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Colin White

I like the various blogs associated with my many hobbies and even those to do with work. I find them very useful and I was excited when the Business Intelligence Network invited me to write my very own blog. At last I now have somewhere to park all the various tidbits that I know are useful, but I am not sure what to do with. I am interested in a wide range of information technologies and so you might find my thoughts will bounce around a bit. I hope these thoughts will provoke some interesting discussions.

About the author >

Colin White is the founder of BI Research and president of DataBase Associates Inc. As an analyst, educator and writer, he is well known for his in-depth knowledge of data management, information integration, and business intelligence technologies and how they can be used for building the smart and agile business. With many years of IT experience, he has consulted for dozens of companies throughout the world and is a frequent speaker at leading IT events. Colin has written numerous articles and papers on deploying new and evolving information technologies for business benefit and is a regular contributor to several leading print- and web-based industry journals. For ten years he was the conference chair of the Shared Insights Portals, Content Management, and Collaboration conference. He was also the conference director of the DB/EXPO trade show and conference.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Colin's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

January 2008 Archives

This is the time of the year for making predictions for the coming year. I guess I am a little late, but given it's still January (just) I guess it is still okay to add my 2 cents.

During 2007 both vendors and industry pundits said that operational BI and getting BI out to the masses were key directions. There was certainly a significant amount of discussion on these two related topics during the year, but did customers actually succeed in making progress here?

To my way of thinking moving BI out to the masses involves making it easier to use. From this perspective I think 2007 was a failure. Yes, products did make significant progress in supporting Microsoft Office, but did this really solve the usability problem for less experienced users? Are these users really major users of Microsoft Excel, for example? I think not.

There are two models in the market. One is the IBM and Microsoft model, where the emphasis on product functionality and thus complexity. The other is the Google and Apple model where the focus is on usability and agility. The IBM and Microsoft model is important and is likely to be the cornerstone of IT systems and infrastructure for many years to come, but we need to find more user-friendly solutions.

For less experienced users the way to go is the Google and Apple model. This may provide be less functionality and less stability from an IT perspective, but end user acceptance and growth is likely to benefit most from this model.

The issue for vendors and IT is how to marry the two models. Most BI vendors are still committed to the IBM and Microsoft model, and this opens the door to innovative new BI vendors and I believe in some cases open source products. Many software-as-a-service (really applications-as-a-service) analytical solutions are also starting to gain traction because they offer user-friendly options at a reasonable cost.

I think some of the mainstream BI vendors (e.g., Actuate) are beginning to realize that piling more function into older architectures is not the way forward. Hopefully other vendors will soon realize this as well. However, the size of many BI vendors and the number of products they have is working against fast and easy.

My focus for 2008 then is on BI usability. I think the products that can provide this will be the winners.

Posted January 27, 2008 4:36 PM
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We're only 16 days into the new year and already two important acquisitions have occurred: Oracle acquired BEA for $7.85 billion and Sun acquired MySQL for $1 billion.

The Oracle acquisition of BEA is no surprise. The battle for the infrastructure market is now clearly between Oracle and IBM, with Microsoft, SAP and Sun watching from the sidelines. One interesting aspect of the BEA acquisition is that Oracle now has four portal products. I am glad I'm not an Oracle salesperson!

Sun's proposed acquisition of open source database vendor MySQL was more of a surprise. To date, Sun has not been a database player. MySQL is the most popular open source database products on the market, and it is used by several major Web players including Google and Facebook. MySQL claims that 100 million copies of the product has been downloaded and that an additional 50,000 copies are downloaded daily.

The risk for any open source user is that the software can be acquired by a commercial company. The open source license usually ensures that the product source code remains freely available up to the development level at the time of acquisition. Sun says they will continue to develop the product on multiple platforms including Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, and OpenSolaris. Given Sun's commitment to open source (e.g., OpenSolaris, Java System Portal Server/OpenPortal, Glassfish application server) there is no reason to disbelieve them.

One interesting aspect of the MySQL acquisition is that Oracle owns InnoDB, which is a storage engine for MySQL. InnoDB is not a standalone product: it is distributed with MySQL. InnoDB has a contractual relationship with MySQL. It will be interesting to see what happens here.

Posted January 16, 2008 8:02 AM
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