So, just whatever happened to HUMA – the Hyperion Unused Member Analyzer? Well, a few things. One, Drillbridge happened which was a little proof of concept that somehow morphed into a real life tool (now in production in multiple environments and continents… you’re next, South America!) over the course of six months.
Two, it was – and is – a quirky little tool. Put shortly, there’s a lot that can go wrong when running HUMA but not a whole lot that can go right. There’s Essbase version issues, port exhaustion issues, performance issues, and all sorts of things that can pop up.
The main issue is the performance. There’s no magic trick to how HUMA works – it literally reads the entire outline for stored members, generates every single unique combination of members (the Cartesian product), and goes about retrieving them. Every. Single. One.
Ever look at the stats for a cube and go to the tab where EAS tells you the total possible number of cells? If you haven’t, it’s not hard to find. In fact, you can even squint when you look at that tab in EAS. Basically you’ll see a bunch of really reasonable numbers on the page, and then you’ll see a number that’s just incredibly, seemingly out-of-place huge. In fact, the
colorblind masochists fine folks that designed EAS should have programmed EAS such that instead of showing the number, it should just say “seriously, it’s huge, why bother?”
Anyway, even for non-trivial amounts of members in a cube I determined that HUMA would almost literally take until the end of time to run. So HUMA needed to get smart in order to try and finish analyzing a cube before the the sun goes supernova.
To that end, I have made a couple of big changes to improve the performance of HUMA. I’m going to geek out here for a minute. You don’t need to read the next few paragraphs in order to use HUMA, and if I come across as a pretentious geek that’s showing off, well… I probably am. I’m proud of this junk.
Grid Generation Speedups
The first big change is to rework how the grids that HUMA retrieves are generated. As I mentioned, HUMA reads in the stored members from dimensions and uses the different combinations of members to generate all the possible data cells in a cube. Funny thing is, even when I took out the Essbase grid retrieve, the thing still took quite awhile to run. It turns out that generating these member combinations across a whole cube is computationally intensive. So I adapted one of my workhorse Java libraries to iterate through all the combinations really fast, so I could keep them from clogging up memory. The result is amazing – grid generation just flies now. This library is called Jacombi (Jason’s Combinatorics Library) and is now robust and battle-tested, being used in Drillbridge, Saxbi, HUMA, and cube-data (a tool that generates test data for cubes). So with the member combination generation problem solved, it was time to turn on grid retrievals and optimize more.
Quick Member Elimination
The next big, and probably even bigger win than the above in terms of performance is quick member elimination. Earlier versions of HUMA would count up the occurrences of data in the cube. In the new version, once data has been detected for a given member, it’s quickly removed from the search space. For example, if HUMA retrieves a grid for scenarios Actual and Budget, then determines that there is data for Actual, it will skip it in all future grid pulls. This can dramatically reduce the search space. In fact, it can hack away at the search space amazingly quickly. The ability to recompute the analysis space is directly enabled by the previous optimization. For non-trivial datasets, the grid generation step was long. Now it’s instantaneous. Effectively HUMA starts to zero in exactly on where there isn’t data. The more data you have in the cube, the quicker it eliminates potential unused members and finishes.
I just ran HUMA on Sample Basic with stock data and it scans the entire cube in a few seconds. I’m not saying this is the performance you can expect with your cube but it’s promising.
This new version of HUMA is incredibly alpha quality – not even beta. Right now it’s still a console app and the log file is incredibly messy. A few of you over the last year have expressed quite an interest in helping out, so if you want to do some testing (or testing again), please comment on this post or contact me. I have a build ready to go. In the next week as time permits I’ll put it on the download site where Drillbridge and others are, and eventually build up to a slightly more polished release. I think this tool would look great in a GUI but I don’t quite have the bandwidth right now to design one up, so a nice old-fashioned terminal is what it’s going to be for now.