Intelligent moves behind $5.85 billion Siebel deal

I love it when a plan comes together. Take Oracle’s Siebel takeover. We all thought that this was all about acquiring the leading CRM vendor and scotching any aspirations SAP had of enhancing its enterprise suite. Little did we realise that beneath all the dust stirred up by the public warring between the two enterprise giants, Oracle had other plans for Siebel once it got its hands on it – business intelligence.

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By  Colin Edwards Published  April 9, 2006

|~||~||~|I love it when a plan comes together. Take Oracle’s Siebel takeover. We all thought that this was all about acquiring the leading CRM vendor and scotching any aspirations SAP had of enhancing its enterprise suite. Little did we realise that beneath all the dust stirred up by the public warring between the two enterprise giants, Oracle had other plans for Siebel once it got its hands on it – business intelligence.

Oracle refers to Siebel’s analytics offering as the ‘hidden jewel’ of the takeover. Hidden it no longer is, as Oracle has now revealed its grand plan was not just to use Siebel to shore up its CRM offerings. It is making Siebel’s analytics business, which is said to have accounted for 25% of Siebel's sales prior to the takeover, the foundation of its BI solution.

The fact is, Oracle needed to ramp up its BI tools radically if it was to compete with the best of breeds of the BI world – Business Objects, SAS and Cognos. It was also in danger of falling behind SAP’s BI initiatives as well as Microsoft’s march to BI. So it was a win-at-all-costs battle for Siebel.

The results of that win have now been rolled out - very quickly considering the acquisition was only finalised at the end of January - in the form of a complete top-to-bottom BI platform. It’s a move that undoubtedly catapults the company’s BI capabilities to the same level as those offered by the standalone independents.

Analysts say the analytics solution Siebel acquired in 2001 from a small company named Quire is a generation or two beyond what Oracle previously offered in terms of BI. Virtually overnight, Oracle has a best of breed BI platform, which it has released as the Business Intelligence Suite (BIS).

BIS unites Oracle’s business intelligence middleware with Siebel Business analytics. There will be three product editions for Oracle Business Intelligence: Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition is based on the Siebel analytics product set; Oracle Business Intelligence Standard Edition is the new name for Oracle Business Intelligence 10g; and Oracle Business Intelligence Standard Edition One is a scaled down version of the Enterprise Edition for small to medium-sized businesses.

Instead of a somewhat incomplete BI solution primarily targeted at its own user base, Oracle now has a unified, integrated BI infrastructure featuring a comprehensive set of products spanning query and analysis, enterprise reporting, mobile analytics, dashboards and portal technology, integration with Microsoft Office and Excel, intelligent workflow, real-time alerting, Business Activity Monitoring, and more. Oracle Fusion Middleware offers customers capabilities for application development, data integration, and enterprise portals.

BIS also enables users to extend BI across an enterprise. Developed for heterogeneous IT environments, it allows business users to collect and analyse information from Oracle and non-Oracle databases including IBM, Microsoft, and Teradata, and from business applications from Oracle and SAP, among others. BIS Enterprise Edition shares Oracle Fusion Middleware’s hot-pluggable capabilities that let organisations fully exploit the power of any non-Oracle application, data sources, and tools with the BI solution.

With BIS, Oracle is looking to lead the rapidly expanding BI market by using what it has on hand: database, middleware and business applications. The move is part of a whole scenario unfolding in the BI market and one which enterprises will have to address in the future. Software giants Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP are all intensifying their focus on BI as a key component of their total offerings.

While analysts do not see such moves as impacting the standalone independents in the short term, the user base is looking for less complexity in the future and a single platform able to address enterprise, database and BI needs will certainly be attractive. Vendors like Cognos and Business Objects have enjoyed a competitive advantage in the BI market to date by arguing their single focus specialisation ensures best of breed solutions that will always be one-step ahead of the broad-based giants juggling too many balls in the air. But Oracle has proved it can scotch that argument very quickly. You can be sure Microsoft is planning to do the same - though maybe not quite overnight.

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