The Complete Guide to Essbase 21 on Docker

This post will be something of a followup to my Kscope22 presentation on creating an Essbase 21 Docker image. Back in June during the presentation, I mentioned that while the images I had created prior to the conference were working fine, when I went to rebuild them for purposes of confirming the presentation details and creating new screenshots, I was inexplicably running into issues with the Essbase server. It would seem to start up fine, but I couldn’t actually login. I now know what that issue was and in the steps that I’ll describe in this post, I’ll call out what the fix is.

Unlike my previous efforts to build an Essbase Docker image based on the EPM product line, the Essbase 21 Docker image actually relies on Oracle’s own scripts that they provide. This post will completely walk you through everything you need to do to create your own Essbase 21 Docker image, including how to patch it to a later point release such as 21.3, how to fix the bug I was running into in June, how to run it, load some sample data, share it with others, and different URLs for using the REST API, XMLA, and more.

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Simple Docker Compose file for Essbase

I’m working on a few things and some future blog posts and as with many of the things I am doing these days, I am using a Dockerized Essbase server. If you or your company has successfully followed the steps as laid out in the docker-essbase GitHub repository, then you have a Docker image for an Essbase server. There are a few ways to actually run this image. Generally you will want to run the Docker Essbase server from its “compose” file. The compose file is a YAML syntax file that specifies how to tie multiple docker images into a server. In this case those multiple Docker images are the Essbase image/container itself and a Microsoft SQL Server image/container that houses the relational databases that Essbase requires.

The compose file that is part of the docker-essbase project works just fine, but there is a slightly different you can run the server that might be a good option for you or your coworkers. If you push your Essbase image up to a Docker image registry (such as Docker Hub although there are others such as on AWS or Azure), then you can make it available to your colleagues/coworkers to use without them having to clone the docker-essbase repository or build the image themselves. The compose file looks like this:

As noted in the comments for the file, this example assumes you have a .env file or have otherwise defined the variables for SQL_PW, EPM_PW, and REGISTRY. Registry is just your organization or user name on Docker Hub.

This compose file is just a little from the one in the docker-essbase project. One, it doesn’t bother to try and build the Essbase Docker image, it simply references one that you have pushed up to a registry. This example also assumes that the image name is essbase and it has been tagged as latest (at the time of this writing my latest tag corresponds to a Docker Essbase image that is patched to version

The rest of the comments in the gist/code example indicate how you can run the server in detached state, follow the logs, pull up the EAS launcher, and run/login to a MaxL session.

One way you can use this file would be to push up your built Essbase Docker image to a private registry, then give access to that image to your employees and give them this compose file (or put it in a GitHub repository or whatever) and they can then start an entire Essbase server on their machine (assuming Docker is installed) with a single command.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts and various presentations, this ability has been an incredibly useful development tool for me. Part of the reason that it has been useful is that I treat these servers as completely throwaway objects, which is to say, when I’m done using it, I just stop it and it goes away. The next time I start it up, Sample/Basic and friends are loaded anew as if nothing happened. So this let’s me make cube copies, mess with outlines and other things and not have to worry about messing anything up.

That said, you may want to treat your Docker Essbase server as something that’s slightly less ephemeral. You can do this (so you’re treating the container essentially like a VM), although it’s not a use case that I have a ton of experience with. If you treat your Docker Essbase container more like a VM, I’d be curious to hear what your workflow looks like and any other thoughts you may have.



There are multiple ways with Docker Compose to specify variable values such as those used in the above file. A simple way to do so is with a .env file in the same folder. It might look like the following:


In the above and in my case, the value of REGISTRY is my organization’s Docker Hub ID. This value might be more detailed if you have a registry on another provider and you therefore have to specify a ‘fully qualified’ registry path. Additionally, the value of SQL_PW is one that I have gotten in the habit of using for Microsoft SQL Server because it requires a complex password with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and length. EPM is less stringent, although you still can’t get by with just ‘password’ as WebLogic needs something ever so slightly more secure (note that the password ‘password’ is fine for Essbase itself, but the Docker Essbase image just uses the same password for both Essbase and EPM for simplicity).


