The barrage of recent announcements coming from Oracle Corporation about the upcoming series of releases known as Oracle9i have focused largely on its abilities as an Internet-ready platform for transactional applications. Oracle9i has many other capabilities of interest, especially in the realm of business intelligence (BI). Here follows a brief inventory of BI products and capabilities that are coming in releases of Oracle9i Database and Oracle9i Application Server (iAS).
- Reporting. Oracle Reports, a perennial favorite among Oracle developers for reporting, is now part of the iAS package, but not available separately in Oracle9i.
- Ad hoc query. Like Oracle Reports, Oracle Discoverer is also part of the iAS package with Oracle9i releases.
- Online analytic processing (OLAP). Oracle9i Database sees the completion of Oracle Corporation's plan to select certain functions of the Express OLAP server (obtained via the acquisition of IRI Software in 1995) and recreate these in the Oracle database. Maintenance releases of Express are still available separately.
- Data mining. Oracle9i Database has data mining capabilities embedded within it, no doubt drawn from Darwin, a data mining tool obtained through Oracle's acquisition of Thinking Machines more than a year ago.
- Recommendation engine. One of the many "holy grails" in e-commerce is to recommend products of affinity to customers in real time as they shop online. Oracle Personalization makes this possible for Oracle9i-based Web sites because it is embedded in Oracle9i Database, where data mining algorithms can run close to massive data sets.
- Web data analysis. The clickstream generated by Web servers contains lots of useful information, but panning for nuggets in this massive flow is very difficult. Oracle Clickstream Intelligence processes Web data to enable site traffic analysis, customer profiling and real-time recommendations.
- Extraction, transformation and load (ETL). Many of the ETL functions Oracle picked up through its acquisition of Carleton, as well as new ones, are now in Oracle9i Database.
- Warehouse administration. Instead of separate point products for warehouse data modeling, meta data management and ETL, Oracle Warehouse pulls all these together in one administrative console.
THE HURWITZ TAKE: Lest we forget, the "i" in Oracle9i stands for Internet. Oracle8i's focus on supporting Internet standards with scalability and reliability made it a leading platform for Internet-based applications. Oracle9i continues this focus by adding or more closely integrating functions outside the transactional requirements of Internet applications. This includes BI, which is part of successful e-business initiatives, and absolutely required to achieve revenue lift in e-commerce.
Oracle9i is clearly built for the Internet and so are its BI functions. The BI pieces inventoried above collect and process Internet data, respond in real time to Internet applications and deliver information to users with browsers via Internet standards. Oracle9i also has numerous features that contribute greatly to Internet-based BI, namely: static and dynamic caches of Web pages, dynamic Web content, support for all Internet standards, tight integration with Web servers, wireless information delivery and portal development and deployment capabilities. Hurwitz Group's inventory of BI capabilities reveals that Oracle9i includes an end-to-end Internet-based platform for BI.
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