Oracle has outlined its strategy to target the growing data warehousing market, with new products and partnerships that it hopes will allow it to get the attention of small, medium-sized and large businesses.
The strategy calls for Oracle to provide not only the underlying technology for building and managing a data warehouse, but also many of the analytical software applications that allow customers to drill down into their data and extract meaning from it, officials said.
"Oracle is all about the broad picture, about providing the platform to set up and manage a data warehouse, and about the applications that make it useful," according to Gary Bloom, executive vice president of Oracle's system products division.
Oracle hosted its first data warehousing event in 1995, and since then has been accumulating products and technologies by acquisition and through its own development efforts.
One analyst said the market is moving quickly towards "pre-packaged solutions", and Oracle's strategy will allow it to compete effectively against chief rivals IBM and Microsoft.
"Microsoft is doing it through partnerships, and Oracle is doing it by providing some of the analytical applications itself, and they're both perfectly reasonable routes to take," said Colin White, founder of IT consulting firm Database Associates International.
Among its new offerings, Oracle announced Version 2.0 of Oracle Warehouse Builder, a Java-based release of its flagship data warehouse design and management system that includes visual modelling, data extraction and loading capabilities.
"Oracle Warehouse Builder offers a graphic-ally oriented, wizard-based tool that puts all the aspects of data warehousing - designing, creating and managing - into a single product," Bloom said.
The product's extensive use of wizards reduces the amount of code developers must write to build a data warehouse, reducing the cost of implementation for corporations, he said.
Oracle worked with SAP and PeopleSoft to integrate Oracle Warehouse Builder with their enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, allowing data from the ERP suites to be incorporated more quickly into a data warehouse, Oracle officials said.
Oracle also released an "integrator" application programming interface, allowing other ERP vendors to build similar integration capabilities into their own software products.
Targeted at large corporations, Oracle Warehouse Builder Version 2.0 will be in beta by the end of the year, with the full product launch planned for the second quarter of 1999, officials said.
For smaller businesses, Oracle announced Version 2.0 of Oracle Data Mart Suite, a turnkey package for designing and building a data mart.