too with sessions devoted specifically to the challenges and solutions end users in the business face. This years content is going to be amazing and for anyone who is a fan of my MDX sessions, I will presenting again this year and you can be sure after spending the last year writing about MDX for the book project, the content will be spot on.

If I sound particularly excited about the conference and you are wondering why am I babbling on about it now a full five months before the conference, it's because I just got back from San Antonio where I had an on-site meeting with the ODTUG board and the rest of the conference committee. Normally I don't too excited about the location of the conference. When I go to a KScope conference I don't tend to see much daylight, so aside from a few social events, the conference could be in a basement and it wouldn't be all that much different to me. Despite my lack of appreciation for location, ODTUG has consistently chosen unique and enjoyable locations for their conferences. Staying off the typical conference belt, ODTUG prides themselves on finding facilities that allow the conference attendee the opportunity to go somewhere they might not typically visit on their own, and leave with an experience that fits the location. I still here people talk about the Queen Mary event in Long Beach California last year, it certainly was a night to remember.

I suppose I also tend to downplay the conference location as I am sensitive to the current state of the economy and how employers are not keen on throwing money towards employees going on a week long junket to some exotic location. It is tough to balance between the two, but I think it is important to keep perspective and recognize that just because the location looks like a good time, that doesn't take away from the exceptional training and networking opportunities available. This year is a bit tougher to sell that since the location chosen for the conference this year is absolutely amazing. San Antonio is a very nice city, I was surprised to learn it is the 7th largest in the U.S. and it is nicely located regardless if you are coming from either coast or anywhere in the middle of the country. However, what really makes this year exceptional is the facility. This year the conference will be held at the JW Marriot Hill Country. I strongly recommend checking out the website to try and get an idea of how nice this property is, although I have to be honest, the website as nice as it is, just can't do it justice compared to being there. The place is huge, modern, clean, with unbelievable amenities. For those of you who would consider bringing your family with you, this is the year to do it. I'm planning to bring my wife and kids and spend a few days after the conference enjoying the location with them.

The conference committee is making special arrangements for family activities in addition to the normal packed itinerary of events to keep spouses and children well entertained during the trip. I can't stress how much I am looking forward to this. I hope you get as excited when you see what is going to be happening at this year's conference. I can tell you that it would be a good idea to sign up early because despite how large the conference facility is, I expect they will sell out. So take a look at the link I provided and be sure to look at the ODTUG KScope12 website to read about all the content and activities being provided this year. I believe this is going to be the best KScope to date and hope you won't miss it.

If anyone has any questions about ODTUG or KScope, please free to leave a comment on this blog.

Best regards - Gary