Oracle talks a good game about the appeal of an optimized, all-Oracle stack. But the company also recognizes that we live in a predominantly heterogeneous IT world.
Witness Oracle Financial Analytics for SAP, a new pre-built application aimed at companies using financial apps from one of Oracle's biggest rivals. Introduced on Monday, the app joins a family of prebuilt analytic applications built on the vendor's Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) platform.
Oracle Financial Analytics for SAP is based on a nearly identical, preexisting app designed for Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards applications. The key difference is in the data integration technology used.
"This is one of the first prebuilt analytic apps we've introduced that uses Oracle Data Integrator [Enterprise Edition], whereas all the other BI applications use Informatica," explained Paul Rodwick, vice president of Product Management, Oracle Business Intelligence.
In all other respects, the SAP version delivers the same financial metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs) and dashboards served up by the original Oracle Financial Analytics app.
Finance managers, comptrollers and analysts in the office of finance get sought-after reports on the general ledger, profitability, payables and receivables. For example, there are prebuilt dashboards and analyses of days sales outstanding, return on equity/assets/capital, payables and bucketed groupings of receivables.
And as in the Oracle-app-focused version, Oracle Financial Analytics for SAP gives line-of-business and division managers prebuilt KPIs and analyses for year-to-year and unit-to-unit performance comparisons.
Oracle could have simply added an SAP data integrator to its existing Financial Analytics App. But it apparently sees value in marketing a separate product aimed at enterprises wedded to SAP as their financials platform.
In fact, Rodwick said Oracle will eventually consolidate the Financial Analytics Apps into a single product that will span Oracle apps, SAP and perhaps other financial applications. That product will let customers choose either Oracle Data Integrator or Informatica's technology for data integration.
"This was an opportunity for us to take the first step and bring SAP customers into the fold," he said.
Indeed, SAP and Oracle aren't just competing on the applications front. They're also trying to get heterogeneous enterprises to choose their respective BI platforms as the companywide standard.
SAP had a head start in that BusinessObjects was the top-selling BI vendor and boasted many integrations with leading enterprise applications even before it was acquired in 2007. Thus, SAP BusinessObjects has a long list of integrations into Oracle products including direct connectivity and ETL-style data integrations for PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel and Oracle Enterprise apps.
To deliver the kind of analysis provided by Oracle's new prebuilt Financial Analytics app, SAP can point to its own financial analytic apps and to its in-memory technology, as featured in the Business Warehouse Accelerator, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer and the just-release Hana appliance.
Rodwick counters that OBIEE now exploits Essbase, the popular OLAP financial analysis engine (acquired with Hyperion in 2007), as well as techniques such as optimized caching to deliver speedy, what-if analysis.
And when teamed with Oracle Exadata, the vendor's integrated hardware/database appliance, "OBIEE delivers incredible performance, scalability and speed-of-thought responsiveness," Rodwick said.
Long story short, both companies are trying to bolster the appeal of their BI platforms as a standard. Prebuilt apps, appliances and, yes, playing well in heterogeneous environments are all essential ingredients of success -- no matter what anybody says about the vision (our should we say fantasy?) of single-vendor stacks in the enterprise.