Welcome to Q4! What’s changed since the summer?

Fall is in the air here in Seattle (and most other places in the U.S. and Europe).  We’ve had some lovely, crisp autumn days over the past week.

At the beginning of each quarter this year, I’ve written about topics that I’ll be tracking throughout the year.  With another quarter gone, it’s time for an update.  I’ll split this article into two parts – today I’ll cover work-related topics and next time I’ll look at my other, more personal interests.

Business Intelligence Industry

There are three big (and converging) industry trends:

  • Big Data – everyone wants to analyze immense data sets.  When terabytes of data are involved, traditional DBMS and BI solutions can’t perform adequately, so new approaches are needed.  Vendors like QlikTech pioneered this space, but all the major players are now paying attention.
  • In Memory Computing and Appliances – Oracle’s Exa-whatever family of products competes directly with SAP’s Hana offering.  As with Big Data, the big vendors are chasing some of the innovative smaller vendors (like QlikTech) while also trying to move into the space that Teradata has owned for years.
  • Mobile BI – Apple’s iPad (with some help from the iPhone and Android phones) has brought this sector to prominence.  All of the vendors are racing to provide new offerings (or to emphasize how their old offerings are “mobile ready”).

For my company (and many others) the biggest event of the past several months was Oracle OpenWorld 2011 (although technically it fell in Q4).  I wrote about OOW here, here, here and here.

Meanwhile, SAP finally released BusinessObjects 4, a new major release of their flagship BI suite.  It became generally available on September 16.  It updates their entire suite: Web Intelligence, Dashboards, Crystal Reports, Explorer, the Business Intelligence Platform, and more.  It’ll be interesting to see whether SAP gains any momentum with this new release.  They had lagged behind in Gartner’s most recent Magic Quadrant, in part because the other major vendors had already delivered their major new releases.

For Microsoft, the Denali project now has an official (but not surprising) product name: SQL Server 2012.  It’s scheduled for release in the first half of next year.  Last week, Microsoft jumped on the Big Data band wagon, announcing that SQL Server 2012 will include big data features based on Apache Hadoop. Not surprisingly, they also announced that their mobile BI features will be extended to Apple iPads and iPhones. 

Oracle

In July, I said, “Fusion continues to be delayed – it’s still not generally available – but Oracle continues to tout its promise and its success with early adopters.  I’m still skeptical.”  Now that it’s generally available, it sounds really good.  However, I remain skeptical.  Even if it’s everything it’s claimed to be, will any customers be able to afford it?

On the acquisition front, things have picked up again.  After just one acquisition in Q1 and one more that I wrote about after Q2, Oracle gobbled up five other companies (two that I missed in Q2 and three more last quarter):

  • Datanomic – April – data quality software for risk and compliance screening
  • Pillar Data Systems – June – network storage systems
  • Ksplice – July – an open source provider of Linux kernel extensions
  • InQuira – July – service knowledge management software
  • GoAhead – September — service management software for the communications industry

Can we find any trends or see any future direction from Oracle’s recent acquisitions?  I certainly can’t.  They all seem fairly unrelated – small, targeted niche additions to isolated parts of the product portfolio.  I expect we’ll continue to see more of the same, although I wouldn’t rule out a blockbuster acquisition. 

For now…I’ll leave you with this thought:

New trends in BI provide opportunities for many new niche vendors, but the major players seem quicker than ever in recognizing (and filling) the most important niches.

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