by Boris Evelson.

I’ve recently conducted research on the issues of VLDB (very large databases) and how it affects BI, since the challenges of reporting and analyzing Gb data sets are very different from reporting and analyzing multi Tb data sets. Among many other interesting findings and conclusions I uncovered the following approaches to handling VLDB challenges as they relate to BI:

Generic solutions by DBMS vendors:

  • Partitioning
  • Share everything vs. share nothing architecture
  • Caching, in-memory databases
  • Materialized views
  • Specialized file systems
  • Indexing (bit-map vs. B-tree)
  • Compression

BI-specific solutions by BI and other vendors:

  • DW appliances
  • ROLAP and reporting tool specific SQL optimization
  • Alternate DBMS (such as search indexes and vector DBMS)

I’d like to hear about other approaches that are used out there. Also, please join me for my upcoming teleconference on the subject: http://www.forrester.com/Teleconference/Overview/1,5158,1854,00.html

Spreadsheets And BI

by Boris Evelson.

I predict that for the foreseeable future, spreadsheets will remain the most widely used enterprise application. The widespread adoption isn't hard to understand — spreadsheets are powerful and flexible, yet intuitive and easy to use and learn. Plus, ad hoc applications and spreadsheet models isolate users from constant reliance on IT and incur low costs. Since the early days of BI, spreadsheets have played a natural and major role in the BI process/architecture, including:

  • Data sources
  • Transformation mechanisms
  • Operational applications
  • Reporting and analysis mechanisms

I recently published a report on spreadsheets and BI, http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/0,7211,41687,00.html, and would love to solicit everyone’s comments on the future of spreadsheets in BI.

Reemergence Of BI

by Boris Evelson.

I've been in the BI business for over 25 years so I've seen many ups and downs in the BI cycle. We are definitely in the "up" cycle these days. I see two main reasons for it:

  1. Enterprises can no longer stay competitive just by squeezing more efficiencies from operational applications – business intelligence applications are needed to become more effective.

  2. Digital data (structured and unstructured) volumes are growing at 30% a year, and will be reaching zetabyte sizes by year 2010 – that’s a number with 21 zeros! Solid BI implementations will be critical to successfully turn that data into useful information.


Does anyone have any comments on where we are in the BI cycle and what are some of the more recent key drivers?

Which Pureplay BI Dominos Will Fall Next And Who'll Be The First To Push Them

by Boris Evelson.

Since Oracle really never competed toe to toe with IBM on applications and BI, the Hyperion acquisition is of a smaller significance for IBM than to other BI vendors. Watch for Oracle to acquire BEA, TIBCO or Informatica to leapfrog IBM in the EAI or middleware space.

It would be logical for IBM or SAP to pick up Cognos (not Business Objects, since it is still going through multiple product integration challenges) as the logical next large BI acquisition. SAP will probably make the first move, and once that happens, the IBM will look at Microstrategy or Information Builders as an alternative BI acquisition.

HP also clearly wants to be a BI player: they recently acquired a top boutique BI Systems Integrator, Knightsbridge, developed an integrated Data Warehousing platform – Neoview, and its NonStop database is used in some of the largest DW implementations. We would not be surprised if the next large BI acquisition comes from HP.

An orthogonal move could come from EMC or Sun, who have been Information Management players for years, with BI being a natural addition/extension. Notably absent from the rumors is Teradata, which in our opinion has to diversify into more layers of the BI “stack” beyond data warehousing to keep its competitive position.

Oracle/Hyperion Merger - Implications To Competitors

by Boris Evelson.

A clear implication of this acquisition is for Oracle’s pureplay BI competitors: Cognos, Business Objects, Microstrategy, SAS and Information Builders, since a combined Oracle/Hyperion BI offering with best of breed components in every layer of the BI “stack” will become increasingly difficult to beat. While many of these vendors were quick to issue statements that they view this transaction as an "opportunity they intend to take advantage of" and that they remain "clear leaders" in the space, it is very clear that they are, as they should be, very concerned of Oracle's new position.

The transaction also has potentially huge implication for Microsoft, which has been giving away its OLAP product, Analysis Services, as part of SQLServer. While Oracle is also packaging OLAP (Express) with its relational database, it was always considered a lower end product to Microsoft. If Oracle decides to bundle Essbase as part of its overall database license, it could make significant cuts into Microsoft’s OLAP market share.

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Oracle/Hyperion Integration Challanges

by Boris Evelson.

It is unclear whether Oracle will integrate, keep separate, or drop one of the clearly redundant products: multidimensional databases, Oracle Express (currently part of Oracle BI Server) and Essbase. However, if and when Oracle creates the same seamless integration they always had between its Express and relational databases with Essbase, it will truly become an awesome analytical database product hard to beat.

However, contrary to Oracle/Hyperion rosy statements of little if any product overlap, Oracle will face obvious and significant integration and product positioning challenges with multitude of overlapping and redundant products: Essbase vs. Express, Hyperion data integration and reporting tools (formerly Brio) vs. Oracle’s (including recently acquired Sunopsis), Hyperion Sales and Marketing Analytics vs. Siebel’s, plus some others.

Oracle's Double Whammy

by Boris Evelson.

For over a year we heard rumors that the dominos of the standalone, pureplay Business Intelligence vendors were about to start falling. We held our breath and took bets whether it was going to be Cognos, Business Objects or Hyperion. With the announcement of Hyperion acquisition Oracle did, again, what it does best — swiftly climed several notches higher on the BI food chain. It's important to note, though, that this acquisition goes a step further and actually repositions Oracle in two, not just one, market segments — performance management and business intelligence.