I started using Oracle twenty five years ago. Twenty years ago I started developing data warehousing and business intelligence solution. More often than not, Oracle was the database that was used for the data warehouse over the years. I have always championed their top-tiered database but lamented why Oracle could not build or acquire a top-tiered data integration or business intelligence tool.
Oracle changed that situation today by acquiring Sunopsis SA.
In a letter to customers, Thomas Kurian, Senior Vice President, Oracle Server Technologies, described Sunopsis as “leading provider of high performance and cost effective data integration software.”
When an acquired technology company has overlapping products with its acquirer then there are three distinct scenarios:
Let’s dispel the first scenario for two reasons. First, although Sunopsis does have 500 customers, many of those customers are not going to migrate
to Oracle’s existing data integration products. Sunopsis has customers using Teradata, DB2, Microsoft, Netezza and salsforce.com who are not inclined to utilize Oracle’s data integration products. Second, despite OWB (Oracle Warehouse Builder) dramatic advances in the current 10g R2, Sunopsis is in Gartner’s visionary quadrant with not only ETL (excuse me, ELT), EII (Enterprise Information Integration) and EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) functionality. But MOST importantly it is source and target neutral. Data integration capabilities are most valuable when they can be applied to sources and targets regardless of which vendor’s product it is.
Sunopsis ETL solution, which they market as ELT (Extract, Load and Transform), is built on the premise that the source and target platforms, particularly if they are databases, know best how to transform data. Rather than build an independent ETL transformation engine separate from the database, Sunopsis leverages the
database technology to transform the data. This is why it is a favorite in the Teradata world because it leverages that technology rather than competing with it. This is precisely the approach that Oracle, Microsoft and IBM (before it acquired Ascential) used for their data integration offerings. Their Achilles’ heel has been they are so wedded to their database products that they have not really expanded their offerings sufficiently to match market needs and are generally not seen as vendor neutral in their offerings.
The third option sounds logical especially since Oracle’s letters to customers and partners described the Oracle and Sunopsis products are complementary. After all, combining product lines from two companies is what both Business Objects and Hyperion did when acquiring Crystal and Brio respectively. However, in the case of Oracle and Sunopsis it really appears that both products compete squarely against each other. There is complementary functionality, such as profiling and data quality, that Oracle has recently bundled with OWB 10g R2, that should also be bundled with the Sunopsis offering but in general both are performing ETL (or ELT). The products may be blended
together on marketing PowerPoint slides but one product in engineering terms will have to survive.
So what option does Oracle take?
It would seem the best market and technical move would be to embrace the Sunopsis data integration platform as its strategic offering (just as IBM did with DataStage after its purchase of Ascential.) Also, add the complementary functionality, such as data profiling and data functionality, mentioned above.
Oracle has a lot of products across many domains with many coming from acquisitions.
Oracle’s purchase of Sunopsis may not make the same headlines as a purchase of YouTube, but it potentially could have a much greater market impact on all of us in the business intelligence and data integration industry.