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Oracle Launches Business Intelligence Tools

Posted by iNext - 2006-03-26

On Wednesday, Oracle announced several new business intelligence (BI) tools and applications that incorporate Oracle's database technology, its Fusion middleware, and the business analytics software gained from its purchase of Siebel Systems.
The software maker expects the products, bundled as the Oracle Business Intelligence Suite, to compete with similar products offered by software giant Microsoft and other smaller vendors, such as Cognos and Business Objects SA.

At the event held in New York, Charles Phillips, Oracle's president, said the company is moving into new territory beyond its traditional businesses of grid computing and databases.

"This is a comprehensive best-of-breed Business Intelligence offering that spans multiple categories," Phillips told the crowd of business executives and journalists.

"BI is one of the categories of products that touch middleware, databases, and applications," he said. "If you're good at those and come out with a best-of-breed product with prepackaged analytics, there is an enormous opportunity ahead for you."

BI Three Ways

According to Oracle, the new software relies on a modular architecture so it can be changed easily to accommodate different business applications at various levels of the organization, depending on who needs to see what. Phillips said this modular technology makes the applications "a lot more usable and a lot more pervasive."

The software also features interactive dashboards, which Phillips said are a great way to present information. Oracle's dashboards provide users with the ability to drill down and run queries without having to use a separate tool. The dashboards not only can alert users to business operations that need attention, but also can provide recommendations for appropriate actions.

The new BI software packages consist of Oracle BI Standard Edition One, Oracle BI Standard Edition, and Oracle BI Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition integrates Siebel's business analytics software with Oracle's existing middleware technology to provide an enterprise-wide BI infrastructure. Enterprise Edition will cost $1,500 per user.

With the Standard Edition, Oracle has provided bundled tools with integrated BI infrastructure software for large businesses already using Oracle products. Companies will pay $400 per user for the software.

Designed with small and midsize businesses in mind, the entry-level suite, Standard Edition One, is a specialized offering that includes a database, query and analysis tools, dashboards, and administrative features. Oracle has priced the bundle at $25,000.

"With our entry-level product, we're going after volume market, directly against Microsoft," Phillips explained. "That's quite a bit of technology for that price, and we think that's going to be a compelling value for people who want to get started [with BI and analytics] quickly."

Acquisition Keeps Giving

For businesses, large and small, understanding and integrating data throughout all levels of the enterprise has become the greatest challenge, said Henry Morris, an IDC analyst who spoke during the Oracle event. Oracle joins SAP, Microsoft, and other software vendors that have moved from offering mere data-capture applications to more sophisticated analysis tools.

"Acquiring Siebel and PeopleSoft are important not just for building the applications division at Oracle, but also for increasing [Oracle's] visibility and strength in a significant part of the market that is growing faster than most parts of software -- business intelligence, analytics, and performance management," Morris said.

According to Phillips, Oracle's move into business intelligence and analytics would not have been possible had the company not acquired Siebel, a purchase that was finalized in January. Oracle execs were surprised to learn that about 25 percent of Siebel's licensing revenues came from analytics software.

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