Oracle unveils BI suite

Oracle Wednesday unveiled a suite of business intelligence (BI) tools and applications that folds in analytic technology from Siebel Systems as part of an effort to go up against Microsoft -- from the low end of the market up through the enterprise level.

With the new Oracle Business Intelligence suite, the company -- which has traditionally focused on getting data into the database -- hopes to expand to analyzing that data to help executives make operational decisions, said Charles Phillips, Oracle's president.

"We want to create a more unified view of information [and] consistent information models across the enterprise," he said. "We want to move from reporting results historically to optimizing the business. You really want to learn more about your business... so you can modify the processes as you need to."

Phillips detailed three new BI bundles -- all of them available now -- at an event in New York City. The first bundle, called Oracle BI Standard Edition-1, is an entry-level suite that includes a database, an extract, transform and load tool, query and analysis tools and dashboards. The Standard Edition includes Oracle's Discoverer tool for ad hoc query, reporting and analysis and a Microsoft Office add-in tool. The Enterprise Edition will include an analytic server, query and analysis, dashboards, reporting and analytic applications.

Phillips said Oracle's suite will differ from rivals' BI tools because Siebel created its analytic software as a non-application-specific product line. Oracle was surprised to learn that 25% of Siebel's revenue license comes from analytics, he said. Siebel's analytics users include large companies like Johnson & Johnson, Wachovia and United Healthcare Services, Phillips said.

Henry Morris, an analyst at IDC, who spoke at the event, said the announcements indicate Oracle is expanding its market focus from BI tools designed for skilled analysts to analytic applications that walk business users through a decision process. Through its acquisitions of Siebel and PeopleSoft, Oracle now is one of the few vendors that has a claim over the database, enterprise software and analytic technologies needed to build analytic applications, he said.

The bundles now place Oracle as a direct competitor to enterprise BI vendors such as SAS Institute, Business Objects and Cognos, Morris said.

Thomas Kurian, senior vice president of Oracle server technologies, said the new suite will tie together best-of-breed products on top of a common metadata model and a common user interface. That will allow users to get more consistent reports and results from analyses of data sources across the enterprise.

In addition, Oracle's new dashboard tools are designed to guide users to business operations that need attention and provide suggested actions, he said. The new suite also includes an enterprise service bus to allow companies to add real-time data feeds to a data warehouse.

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