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Oracle Introduces BI Bundled and Priced for Small and Midsized Enterprises

Oracle BI Standard Edition One answers Microsoft and Business Objects products for SMBs, but is low price and easy installation enough to appeal to neophytes?
Seeking a slice of the small- to midsized-business (SMB) market heavily targeted by both Microsoft and Business Objects, Oracle today announced Oracle Business Intelligence Standard Edition One (SE One), an all-in-one suite based on Oracle's standard BI software but discounted and bundled for easy installation.

SE One is $1,000 per user for five to 50 users and it includes the core Oracle BI Server, BI Publisher for reporting, BI Answers for ad hoc query and analysis and BI Interactive Dashboards. In also includes Oracle Database 10g Standard Edition One and Oracle Warehouse Builder 10g, the latter supporting extract, transform and load (ETL) as well as relational and dimensional modeling and data quality and data auditing capabilities. It's essentially the same software found in the company's flagship Oracle BI Enterprise Edition but packaged in a single-installation bundle and heavily discounted (by $500 per seat) for smaller enterprises.

"What's exciting about this product is that it's a complete BI and data warehousing systems based on enterprise products," said Dave Planeaux, director of BI product marketing. "It's a really good foundation to get started on, and if you grow beyond the scope of 50 users, it's a seamless move to our Enterprise Edition."

SE One contrasts with Microsoft's BI suite in that "it's a complete suite based on proven components," said Planeaux. "If you compare that to what Microsoft has to offer, they have various products you would have to license, none of which are recognized as leading the market."

The product also comes in response to Business Objects, which in February announced the formation of a separate global business unit and three SMB-focused Crystal Decisions BI products (Standard, Professional and Premium). While Oracle's per-user approach tops out at 50 users, Crystal Decisions Standard starts at $20,000 for five concurrent users (good for 50 users, on average), but you can upgrade to ten or 20 concurrent users, so an implementation could support 200 or more users, depending on query and reporting volumes and complexity.

What happens when customers outgrow the SMB products? Crystal Decisions users trade up to Business Objects XI; data and analyses are portable, but it's a separate software deployment. The move from SE One to Enterprise Edition is "basically just a license exchange, so you don't have to reimplement anything," Planeaux said. That's a point in Oracle's favor, but its per-user licensing approach might lead firms with more than 50 but fewer than, say, 75 users to feel penalized, since they'll have to upgrade to the Enterprise Edition license (at $1,500 per user).

Another contrast seems to be the depth of the outreach to the SMB market. While Business Objects has introduced SMB channel programs, separate sales and support staffs, and targeted customer support materials, Oracle could not immediately articulate how it would support smaller enterprises, many of which lack deep IT expertise or experience with BI.

"From a product perspective, the main thing is the single install and bringing these products together under one umbrella," Planeaux said.

An Oracle spokesperson said additional details would be forthcoming on SMB-specific channel and customer support initiatives. Oracle says more than 1,000 companies are now using its Enterprise Edition product, which was released in combined Seibel Analytics and Oracle components and was released in early 2006.

"We've seen interest from smaller organizations and workgroups within larger companies that have been quite interested in our Enterprise Edition, but the minimum entry was a barrier to adopting it," said Planeaux. "This product offers a very approachable price point for any company."