EPM Cloud Update: BIG June 2019 Changes!

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This information continues to evolve. Last updated: June 5, 2019 12:54pm CDT

Welcome to June 2019! And with it, *so* many changes to both the Oracle EPM and Oracle Analytics Cloud stacks. For this blog post, however, I will focus purely on Oracle EPM Cloud. The crazy big announcements for Oracle Analytics Cloud are coming out later this month from Oracle’s Product Marketing team (and will be broadcast through Oracle’s live stream at ODTUG Kscope19) – stay tuned…

First of all, let’s start by explaining how you can get the most information out of these June 2019 Oracle EPM Cloud updates. A group of us EPM partners are celebrating with a blog hop! What’s a blog hop? A blog hop is a group of blog posts that are centered around a central theme. Each blog post in the hop links to other participating posts so readers can “hop” from one post to another, accessing a ton of information at their fingertips.

Thank you to the following Oracle partner bloggers who have stepped up to my (last minute) request to give their perspectives on these June changes. Take a look at this impressive list! The full set of blog hop links can be found at the bottom of this post.

  1. Jay Chapman – Oracle ACE Associate, Sierra-Cedar
  2. Eric Erikson – Oracle ACE, PQR Company
  3. Kate Helmer – Huron Consulting
  4. Pete Nitschke – Pivot2 Solutions
  5. Tony Scalese – Oracle ACE, Alithya
  6. Jun Zhang – Performance Architects

Customers will get an introduction to the changes from Oracle EPM executive leadership in a webcast on June 13. Learn more on Oracle’s Cloud Customer Connect here.

I highly encourage that everyone get in the know ASAP. Cloud changes quickly, but it’s different this time. This are a ton of changes happening at an accelerated pace.

Caveat – although I’m sharing what I feel is correct, the following blog post is based on a combination of information that has been changing over a course of the past few weeks. Therefore, it’s important to double-check Oracle’s website in case anything has evolved since this blog post was written. This is a lot of information being disseminated, and it’s possible that mistakes will occur. If anything is incorrect or changes in this first week, I’ll be sure to update this post and notate it.

What’s the Big Deal?

Normally we see a huge number of feature enhancements in June with Oracle EPM Cloud. However, there is (a lot) more to it than just feature enhancements this month.

To help set the stage, I asked Matt Bradley, Senior Vice President (he’s basically in charge of all of Oracle EPM) for a summary quote:

We have been offering SaaS solutions for just over 5 years now and are seeing continued maturation customer adoption – they are much more comfortable shifting their entire Enterprise Performance Management work loads to public cloud. Our solution has also matured to the point were we can accommodate all EPM workloads from planning to reconciliations to consolidation and reporting. To further accelerate broader and deeper adoption we are simplifying our pricing model – to a single price per user with the ability to deploy as much feature function as needed to address the business requirements now and in the future with the continuous innovation we can deliver through SaaS.

If you read between the lines, essentially Oracle has finally hit a point where customer demand and technical supply are value aligned. The Oracle EPM flood gates are opening, my friends. And in a BIG way. Let’s walk through the high level important changes one by one.

Product Name Changes

Last Friday, I alluded to the fact that two product names have already changed in a significant way on Oracle’s website:

The EPM Cloud products are changing their names by going to product names that describe the business function they solve, rather than a technical sounding name. There will be no more “Cloud Services” anything. Here is a mapping from the old product name to the new product name:

  • EPBCS & PBCS –> “Planning” (the term “Enterprise” was overused so they chose not to include it, as indicated by the above screen shot from last week – plus, there is no longer a distinction between Enterprise and regular PBCS in this new world – updated)
  • FCCS –> “Financial Consolidation and Close”
  • ARCS –> “Account Reconciliation”
  • EPRCS –> “Narrative Reporting”
  • PCMCS –> “Profitability and Cost Management”
  • TRCS –> “Tax Reporting”
  • EDMCS –> “Enterprise Data Management” (updated)

Product Consolidations & Licensing Changes

In addition, Oracle is consolidating all EPM Cloud products to only a few SKUs. There are now 3 editions that include new, buffet-style offerings for Oracle EPM Cloud. In addition, most products will be referred to as “business processes” and will not be sold separately anymore (exception: Enterprise Data Management – there is a 1,000 record cap option now).

Standard Edition – comes with:

  • Planning – you can choose between 2 application creation paths (updated):
    • not enabling the frameworks, and you get 1 custom cube + 1 ASO cube
    • enabling the frameworks + 1 custom cube + 1 ASO cube
    • Note:  Groovy will not be available in the Standard edition
  • newly named Narrative Reporting (but we were told in partner training that this is a “lite” version and includes the two most popular tools – Narrative Reporting and Management Reporting)
  • Financial Consolidation and Close (features not included in Standard: Adv Consolidations and Custom Calcs, Integrations for task Management – updated)
  • Account Reconciliation (features not included in Standard: Transaction Matching – updated)

Updated: Customers will be able to utilize a single pod only across all business process options. Additional pods will cost $2,500 per month. Standard will cost $250 per universal named user (a single, unique user across all included products), per month. There will be a 10 user minimum required.

