Business Intelligence Vendors Woo With Speed

posted on 1/17/2012 2:36:53 PM

Companies in the market for BI software in coming months will find their options enhanced by the speed at which they can receive business insight, two recent vendor announcements indicate.

For business intelligence software buyers, one characteristic may dominate their purchase decisions in the coming years: speed.

Like any enterprise application, business intelligence (BI) software depends on the interplay of presentation techniques and raw computing power. But BI apps have traditionally demanded more than their fair share of hardware to crunch voluminous data sets and churn out the business insight that companies crave—from sales projections, to what-if product planning scenarios, to nuanced customer trend reports. In the years ahead, the big change in BI software is likely to be the speed at which the software can dispense this intelligence. After much talk over the past couple of years, that evolution is decidedly underway, judging by two announcements last week from a pair of BI market leaders.

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Oracle, which entered the business intelligence market in earnest in 2007 with its acquisition of Hyperion, announced its TimesTen In-Memory Database 11g Release 2. The latest update to the company’s in-memory relational database “introduces new functionality to support analytic applications with real-time in-memory data management,” Oracle said in a statement.

Oracle has slated the in-memory database for integration with its forthcoming Exalytics offering, a heavy-duty server optimized for high-volume processing. It will also support the company’s BI application, according to the vendor.

“This new release enables Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite to achieve up to 20x response time improvement,” the statement said, “and up to 5x more data to be stored in-memory with advanced columnar compression capabilities.”

Oracle referred to what it called “speed-of-thought visualization,” the ability to query the BI system and receive nearly instantaneous answers. Longtime Oracle rival SAP has ascribed the same characteristic to its own in-memory technology, dubbed HANA. And SAP’s announcement last week is another indication that this speedy new technology will play into many BI software purchase decisions in coming months. After initially pegging HANA for €100 million in fourth-quarter sales, SAP revealed that its in-memory database had raked in €160 million in revenue.

And while both vendors are eager to re-purpose their respective in-memory technologies in other enterprise applications, business intelligence software is the early battleground in this new contest of speed.

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