Special to DM Review

New York - Oracle held an event in Manhattan Wednesday to roll out the new Oracle Business Intelligence Suite, with three editions for different users and a roadmap of products for users of PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards and the Oracle Business Suite.

The BI Suite is open, standards-based software that the company says is also "hot-pluggable" to any number of third-party applications and databases. The suite grew from the combination of Oracle (Fusion) BI middleware and Siebel analytics. "Our middleware business is doing great and we're going to roll our BI business in alongside of it," Oracle President Charles Phillips told a crowd of about 500 customers, investors and analysts in a midtown hotel ballroom. He later told reporters BI presented a potential "billion dollar business" for the company.

The suite is offered in three major bundles: Oracle Business Intelligence SE-1 (for SMEs), Oracle SE (Standard Edition) and Oracle EE (Enterprise Edition). Thomas Kurian, who drove Oracle's Fusion middleware business, will head up the BI business as well. Following the conference Kurian told reporters and analysts the suite was "about a 55/45 percent" mix of Siebel and Oracle products. From Siebel came the analytic engine, dashboards, sensing capabilities, mobile alerting and offline analytics. "To that we added Oracle's reporting technology, business activity monitoring, a BPEL process engine, our portal, our identity and security layer." All the products are available in the enterprise edition.

Besides the "hot-pluggable" architecture, which allows organizations to use the suite with a preferred database, portal or other application, Kurian says "legless deployment" allows prepackaged dashboards to be modeled and dropped on both existing and customized schemas. A second feature, federated query, allows data from a customized source to be "bridged" into analysis with data warehouse or transaction sources.

IDC analyst Henry Morris told DM Review that the federated query capability came with Siebel and is "key" to Oracle's strategy of aligning acquired product lines and working in heterogeneous IT environments. "The Siebel technology idea of federated query is designed to be used in a federated environment, not just in an Oracle environment. So it kind of fits in the mix of what they are going to do."

Oracle said the project is big enough to require a dedicated sales force for the BI suite product, backed by a dedicated team of BI consultants. Phillips said Oracle customers using other BI platforms would need to see incremental value from the Oracle BI Suite before committing, but predicted that a desire for enterprise standards and lower cost of ownership would bring many around. "They already have our database as an enterprise-wide standard, they may have our middleware as a standard, they would go naturally into business intelligence if we can cover enough of the platform and I think we do now," Phillips said. "I think we cover more ground than anyone else does."

IDC's Morris said that while Oracle needs to maintain and rationalize its current mix of homegrown and acquired products, the BI suite is a handy ramp to up-selling as well. "Since BI apps are growing at over 10 percent per year, it obviously has Oracle's attention. Even though it wasn't the driving force for their acquisition of Siebel or PeopleSoft, the timing is excellent."

Oracle Business Intelligence Suite SE-1 is priced at $25,000 and available next year. Oracke SE and EE editions are available now, priced at $400 and $1,500 per named user respectively.

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