Enterprise Edition – comes with everything on the Oracle EPM Cloud buffet:

  • Planning which will allow for 3 options (updated):
    • a new “Custom” option that can have up to 6 custom cubes + 6 ASO cubes
    • a framework option similar to EPBCS today + up to 3 custom cubes + 4 ASO cubes + the Workforce ASO cube
    • the new “free form” planning option – see the Planning section below
    • Note: this Enterprise edition includes groovy
  • Narrative Reporting (including Disclosure Management)
  • Financial Consolidation and Close (all features – updated)
  • Account Reconciliation (including Transaction Matching)
  • Profitability and Cost Management
  • Tax Reporting
  • Enterprise Data Management (max of 5,000 hosted records)

Enterprise will cost $500 per universal named user, per month. There will be a 25 user minimum and Enterprise Data Management will max out at 5,000 records (but customers can purchase more). One major difference between this and Standard is that additional pods will not incur any new fees.

A new hosted edition – for larger customers. Includes the entire EPM Cloud buffet and is charged by number of *employees*, with a 5,000 employee minimum. I do not know much more about this option beyond what is on the website.

Here is a summary of what’s on the website:

Availability for these new licensing editions starts on June 13, 2019.

Existing customers looking to expand their current EPM Cloud footprint by adding a single product a la carte will not be able to, with the exception of Enterprise Data Management. As mentioned above, they’ll have to move to the new licensing model.

150Gb Sizing Restriction Gone!

In addition, in partner training we were told that there is another important detail about the new Oracle EPM Cloud stack. The 150Gb policy limit has been lifted. Although there is a question on whether or not storage space will be costed over a certain amount, gone are the days of hitting a formal technical ceiling now. (Updated)

New Planning Offerings and Details

The Oracle Product Managers for Planning have contacted me to make additional clarifications about what is in store for Planning in these new license tiers. They will be answering specific questions in follow-up meetings with partners and customers. (Updated)

Both Standard and Enterprise will have hybrid enabled by default for all newly created apps. This is a feature that’s been coming for awhile and partners have been beta testing it for months. A couple of our existing Planning customers have patched their environments to allow for hybrid and they are seeing great performance enhancements. (Updated)

Next, not mentioned on the website is a new “free form” option. Free form planning will give customers the flexibility to create stand-alone Essbase cubes within the Planning offering, with none of the usual Planning application restrictions like the standard set of required dimensions nor dimension size restrictions. (Actually, there will be some dimension thresholds, but they are pretty high. Shankar tells me that his team will fast track threshold adjustments for justifiable use cases.) In partner training we were told that this offering comes with a single application per instance (and 2 instances per pod, as is the usual case for Planning Cloud). The June release will allow one cube per application which can be either BSO, ASO, or Hybrid. You will be able to import directly from an Essbase .otl file. BSO Essbase outlines that are imported will have the option to enable Hybrid. Additional pods (at no additional cost, as per the Enterprise licensing) would be required if more cubes are required. (Updated)

This is an interesting proposition that gets even more interesting if you think about the new licensing. One simple use case is customers who are migrating from on-prem Hyperion Planning and may have a couple of Essbase cubes, but don’t necessarily want to buy PaaS (i.e. OAC) in addition to SaaS.

A more interesting use case is a customer who has 100 Essbase cubes that they wish to migrate to free form. Based on the new Enterprise licensing, theoretically, they would not be charged more than $500/universal named user/month for the 100 free form Planning instances required to support this many cubes. Although this sounds super enticing from a cost perspective, this may not be a practical situation…keep reading. In the initial release, customers will be able to create a free form Planning cube by directly importing an Essbase outline. However, note that although the application restrictions have been lifted, it’s still the Planning Cloud environment. EAS is not going to magically appear in this offering, as that is not part of Planning Cloud. Many pure Essbase customers need EAS-like functionality to maintain a certain magnitude of order of cubes, which is only provided in the current PaaS Essbase offering. Also, do you really want users to have to know which of 100 URLs to connect to based on which specific Essbase cube they’re using? Usability is an important consideration here.

Finally, as alluded to already, the product formerly called PBCS will no longer be offered as a separate SKU. There are options for customers within the new licensing tiers for a PBCS-like application, but this will not be sold separately as PBCS anymore. (Updated)

To get additional insights about the Planning Cloud changes this month, check out Pete’s blog post (link below) in the blog hop!

