As some of you may know, I have a huge passion for travelling the world. In my spare time, I love to plan my trips to exciting countries or cities and dream about a possible six-month journey, starting with the Trans-Siberia Express. And strangely enough, I see some parallels between planning my international travel and the developments that are currently happening at Oracle.
When I’m planning such a trip, I start to think about the destination of my journey: what is my goal? For example, for our last holiday we wanted to visit the country of origin of my family-in-law, Slovenia, and have a cultural but also sunny holiday (so we combined it with a visit to the south of Croatia). As their goal, Oracle has decided that a strong move into the business analytics domain was required. Perhaps this was triggered additionally (as I can imagine) by remarks from Gartner that they were lagging behind in the data discovery area.
The components of the journey
When the goal is clear, it’s time to think about specific components that would like to include in your journey and that would contribute to its purpose. In our case, which places to visit, which means of transportation we would use and on which timeframe we would go. Oracle has also defined the components that were needed to reach their goal.
In October 2011, the launch of Exalytics was announced (see also our previous blog, written during Oracle Open World in San Francisco). Exalytics is an engineered system for In-Memory analysis with strong visual tools in order to really dive into large amounts of data. As Gartner (February 2012) says: “The system is designed to support high-performance BI and performance management use cases with the intention of improving the performance, scale and speed of reporting, analysis and planning applications.”
In February this year, the purchase of Endeca “a leading provider of unstructured data management, web commerce and business intelligence solutions” (Oracle press-release) became official. By adding the Endeca Latitude Business Intelligence software to the Oracle BI platform, Oracle aims to enable its users to analyze both structured and unstructured data with one user interface. In the market, the responses to this acquisition were very positive, for example: “Gartner believes that this is a forward-looking acquisition that will have significant impact on the company’s business analytics future.” (Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, February 2012).
A third component is the release of version 184.108.40.206 of the BI Foundation platform (including OBIEE), that was announced last week. This release contains an enhanced interface for reports and dashboards which enables more user interaction during analysis of data, improvements in the mobile interface and the integration with Exalytics.
Anticipation of the result
After you’ve thought of the goal and the components that contribute to that goal, it’s all about anticipation. For example, I’m travelling to New York in April and last weekend I was already reading the Lonely Planet (maybe old-fashioned, but I still love it as part of the fun of planning a trip) and looking for suggestions for nice restaurants online. For Oracle, the components for their move into the data discovery and business analytics domain have been acquired or developed. The question is how it will all come to together. Mark Rittman already afforded us a glance behind the scenes in his recent blog series on Endeca: “You can imagine this as an interesting type of integration – the Endeca Latitude-style data discoverery interface with search, faceted navigation, tag clouds and so on, coupled with BI components such as graphs, tables, pivots and so forth sourcing jagged data from sources such as social media feeds, product catalogs, ERP data, analytics data from a warehouse and so on – all running at high-speed on an Exalytics box.”
Mark Rittman has also included a nice overview picture of how the analysis of big data (structured and unstructured) eventually can be distributed to the users via the Exalytics machine, where they can do in-memory analysis using the new visualization options and publish reports on this.
(“Oracle’s Structured and Unstructured Data Management Systems” – source: www.rittmanmead.com/2012/02/oracle-endeca-week-where-does-endeca-fit-with-oracle-bi-dw-and-epm)
So, the anticipation is officially there: Oracle’s journey into the business analytics area. As with all my journeys, I can’t wait to see the result and experience it.