Oracle is badly confused about analytic technology, and indeed long has been. It would be tough for me to coherently explain why without being, well, confusing. So I’ll just list a series of data points, which hopefully should suffice to illustrate the point.
- Classic BI tools have at various times fallen under the purview of the app dev tools group and the app server group.
- Data mining, stemming from a Thinking Machines, Inc. acquisition, is under a whole other group on the East Coast.
- That group is now collocated and somewhat integrated with the group that oversees the MOLAP database capability, which came in via a different Boston-area acquisition (IRI/Express).
- While Oracle brags of its integrated BI stack, enterprise reporting is an exception.
- Discoverer 1.0 (Oracle’s original BI tool), was one of the most impressive new products I ever saw. But then BI technology at Oracle almost stagnated. The reason seems to have been largely a series of platform ports – client/server, Java client, thin client, etc. Other BI vendors faced the same problems, however, and they now have products generally agreed to be ahead of Oracle’s.
- Oracle didn’t seem to have a coherent analytic apps strategy even before the Peoplesoft acquisition, which obviously just confused things further. (Of course, neither does SAP, really, Dennis Moore’s passionate insistence to the contrary notwithstanding.)
- ETL/data integration is of course a historical Oracle sore spot.
That’s even before getting to Oracle’s problems in data warehousing itself, where it can’t beat Teradata and DB2/mainframe at the very high end, and low-cost options like Netezza are a looming threat as well.
What’s particularly ironic is that some of Oracle’s core marketing pitches have a lot to do with analytics. The whole integrated stack story? Doesn’t make much sense when you’re only talking OLTP; only with analytics in the picture is it coherent. The whole scalability story? A few huge websites and the like aside, that’s mainly about data warehousing now.
Obviously, Oracle has the potential to be a titan in analytics. But it doesn’t have its act at all together yet.