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Ted Kemp
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All In One

Want that one, big database and analysis package that can handle all your BI work? I wouldn't advise holding your breath, but we're closer now than we've ever been.

If you're the type of business intelligence pro who's longing for that single tool that can serve as both database and analytics package in one, the fulfillment of your dreams might've drawn a little closer in the last week.

Sometimes the highly anticipated, oft delayed release of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 seems as distant, mysterious and interminably stretched out as the place for which it's code-named: "Yukon." (No offense to my many Canadian readers -- the actual Yukon happens to be magnificent. We're still waiting to see if Microsoft can live up to that with its new database.)

Still, Microsoft drew a little closer to the release with its third Community Technical Preview of Yukon's code, announced this month. SQL Server is potentially important to the BI world not just as a data storage apparatus, but because it's expected to include bulked-up analytics, reporting and OLAP functionality. The latest code drop includes Microsoft's new ActiveViews report-builder.

Not to be left behind, of course, Oracle countered with its own news on the database and analytics front. The Giant of Redwoods City announced Oracle Business Intelligence 10g, a standalone BI tool that features, query, reporting and analysis with dashboard features. Capabilities also include direct access to Oracle OLAP from within Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. You can get the skinny on that product here.

Oracle's new debut builds on its OracleBI Discoverer 10g product, which drew potshots from competitors like IBM when Oracle began talking it up at the turn of the year.

We polled our readers (in our admittedly unscientific, Web-based way) on the question of database makers and analytics last year, and got some interesting results. In October, 38 percent of readers said they expect databases to someday offer built-in analytical functionality that's sufficient for their needs by itself. Thirty-four percent said it'll never happen. Look for us to return to that question later this year.

Speaking of readers' opinions, here's a look at the results from the last Business Intelligence Pipeline poll: Enterprise Information Integration (EII) isn't going to eradicate the fine art of data warehousing, but it might take a bite out of it. Thirty-five percent of respondents to our latest vote said EII either will or might replace their data warehouses, while only 10 percent ruled out such a displacement. Almost a quarter expect to use EII and data warehouses together in the future. A third of readers said, "EII? What's EII?" If you were one of those people, you can learn more about EII and how it works here.

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