What Happens to Existing Customers?

From what I understood from Oracle Product Management, existing customers have two choices:

  1. Stay on their current licensing until it expires. Then they can migrate to the new licensing model. This is going to be the easier path, although not the cheapest for some current customers.
  2. Move to the new licensing by canceling their existing contract, using LCM to archive off their existing objects, establishing a new contract, and then migrating the archived LCM objects to it. This is not going to be a super simple path, in my opinion, as there are too many different groups that are being depended on. But it could yield a much better cost.

Updated: Customers who are on a single, value-priced solution (<=$125 per user per month: PBCS, EPRCS, or ARCS) today will have to pay more, unless they want to expand beyond a single solution. This is the gamble that Oracle is banking on, and once you get to know the value that each product brings to the table, it’s not a bad gamble. However, for those customers not looking to expand, Standard, unfortunately, freezes out some customers on price. It’s more expensive unless you already license at least 3 products in that stack now. The Enterprise tier is truly the best value in my book. It’s a good deal for customers who already license or want to license 3 or more EPM Cloud products, including those not in the new Standard stack.

What about the customers who purchased EPM Cloud last month in Oracle’s fire sale? (Oracle’s fiscal year ends every May – it’s a well known fact that customers get amazing deals when they purchase in May.) My guess is that they probably got a very good deal. Those customers now have options on how soon they want their current licensing to end.

What Does it All Mean?

Updated: Personally, I’m excited about the product consolidations and the new Enterprise licensing. At Oracle Open World 2016, I blogged about a vision of an Oracle EPM Cloud world that moved to a centralized offering and portal. This is finally happening. Oracle is still not at the unified portal stage (although you can mimic this through the EPM Business Processes feature), but we’re getting closer. Customers will have more flexibility with their solution options, and this new licensing model allows them to “try” products without expirations and limits. Have Planning and want to try Financial Consolidation and Close? Fire it up!

My concerns at this point are on usability, administration, and integration. Where do the business processes integrate and where do they not (is it the same experience as now)? How will a user access multiple business processes? How easily can you remove a business process that you’re not using anymore? Is Oracle moving to one maintenance window for all business processes?

Updated: As some new details have come in the past 24 hours, I have added a couple of more concerns. One new concern is related to customers who are on a single Oracle EPM Cloud solution today and do not wish to expand. When these customer contracts expire, they will be facing either Standard or Enterprise licensing editions, and Standard may be above the price point for them. In addition, I have a concern related to customers who only have PBCS or EPBCS today, don’t wish to expand, and have more than 1 single custom + 1 ASO plan type enabled. The new Standard licensing only supports 1 custom cube + 1 ASO cube.

On the other hand, I know that by moving to this licensing model, Oracle will compete even better against their rivals. Healthy competition = customers win. In this war, each EPM software vendor is going to want to offer better, faster, and cheaper. This means that my concerns, as well as thousands of customer concerns are on their radar. Those EPM software vendors with a strong, financial backbone will survive by leveraging economies of scale, adapting quickly to customer requests, and enduring receding margins.

Overall, with these changes, customers can now extend their investments at their own fingertips, with less paperwork, at their own pace, at a lower overall price point, and with pricing options to fit multiple types of budgets. This is another example of how Oracle has evolved Cloud to their customers’ needs. I have yet to see Oracle’s EPM rivals move this quickly and radically in response to consumer demand.

Additional Insights Provided by this Blog Hop!

I hope you enjoyed my personal take on the June 2019 Oracle EPM Cloud updates. Continue your educational journey by “hopping” over to the following posts to find out more about specific product updates, as well as gain different partner perspectives on the licensing, naming, and consolidation changes:

  1. Jun Zhang does a comprehensive summary of the June updates by product: https://theepmlab.com/epm-cloud-updates-june-2019-epbcs-fccs-pcmcs-arcs-edmcs-narrative-reporting/
  2. Pete Nitschke discuses the Planning Cloud June updates in more detail: http://essbasedownunder.com/2019/06/pbcs-epbcs-what-is-old-is-new-again/
  3. Eric Erikson provides his perspective on FCCS: http://ericerikson.blogspot.com/2019/06/archiving-fccs-environment-versions.html
  4. Jay Chapman covers the notable EPRCS (now called Narrative Reporting) June updates: https://functionallytechnical.blog/2019/05/31/new-name-who-dis/
  5. Kate Helmer summarizes important EDMCS updates: https://hyperionbarbie.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/19-06-edmcs-update-&amp;-new-epm-cloud-announcements!/
  6. Tony Scalese covers changes to the REST API and EPM Automate: http://www.fdmeeguru.com/1906-rest-api-epm-automate-changes

Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “EPM Cloud Update: BIG June 2019 Changes!

  1. Pingback: Essbase Down Under

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