Monday 9 December 2019

EPM Cloud - Integration Agent update - Running as a Windows service

Back with a very quick update for the EPM Integration Agent. From the EPM Cloud 19.12 release, the agent can be run as a Windows service.

If you have a look at the agent bin directory of the 19.12 release compared to a prior version, you will notice a few differences.

EPMAgentService.exe” will install/uninstall and run the agent from a Windows service.

startagent.bat” has been removed. To continue starting the agent from command line you can just call "epmagent.bat" instead.” has been updated so the agent is started as a background process.” has been added for Linux/Unix type systems. The script will basically find the process the agent is running under and then kill it.

To update the agent to the latest release is very simple. I suggest renaming the existing agent directory and replace with the latest version. Remember to copy the EPM Cloud SSL certificate back to the cert directory and any custom jar files to the lib directory.

If “EPMAgentService.exe” is executed, it will display details on how to install/uninstall the agent as a Windows service.

To install the service, the syntax is:

EPMAgentService.exe -install “service name” “location of agent initialisation file”

Once the command has been executed, a window will open confirming whether the service was installed successfully.

A log will be created with more details around the creation of the windows service.

If successful, the agent should be available as a Windows service.

The display name will be generated with same as the service name. The services is set to manual and the account which runs the service will be local system, so you may want to update the service configuration to fit your requirements.

Once the agent has been started, there will be “EPMAgentService.exe” as a process which will have the agent Java process running as a child process.

In the agent log directory, there will be an additional log for the agent. The naming convention for the log is:


The log will contain the same information that was displayed when running the agent from command line.

When the agent is stopped, there will be entries in the log to confirm whether it was stopped successfully.

It is possible to run multiple agents as Windows services on the same machine.

Multiple services will now be available.

There will be a separate agent log for each Windows service.

If you want to update the display name for the Windows service, this can be achieved easily through command line.

The display name will be updated.

To remove an agent as a Windows service, the following syntax can be used:

EPMAgentService -uninstall <windows_service_name>

This will open a new window confirming whether the agent was uninstalled successfully.

A log will have been generated with further details.

So there we go, nice and simple. :)

Monday 18 November 2019

EPM Cloud - Integration Agent Part 7 - Drill down to source data

Time for the latest part of the EPM Cloud Integration Agent series, in which I am going to be looking at drill down functionality. FDMEE/Data Management has always provided the option to drill through to source data using a URL and passing in parameters, for example with source systems like Oracle Financials Cloud, E-Business Suite or SAP. If your source was a relational database, then there was not really an option to directly drill back to the data.

With the Integration Agent, it is now possible to select to drill through to source, this will execute a predefined SQL query against the source database and display the results in Data Integration.

The following diagram is my interpretation of how the drill down functionality operates.

  • Drill to source is initiated in either Data Integration workbench or drill through landing page.
  • A REST call is made from a browser to the Integration Agent.
  • The REST call contains the encrypted SQL query, bind variables and connection information.
  • The agent updates the query with the bind variables values, the query is executed against the source database.
  • The results of the query are converted to JSON and returned to the browser.
  • The JSON is converted into a table format and displayed in a browser window.
To be able to use the drill down functionality you will really need to access the agent over HTTPS which will be through either a load balancer or web server. The URL the browser will make the REST call to will be the Web URL, which is defined in Data Integration. This will not be a problem if you are using the agent in synchronous mode as it will already have the Web URL defined and be accessible. Please refer to part one and two of the series for a better understanding.

If you are using asynchronous mode, then the web server or load balancer does not have to be internet facing. The call is being made from the browser, so it is just the machine the browser is making the call from that needs to be able to access it.

For my testing, I installed and configured Apache HTTP Server on an internal network which proxied to the agent. The web server does not have to be located on the same machine as the agent. It may be that you already have an internal load balancer or web server that could be configured to proxy to the agent.

You may be asking why you can’t just access the agent directly over HTTP and not through a web server.

Accessing EPM Cloud through a browser will be over HTTPS, if the browser then tries to make a call over HTTP to the agent then this will be a security issue, most browsers will block mixed content.

It is possible to disable mixed content blocking but depending on the browser you will probably encounter more issues. For many reasons, it makes sense just to front the agent with a web server of some description.

To demonstrate the drill down functionality, I am going to use my example from part three of this series where data is extracted from a source Oracle database.

A database view provides summary General Ledger data and the query to extract the data is defined in Data Integration.

In the Data Integration workbench, there is the option “Drill Through to Source” on each source amount.

For this example, the idea is to drill down to a database table which contains the detailed GL data.

Please note this is just a demo, the source table could contain many more columns than shown.

The first step is to create the query in Data Integration which will return the required data set.

The query also includes bind variables, the values will depend on the row where the drill is being selected.

What you need to be mindful of is the amount of records that can be returned. As the results are returned to the browser you will want to limit them as much as possible. The functionality is not really designed to dump large amounts of data to a browser.

