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Integration's The Rub For New Oracle BI

One of Oracle's biggest challenges these days is integrating the new products from its numerous acquisitions with its existing software.

Oracle  just finished one such undertaking, incorporating the analytics software it acquired in the Siebel Systems purchase as the base for its business intelligence software.

Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition 10g Release 3 features significant new integration with Oracle's broad swath of applications, database software and other components of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Like similar suites from rivals Business Objects , Cognos  and Hyperion , Oracle Business Intelligence Suite EE is designed to provide business users information so they can make better business decisions.

Oracle Business Intelligence Suite EE, available in Linux and Windows flavors for $1,500 per user or $225,000 per CPU, includes Siebel's live dashboards, ad hoc analysis, alerts, reports, and even disconnected analytics on mobile laptops.

Such tools fuel a multi-billion-dollar industry that has seen just about every facet of its existence commoditized, excluding predictive analytics. This area is expected to be red hot in 2007; Oracle's August purchase of Sigma Dynamics and Hyperion's recent bid for Decisioneering bear this out.

Compared to pure-play powers Business Objects and Cognos, Oracle is a relative newcomer to the BI space. But the company has built an estimable reputation for managing corporate information in databases for more than 20 years, and customers could find it convenient to buy BI from Oracle.

Integration

Most BI providers don't have to contend with is integrating their products into several different product lines, whether it be their own software or another vendor's. Oracle wasn't one of those vendors, according to Rick Schultz, vice president of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Oracle Business Intelligence Suite EE boasts more Web services  support and integration with Oracle BPEL Process Manager, the company's business process execution engine. For example, Schultz said users can get automated BI alerts that invoke processes.

"Business intelligence fits in tightly with business processes," Schultz said. "Customers want their end users to access the intelligence information in the context of a business process. This integration allows that to occur."

Schultz said the ability to integrate BI with Oracle's fluency in business process management (BPM)  separates the company from the other BI vendors.

In another case, Oracle Business Intelligence Suite EE's integration with the OLAP  option of Oracle Database 10g Enterprise Edition consolidates server engines to store, view and analyze data in OLAP cubes.

The product is also more secure, thanks to integration with Oracle Virtual Directory, the Oracle E-Business Suite security model, Oracle Enterprise Single Sign-On Suite, and Oracle Internet Directory.

Like all new infrastructure software coming out of Oracle these days, the BI software has been designed to be "hot-pluggable," Oracle's catch-phrase for software that will run on any existing IT infrastructure.

Businesses find value in this, Oracle argues, because they needn't rip and replace the software they already use to accommodate new Oracle software.

To wit, Oracle Business Intelligence Suite EE will work with the latest releases of IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, and NCR Teradata. Moreover, the product now features multi-dimensional support and new native access to SAP Business Information Warehouse.

Miscellaneous improvements

Oracle Business Intelligence Suite EE includes new publishing and reporting capabilities via Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher (formerly Oracle XML Publisher), allowing organizations to produce financial statements, government forms and purchase orders, among other documents.

The documents can be delivered to e-mail, fax machines, printers, or incorporated into interactive dashboards.

Business Intelligence Suite EE and Business Intelligence Publisher will be the BI foundation in future Oracle Fusion applications.

Other new features include data mart automation; better integration with Microsoft Office; live interaction with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint; clustering, native 64-bit support, a hypercube infrastructure, multi-pass calculation; drag-and-drop layout editing, enhanced presentation variables, financial reporting, customized report subscriptions and search.

Release 3 also supports JSR-168, making it possible for companies to embed BI portlets into any JSR-168 compliant portal. The software also works with Really Simple Syndication (RSS), empowering RSS applications to include BI alerts.