Diversity Rules At Gartner's 'Megavendor' Comparison - InformationWeek

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3/10/2009
05:47 PM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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Diversity Rules At Gartner's 'Megavendor' Comparison

With a show of hands at the "Comparing the Megavendors" presentation here at the Gartner BI Summit, attendees made it clear that giants IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have their collective tentacles into nearly every enterprise. Attendees also made it clear that they are in no rush to consolidate on just one vendor.

With a show of hands at the "Comparing the Megavendors" presentation yesterday at the Gartner BI Summit, attendees made it clear that giants IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have their collective tentacles into nearly every enterprise. Attendees also made it clear that those tentacles are often intertwined and that they are in no rush to consolidate on just one vendor. The Maryland Ballroom here at the Gaylord National Harbor conference center was pretty much full for the Megavendor presentation, with many people standing at the back and along the sides of the room -- a good indication of the popularity of this topic. (Gartner says 730 people registered for this event, but my count of seats in the lunch and breakfast hall would put the figure closer to 500.) Aptly named analyst Bill Hostmann served as emcee of the session, and his colleagues James Richardson, Neil Chandler, Donald Feinberg and John Van Decker presented vendor assessments of IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP Respectively.

Richardson detailed IBM's considerable portfolio, noting the minimal overlaps between the information management elements and the Cognos BI suite. The only ding was IBM's lack of applications and the open question as to how it will respond to what Oracle and SAP are promising to do in bringing BI into their enterprise applications.

Chandler described Microsoft's recent abandonment of PerformancePoint Server as "a significant shift" that leaves a [planning and performance management] "gap in its end-to-end capabilities." Nonetheless, Microsoft's move to add dashboarding, scorecarding and analytics into SharePoint, he said, was a huge benefit for BI, complementing Microsoft's strategy of offering "good-enough BI for the masses."

Oracle's extensive stack is very strong, said Feinberg, with its popular DBMS no doubt being its strongest positive. The only ding noted was Oracle's collaboration capabilities, but Feinberg said those, too, had recently been upgraded. Feinberg also noted that Oracle should now be thought of as a hardware vendor as well as a software supplier given that Exadata is sold and serviced though Oracle and not HP.

Van Decker praised SAP for coming out with detailed product roadmaps after describing it as the consolidation "poster child" for its overlapping acquisitions in the area of performance management (including Pilot, OutlookSoft, and Cartesis by way of Business Objects). A supporting slide listed four "cautions" for SAP in the areas of BAM, content analytics, search and collaboration -- more cautions than for any of the other vendors.

"If you could say one thing to your vendor anonymously, what would you say?" Hostmann asked the audience. A Business Objects customer piped up, "I'd tell SAP that Business Objects' service went into the toilet when they took it over and it hasn't come out yet." A Cognos customer said, "I'd tell them they need a better presentation layer -- particularly the charting." An Oracle customer complained about maintenance costs. A Microsoft SQLServer customer said, "I need to be able to connect to multiple data sources and I need to do it now."

Hostmann also asked for a show of hands on various questions: "How many are using Oracle database?" Big show of hands. "How many have SharePoint?" Another sea of hands. "How many people think software maintenance costs are too high?" All hands on deck! "How many would consolidate on one vendor if they promised tight integration of their software?" Only a few hands went up, suggesting tepid interest in putting all of one's eggs in one vendor basket.

As if to underscore this last point, the three finalists for Gartner's annual Business Intelligence Excellence Awards presented their case studies today. Finalist GE Rail Services relies on the combination of Informatica, Data Mirror, Teradata, SAS, Hyperion and Business Objects. The Social Security Administration has an IBM DB2 operational data store, an Oracle data warehouse, and Oracle BIEE and Information Builders WebFocus on the front end. The US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command uses SAP BW, Oracle databases and Cognos BI.

If you ask me, vendor diversity isn't going away any time soon.With a show of hands at the "Comparing the Megavendors" presentation here at the Gartner BI Summit, attendees made it clear that giants IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have their collective tentacles into nearly every enterprise. Attendees also made it clear that they are in no rush to consolidate on just one vendor.

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