A Kscope14 Review: Better Late Than Never!? (Ok, that’s debatable…)

So, I’m behind…I always feel like I’m pretty behind. In college I actually kept a small bottle of Heinz Ketchup on my desk (Sealed and unopened. Geez, I don’t need ketchup on-demand at my computer; what kind of a slob do you think I am anyway!?). Anyhow, the ill-fated idea at the time was that it would serve as an ever-present reminder to “catch up.”Yeah, yeah, I know. Maybe a can of corn would better suit my humor. Wait, there it goes again…

Fast forward to today and it’s been a month and a week since Kscope14 officially wrapped up in beautiful Seattle, WA. I’m just now finally getting around to writing something I intended to write right after the conference. But in my defense, right after the conference wrapped, I had other things on my mind. My buddy (and co-presenter, more on that later) Jonathan Gard and I terrorized the great state of Washington with fierce facial hair as we toured atop two all-American muscle Harley Davidson iron horses. For nearly 2.5 days and 765 miles, we rode through some of the most gorgeous and enchanting pure riding bliss I’ve ever had the pleasure to behold. And that’s despite the fact that I was cold and rained on for about 90% of the trip, tore through two tattered rain suits, and slept on the ground without a sleeping bag for two chilly nights…

Ok, back to the conference at hand. If you don’t know ODTUG and/or have never attended Kscope (formerly Kaleidoscope) then do yourself two favors: stop reading this now, and one – go join the former, and then two – register for the latter. Three, you’ll thank me later. In addition to the Atlanta based Rittman Mead BI Forum that I try to attend every year, Kscope is by far the biggest, best, and most technical conference I put on my radar to attend each summer. I don’t know for sure, but I’m almost positive it’s the biggest all technical developer conference for Oracle tools and technology. If you’re an “oraclenerd” in the Oracle DB, APEX, Hyperion apps & Essbase or Oracle BI crowd, then you really need to work the angles with the powers-that-be to see if you can get out to Kscope15 in sunny Hollywood, FL. I’ve been three years in a row now to Kscope (and presented for the last two) and it’s one of the best and most technically enlightening Oracle events I’ve ever gone to. Not only that, but the attendees as well as the after-hours and special events are definitely the most fun for any conference you’ll attend!

I was honored this year to have a much more involved role in the Oracle BI track portion of the conference. I’d been asked by this year’s BI track chairman, Oracle ACE Director Stewart Bryson of Red Pill Analytics, to sit in on the content selection committee with a team of other OBIEE professionals. He also asked me to join him as a co-host for the BI Sunday Symposium that kicked off the week. As always, the symposium is very worthwhile and interesting with expert speaker panel interviews with the likes of Mark Rittman and Holger Friedrich and then all-day sessions from Oracle product executives and gurus on upcoming functionality in OBIEE. This year I presented two sessions at Kscope, one as a co-presenter with Jonathan Gard of Sense Corp on time series alternatives in OBIEE. To check out our Prezi deck of the session, take a look here. The other session I presented was for a joke (and friendly debate!) that I had with Oracle ACE Director Kevin McGinley, co-founder at Red Pill Analytics with Stewart, on the strength of the SEC college football conference vs. Kevin’s beloved BigTen conference. You can check out that Prezi here. Kevin, the ever gracious good sport, was kind enough to agree to be the butt of my joke as I used OBIEE to analyze data to support my position of the SEC’s strength over the BigTen. I definitely owe him a beer (or four!). Check out the recording of my talk if you want to see if my arguments hold any water…Finally, on the last day Kevin and Stewart performed a live on-stage episode of their Real Time BI show in which I presented the same talk I gave back at the Rittman Mead BI Forum in Atlanta last year. It’s a BI Publisher MacGyver-hack for financial reporting talk. Yeah, riveting I know. So, if you like Swiss Army knives, wear a rockin’80s mullet, and like BI, then boy do I have a talk for you! Check out BI mullets via Prezi here. OBIEE ninja Christian Berg (his BI blog here) went on before me, a tough act to follow, since the man figures out ways to hack on the OBIEE framework in ways that might make your head spin. Super interesting stuff, and cheers to Christian for all the trailblazing he does in exploring inventive ways to leverage the platform. Finally, Hyperion experts Edward Roske and Glenn Schwartzberg of interRel anchored the second half of the show, and ended the whole thing with a big splash (or maybe “splat”is more like it!?). I won’t explain; you’ll just have to watch it to see…To watch the full episode of RealTime BI from Kscope, check it out here.

