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Oracle Plunges Into BI

The business intelligence software suites integrate Oracle's database, Fusion middleware, and analytics software.

Oracle Corp. pushed into the business intelligence software sector on Wednesday with three bundled products branded as the Oracle Business Intelligence Suite.

The software suites integrate Oracle's database, Fusion middleware and analytics software. The new product line also adds analytics software Oracle acquired through the Siebel Systems acquisition that closed earlier this year. Rick Schultz, vice president of Oracle Fusion Middleware Product Marketing, said more than 25 percent of Siebel's business came from analytics.

Understanding the data has become the biggest challenge, especially for buyers, analysts said. Oracle, SAP AG, Microsoft Corp. and other software companies offering data-capture applications have taken notice. Some have gradually stepped in to compete with those focused solely on BI. Many generate nearly $1 billion in revenue. Common BI integration tools come from Business Objects, Cognos and MicroStrategy.

When BI tools are added to the predictive analytics software, companies can share, compare and analyze data across departments and entire organizations. "We're able to integrate the information generated by BI products into existing business applications and other Fusion middleware products, such as the Oracle BPEL Process Manager, a tool for orchestrating business processes, so users can see the information as they make decisions," Schultz said.

The Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) market will reach $23 billion in 2006, up from $22.2 billion in the prior year, according to AMR Research. Within that segment, BI software and services is forecast to rise 10 percent to $6 billion this year, the research firm said.

No doubt. Oracle's move "poses a threat" to companies focused solely on BI applications, said John Hagerty, research vice president at AMR Research Inc. "During the past five years companies have moved from wanting to collect the data, to gaining insight from the data," he said. "With that strategy, Oracle is aiming for the hearts and minds of the overall SAP business user."

SAP AG has taken a similar path, but different road. Hagerty said SAP is integrating intelligence and analytics into the applications, such as supply chain, customer relationship management (CRM) and financials.

SAP surrounds their applications stack with reporting and analysis, whereas Oracle considers the applications stack and the data, Hagerty said.

By year's end, Oracle Business Intelligence Suites will support SAP's warehouse management application, said Christina Kolotouros, director of Oracle BI Product Management. "The applications also will integrate tightly with Microsoft Office," she said.

Both the Enterprise Edition and the Standard Edition are available now. The Enterprise Edition costs $1,500 per user. The Standard Edition costs $400 per user.

The Standard Edition One, meant to compete with Microsoft Corp.'s enterprise applications geared toward small and midsize businesses, will roll out after June 1 this year.

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