Will Business Intelligence Software Move to Appliances? - InformationWeek

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4/29/2009
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Will Business Intelligence Software Move to Appliances?

SAP-Teradata alliance, IBM's plans and Oracle-Sun deal all point to BI bundles on top of data warehouse appliances.

An alliance announced April 27 between SAP and Teradata goes beyond integration of SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse and the Teradata database. The integration part is good news for joint customers who are getting by with customized integrations of the two data warehouse environments. But the alliance also points to what is likely to be a growing trend in data warehousing and business intelligence: the bundling of BI software onto data warehouse appliances.

Looking beyond support for the Teradata database, which will happen with the next release of SAP BW, the two vendors are "exploring many other opportunities to more closely integrate," says Miles Stephenson, Teradata's vice president of alliances. "We wouldn't preclude some sort of a bundle... and we've actually looked at several of the packages that SAP BusinessObjects has put together as industry solutions."

From SAP's perspective, working with Teradata makes good sense. Nearly half of SAP's top 100 customers run Teradata. What's more, BusinessObjects was the number-one BI tool running on top of Teradata even before the BI vendor's acquisition by SAP. As for the possibility of a joint appliance with bundled BI software, "Teradata obviously has a lot of strength in the appliance space, and it was one of the very first appliance vendors," comments Tim Lang, vice president of product management at SAP BusinessObjects. "SAP isn't new to appliances either, as we've had our Business Warehouse Accelerator technology for a number of years."

In fact, SAP and Teradata may be responding in part to IBM. IBM has let it be known, and in an interview with Intelligent Enterprise in early March it acknowledged, that it will make its BI and information integration software available as modules. These modules will run --preconfigured and preinstalled -- on top of the InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse appliances.

"Customers will be able to say, 'I want this E-Class Balanced Warehouse on a pSeries server, and I also want the IBM Cognos module, the InfoSphere Information Server module and maybe the Optim data retention module as well," says Bill O'Connell, IBM's data warehousing CTO. "The appliance would be shipped to the customer data-load ready, with everything installed and configured, further expediting time to value for our customers."

So it's apparent that data warehouse appliances are likely to give way to complete data warehouse and BI appliances. But with its pending deal to acquire Sun Microsystems, Oracle is talking about taking one-stop shopping for hardware and software to even greater extremes, adding in applications as well as information infrastructure.

The trend goes beyond data warehousing and BI. It's about prefab data centers, ready to plug in and go with minimal systems integration and the promise of faster, lower cost deployment.

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