Book review: Oracle Essbase 9 Implementation Guide

There’s a new Essbase book out, and I was fortunate enough to receive a copy to review.   Glenn Schwartzberg already beat me to the punch with his review, which I would say is fairly thorough as well as fair.  There are precious few Essbase books out there, so the more the merrier, I say.

The book starts out with the basics, covering some of the history of Essbase, and explaining multi-dimensionality, then walks you through the install process.  Obviously, based on the title, you can tell that this book is for System 9, whereas the current version is 11 (or “eleven dot one dot something dot ahh screw it” as I like to say).  While this means that the specific installation instructions are different, from a conceptual standpoint, everything else is quite similar.  In fact, the core of Essbase has changed precious little over the years, so even people in shops running Essbase 7 or 6 could benefit as well.

After installation, a tour of Essbase through EAS is given, using a fictitious automobile company and its databases to illustrate the concepts.  It’s kind of nice to see a change from the usual The Beverage Company that we’re all so familiar with.  “Write what you know,” they say.  As one of the authors works for Ford, it’s not surprising that the examples are somewhat of a thinly veiled obfuscation of some real-world databases, which is reminiscent of my own efforts to scrub examples from a certain large grocery company.

The rest of the book proceeds with a methodical tour of various Essbase components, including outlines, dimension-build load rules, loading data, calc scripts, using the Excel add-in, report scripts, automation, ASO considerations, and SmartView.

As the book is geared more for the OLAP novice, I did not personally get a lot out of the book.  I am still waiting for a book to come out along the lines of “Effective Essbase for those with a slightly unhealthy obsession with analytics” or something similar.  There are some technical details in the book that seem a bit off, but may be the author’s attempt to gloss over some arcane specifics for the newbie. So if you aren’t familiar with Essbase, or are just familiar with the basics, this could be a very helpful book for you. As I mentioned, there are precious few Essbase books out there, so I welcome any and all attempts to distribute knowledge from the OLAP grandmasters to those that would take the time to read it.

You can find this book online at Packt’s website, where you can find a sample chapter as well.