The above Compose file maps only port 9000. This is the “compact deployment” port for an EPM server, when you have EAS, APS/Smart View Provider Services, Workspace and Shared Services all running in WebLogic on this one port. This means that connections to Smart View are over port 9000, Java API connections through APS are on port 9000, and more. As presently configured, you cannot connect to Essbase via embedded mode. You would need to add in port 1423 and the port range starting at 32768. You could, if you wanted to, also add in port 7001 and start up the WebLogic container and then login to manage WebLogic. Just for the sake of simplicity I have omitted those ports here (but the whole list can be found in the docker-essbase GitHub project).

Oracle Essbase Docker June Update

The Oracle Essbase on Docker open source project continues to evolve and be refined. For some background, please check out the original announcement. Briefly, this open source project gives you the ability to combine Oracle’s Essbase installer files along with the Docker technology to build a lean, mean, fully configured Essbase server (for development and testing purposes).

The following improvements have been made:

  • Ability to apply patches
  • Out of the box configuration of SQL ODBC data source (for load rules)
  • Further reductions in image size and number of Docker layers
  • Add convenience variables


This is the major feature in this release. The previous version of the Dockerfile would generate a perfect Essbase server – version to be precise. I’ve now added the ability to also include patches and have them be applied in an arbitrary order. For instance, the typical files that you need to combine with the scripts in this project would be Oracle’s installation media for EPM, which is, similar files for Parts 2, 3, 4, and updated Java JDK files. You can now include a folder named /patches with a subdirectory for a given patch level that contains the patches from Oracle. For example, here is my cloned docker-essbase Git repository to which I have added the EPM installation files from Oracle:

-rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason        442 May 31 02:05
 -rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason       6057 May 31 02:15
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason        966 Jan  7 20:57
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason       1020 May 17 02:25 docker-compose.yml
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason       7377 May 23 15:25 Dockerfile
 -rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason 1368259501 Dec 28 21:25
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason      13700 May 17 02:24 essbase-config.xml
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason        939 Jan  3 19:28 essbase-install.xml
 -rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason         47 Jan  3 19:29
 -rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason        177 Jan  3 19:20
 -rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason 1174052554 Dec 28 21:22
 -rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason 1516370785 Dec 28 21:22
 -rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason  980505762 Dec 28 21:22
 -rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason 1529284475 Dec 28 21:22
 -rw-r--r-- 1 jason jason  145798191 Feb  6 20:14 jdk-7u211-linux-x64.tar.gz
 -rw-r--r-- 1 jason jason  153530841 Jan  8 06:47 jdk-7u80-linux-x64.tar.gz
 -rwxr-xr-x 1 jason jason     611504 Dec 31 21:19 jtds12.jar
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason       1058 Mar 18 18:21 LICENSE
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason        607 Jan 15 05:42 load-sample-databases.msh
 -rw-r----- 1 jason jason       1312 May 31 02:16 odbc.ini
 drwxrwxr-x 4 jason jason       4096 May 14 21:50 patches
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason      14792 Mar 20 17:23
 -rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason        523 Jan  9 19:03
 -rwxrwxr-x 1 jason jason         51 Jan  9 18:57
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason       5049 Jan  9 19:48
 drwxrwxr-x 2 jason jason       4096 Mar  4 16:23 start_scripts
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason         80 Jan 14 20:03
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason        148 May 31 02:19

Notice the /patches folder. In my case it contains two subfolders:

drwxrwxr-x 2 jason jason 4096 May 14 21:50 000
drwxrwxr-x 2 jason jason 4096 May 31 02:01 031

