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Oracle Announces Long Awaited BI Upgrade

OBIEE 11g integrates relational and OLAP analysis, clarifies product roadmap and adds controls to take action on business intelligence.
Tapping administrative capabilities developed for Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Database, OBIEE 11g relies on Oracle Enterprise Manager 11g as a single point for managing and monitoring BI system performance, scalability and security. Oracle also exploits its business process management and applications know-how by embedding an Action Framework feature into OBIEE 11g. The framework lets users initiate business processes or Web services directly from reports or dashboards. Other BI systems have the ability to publish alerts and deliver Web services calls, but independent analyst Cindi Howson of BI Scorecard said the capabilities in 11g stand out.

"Users can define actions associated with dashboards or reports that can then invoke processes or Web services," Howson said. "Other BI vendors have notifications, but OBIEE lets the user decide what to do about them."

Critiquing Oracle's 11g announcement, competitor SAP BusinessObjects noted the lack of in-memory analysis capabilities, unstructured data analysis options (used in sentiment analysis applications) and on-demand (Software-as-a-Service) offerings. Howson summed up the benefits of in-memory technology as including what-if scenario planning, speed-of-thought analysis and flexible data exploration. Oracle has long delivered solid what-if planning with Essbase, she said. "OBIEE 11g is not fully there on providing speed-of-thought analysis, but caching compensates and support for Times Ten is a start," she said.

On flexible data exploration, Howson noted that only some in-memory products -- among them QlikTech QlikView and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer -- support open data exploration while others require prebuilt cubes or predefined exploration paths, which puts them in the same boat as OBIEE in terms of flexibility.

Summing up, OBIEE 11g clearly wraps up the Hyperion acquisition, making Essbase and Hyperion Financial Management the go-forward products and first-class citizens within Oracle's BI and performance management strategy. OBIEE also trades on administrative-, process- and application-management strengths that other BI vendors either don't have or have yet to exploit.