Monday, March 05, 2007

Oracle swallows Hyperion

In a poetic mood, perhaps, Oracle Corporation is taking over Hyperion Solutions.

But it's a hard fit to make sense of it in the context of Greek mythology. The Delphic Oracle was a divine presence; Hyperion was a god, father of Helios the sun, and the twain never met.

Oracle is best known as a database company, maker of the eponymous Database Management System. However, it has been on the warpath in recent years, expanding its reach into all areas of database and business software.

Hyperion is a software company, focused on Business Performance Management and Business Intelligence products.

A few short years agon, Hyperion took over the Business Intelligence company Brio Software.

Brio once had a nifty little desktop client (back in version 6) called Explorer. It was particularly good for two reasons.

First, it could actually operate standalone. It didn’t need server-side software to dish up databases or functionality. It could provide querying, analysis and reporting on anything you could configure via ODBC (or import). This could be a database (such as Oracle), but it could also work on an excel file – or even a text file.

Second, you could create a .bqy file that could operate as a standalone application with data behind it. Once the file was refreshed during the day, the sales manager could take it home over the weekend, and query and analyse that data, if necessary via a high-level user interface that duplicated the functionality seen in web browsers (eg listboxes, dropdown menus).

I don’t know if the new version of Brio (now called Hyperion Intelligence) has that functionality. But I know Oracle bought Hyperion for its Business Performance Management capabilities, not Business Intelligent. Oracle already has its BI tools – such as they are – and may not be interested in the Brio tools it acquired in the process of swallowing Hyperion.

And right now, I’m longing for some decent standalone software that I can use as a database query, analysis and reporting tool. And I’m remembering HP who swallowed Compaq who swallowed Digital, who had a few nifty products at the time.

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