In the continued annual fall barrage of conferences, this week Oracle Open World and QlikTech QTUnsummit has some big BI news to share. Although these are not heavily implemented solutions for my little biz, I do like to keep a pulse on them and play with their offerings from time to time. I also know my customers may have these solutions in their BI portfolios. Many companies have a lot of BI tools in the mix. One customer shared that they had 19 different BI tools – variety is  the real-world BI reality.

Oracle BI News

Typically my Oracle projects involve existing customer Oracle data sources such as the relational database or Hyperion Essbase. I do like Oracle Data Miner but I don’t see much of it. I have been keeping a pulse on Oracle Exalytics, Endeca and OBIEE for a whille.  Since Oracle now has preconfigured BI VMs, I have been meaning to revisit OBIEE again soon – especially to test combining it with Tableau, Microsoft and other Data Discovery solutions.

This week at Oracle Open World, one of the key announcements was around Oracle  12c In-Memory Database and M6 Big Memory Machine with 32TB of DRAM. You can watch the key note highlights if you want to hear their pitch. SAP HANA and SQL Server 2014 Project Hekaton both have similar In-Memory Database offerings. Oracle’s added in-memory, column-store for Oracle databases is across all platforms, not just Exadata. Like SAP Hana and SQL Server 2014, Oracle’s column-store capability will be side-by-side the existing on-disk row-store. Sure seems like SAP, Microsoft and Oracle are all singing the same tune to me. I do know all these database vendors are seeing market take share pressure from Hadoop, MongoDB, MySQL, Google Big Query, Amazon RedShift and other cloud and open source technologies that have skyrocketed the past few years. I certainly won’t forget the “partnership” announcement earlier this year between Microsoft and Oracle – it was nothing short of totally shocking if you know the history between these two companies.

Oracle also had a lot to say about Cloud like every other major vendor does. Oracle introduced 10 Cloud services including some BI in the Cloud for interactive dashboards on the web and mobile devices. They set the stage with trends driving IT – Internet connected device and machine logging. I heard that a lot at Microsoft with Azure too. We saw Internet device and machine logging begin to emerge as a trend when Splunk growth exploded. This will only continue to grow with all the major vendors wanting a piece of that logging and event analytics big data.

On the BI specific front, a few other newsworthy items include:

  • Exalytics T5-8 hype started…expect to hear much more of it
  • Oracle Planning and Budgeting Service Cloud with GA in 2013
  • Endeca will be integrated into the E-Business Suite and OBIEE
  • Oracle Business Analytics in the Cloud is planned for 2014
  • Oracle Mobile BI apps were showcased heavily  and they are HOT
  • EPM and Planning mobile apps are a work-in-progress

Qlik BI News

Next on to Qlik QTSummit. Here I must add a huge disclaimer that I am not a fan of Qlik.  I am usually rough on them because of I don’t care for their intense misleading sales tactics,  scripted development experience, QVDs and so on. I do know that people out there like the Qlik solution so I will try my very best to buffer my comments and stay open minded being a vendor neutral implementer.

I will say that just the fact that Qlik is  overhauling their entire experience and platform in vNext is an admission of needing to significantly improve their offering. I have not seen Qlik vNext yet but it will be interesting to see the new version and test the differences in user and developer experiences.

Qlik is heavily spinning  vNext as “Natural Analytics” playing up being outdoors in nature in all their analyst interviews and marketing imagery. The Natural Analytics story sounds similar to the “Analytic Journey” story Tableau has been telling and winning customers over with for a few years.  Tableau truly does have a beautiful analytic journey today that is intuitive and deep, the best in user experience of all the Data Discovery tools (yes, I try them all or almost all of them) and application design is what differentiates Tableau from all the look-alikes. The challenge for Qlik is not to become another look-alike that lacks great user experience. Simply marketing the same story with a different label will not fool savvy BI buyers.

Now reading analyst blogs, I see the Qlik is saying their flavor of Natural Analytics is based on persona mapping, designing Qlik for  different mindsets and skill levels from novice, explorer, achiever and collaborator. The concept is to align  product capabilities and user interface to fit into the needs of those personas. This is a little unique. I have seen similar designs with Microsoft Excel Power Pivot, Power Pivot Advanced and the pro-version SSAS Tabular mode so it is not entirely new.  Again it will be interesting to see what this looks like when released.

Other interesting tid bits from QTUnsummit include:

  • Tweets about smart vizzes. I assume this means Qlik added predictive features into views to compete with the likes of Spotfire, SAP Lumira with R and the recent news of Tableau 8.1 R integration.   It could also mean guided analytics, or something else “smart”…
  • Tweets about an HTML5 mobile-first, design once, deploy anywhere UI with automated data adaptation.
  • Tweets about Story Telling. Now Tableau, SAP and Qlik are all pitching this Story Telling, a nice way of saving your specific views with some text context for presentations.
  • Tweets about a Qlik Marketplace. Microsoft has awesome Office Web Apps, SAP has a markeplace but not sure it works well with SAP Lumira- the API is clunky, Spotfire ??? and I wish Tableau had a marketplace for developers to build add-ins. I guess the Tableau JavaScript and TDE APIs offer some of that.
  • The early adopter release of Qlik vNext will be rolled out to a small group of customers in 2013.  A quite different “strategic phased approach” for rolling out vNext to other customers includes cutting support for Qlik v11 after 3 years. This kind of bold move by a BI vendor typically invites customers to shop around for other BI solutions if the platform migration requires rework and heavy migration investment. All the major BI vendors that have been through platform overhauls like this  usually offer investment funding to offset customer rebuild spend. When a BI platform overhaul happens, the other BI vendors jump on the window of opportunity to start calling into those accounts with hopes to win them back.  The short 3 year support time frame for Qlik v11 is a surprise.   See another blog here on that shock factor. While with Microsoft in 2012, when I talked about sunsetting  products or features I was sharing that news with a 10 year support cycle. I can’t even fathom what those conversations would have been like with a short 3 year support cycle. Those chats are rarely pleasant with 10 years of continued support. We do live in a world of rapid and continuous cloud release cycles. Qlik may be one of the first BI vendors to start a new reduced support cycles trend.
  •  The “feature release cycle choices” are also new. Qlik customers will now have to pick from two feature release choices – either get three feature updates a year or  only one per year.
  • Qlik is forming a Customer Success Framework to help with this transition  presenting it as a warm fuzzy best practices thing. In reality, that is a “save market share during transition” thing. Much like other BI vendors going through major platform transitions to the cloud or otherwise, the final Qlik destination may be worth the waiting, wondering and what will it take to get there. Usually that process is unnerving even for the most loyal customers. The other vendors will pounce on that FUD to take market share.
  • Cloud ??? What I was expecting to hear but I did not was Qlik Cloud. Qlik is the only Data Discovery vendor now that does NOT have a real Cloud offering – only an IaaS type offering in the Cloud today.  I guess after vNext is rolled out, maybe then they will pitch a real Cloud BI offering. We shall see.

*UPDATE: There is mixed messages/information in the market right now about Qlik vNext Professional Desktop Client. Some folks are saying that it only will have a HTML5 client. *Respected BI Industry analyst, Fredrik Tunvall pinged me on Twitter 1/22/2014 letting me know Qlik is confirming that they will have a desktop client.  Thanks Fredrik!