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Oracle adds analysis tools to e-commerce software

The software maker is revamping its database and e-commerce software to include analysis tools to help managers and executives make business decisions.

Oracle is revamping its database and e-commerce software to include analysis tools designed to help managers and executives make business decisions.

The database software maker traditionally sold its analysis software separately but has decided to integrate that software into its database and e-commerce products to make it easier for companies to analyze their data, an Oracle executive said.

Oracle later this month plans to update its application server with two data analysis tools built in. Oracle Discoverer and Oracle Reports allow businesses to generate and view simple reports on corporate data, such as quarterly sales figures by region or date. An application server is software that acts like a traffic cop between Web browsers and back-end computing systems, such as databases.

The company also has upcoming plans for Oracle 8i. By the first half of next year, Oracle plans to incorporate two higher-end analysis tools into its flagship Oracle 8i database software, allowing companies to examine business information, seek out patterns and trends, and predict the future, said Jeremy Burton, Oracle's senior vice president of product marketing.

Analysts say that Oracle's including data analysis tools with its e-commerce and database software is a smart move and will allow the company to better compete against its rivals. Oracle competes against IBM, Microsoft and others in the database market. Other rivals include BEA Systems, the Sun-Netscape Alliance and dozens of others in the application server market. Recent studies show Oracle is the market leader in both markets.

The data analysis--or "data warehousing"--tools are part of a larger Internet software strategy that Oracle plans to unveil in late June, an Oracle representative said.

International Data Corp. analyst Carl Olofson said building the analysis tools inside the application server and database engines will allow Oracle's customers to examine their data and generate reports faster.

"Now you can perform a calculation within a database. It reduces network traffic," Olofson said.

Oracle's Burton said the company will include its Darwin software with the database technology that performs "data mining" by examining business information and seeking patterns and trends, such as online buyers' preferences. Oracle is also incorporating Oracle Express, software that can make for forecasts and predictions for the future, Burton said.

IDC's Olofson said Microsoft has already bundled some of its data analysis tools into the current version of its SQL Server database.

"There's a little bit of one-upsmanship going on," Olofson said. "Basically, when you buy SQL Server, you have a starter kit for business analysis, allowing you to build rudimentary reports. Oracle is responding to that."

In related news, Oracle today announced plans to build software tools that will support a new XML-based standard that will allow different data analysis tools to work with each other. XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a Web standard for data exchange.

Oracle this summer will release a developer's kit allowing software makers to build software that links Oracle's products with software from other companies, Oracle executives said. Oracle this fall will ship management tools--called One Meaning--that will allow businesses using the new XML-based standard to manage information.