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Business Objects’ stated intention of becoming a $2bn company was never going to be achieved only through organic growth, and it was inevitable that there would be a number of acquisitions along the way, of which the latest is Inxight Software.
Inxight was originally created, in 1996, as a spin-off from Xerox Parc in 1996 and it initially focused its sales and marketing wholly on the OEM market, with two main lines of products: one aimed at textual analysis and search and the other at visualisation. In both of these areas it gained some significant traction: for example, Verity embedded Inxight’s natural language processor into its search technology and SAS did so to support its own text mining capability. On the other side of the fence, Comshare (now part of Infor) was one of the earliest users of the company’s visualisation software (notably, with the fish-eye or spider diagrams that have since become more familiar). Oracle, IBM, SAP and Microsoft are all OEM partners of Inxight as well.
Around the beginning of this century Inxight started to spread its wings and began to market its products directly to end users as well as via the OEM channel. It also gradually extended its product portfolio so that this has now expanded beyond text analysis and visualisation to include federated and desktop search and data cleansing. However, both of these errors can be seen as extensions to the company’s core competency with text so, broadly the company is still in the same two markets it has always targeted: text and visualisation.
So, what does this mean for Business Objects? Well, ultimately it should mean that it can offer a complete federated query and search capability that extends from structured sources such as databases, along with other internal resources, right through to third party environments and sources, including blogs and articles such as this one. However, before these sorts of mashups are available Business Objects will need to integrate its existing federated capability (which it acquired from Medience) with the Inxight technology. This is not that Inxight cannot do mashups right now but that it is a search technology whereas Medience is a query capability. What you really want is both on a single platform.
Potentially, this will put Business Objects in a strong position with respect to its various competitors. Cognos, for example, partners with Composite Software for federated capability and while that is an excellent product (with features that put it ahead of Business Objects’ current capabilities) it does not have the sort of mashup capability that Inxight can offer.
On the other hand, this is probably good news for Denodo, since it is (as far as I know) the only supplier with a federated engine that supports both query and search against both internal and third party (including web-based) data, and this move will validate its market strategy. Equally, this will be good news for those vendors that can hope to pick up the OEM business that Business Objects will inevitably lose, from companies that were not competitors to Inxight but are rivals to Business Objects. Still the bottom line is that this acquisition certainly appears to make sense.