UK Oracle User Group

First Look at HFM

14 March 2015

In this post Quentin Vermolen from Seismi explores the latest in this platform release...

There has been much anticipation and speculation about this delayed platform release v11.1.2.4. Particularly so from the HFM community as Oracle had indicated major revisions to the HFM ‘engine’, and to set HFM free from it’s Windows shackle’s to be platform independent.

Which surely means that this release would be the most significant update to HFM delivered by Oracle since the ‘unlimited’ (won’t get into the theoretical design debate here) custom dimensions feature released in

Since the release a couple of weeks ago there has been some good technical blogs (John G covered the first look at installing the new release and the intricacies of installing on Windows 2012 Server, see: More to life than this…).
However there is no real detail out there on what has happened ‘under the bonnet’ for HFM.

So let’s start with the highlights and take a look at the new engine and some stat’s.

Firstly, there is HFM’s new simplified architecture (freshly ported to Java). The objective of reworking the HFM application server components in Java, means there is no longer reliance on Windows technologies like IIS and DCOM.

Which for the first time in its existence means HFM is now “platform independent”. Although for customers the choice for the moment is only between Windows servers or Oracle’s own super hardware – Exalytics. Commodity Linux is not yet supported…

While the developers were tinkering around with the ‘HFM engine’ they did the following:

  • fitted an optimised central data query engine – improving data retrieval used by the web UI, SmartView and Financial Reporting;
  • replaced the database ADO driver with an ODBC driver to improve database interaction, claimed better performance with Oracle RDBMS;
  • fitted new ‘multi-core scaling’ wizardly that ensures during consolidation up the entity hierarchy the system will use all of the hardware cores available;
  • fitted ‘SmartHeap’ technology to improve memory allocation and reduce thrashing of heap;
  • redesigned the ‘CalcStatus’ code, to store only used currencies, thereby reducing unnecessary storage of data and improving metadata / data loads;
  • replaced ‘Web-services’ with ‘Thrift’, claimed to optimise the transfer of objects between C++ server and Java based web tier.

Some interesting statistics from Oracle product development is the following optimisations the developers managed to do compared to v11.1.2.1 code line:

  • reduced number of file in HFM by 45%
  • reduced libraries by 88%
  • reduced total installed files by 94%

Diagram of HFM’s technology stack transition:

HFM Architecture


Much like a Moto GP race machine, the developers have managed to make the ‘engine’ lighter, simpler, and more efficient. The result in testing by Oracle in the lab’s using real client applications is claimed performance improvements of 2-5x times faster on the same hardware.

The performance claims alone are quite impressive for just an upgrade (no application optimisation), and exciting what can be achieved by moving HFM to an Exalytics box for the larger HFM clients.

The consolidation times comparison provided by Oracle is: (Windows) (Windows) (Exalytics X4)
60 min 23 min 13 min


What is supported by what version is in Oracle’s Compatibility Matrix, which is usually not the easiest to navigate if you just need to know if SmartView works with the latest MS Office.

So it’s useful to know that the release now supports:

  • Browsers: Internet Explorer 9, 10, 11 and Firefox 31 ESR
  • Office 2013
  • Desktop: Windows 7, 8 & 8.1


Like any other dot zero release, there is going to be some quirks, and some undocumented features when we get into implementing. However in this kind of scenario, skilled HFM consultants thrive, pushing design to make the best use of the new features, but at the same time also understanding the limitations.




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