Additional Custom Dimensions in Hyperion

Mike Arnoldy

April 4th, 2012

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to see and touch the next release of Hyperion Financial Management. Today, Oracle released Hyperion and I am happy to report there is a lot to be excited about.

First, based only on the release number, you would not think that it is a major release, but it is.

The  most dramatic change to the product is that additional custom dimensions will be supported. Applications are no longer limited to four custom dimensions. Many companies need more than four custom dimensions. Their current application designs work around this limit by reusing custom dimensions for  multiple purposes. The new release will support an “unlimited” number of custom or configurable dimensions, within some physical constraints based upon the database that is used. These physical constraints still allow more than enough custom dimensions than most companies would ever add to their consolidation applications.

When custom dimensions are defined, one of the attributes will be the size of the dimension. This determines how the dimension is stored and impacts how many custom dimensions the application can have. The dimensions will be either small, medium, and large. And a large dimension is just that, supporting up to 2 billion members. Most custom dimensions will be medium, up to 32,000 members. An application that has mostly small and medium dimensions will be able to support more dimensions overall.

The database selected will also have an impact on the number of customs dimensions an application can have. SQLServer will support the fewest, DB2 the most, and Oracle will fall in the middle. But if you are using SQLServer, you should not worry that you are missing out. As an example, an application on SQLServer would be able to have 2 large, 14 medium and 2 small dimensions. That is right, 18 additional dimensions in all. And those 2 large dimensions could be replaced by 4 medium dimensions to bring the total to 20. That should be more than enough.

The additional dimensions have required updates to Financial Reports, Smartview and Shared Services. Really anything that references the dimensions in Financial Management has been updated to account for the additional dimensions. There have also been some updates to the POV in the web interface that can make it easier manage so many dimensions. I will take a deeper look at the change to the  interface in the  next blog.

One important note , a utility is planned that will allow additional custom dimensions to be added to existing applications. I have not seen the details of how it will work, but you may not have to rebuild the application to take advantage of the additional custom dimensions. The concern about adding custom dimensions to the existing application has more to do with the historical data in the application and how that data would be moved to any new dimensions added.

The next question of course is what impact will  this have on performance? The reports so far are good. I am confident though that the ability to have additional dimensions, and very large ones at that, only increases your ability to build applications with poor performance. Additional dimensions and additional members equals additional data that has to be processed. There are more intersections to populate with rules. So proceed with some caution as you ponder what to do with the additional dimensions. Just because you can put it in your consolidation application, does not mean that you should put it in your consolidation application.

Mike Arnoldy

About Mike Arnoldy

Mike Arnoldy has over 20 years experience in all phases of design, development, and implementation of financial applications. He has exceptional problem-solving and architecting skills with a strong technical background. He specializes in financial consolidation applications that include complex calculations, foreign currency translation, inter-company/equity eliminations and varied reporting requirements to satisfy both external and management reporting needs. Mike is also a Certified Public Accountant.

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