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DW Platform Evolutions

Analytic Application Platform Models

Analytic applications development platforms usually combines some or all of the following software tools:

  • Data warehouse or Data mart generation
  • Database management
  • Data presentation
  • Security/user rights management
  • Workflow
  • Collaboration tools
  • Templates and wizards

Such platforms enable rapid implementation of analytic applications. By developing on an analytic applications platform, IT departments or systems integrators can focus on their core competency of customizing analytic applications for their clients rather than reinventing the wheel developing and/or integrating core BI and DW components.

There are two main models emerging for provision of analytics applications platforms:

  1. Database Driven Models
  2. Specialty Analytic Applications Driven Model


Database Driven Models

Relational database vendors are including a complete horizontal package that incorporates:

  1. Data warehouse generation
  2. Database management
  3. Access tools

Database vendors have traditionally dominated the DW management function and are now actively moving into the other two DW functions.

Examples of Databases with embedded BI and/or ETL tools include:

  • Microsoft's PerformancePoint Server - SQL Server with multidimensional analysis, basic data mining and reporting services, as well as Data transformation services [DTS] ETL component.
  • Oracle9i - a relational database that includes Oracle9i OLAP and Oracle9i Data Mining. It can also be supplemented with Oracle's Warehouse Builder tool.

The underlying goal of these database companies is to sell their database into the business analytics market to supplement the sale of databases for transaction processing environments.

Relational database vendors position their analytic DBMS platforms for building analytic applications and target both database administrators and application developers with their platforms.


Specialty Analytic Applications Driven Model

These platforms are offered by the BI, ETL and specialty analytic applications platform vendors that have crossed market segments, including:

  • Cognos DecisionStream
  • Business Objects Data Integrator
  • SAS DataFlux

These solutions are all based on acquisitions of ETL tools by BI vendors.

Industry Specific Packages

Many of these BI vendors have entered the analytic applications market with packaged domain and/or industry-specific software products, such as:

  • SAS Supplier Relationship Management
  • Cognos Financial Analytics
  • BusinessObjects Customer Intelligence
  • Informatica Supply Chain Analytics
  • Hyperion Planning
  • SPSS PredictiveMarketing

Analytic applications development platforms that combine various data management tools and development templates and wizards include:

  • Alphablox
  • BusinessObjects Application Foundation
  • Cognos Series 7
  • Informatica Analytics Delivery Platform
  • Hyperion Essbase XTD Application Framework

Such solutions combine various data management, security and collaboration tools with templates and wizards, to allow application developers faster development and deployment cycles for custom build analytic applications.

These vendors are positioned in the market between standalone BI and DW tools and prepackaged analytic applications.


Future Trends

In the future, one could expect relational database vendors to continue to improve OLAP, data mining, reporting and warehouse generation services embedded in the database. They will also provide more sophisticated warehouse management tools with improved performance and more automation.

Database vendors may move up to the prepackaging continuum to provide templates and analytic applications. This is likely to complicate the market, and make vendor strategies more difficult to discern.

The likelihood of this move depends largely on core size and strength. For instance:

  • IBM is unlikely to start providing packaged analytic applications.
  • Oracle, which already has a substantial applications [including analytics] business is likely to continue in that direction.
  • Microsoft is more likely to target both the analytic applications development platform market AND the packaged analytic applications market through its Great Plains applications division.

Packaged analytic applications will become more specialized, along with seamless data integration and presentation for disparate relational databases.

It is likely that the two rival platform models will coexist out of necessity, but consolidation is likely.

  • Oracle, Microsoft and Teradata – all of which have their own applications businesses – are more likely to continue a move into analytic applications.
  • At the same time, except for SAS, which has its own relational database, none of the BI or ETL vendors are likely to enter the warehouse management market.

All this is good and bad news for customers. Bundled capabilities tend to add cost to the application, and often the capability range of individual tools is more constrained than offered in stand alone versions. This means that customers may likley be forced to pay for ETL bundled tools AND have to purchase a best of breed ETL solution to gain all the feature functionality they desire.

This has already occured in the ETL and Data Quality tool market. As more emphasis is being placed on data quality, one can expect more data quality functionality to be incorporated into the next generation analytic platforms, leading to further acquisitions and consolidation. [SAS acquired DataFlux and Ascential acquired Vality].

Other features likley to be embedded in analytic platforms include:

  • Workflow
  • Collaboration
  • Security
  • Advanced Visualisation Development Tools

DW Platform Solutions

Leading Enterprise DW grade platforms include:

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 - significant performance increases over 2005 version.
  • Teradata's 5450 Server - features a boost of 18 per cent in the price/performance ratio over previous models and more powerful utilisation of Teradata's market-leading analytical software.
  • IBM
  • HP - BI and data integration. Neoview product combines HP hardware with a NonStop-inspired massively parallel database.

Next: Determining DW Platform Requirements

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