Collecting Companies Means an
Integration Challenge"> This is likely only one of a series of acquisitions and what will be an overall consolidation trend in the BI market, said Judy Sweeney, research vice president with AMR Research, in Boston. Previously, the BI sector had been "very incestuous" with the larger players buying smaller companies, Sweeney said. Recent examples would be the Cognos acquisition of Celequest, Hyperion buying Brio Software, or Business Objects acquiring Crystal Decisions, she noted.But with the Hyperion buyout, there are fewer "best of breed" BI software companies left in the market and the survivors have all become attractive acquisition targets, Sweeney said. "We have had rumors about Cognos, Business Objects and Hyperion playing out for a while. And the buyers have ranged from Oracle to SAP to Microsoft to IBM," she said.The Hyperion buyout is likely to trigger other acquisition activity inside and outside of the BI market, she said. The next question is how Oracle will integrate Hyperion into its product line. Oracle has to decide how to sort out the various BI technologies it has accumulated in its portfolio. Oracle had its own basic BI capabilities and then it acquired more BI applications with the acquisition of Siebel Systems in 2005. While there isnt much overlap between the Siebel BI apps and Hyperions, Sweeney said integrating them into the Fusion architecture wont be a matter of plug and play. Oracle could be faced with an identity crisis when it tries to tell customers about its BI product strategy, Sweeney suggested. "Whats the BI story for Fusion? Is it Siebel analytics? Is it Hyperion? There will be a pretty dramatic change of architecture if they try to take the Hyperion product and just plug it in," she said. Sweeney added, "With every acquisition you have to look and say, Is Oracle just an acquirer? Are they just assembling a collection of software or are they really moving" toward a coherent product story that everyone will understand and buy? Oracles Fusion strategy is still in flux; its unclear what the architecture will look like or how effectively it will all run together, because Oracle keeps buying piece parts while it is still building the earlier components into Fusion. Customers have to wonder whether Oracle will ever eventually produce a usable, integrated Fusion product line or whether it will end up with a jumble of disparate applications that will strain to work under an improvised architecture. Only time will tell whether Oracle will ever reap in profits even a fraction of the billions it has plowed into corporate acquisitions. John Pallatto is a veteran journalist in the field of enterprise software and Internet technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.