Oracle Hyperion In-Memory Virtual Close on Engineered Systems

Oracle Hyperion In-Memory Virtual Close on Engineered Systems
An Oracle White Paper
April 2013
Achieving a Virtual Financial Close with Oracle
Exalytics In-Memory Machine
Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics
Disclaimer
The following is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes
only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code,
or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release,
and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products remains at the sole discretion
of Oracle.
Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics
Executive Overview.......................................................................................................................... 4
Introduction to Engineered Systems ................................................................................................ 5
Oracle Exadata ............................................................................................................................ 5
Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud ..................................................................................................... 5
Oracle SPARC SuperCluster ....................................................................................................... 5
Oracle Exalytics ........................................................................................................................... 6
Achieving Virtual Close .................................................................................................................... 7
Data Integration and Cleansing ................................................................................................... 7
Consolidation Processing ............................................................................................................ 8
Creation and Delivery of Reports ................................................................................................ 8
Other Benefits .............................................................................................................................. 8
Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 10
Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics
Executive Overview
For most companies the month or quarter end financial close process consumes an enormous
amount of time and resources all designed to generate a “report card” of their financial
performance.
The complexities of multi-GAAP reporting, especially for customers with multiple
ERP systems, combined with management reporting requirements has made the month end
reporting process an overly complex and cumbersome exercise.
Finance organizations have always desired a faster and more efficient close, but the ever
changing regulatory environment have made this goal very difficult to achieve. US GAAP, IFRS,
SOX, XBRL are just a few of the challenges they have faced and more are likely to come.
Organizations were faced with a daunting task – close the books faster while providing more
detailed information in new and different formats and reports. In the end accuracy overrode
speed when it came to meeting the regulatory requirements as finance focused on getting the
data “right” and not “right away”.
The tradeoff from this complexity is that more time spent closing the books means less time
spent actually analyzing the results and making strategic go-forward business decisions. The
key to being successful, especially in difficult and volatile economic times, is to have the best
possible insight into what is actually happening within the business on an ongoing basis.
And this leads to the concept of the virtual close. Instead of closing the books once per month
with a cumbersome, complex, manual process, virtual close promotes a deeply integrated,
automated and simplified process where the books can be closed at any point in time.
Organizations that have pursued the virtual close point to information availability and resulting
improvements in visibility as the key benefits.
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Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics
Introduction to Engineered Systems
Oracle’s Engineered Systems combine best-of-breed hardware and software components with gamechanging technical innovations. Designed, engineered, and tested to work best together, Oracle’s
Engineered Systems can power the cloud or streamline data center operations to make traditional
deployments even more efficient. The components of Oracle’s engineered systems are preassembled for
targeted functionality and then—as a complete system—optimized for extreme performance. By taking
the guesswork out of these highly available, purpose-built solutions, Oracle delivers a solution that is
integrated across every layer of the technology stack—a simplicity that translates into less risk and lower
costs for your business. Only Oracle can innovate and optimize at every layer of the stack to simplify data
center operations, drive down costs, and accelerate business innovation.
Oracle Exadata
The Oracle Exadata Database Machine is purpose built to run the Oracle Database. It is engineered to be
the highest performance and most available platform for running the Oracle Database. Built using
industry-standard hardware from Sun, and intelligent database and storage software from Oracle, the
Exadata Database Machine delivers extreme performance for all types of database workloads including
Online Transaction Processing (OLTP), Data Warehousing (DW) and consolidation of mixed workloads.
The Exadata Database Machine is an easy to deploy system that includes all the hardware needed for
running the Oracle Database. The database servers, storage servers and network are pre-configured, pretuned, and pre-tested by Oracle. All Exadata Database Machines are identically configured so customers
benefit from the experience of thousands of other users that have deployed the Exadata Database
Machine for their mission critical applications. The Oracle Exadata Database Machine runs the standard
Oracle Database. Therefore, any application that runs with the Oracle Database today can be seamlessly
migrated to the Exadata Database Machine with no changes to the application.
Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud
Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud is a datacenter building block designed to allow enterprises to rapidly
deploy and provision mission-critical, high performance private and public clouds. Exalogic is an
Engineered System, integrating compute, networking and storage hardware with virtualization, operating
system and management software. Exalogic provides breakthrough performance, reliability, availability,
scalability and investment protection for the widest possible range of business application workloads,
from middleware and custom applications to packaged applications from Oracle and hundreds of 3rd
party vendors.
Oracle SPARC SuperCluster
Oracle’s SPARC SuperCluster is the world’s most efficient multi-purpose engineered system, delivering
extreme efficiency, cost savings, and performance for consolidating mission critical applications and
rapidly deploying cloud services. Oracle’s SPARC SuperCluster represents a complete, pre-engineered,
and pre-tested high-performance enterprise infrastructure solution that is faster and easier to deploy than
a collection of individual database and application servers. The system combines innovative Oracle
technology—the computing power of Oracle’s SPARC servers, the performance and scalability of Oracle
Solaris, the Sun ZFS Storage Appliance, the optimized database performance of Oracle Database
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Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics
accelerated by Oracle Exadata Storage Servers, and a high-bandwidth, low-latency InfiniBand network
fabric—into a scalable, engineered system that is optimized and tuned for consolidating mission-critical
enterprise applications
Oracle’s SPARC SuperCluster provides both the capacity for growth, as well as the fine-grained server
virtualization needed to isolate individual application components. With multiple layers of enterprise
application infrastructure consolidated onto a high-performance, highly available SPARC SuperCluster
system, deployment speed, application performance, and availability can all be optimized. Designed as a
pre-configured, pre-tested, and ready-to-deploy SPARC SuperCluster engineered system, the solution
provides a complete and optimized infrastructure solution for applications, built around robust compute,
networking, storage, virtualization, and management resources. The result is a system that is orders of
magnitude easier to manage, and up to five times faster to deploy than alternatives, all while occupying
considerably less real estate requiring less power. Furthermore, the SPARC SuperCluster system provides
full built-in redundancy resulting in a highly reliable infrastructure without single point of failure. An
issue with one component will not impact other components of the system offering true isolation.
Customers can consolidate multiple environments with minimum disruption, without fear of
performance degradation, and the ability to achieve required service levels.
Oracle Exalytics
Oracle Exalytics is an engineered system for analytics delivering speed of thought performance and best
visual analysis with no limits. It consists of a combination of a powerful hardware platform, Oracle BI
Foundation Suite (OBI EE & Essbase) and In-memory Analytics software (Times Ten for Exalytics and
Adaptive In-memory Tools). OBI EE, Essbase and Times Ten for Exalytics have all been adapted from
their standalone state, and enhanced to run faster, more effectively and more efficiently upon the
Exalytics platform.
As analytic applications become more sophisticated and calculation-intensive, the use of mobile BI
expands, user adoption increases, and data volumes explode making the need for speed and efficiency
more important than ever. In-memory technology can dramatically accelerate analytic performance.
Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine is the industry’s first Engineered System for analytics that combines
market leading BI foundation, in-memory analytics software, and best-in class hardware engineered and
optimized to work together to deliver extreme performance for Business Intelligence and Enterprise
Performance Management applications. As a result, users can visually navigate and drill into information
at the speed of thought, without limits on the complexity of their questions or the volume of the
underlying data. Exalytics drives a new class of smarter and more powerful analytic applications that
simply weren’t possible using conventional BI software and generic hardware configurations.
Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation running on Oracle Exalytics has been specially enhanced to take
advantage of large memory, processors, concurrency, storage, networking, operating system, kernel, and
system configuration afforded by the Oracle Exalytics hardware. Oracle TimesTen for Exalytics has been
specially enhanced for analytical processing at in-memory speeds. With lightning fast scan speeds of up to
100 million rows/second and up to 10x columnar compression, TimesTen for in-memory analytics
delivers faster reports & dashboards for departmental as well as enterprise wide consumption.
