SAN FRANCISCO—Oracle is giving Microsoft a run for its money in the BI tools war, with an announcement at the opening day of Oracle OpenWorld here Monday that it has cut the cord between its BI (business intelligence) tools and Application Server, with which the tools were inextricably tied until now. For the first time, customers may purchase Oracle BI 10g as a standalone product.
The tools still will be included with Oracle Application Server 10g Enterprise Edition, but customers also will have the option of purchasing them as a standalone product.
In a question-and-answer session following his opening keynote, Oracle Corp. president Chuck Phillips said the bundled BI suite was "very effective in getting us seated [in enterprises] and keeping competitors out."
"Now, you can just buy one component" as opposed to having to purchase the Enterprise Edition, Phillips said—which will be a help in competing against BI competitors such as Microsoft Corp.
"We have the No. 1 application server on the market in terms of units. In dollars, were closing the gap with Microsoft and others. [The strategy] has worked," he said. "This will reach new markets we havent reached before and keep the growth going."
The move likely is Oracles way of retaliating against Microsofts recent encroachment on Oracles traditional home turf of data warehousing. In September, Microsoft rolled out a trio of BI tools at the PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server) Community Summit.
At the time, Microsoft trumpeted the fact that its tools could handle data warehouses, featuring Barnes & Noble as an Oracle database shop that opted for Microsofts much cheaper BI tools when it came to handling its 1.2-terabyte data warehouse.
Analysts at the time said the announcements underscored Microsofts deadly seriousness about BI. "It was a way for SQL Server to sneak into shops that are traditionally Oracle shops," Rob Helms, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, in Kirkland, Wash., said at the time.
Besides netting Barnes and Noble as a star in its BI firmament, Microsoft has transformed DTS into Integration Services, rewriting it to make use of the .Net framework and to be far more scalable because of it. Microsoft hopes this strategy will push users toward its upcoming SQL Server 2005 database.
But Oracles fighting back.
Its most recently unleashed BI offerings include a hodgepodge of tools for querying, reporting and analysis, metadata management, data quality, and BI application development.
Oracle Discoverer is a querying, reporting and analysis tool with dashboard features that corrals both relational (SQL) and OLAP (online analytical processing) data within one reporting environment. The product will feature improved reporting and publishing, as well as the capability of users to customize reporting views.
Oracle Spreadsheet Add-In gives users direct access to Oracle OLAP from within Excel spreadsheets, allowing users to query, display and navigate within Oracle OLAP data directly from with the spreadsheets. As befits Oracles mantra of centralizing data within its databases, all data and calculations are centrally stored within the Oracle database.
The tool set also includes Oracle Warehouse Builder, which delivers ETL (extraction, transform and load) capabilities, as well as Oracle BI Beans, a tool for custom BI application development.
The company announced beta customers including Broadcast Music Inc. and R. L. Polk & Co., the premier provider of automotive information and marketing solutions.
Oracle Business Intelligence 10g will be generally available in the first quarter of 2005. For more information, click here.
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