Is Oracle BIEE 'Plus' Really a Benefit? - InformationWeek

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8/11/2009
03:21 PM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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Is Oracle BIEE 'Plus' Really a Benefit?

There is little question that since Oracle's acquisitions of Hyperion and Siebel, the vendor has evolved into a major BI player. Its core BI revenues grew 17% last year, and it has gone from a second-tier player three years ago to now a solid number three... While everything would seem to look rosy in Oracle's BI world, two blemishes are its complex BI tool portfolio and a delay in OBIEE 11g...

There is little question that since Oracle's acquisitions of Hyperion and Siebel, the vendor has evolved into a major BI player. Its core BI revenues grew 17% last year, and it has gone from a second-tier player three years ago to now a solid number three (according to IDC figures). Its analytic applications -- which offer prebuilt dashboards, reports, and data models for E-business Suite, PeopleSoft, Siebel and, recently introduced, J.D. Edwards -- are unmatched by its three closest competitors. While everything would seem to look rosy in Oracle's BI world, two blemishes are its complex BI tool portfolio and a delay in OBIEE 11g.

Oracle has a "protect, extend, evolve," policy, meaning if you were on Hyperion System 9 prior to the Oracle acquisition, you can safely continue to expand your deployment on that platform. The vendor has announced lifetime support for all the Hyperion and Oracle Standard Edition BI products. In fact, the "plus" in "OBIEE Plus" is that it includes Hyperion Interactive Reporting (formerly known as Brio) and Production Reporting (formerly known as SQR); Essbase meanwhile is a separate license (see this evaluation for clarification on modules and strengths and weaknesses).In many respects, lifetime support is great for customers who really can't afford the cost and complexity of converting Interactive Reports to Answers (the lead ad hoc module in OBIEE) queries and reports. But are customers just delaying the inevitable? And are they wasting resources in the interim? The bigger question in my mind is why any customer would actually buy and deploy legacy technology for which better alternatives exist, from the same vendor nonetheless. There may be some features in Interactive Reporting that do not exist in Answers, but newly deploying both products seems to introduce unnecessary complexity and a higher cost of ownership. The capabilities in Production Reporting versus Publisher, meanwhile, are so vastly different that the "which module" question is an even harder choice here.

The product mix gets so confusing that some Oracle Hyperion customers have simply deferred any major BI decisions until 11g comes out. OBIEE 11g was originally slated to be released about now, but it has been delayed until early next year. A delay of six to nine months is not that big in the software world, but it will make it two years since Siebel Analytics / OBIEE customers will have seen substantial enhancements. In a market in which other BI vendors seem to be on a six- to nine-month major release cycle (which is clearly too fast for customers to absorb), it does beg the question (that Global CIO director Bob Evan's debates here) of how much customers are getting for their maintenance fees and whether 11g will have been worth the wait.

The bigger question here is not which BI tool are you using, but rather, what business problems are you are solving with it? So on that note, if you haven't yet taken our successful BI survey, don't forget to share your insights here.

Regards, Cindi Howson, BI ScorecardThere is little question that since Oracle's acquisitions of Hyperion and Siebel, the vendor has evolved into a major BI player. Its core BI revenues grew 17% last year, and it has gone from a second-tier player three years ago to now a solid number three... While everything would seem to look rosy in Oracle's BI world, two blemishes are its complex BI tool portfolio and a delay in OBIEE 11g...

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