RealTime IT News

Oracle Makes Intelligence Its Business

NEW YORK -- Oracle is going after the business intelligence market with guns blazing, vowing to target the customer bases of long-time leaders Business Objects and Cognos.

A multi-billion-dollar market, business intelligence software collects data from applications and shoots it back to corporate employees, managers and executives to give them insight into invisible or remote aspects of their business.

At an event here today, Oracle President Chuck Phillips said the company expects to command that market with three flavors: Business Intelligence Suite Standard Edition, Business Intelligence Suite Standard Edition One and Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition.

Phillips said the new BI offerings are a significant part of Oracle's Fusion Middleware plan to use its database, middleware and applications suites to provide customers with a complete service-oriented architecture (SOA) for distributed computing.

Targeted at Oracle software, Business Intelligence Standard Edition integrates technology from Siebel Business Analytics with Oracle's existing BI and middleware.

It includes an interface for accessing relational and OLAP data and dashboards; a spreadsheet add-in; a warehouse builder; a tool for application development; and a reports feature.

Standard Edition is for sale now and runs $400 per named user.

A scaled-down version of Standard Edition with pre-integrated applications, Standard Edition One is designed for small businesses and the mid-market. It has a two-processor limit and will be available next year for $25,000.

While rival BI vendors offer similar features, Enterprise Edition is where Oracle expects to shine. Its centerpiece is the business analytics applications from Siebel Systems, which it acquired this year.

While Standard Edition focuses on getting the most out of Oracle applications, Enterprise Edition uses the Siebel analytics applications to integrate data from several software sources. This includes databases from IBM, Microsoft, and Teradata, and applications from Siebel, Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP.

Enterprise Edition, which costs $1,500 per named user, includes relational and OLAP query and analysis for Oracle and non-Oracle environments; enterprise reporting and publishing to allow business users to publish reports; real-time alerts; mobile analytics for laptop users; and integration with popular Microsoft desktop tools Excel, Word, Outlook and Exchange.

In a demonstration that captured the essence of Oracle's new Business Intelligence suites, Oracle official Adam Driver pretended to be a sales employee who comes to work and discovers revenues dipping in certain areas.

Driver used Oracle Business Intelligence to pinpoint the weak clients and propose new sales opportunities.

Business Objects and Cognos also feature such capabilities in their software.

But Thomas Kurian, senior vice president of Oracle, said those BI tool vendors lack a common Web data model and often have to do more code configurations to provide the information business managers require.

Conversely, Kurian said the new Oracle software features shared metadata; heterogeneous data source access; and server-centric Web architectures.

IDC analyst Henry Morris said that Oracle is well positioned to extend its lead in the multi-billion-dollar business analytics market thanks to its recent acquisitions of Siebel and PeopleSoft.

"Oracle can sell BI tools and applications into the expanded customer bases it has acquired," Morris said. "This is an opportunity for the products Oracle had before the acquisitions as well as for the tools and applications it has acquired."

"This will likely include cross-selling, such as selling Siebel CRM analytics into the PeopleSoft and Oracle CRM application bases."

Phillips said he expects business intelligence to be the fourth bucket of technology for Oracle, which already enjoys successful database, middleware and applications segments.

He said Oracle expects to surpass rivals Business Objects and Cognos in the BI market over time.