Next, the Drill URL is defined. This is either through “Map Dimensions” in Data Integration or “Import Format” in Data Management.

The Drill URL will need to start with #agent when accessing a drill down with the Integration Agent.

The QUERY parameter is the name of the SQL Query. I have included the query which I just created.

The other parameters are the bind variables which I assigned in the Query. The values are the columns in the data staging tables.

The URL I have defined will be with the agent, it will run the “GL_BALANCES” query. The bind variables will be based on the ACCOUNT and ENTITY values for the selected drill row.

I can now select to “Drill Through to Source” on a row in the workbench.

This will then make the call to the agent; the bind variables will be assigned to the query and then executed. The results will be returned and displayed in a window.

It would be nice if there was an option to download the results.

If you do have any issues with the drill down functionality, you will more than likely see the following default error.

Looking at the agent logs or using developer functionality within the browser will help narrow down the issue.

You may be wondering whether it is possible to drill back from a web form or Smart View and the answer is yes.

Selecting “Drill Through to source” will open the standard landing page.

The gear icon next to the amount can be selected and then “Drill Through to Source” again. A window will be displayed with the results.

I must admit the options to resize the window are not great.

Please note, this functionality does not work from the workbench in Data Management.

When a drill down is executed there will be an entry in the window of the agent.

The session ID number has a corresponding log entry.

The log contains information similar to running a normal data extract. The information includes the data source, query, bind variables and values.

The difference to a standard extract is the output type, instead of file it is JSON.

16:01:49:500 :: *************** Starting execution for sessionId:27387043 at: 16:01:49:500***************
16:01:49:500 :: Process Extract Request with data:--------------Executor Request Data--------------
--------------Bind Variables--------------
Name: ACC, Value:5800, Type:STRING
Name: ENT, Value:410, Type:STRING
16:01:49:500 :: --------------- Executing Custom Event :BefExtract ---------------
16:01:49:500 :: Script: E:\EPMAgent\appdata\scripts\ Not found.
16:01:49:532 :: Adding String Bind Variable: ACC with value: 5800
16:01:49:532 :: Adding String Bind Variable: ENT with value: 410
16:01:49:532 :: --------------- Completed execution for sessionId:27387043 ---------------
16:01:49:532 :: --------------- Executing Custom Event :AftExtract ---------------
16:01:49:532 :: Script: E:\EPMAgent\appdata\scripts\ Not found.
16:01:49:532 :: --------------- Executing Custom Event :BefUpload ---------------
16:01:49:532 :: Script: E:\EPMAgent\appdata\scripts\ Not found.
16:01:49:532 :: --------------- Executing Custom Event :AftUpload ---------------
16:01:49:532 :: Script: E:\EPMAgent\appdata\scripts\ Not found.
16:01:49:937 :: *************** End execution for sessionId:27387043 ***************

The log also highlights that the event scripts are executed. I will provide an example with an event script shortly.

I believe the log is appended to each time a drill is executed. A new session log will be created when the agent is restarted.

In my previous example, all periods are being returned in the query results. There are different options available to filter down to a single period and I will now go through a couple of them.

As columns from the staging data table can be included in the Drill URL, it is possible to return the period key that the data has been loaded to.

An example of the format the PERIODKEY is returned:

2019-11-30 00:00:00.0

The format for the period in the source database table is MM-YY. By using a substring function I can convert the period key into the correct format.

This time the results returned will only be for the period in the POV.

Another option would be to override the SQL in the before extract event script.

The following script generates the current month and year in the correct format. The original query is then updated to filter on the period.

Yes, this only works if you always want to return data for the current month and year, but it is just an example of how to override the query. The script can be written to suit whatever the requirements are.

The output from the agent displays the original query and the executed query which has the period included.

Another option could be when the data is extracted and loaded to EPM Cloud, it could include the period which is loaded to an attribute column.

Instead of loading the period to an attribute column I am going to change it a little. In the next example I want to drill down to a journal table by journal ID. The query for the data extract will include the journal ID which I will load to an attribute.

To do this I am going to update the integration which extracts summary data using a database view.

A new column for the journal ID is added to the data source application.

In the integration dimension mappings, journal ID is mapped to an attribute.

The query to extract summary data is updated to include the journal ID column.

When the integration is run and the data has been extracted and loaded to EPM Cloud, the journal ID is loaded to the attribute column.

I couldn’t get the attribute column to display in the Data Integration workbench, so I have provided the above example using Data Management.

The next step is to set up the drill functionality to display records from a table which has journal line information.

A new Query is created which returns journal line records. Some of the columns have been aliased to return more meaningful names.

The above query includes a bind variable to filter by journal ID.

The Drill URL is updated to include the query name, bind variable and attribute column name.

Now the drill down can be tested.

The journal line records are returned and displayed in a window.

If drilling back from a web form or Smart View, the landing page provides the ability to display the journal ID column.

I think that covers everything I wanted to. Until the next instalment…