Oracle’s High BI Bar: Managed, Multifaceted and Actionable

Oracle’s newest BI release is massive, spans multiple product categories, and raises the bar for competitors in dramatic fashion. In my prior post I focused on its rollout and competitive posture. The market has waited a long time as the reconciliation of many moving parts was accomplished – most notably the convergence of the Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) offering and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE). Hyperion integration with its Essbase acquisition was not complete. In 2007, OBI’s newest release (10.1.3) was most notable in many eyes for its new Microsoft Office support. PeopleSoft and Siebel had been acquired some two years before that, and Master Data Management was already a topic of discussion then (2005). There was a long way to go. And analysts? Well, think of us as the kids in the back: “Are we there yet?”

Oracle has used its time, and its $3B per year investment in R&D, well. OBIEE 11g delivers a strong base for its customers to build upon, and for its own teams to continue fleshing out a very coherent vision of ready-to-consume, actionable analytics suitable for multiple roles, on multiple platforms, across the breadth of information available. Although there is much left to do, Oracle has laid out a clear path and articulated a differentiated message that offers ample reasons for anyone on other platforms to consider OBIEE, whether or not they are an Oracle customer. For this analyst, the big wins are the Common Enterprise Information Model, The Action Framework, the strong manageability focus, unified and enhanced user interaction for report and other forms of design and delivery, and BI applications.

Read more of this post

Tibco Silver Spotfire – Social BI? Why Not?

Tibco, fresh from a Q2 with license revenue up 23% over last year’s, continuing a two year run of beating consensus earnings estimates, has stepped up and out ahead to pursue the long-coveted mid-market customers who don’t use BI but find that spreadsheets don’t do enough.  Tibco believes, like Microsoft, that many are social technology users: they have blogs and use other channels available to them, and they will build and share reports given the chance. So, says Tibco, here it is: building on the Silver cloud platform it’s had in beta for about a year, Tibco is introducing Silver Spotfire, with an offer tuned to the cloud user – a no-cost, no-obligation, no-risk 1-year trial of a Spotfire play in the cloud requiring no IT involvement. “All you need is a browser,” is the pitch, and this is not from a new company you don’t know, but an established  player with a sizable roster of enterprise BI customers. [Edit 8/27 – Tibco has put up a Wiki on “what is Social BI“.] Read more of this post

Oracle Sets Sights on BI Leadership. Has it Picked the Right Target?

Oracle is not first in BI, and wants to change that – that was the clear message of a well executed, multi-site “real plus virtual” event with top executives showing off the result of a multi-year effort to rationalize and integrate a set of leading but overlapping components into a seamless suite. Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g (OBIEE) deserves the accolades it has already received from analysts who welcomed its announcement – it makes bold and serious bets on effective centralized metadata administration, data integration/ unification and optimized analytic architecture, collaboration, globalization, mobile device support, and a powerful link to action that will be most effective (unsurprisingly) with its own business applications. While it misses some pieces – fully integrated in-memory processing, SaaS and cloud support among them – these will be forthcoming, and Oracle is clearly committed to a quicker release cycle now that the thorny internal politics around legacy products seem to be resolved. But its competitive focus may be misdirected; while SAP is still ahead in market share, IBM is the bigger threat in the marketplace.

Read more of this post

Microsoft Plays Where’s Waldo? With BI – Good Idea

In April, I was critical of the BI messaging I heard from Microsoft – as told, it was long on benefit adjectives and short on architectural clarity. But things have changed since then, and the Combined Tech Ed/Business Intelligence Conference made that very clear. Do I see more clarity because I now know more of the detail, and have internalized my own narrative? Likely. But it would be outrageously self-centered of me to think that was all. The fact is, the story is being told better, and there is much to tell. It needs to be told well because it’s complex behind the “simple” descriptions that underlie Microsoft’s ultimate value proposition: BI should be an easily consumed, context-aware service available to everyone, not a separate offering. Microsoft is tackling the continuing grand challenge of BI – expanding usage beyond the 20% of potential users that are BI consumers today. Read more of this post

SapphireNow Day Two – Pump It Up

Bill McDermott began the day for Orlando attendees of SapphireNow by demonstrating that there is no charisma deficit at SAP these days, and his co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe was right there behind him to make the case that commitment and strategy are not lacking either. They welcomed Sybase, hailed the new ByDesign release about to ship, and waved the sustainability flag high, leveraging their strong position there. Read more of this post

Does Informatica get a place at the head table?

