Will Customers Stick With Oracle Express?

Vendor outlines plans for OLAP database and applications.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 9, 2002

2 Min Read

Oracle's plans for its Oracle Express online analytical processing multidimensional database, and the sales and financial-analysis applications that run with it, are becoming clearer. But the vendor may be moving too slowly to hang onto its customers.

Oracle acquired Express, Oracle Sales Analyzer, and Oracle Financial Analyzer in 1995 from Information Resources Inc. Earlier this summer, the vendor shipped Oracle9i version 2 with built-in OLAP capabilities. That's left some 3,500 companies that use Express--most of which also use the sales and financial apps--wondering how long Oracle will support the older products and what kind of migration assistance it will provide.

chartA new application combining the sales and financial analyzer apps, tentatively called Enterprise Planning and Budgeting, should be ready by the end of the year, says Marianne Slight, Oracle's analytics solutions director. The new application will use Oracle9i's OLAP features and will have workflow-integration and complex variance-analysis capabilities and an allocation engine for budget calculations.

The new product will have links to other Oracle software, such as customer-relationship management and project-management applications, making it easier to extract data for analysis. (Links between the sales and financial apps and other Oracle applications are limited, although Oracle Financial Analyzer can extract data from Oracle's general-ledger application.) Building links to applications from other vendors also will be easier, Slight says. A second release in mid-2003 will have migration tools for users of Oracle Sales Analyzer and Oracle Financial Analyzer. Oracle will support Express and the sales and financial products with new releases at least through 2006, Slight says.

But analysts say Oracle is taking too long to execute the OLAP plans it outlined in October 2000. "To expect customers to stay loyal for close to three years isn't realistic," says Nigel Pendse, editor of The OLAP Report. The 2000 announcements, he says, "also made it very difficult to sell the 'dead man walking' OLAP products to new customers."

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