Inside the 031 folder I have the patches for EPM downloaded from Oracle, although I have prepended them with 01-, 02-, 03- and so on in order to force them to be applied in a particular order. There are multiple patches because in total they update the Essbase server itself, EAS, APS, and runtime files. Here is the contents of my 031 folder:

-rw-r--r-- 1 jason jason 61727995 May  7 15:12
 -rw-r--r-- 1 jason jason  9542502 May  7 15:12
 -rw-r--r-- 1 jason jason 71810346 May  7 15:12
 -rw-r--r-- 1 jason jason 13241287 May  7 15:57
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 jason jason      629 May 31 02:01 README.txt

The Dockerfile now has a build argument called PATCH_LEVEL that accepts a three-digit code to indicate which folder of patches to apply. So to build the Essbase image for patch level 031, I can run the following:

docker build --build-arg PATCH_LEVEL=031

How we’re using this internally is that we now create the image for any given patch level and then just tag it accordingly. For instance, we can run any given version of Essbase by using a container name of essbase: or just essbase:latest as the case may be (which currently points to .031).

Out of the box SQL ODBC Configuration

In order for Essbase load rules to load data from a SQL data source (especially on Linux) a little bit of file configuration needs to be performed. This is the odbc.ini file. Now, on startup, this file is configured with the proper database name and credentials, allowing you to use it in a load rule. For the time being I just configured the default database to be the HSS database that is created during configuration. This gives you a working database and configuration that works for testing or playing around and you can use it as the basis of a ‘real’ ODBC connection.

Further Image Size Reductions

The very original version of the Docker Essbase image from two years ago (and from my first presentation on this!) was around 40GB (!). This was the old ‘monolithic’ image that included a full install of an Oracle RDBMS as well as taking an image size hit because of copying over the large Essbase installation zip files. When this project went open source, it was after one of the major improvements was made to it, which was to use docker-compose to separate out the relational database from the Essbase server. Further, I configured the image to use an ‘off the shelf’ Microsoft SQL Server (on Linux) Docker image, which simplified setup/configuration since there isn’t/wasn’t a comparable Oracle Docker image. This got the image size down to 10GB or so. Also as part of the open source project I used Docker’s relatively new ‘multi-stage build’ feature in order to break the image build in to two major pieces. This allowed me to avoid the penalty from copying over the Essbase installer .zip files. All this got the image size down to around 6GB.

From there the image size has slowly been whittled down a bit here and a bit there. The entire system has been consolidated down to a single Java JDK (versus three full copies) and numerous files and directories that are obviously unneeded (probably) have been deleted. In this latest version of the image, a few more things are tossed overboard in the interest of having a smaller image size. The overall image size has been sitting around 4GB for the last few months but I found a few more patch storage locations that aren’t needed. That’s kind of the great thing about Docker: these images are meant to be used and thrown away. So it’s not like we need to keep around some inventory of patches in case we need to rollback (rollback? More like roll out a new image!).

Summary / See You At Kscope

I’ll be presenting on Docker & Essbase at Kscope19 in Seattle later this month. I’ll cover how to get up and running with your own Docker Essbase instance in the easiest way possible, as well as general updates and other fun things going on in this realm. Hope to see you there!

Oracle Essbase on Docker: What, How, Why

I am very pleased to announce the availability of the new open source docker-essbase project to use Essbase with Docker. I have been working with Docker over the last couple of years and have found it to be a very compelling technology. I gave a presentation on Docker & Essbase, and this year I will be presenting Docker & Essbase at Collaborate19 in April and at Kscope19 in June.

The docker-essbase project is an open source project licensed under the very friendly MIT open source license. You are free to use, copy, and modify the files in this project.

First of all, a little background on Docker: Docker is a “container” technology. You’re most likely already familiar with virtual machines that emulate an entire operating system. You can think of Docker as a virtual machine for a single application. If you’ve ever worked with VMs then you might see some immediate appeal in this approach. When I first came into contact with Docker, Essbase immediately came to mind as a use case because of all of the quirks I’ve experienced using Essbase VMs.

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