From  Judith Hurwitz, president, Hurwitz & Associates (http://jshurwitz.wordpress.com).

Informatica might be thought of as the last independent data management company standing. In fact, that used to be Informatica’s main positioning in the market. That has begun to change over the last few years as Informatica can continued to make strategic acquisitions. Over the past two years Informatica has purchased five companies  — the most recent was Siperian, a significant player in Master Data Management solutions. These acquisitions have paid off. Today Informatica has past the $500 million revenue mark with about 4,000 customers. It has deepened its strategic partnerships with HP, Ascenture, salesforce.com, and MicroStrategy.  In a nutshell, Informatica has made the transition from a focus on ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tools to support data warehouses to a company focused broadly on managing information. Merv Adrian did a great job of providing context for Informatica’s strategy and acquisitions. To transition itself in the market, Informatica has set its sights on data service management — a culmination of data integration, master data management and data transformation, predictive analytics in a holistic manner across departments, divisions, and business partners. Read more of this post

IBM Software Results Continue To Validate Strategy

Another strong year from IBM demonstrates that its relentless software portfolio build-out has succeeded in its goal of grabbing ever more customer logos, share of wallet, and partners. Growth is a complex challenge at this scale – every acquisition brings revenue, but also staff and technology integration challenges, more complexity for Marketing and Sales to deal with. Add to that the difficulties of the economy, and the magnitude of the investment IBM’s biggest customers make – and how easy it would be for their careful shaving of a few points off their spending to have massive impact – and it would be easy to stumble. Read more of this post

Programmers: Pervasive’s Parallelization Provides Punch, Profit

After 27 years of steady growth, Austin, Texas-based Pervasive (PVSW) has become a $47M annual run rate software provider. Its portfolio includes a “zero admin, light footprint database” (the former BTrieve, now PervasiveSQL), data integration software (for SaaS and on premises applications), and data synchronization products for such apps as salesforce.com, Quickbooks and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In 2009, it began leveraging its DataRush processing engine as a product, providing a solution for companies that want to take advantage of multicore architectures to drive dramatically enhanced performance on much smaller footprints, for programming data services tasks such as aggregation, de-duplication, cleansing, integration, matching and sorting, as well as data mining and predictive analytics. Read more of this post

IBM’s “Smarter Planet” Will Capitalize on HW, Analytics

Rod Adkins, the SVP and Group Executive of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group (STG) took the time to engage the influencer community quite early in his tenure for a well-run event at the Watson Research Lab in Yorktown Heights. “I’ve been in this position for 38 days,” he  reminded us, as STG’s AR team widened the usually hardware-focused invited audience to include generalists and more software-focused folk like me.  IBM execs from IBM’s Software Group, its Research organization and corporate, joined us  for a look at the science behind the systems, a compelling addition to the agenda. And another pitch for IBM’s analytics thrust was a scene-stealer. Read more of this post

Oracle, Sleeves Rolled Up, Flexes EPM Muscles

It’s been a while since Oracle made the series of acquisitions that redrew the map on applications software, and they have been fairly successful there. The broadening of the portfolio created considerable challenges for the rationalization of Oracle’s BI strategy, and I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Paul Rodwick and Bill Guilmart, VPs of Product Management, to catch up on the Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) story so far. We analysts are quick to criticize the pace of integration, the level of detail, and the timing of the roadmap from companies with enormous portfolios like Oracle’s. Personally, I’m glad I don’t have to live every day with the consequences of my brilliant ideas about how to rationalize all those moving parts. (Remember those ads? “We don’t do. We just advise.”) Paul and Bill must live with theirs, and I was impressed with the clarity and consistency of the model they described to me. It’s a good story, with emerging successes in abundance, and the best may be yet to come. Read more of this post