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Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics
Achieving Virtual Close
This document will outline Oracle’s vision for achieving the virtual close. It is intended to outline a
vision and is not a reflection of current functionality.
The closing of the books at any point in time instead of the once-a-month paradigm is a shift where the
close process goes from a purely external focus to a balanced internal and external focused process.
With access to more timely and relevant information, business and finance users can now utilize this
information as part of their daily decision making. Having the right information at their fingertips can
only strengthen the decision making process and yield even more value from the close process.
The first step is defining what data should be available on-demand and what can be left for traditional
month end close cycles. While the value of making information available quicker to more users is a
powerful concept, there is a practical reality that some of the close work is simply done for Accounting
and Reporting purposes and will have little to no relevance for the decisions that we are striving to
impact. Intercompany eliminations, accruals and reclassifications, and investment eliminations should be
seriously evaluated for any material impacts. Often times these items can be skipped or limited in scope
as their omission will have minimal impact on the end user. Different companies have different
reporting needs so a critical step is to evaluate and prioritize the type of data that is needed as part of the
virtual close.
The benefits of a virtual close make this a sought after goal for many companies; however the actual
achievement is still rare. This is primarily due to technology constraints across many of the steps in the
process. The Oracle Exalytics platform is a key new enabling technology that will help companies solve
these technology constraints and achieve the virtual close. With never before seen advancements in
processing capabilities and user scalability, the Oracle Exalytics platform helps move the process from
theory to reality.
The key steps in the close process can be broken down into three areas: Data Integration and Cleansing,
Consolidation Processing, and Creation and Delivery of Reports.
Data Integration and Cleansing
There is no shortage of source data needed to create a reporting package from which meaningful actions
can be taken. The prevalence of multiple ERPs and ERP instances in typical organizations means the
data integration task can be one of the biggest when implementing a virtual close. A very careful and
thorough review of data sources, timing, access needs, etc. is required in order to map out the origination
of the base level data. The time needed to extract, map/cleanse and load this data can be significant and
is a significant barrier when trying to move to real-time decision making.
Purpose built solutions can greatly facilitate the data gathering and mapping process. With direct
integrations to the leading ERP systems and an open framework for building connections to any other
systems, Oracle Hyperion Financial Data Quality Management is designed to solve just this type of
problem. However, the technology hurdles of processing this information in real-time and on-demand
still remain. The addition of the Oracle Exalytics platform with its massive processing power can
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Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics
transform a multi-hour process to bare minutes. This type of change now opens up the possibility of
virtual close as the time windows for data loading and mapping are now compressed and performed in
near real-time.
Consolidation Processing
Acquiring base level data is only step one in the close process. There are many required calculations and
much processing that is needed to achieve the most accurate summary level results. Calculations such as
minority interest calculations, ownership adjustments, journal adjustments, key performance indicator
(KPI) calculations, as well as aggregations and consolidations are all required on a very large scale for
typical multi-national companies. The sheer time needed to process these calculations on a large data
scale can take days for most companies, which does not lend itself to a virtual or near real-time close
cycle. Once again this is an area where the power of the Oracle Exalytics platform can help solve what to
date has been a blocking factor for most organizations. Without exceptional technology the solution in
the past has been to scale back the calculation requirements and simply do more aggregations. While this
can yield benefits to an organization it surely does not allow for the true benefits of a virtual close. The
Oracle Exalytics platform can allow for substantial improvements in processing over current systems.
Creation and Delivery of Reports
The main goal for implementing a virtual close is to provide sensitive and relevant actual data “on
demand”. This information, traditionally only available at month end, can then be used to validate
forecasts, review trends, and help determine if corrective actions are required. Any solution that allows
an organization to be more nimble and responsive in its strategic actions relative to the competition is a
solution worth pursuing. Having pre-defined reports is important but allowing for true ad-hoc reporting
only advances the value of the process.
