Mark Hurd spells out Oracle's analytics vision

Oracle is staking a big claim in business analytics, from software to hardware appliances

Oracle rolled out a series of announcements aimed at portraying itself as the industry's dominant player in business analytics on Wednesday, as well as one relevant to customers of rival SAP.

The company foreshadowed its intentions last month, posting a general outline of Wednesday's announcements on its website. Oracle co-President Mark Hurd provided more specifics on the news during a webcast event Wednesday from the OpenWorld conference in Tokyo.

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Hurd framed his remarks around the perils and promise held in ever-increasing amounts of digital information. "The amount of data on the planet is just huge," he said. "I have bad news. It's going to get worse."

"The true question is how to get the right information to the right person at the right time to make the right decision," he added. "This is hard."

Hurd cited the example of an airline gate agent who has to determine which passenger should get the last seat on an overbooked flight.

"That decision will change the relationship between me and that airline for life," he said. "If you give it to somebody else and force me to sit waiting for three or four hours for the next flight, I'll probably never forget it. If you have to make that kind of decision hundreds of times, it's important to get it right. That's why this next generation of analytic systems are so important."

To that end, Oracle made a series of product announcements on Wednesday that highlighted the company's range of analytics software as well as its Exalytics machine, which like SAP's HANA platform, uses in-memory processing for high performance on analytic workloads.

One Oracle announcement concerned Hyperion EPM (enterprise performance management) 11.1.2.2. Despite what its name suggests, the update is far from a point release, delivering many new features and enhancements, said Paul Rodwick, vice president of product management for Oracle BI, in an interview before Hurd's speech.

New features include application modules for project financial planning and account reconciliation; integration with Exalytics; a revamped user experience; and new tie-ins between Hyperion Data Relationship Management with Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1 and Fusion Financials, allowing "faster and easier integration of chart of accounts and other financial master data across ERP applications," Oracle said.

Also Wednesday, Oracle announced Endeca Information Discovery, a result of last year's purchase of Endeca. The system allows users to comb through structured as well as unstructured data in iterative "model-as-you-go" fashion, according to a statement.

That capability is combined with "a user experience born out of consumer e-commerce," Oracle said. The platform is being used for purposes such as analyzing insurance claims and social media "sentiment analysis," according to Oracle.

Endeca Information Discovery will be certified for Exalytics by midyear, according to a spokeswoman.

Oracle also announced a pair of specialized applications SAP customers can use to analyze spending and procurement as well as supply chain and order management.

Other announcements Wednesday included two new analytic applications for Oracle systems. One helps manufacturers glean insights into their operations, while another allows companies to analyze their use of enterprise assets, such as vehicles and equipment.

SAP does not take Oracle lightly but is in fact having great success against its rival, particularly in replacing Hyperion with its own Business Objects EPM software, said Sanjay Poonen, SAP president and corporate officer, global solutions, in an interview prior to Oracle's announcement.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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