Oracle to Boost Data Management With Endeca Buy

Oracle has announced its intent to acquire Endeca Technologies, a maker of products to help enterprises manage unstructured data.

Continuing on its strategy to better enable customers to harness unstructured and Big Data, Oracle announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Endeca Technologies, a provider of unstructured data management, Web commerce and business intelligence software.

Endeca is a privately held company based in Cambridge, Mass., that provides products that help companies analyze unstructured data, gain better business intelligence and deliver a superior customer experience, Oracle said. Financial terms of the deal, announced Oct. 18, were not disclosed.

The convergence of structured and unstructured information is driving the need for a common data management and analytics platform, Oracle said. And the company is moving to address that. At its recent Oracle OpenWorld 2011 conference, Oracle announced the Oracle Big Data Appliance, an engineered system optimized for acquiring, organizing and loading unstructured data into Oracle Database 11g. Oracle also announced the Oracle NoSQL Database, a distributed, highly scalable, key-value database.

Meanwhile, the combination of Oracle and Endeca is expected to create a comprehensive technology platform to process, store, manage, search and analyze structured and unstructured information together, Oracle officials said.

"The combination of Oracle and Endeca is extremely compelling in this changing data environment," said Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of Oracle Development, in a statement. "Together, we will provide best-in-class technology to manage structured and unstructured data together; business intelligence tools to analyze structured and unstructured data together; and a broad suite of packaged applications which extends the value of unstructured data into ERP, Supply Chain, CRM, EPM, Web Commerce, and specialized applications. This technology will also allow us to integrate more comprehensive unstructured data management into Oracle's engineered systems."

The combination of Oracle ATG Commerce and Endeca InFront is expected to enhance cross-channel commerce, merchandising and online customer experiences. The combination of Oracle Business Intelligence and Endeca Latitude is expected to provide a comprehensive business intelligence foundation and analytic applications, bringing together information from structured and unstructured data sources, Oracle said.

Endeca's core technology, the MDEX Engine, enables enterprises to correlate and analyze unstructured data. Endeca InFront is a customer experience management platform that enables businesses to deliver highly targeted and relevant customer experiences online with advanced merchandising and content targeting tools for Web commerce. Endeca Latitude is a technology platform that enables businesses to rapidly develop analytic applications bringing information from many unstructured and structured information sources together.

"With more than 600 customers relying on Endeca's solutions to deploy unified platforms for search, guided navigation, merchandising and interactive analytics of unstructured data, Endeca is recognized for its unique approach in hybrid search-analytical technology on diverse and changing information," said Steve Papa, CEO of Endeca, in a statement. "We bring successful deployments with large enterprises in key industries such as retail, distribution, media and publishing, government, and manufacturing and consumer packaged goods - many of these customers are also Oracle customers."

In an Oct. 18 blog post, Forrester analyst Boris Evelson, said of the Oracle/Endeca deal:

"This is a very smart move by Oracle. Until the Siebel and Hyperion acquisitions, Oracle was not a leader in the BI and analytics space. Those acquisitions put them squarely in the top 3 spot (together with IBM and SAP). However, until this morning Oracle played mostly in the traditional BI space: reporting, querying and analytics based on relational databases. But these mainstream relational databases are an awkward fit for BI. You can use them, but it requires lots of tuning and customization and constant optimization - which is difficult, time-consuming and costly."

Oracle's acquisition of Endeca is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close before the end of 2011. Until the deal closes, each company will continue to operate independently.

Weblogs, social media feeds, smart meters, sensors and other devices generate massive volumes of data -- commonly defined as Big Data -- that is not readily accessible in enterprise data warehouses and business intelligence applications today.

For its part, Oracle's Big Data Appliance includes an open-source distribution of Apache Hadoop, Oracle NoSQL Database, Oracle Data Integrator with Application Adapter for Hadoop, Oracle Loader for Hadoop, an open-source distribution of R, Oracle Linux and Oracle Java HotSpot Virtual Machine.

"With the explosion of data in the past decade, including more machine-generated data and social data, companies are faced with the challenge of acquiring, organizing and analyzing this data to make better business decisions, said Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Oracle Server Technologies, in a statement.. "New technologies, such as Hadoop, offer some relief, but don't provide a holistic solution for customers' Big Data needs."

In August 2011, Endeca announced native integration of Endeca Latitude with Apache Hadoop. By uniting the reach and agility of Endeca Latitude with the power of Apache Hadoop, agility is achieved for both business and IT, Endeca officials said. Endeca Latitude, based on the Endeca MDEX hybrid search-analytical database, helps unlock the power of Apache Hadoop. Apache Hadoop is adept at manipulating semi-structured data, which is a challenge for traditional relational databases. Thus the combination of Endeca Latitude and Hadoop provides flexibility and agility in combining diverse and changing data, as well as superior performance in analyzing that data.

"Big data isn't just a buzzword, but a legitimate concern for many organizations, across all sectors," said Donald Feinberg, a Gartner analyst, in a statement following Endeca's Hadoop announcement. "There is great interest in the tools to take advantage of a greater opportunity for analysis of all this data because it enables IT leaders not only to focus on the issue of volume, but also the important demands of data velocity, variety and complexity."

Meanwhile, some players in the Big Data and NoSQL space have criticized Oracle for its move in Big Data. One such competitor, Couchbase, voiced its concerns to eWEEK.

"Oracle has historically been cautious about touting new technologies that could be viewed as disruptive to their core business model," said James Phillips, co-founder and senior vice president of products at Couchbase. "The unveiling of their NoSQL and Big Data technology indicates that Oracle is now validating what we at Couchbase have long accepted as the new market reality: there is a fundamental shift in how modern applications are being built, and what those applications need from a data management system. Customers are investing time and money across the -big three' themes in data management - Big Data, NoSQL and mobile - and Oracle clearly doesn't want to miss yet another market shift."

Bob Wiederhold, CEO of Couchbase, added: "To date, Oracle has told their customers that NoSQL is useless or, at best, should be used only for a very limited set of use cases. Despite this, over the past two years, we are unaware of a single, internet application for which Oracle was picked as the database. If Oracle is now ready to join the party on the scalability, performance, and data-model-flexibility advantages of NoSQL, we welcome them. We know firsthand that NoSQL is a huge market opportunity, and Oracle would be missing the boat on a major disruptive force in the database market were they to ignore it."