Tim Tow of AppliedOLAP is one of those guys you know in the industry that reminds you that excellence is its own reward. He has been one of the go-getters that I've always admired working with and knowing. We spoke together on the phone today for the first time in years and his baby, Dodeca, is all growed up.
As part of our strategic marketing at Full360 we will begin developing vertical markets for our data platform and go after those customers. After a long time of feeling rather sorry for Essbase and the EPM part of our business, the progress of Dodeca and its customer successes have warmed my old cold cockles. I've taken some notes about the things I most specifically need in Dodeca for a customer or two I'm thinking about. But here's the turning point. Dodeca has proven to me today that the true spirit of Essbase has not been lost and buried in the competition for the market domination of Oracle Middleware, which has been a battle royale for mid-tier technology in the enterprise market for years. What did Dodeca do today? It convinced me once and for all that Essbase can dominate with a single fat client reporting platform based on the world-beating concept of the spreadsheet. It's all the front-end Essbase will ever need.
For many years, there seemed to be nothing capable of beating the simple, pure combination of Essbase and the Excel Add-In. It was simple, fast and powerful. Then came a bunch of big front-end integration ideas that made sense on paper and passed muster of integration test, but lost the spirit and speed of discovery. Then, before ASO, Essbase itself was starting to show signs of fatigue in dealing with larger higher order dimensional models. And once that was overcome, came the problem of drill-through, which still had some security problems four years ago, not to mention timeout issues with APS when the data got big. Today, I believe firmly that a one-two punch of EAS driven Essbase and Dodeca's current version is all anybody on the planet needs for that holy grail of multiuser-concurrent-multidimensional read/write data with security down to the cell level. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the return of speed of thought, brought to you by C# fat client .NET brilliance. This is not a slow clap. This is a little bit of giddy excitement, and I'm really too old for that.
While Full360 has been plunging the depths of new paradigms of data management, parallelization and asynchronous data streams, real-time processing and massive query spaces, we've lagged a bit behind on the current comings and goings of the datamart world. In other words, we've been fulfilling our mission of being cloud-focused data experts. Now with some renewed spirit, our longtime friendship and partnership with ApplieOLAP brings to mind a lot of interesting possibilities.
So.. to wit.
- - Essbase Java API
- - All versions of Essbase since 6.5.3
- - JDBC support
- - custom starting points by user
- - xcopy for .NET deployments to Citrix
- - APS and/or straight TCP connection to Essbase
- - MySQL, MSSQL or Oracle repository, no special server-side scripting
- - Highly scalable to thousands of users.
Dodeca is the best way to get fast data out of Essbase. It is extremely configurable in ways that serve user requirements over technology requirements. It is a .NET based product that takes a bottoms-up approach to getting Essbase multidimensional data into grids. It has extended the ability of Essbase to deliver tens of thousands of rows at the old 'speed of thought' speeds. It is a managed spreadsheet environment under complete administrative control with hybrid drill-through capabilities.
Dodeca is entirely spreadsheet-centric and is exhaustively so. It uses highly specific defined data areas to perform multiple multi-sourced retrieves from data sources. It has control of all events both local and specific to Essbase API and remote JDBC operations. This allows a multi-layering, multi-query ability to draw data into the spreadsheet exactly where it is needed. Dodeca can employ any of the 300+ Excel functions to manage front-end calculations.
AppliedOLAP has re-engineered the spreadsheet interface and allowed Essbase to work to its full potential writing with C# that which used to be VBA. The product is clearly superior to all other Essbase front-ends. If you want to work with data in the spreadsheet paradigm, it is the gold standard. Dodeca's performance is remarkable and handles 100,000 row retrievals with ease. Its ability to cascade data into multiple tabs of a spreadsheet is beyond anything I've ever seen. It has managed both to allow highly complex database operations as well as keep basic ones fast and simple.
Mastery of Dodeca will take time. It clearly is aimed, for more sophisticated applications, towards .NET programmers comfortable with that level of detail and control. If you have complex workflow rules and highly detailed report requirements, you're going to have such people in IT anyway. But I see every indication that a quickstart implementation and its ability to use basic Excel templates support rapid prototyping any VBA competent guy can pull off with ease at smaller companies. No doubt AppliedOLAP with its long and deep roots in the Oracle customer community has plenty of third-party developers at hand.
I am impressed with Tim's direction in making a tool that, with its flexibility, makes for simpler implementation leveraging the dynamism of the Essbase query space, rather than fill up servers with canned reporting each with a single query statement. It's a win. And suddenly Essbase is way more interesting again.