Oracle, IBM Throw Down the Gauntlet in Server Wars
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The latest salvo in the server wars was fired this week when Oracle Corp. announced that it had bundled business intelligence tools into its upcoming 9i server, something that IBM Corp. said it has had in one form or another since 1998.
At issue is the need to make databases faster, both in performance and in installation, or, how fast one can get a server up and running.
Oracle said it had consolidated tools that are normally added on as a layer, namely analytic processing (OLAP), personalization and data extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) technology, directly into the Oracle database. These are all tools that were integrated as layers in the past.
The firm''s goal is to make information more readily available to e-businesses for anyone within the organization to access using mobile phones and personal digital assistants.
These are all part and parcel of what IBM said it has packed into its DB2 server in the last two years separately, and rolled out into various version upgrades from September 1998 with version 5.2 to July 1999 with version 6.1.
While Oracle''s Jagdish Mirani, senior director marketing, of business intelligence and data warehousing, told InternetNews.com his company is not trying to put itself in a "we''ve got it first," light he said IBM''s solution comes from having partnered with another company, Hyperion, and is merely a "stop-gap" for future server issues.
Mirani said it looks as though IBM took Hyperion''s technology and resold it.
"If I was reading it as a lawyer I would say they had it first," Mirani said. "They are reselling Hyperion. It would have been better if it had been integrated in an easier fashion as one product from the start."
IBM Senior Program Manager Jeff Jones said people can look at the issue any way they want to -- it''s a question of politics, and that it doesn''t matter if a company goes outside of its in-house capabilities as long as a company "does their partnership work right."
"Oracle likes to say it has vendor lock-in, with every bit coming from Oracle, but it''s not a best-of-breed solution," Jones told InternetNews.com.
IBM got wind of the impending news early enough to fire off a release saying it was the leader in the business intelligence and data warehousing space -- backed by Survey.com''s report, "Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing: Competitive Analysis Report 2000", which figured IBM was clearly the leader in that space.
The release was clearly a preemptive strike by IBM.
That report listed Oracle as No. 4 in that sector, with rival NCR listed at No. 6. It also cited another study, an October 2000 report titled, "DB2 Universal Database and Total Cost of Ownership," by Yevich, Lawson and Associates'', which found that most of the largest customer data warehousing implementations are using IBM''s DB2 database.
But Mirani said the Survey.com study is misleading because it is not an apples-to-apples comparison.
Mirani said it would be better to match up IBM''s hardware and software statistics versus Oracle''s separately. He said the numbers would come out differently.
But Jones said that regardless of who says what and who had what first, Oracle''s move was a smart business maneuver.
"We all the claim to have the advantage of getting a database up and running faster," Jones noted of the fierce competition. "Either way, Oracle''s customers will gain an advantage. Oracle has the same motivation that we have. With the integration, there is less code to input and less overhead."
Oracle also made the public aware of its Oracle Warehouse Builder 3i, which will automate the design and deployment of the single data store in Oracle9i Database, and Oracle BI Beans, both of which will speed the design and development and use of online business intelligence applications.
Michael Howard, vice president of Business-to-Business Integration and Data Warehouse Division at Oracle said the time is ripe for business intelligence applications to hit the mainstream market.
"Business Intelligence has become far too critical to allow it to remain a set of specialized, niche technologies," said Howard. "Business intelligence should be available online, all the time, to everyone."