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Software // Information Management
Commentary
1/6/2005
11:49 AM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
Commentary
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Quiet For Now

Oracle and Microsoft want to own the business intelligence functionality that most customers now separately integrate into their databases.

Last month Oracle CEO Larry Ellison openly talked about something that's undoubtedly unpleasant for storage management vendor Veritas, a former ally of the database giant. Veritas' software is "very expensive," Ellison said, and Oracle will, therefore, build its own storage management functionality into its upcoming 10g database upgrade.

Ellison was speaking at Oracle's OpenWorld show in San Francisco, a forum from which he's been known to issue a verbal barb or two. This year, he appeared to spare the standalone business intelligence software makers, whose products now work hand-in-glove with Oracle databases. But when the next OpenWorld rolls around -- or maybe the next one after that -- I won't be surprised if Ellison takes a shot or two at the BI guys.

At the 2001 show, the Oracle chief said his BI partner Business Objects was "living on borrowed time" as a technology integrated into the Oracle installed base. He backed off that kind of talk about business intelligence vendors last month. But that's only because Ellison has gotten wiser about what not to say, not more truthful about Oracle's real hopes.

Oracle -- like Microsoft -- wants to eventually lay claim to the business intelligence functionality that most enterprise customers now separately integrate into databases and data warehouses. BI is an increasingly important part of the software stack, and the big database players are going to want to own it. To that end, witness Oracle Business Intelligence 10g, a free-standing BI tool anticipated this quarter. Its debut will follow a slew of BI-related advances built around SQL Server that Microsoft announced in September.

Ellison and Oracle still don't really know if their BI technology will fly on its own. Neither, for that matter, does Microsoft. So for now, they're holding back on declaring their databases' liberation from the standalone BI vendors.

The most recent Business Intelligence Pipeline poll question indicated, in its admittedly unscientific way, that Microsoft and Oracle are far and away the two databases of choice among our readers. Thirty-six percent of readers pointed to Microsoft as the database maker that most supports their business intelligence projects; Oracle was right there too with 35 percent of the vote. IBM stood at 15 percent, more or less tied with the 14 percent of readers who responded "other."

No huge surprises there. But what those numbers say to me is that Oracle and Microsoft both have a real chance -- and that's only a "chance" -- to claim a meaningful portion of the BI market on their own. Their technology's already sitting inside BI practitioners' data centers.

But Oracle and Microsoft aren't really talking about it. Not yet.

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