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Oracle and IBM are both competitors and partners. In the case of databases they are certainly rivals, with Oracle 10g and DB2 going head-to-head at many sites. However, it has occurred to me to wonder if Oracle is seeking to rival IBM’s crown as the owner of the most different databases.
IBM, of course, owns not only IMS and DB2 but also Informix, UniVerse, Unidata, RedBrick and Cloudscape which makes seven, unless I have forgotten something. Now, I didn’t really think that Oracle was in this particular competition (it only owned Oracle, Rdb and TimesTen) and CA clearly showed that it was throwing in the towel when it disposed of Ingres, leaving IBM as the clear winner of this particular competition
However, I am now beginning to have second thoughts. Last year Oracle acquired Sleepy Cat Software with its Berkeley DB product and now it has announced that it is buying Hyperion. Oracle, of course, is talking about Hyperion’s strength in the corporate performance management market and Oracle extending its portfolio of solutions in this area. But is Oracle hiding its true intentions? After all, forgotten in all of this is Hyperion Essbase (alright, it’s an OLAP Server but it stores and manages data, which makes it a database), which will take Oracle’s database total up to five, within just a couple of acquisitions of vying with IBM for this coveted market statistic: owner of the most databases.
Seriously, though. While it is the acquisition of Hyperion’s performance management that is rightly getting all of the attention in this acquisition, there are other important consequences to consider: not least, what will happen to Essbase, Brio and Razza? I think that Brio is pretty easy to see: Brio wasn’t doing very well before Hyperion bought it and Hyperion didn’t do very well with it either, so Oracle will cherry pick the bits it likes and ditch the rest.
Razza is a bit more interesting. Razza, if you remember, was the MDM (master data management) company that Hyperion bought to underpin its own solutions. It deliberately underplayed its capabilities because it didn’t want to upset partners such as SAP. But Oracle has no such qualms and could significantly extend its capabilities. On the other hand, Oracle already has its own MDM capabilities in both its Oracle and Siebel product lines, so there is considerable ‘fusion’ to be accomplished in this area.
Essbase is another matter entirely. Oracle did buy IRI Express (aha! 6 databases!) some years ago but never did very much with it as a stand-alone product, though it is now embedded within Oracle as Oracle OLAP. But Essbase is of another ilk entirely: until recently it was the leading OLAP database on the market and it still has a very significant share of that market. Moreover, with some more dynamic marketing and drive behind the product (which Oracle could provide and Hyperion certainly didn’t) it is not inconceivable that it could seriously challenge Microsoft. Moreover, since we are all familiar with Larry’s feelings towards that company, it is entirely possible that that could be the case. I shall await developments with interest.
P.S. For purists, IBM actually also owns O2 as well, but Ardent put O2 to bed when it bought it and that was even before Ardent was acquired by Informix, let alone when IBM entered the picture.