As with every year at Kscope, there are so many worthwhile and really informative talks (the kind where as an Oracle developer you often literally think, “wow, I can use that at work next week!”) that it’s hard to pare it down to just a few to highlight. Mike Durran and Justin Baker, both from Oracle, gave a really intriguing talk: “Oracle BI Black Box Implementations.”It was the kind of stuff they should write in a cookbook for Oracle BI developers and admins. They illustrated some very interesting use cases of scripting and API usage of the OBIEE platform, along with Mike’s “Magic Beans”(the Java MBeans in Enterprise Manager) and how leverage them for system administration. Kevin McGinley showcased third party visualization integration with OBIEE for charts and graphs that you can’t do out of the box with native OBIEE alone. Super cool. If you’re an ETL (sorry, E-LT!) guy or gal with ODI, Nicholas Hurt of IFPI and Michael Rainey of Rittman Mead showed some cutting edge implementation with massive online music data during “Real-Time Data Warehouse Upgrade: Success Stories.”Finally, if there’s anyone who has quickly established themselves as *the* authority on mapping in OBIEE 11g, then it has to be Wayne Van Sluys of interRel. In addition to being a crack BI Publisher developer and BI maps Jedi, Wayne holds the multi-year running distinction as registrant #1 for each Kscope conference. Hopefully Wayne either A) writes an OBIEE book about GIS/map integration or B) blogs everything in his brain about OBIEE maps for the rest of the world. I don’t know about you, but I could have used a literal map myself of how in the heck to navigate the map terminology, setup and configuration the first time around I attempted it…Yikes. Oh, and Wayne came as 1970s Elvis for both of my presentations on Wednesday (I told you it was the most fun tech conference you could go to!).

On the Oracle messaging front, there was a lot of buzz and talk around in-memory “hot data”uses, the latest ODI 12c release and improvements (I hear it’s great, not an ODI or ETL guy myself), and of course, the ever-present and obligatory cloud/mobile/big data banners. I will say, when I first heard about the Oracle Cloud a few years ago when it was released, I was skeptical about it’s value for BI as there wasn’t a BI-as-a-Service offering yet from Oracle. At the time they were only offering cloud from an platform or infrastructure perspective. But before they were definitely missing the pay-as-you-go and per user service offerings that are prevalent now in the cloud from seemingly countless BI and analytics vendors. If you haven’t read Mark Rittman’s blog overview yet on the Oracle BI cloud service offering, take a look as he covers it very well. Oracle’s play in this space is something we at EmeraldCube are very interested in and will take more time to explore since BI-as-a-Service was something we brought to market last year with our JD Edwards focused EmeraldVision offering. On the mobile front, I haven’t played with the Mobile App Designer (MAD) yet, but I really like the build process that I’ve seen in there. Heck, maps are so easy inside of MAD that maybe even I could do them now! If only they could make them that straight forward for OBIEE standard view usage…Also showcased by Oracle was their new and improved Oracle mobile apps built from the ground up that look really slick and promising too. Really look forward to seeing those when they come out.

In all, as it is every year, Kscope is a whirlwind, nonstop sprint of deep-dive technical education, networking, fun, and friends. Needless to say, you’re pretty beat by the end of the week. I might have to rethink the day-after 765 mile motorcycle trip next time…If you haven’t done so already, punch your ticket for Kscope15 in Florida, and I look forward to meeting you there! But if you’re a diehard BigTen fan and watched my SEC college football talk, then please just don’t take a punch at me!