Typical reporting solutions used for the close process offer powerful pixel perfect reporting, but are
limited when it comes to user scalability. Moving to a virtual close hits a bottleneck due to the user loads.
Once again the Oracle Exalytics platform can help companies overcome this obstacle through its ability
to scale to thousands of users helping deliver real time results outside of just Finance.
Traditional reporting such as Balance Sheets, Income Statements, etc. will be required in a mass
distribution method but allowing for true ad-hoc access using Oracle’s Business Intelligence suite on the
Exalytics platform will greatly enhance the productivity all users. Accessing what was once available
monthly and only via a report distribution framework on a real-time ad-hoc basis should yield significant
gains as the business can make better decisions quicker.
Other Benefits
While the functional and operational benefits of the virtual close are often the most obvious there are
others which can yield savings to any company. Due to the sensitive nature of the data maintained in
close systems most businesses will traditionally manage the infrastructure in house. There is a higher
cost for this data security – namely in hardware cost and utilization and the related manpower to manage
these complex systems.
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Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics
Typical close systems require combinations of web, application and database servers. Many of the tasks
involved in the close are resource intensive and thus significant consumers of available processing power
making dedicated hardware much more common for typical deployments. Users do not want to wait
while source data is accessed, loaded and consolidated. One of the values of the Oracle Exalytics
platform is around hardware rationalization and the ability to greatly simplify the necessary infrastructure.
This will yield not only cost savings, but also time savings, due to less maintenance, problems between
tiers and other related issues common to multi-tier systems.
Oracle Exalytics software components have been optimized tightly to match the hardware – all the way to
specific hardware parts, their firmware, drivers and the operating system – a customized Oracle
Enterprise Linux release with Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel. These low level optimizations have shown
3X better scalability and performance on benchmarks compared to similarly configured commodity
servers. Some of the notable features that are available only on Oracle Exalytics are – columnar
compression and OBIEE specific analytic functions for TimesTen, aggressive memory and concurrency
optimizations in Essbase and OBIEE. These functions enable Oracle Exalytics to store more data,
process queries faster, load and export data faster, and handle more users and concurrent workloads than
identically configured commodity servers running commodity operating systems.
Apart from performance, the unified lifecycle experience – from install, administration, and patching are
optimized throughout the stack to provide the lowest total cost of ownership for deploying analytic
applications – that cannot be achieved by building the entire solution stack piecemeal from multiple
vendors.
In addition there are Oracle Exalytics-specific optimizations which provide benefits to the entire
process:

Optimizations to match system architecture resulting in higher query throughput, lower latencies in
query processing. There is enhanced memory usage for cache.

Optimized default configuration to use large footprint memory to speed up page rendering and
caching.

Memory usage optimizations for loading entire data into memory, concurrency improvements to
match Oracle Exalytics architecture enabling efficient distribution of processing.
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Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics
Conclusion
The goal for companies implementing a Virtual Close is to shift the close process from a pure external
focus (i.e. compliance & statutory reporting) to a balanced internal (visibility and decision making) and
external focus. This shift will dramatically expand the business value and benefit many more finance and
Line of Business executives and managers, and not just the Controller’s team. Expanding the access to
valuable data can only benefit an organization as it moves to empower end users for quicker and better
decision making. With information available more readily, users can more quickly evaluate how the
business is doing, spot and highlight trends, and take corrective actions more quickly. Having the right
processes and technology in place are key requirements for achieving virtual close. Oracle’s Exalytics
platform helps overcome the technology constraints with the current process and opens up capabilities
previously not possible for most companies.
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Virtual Financial Close with Oracle Exalytics
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April 2013
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Author: Oracle EPM Product Management
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