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Another One Bites the Dust

InfoWorld, one of the first IT trade magazines I started getting way back before Metcalfe was predicting giant Internet collapses , is folding up shop, another victim of the migration of this sort of material online. Really, what use is a weekly news magazine that contains 30% press releases when you can get those same releases online the day they come out, and your tech news as it happens? I stopped getting InfoWorld several years ago when I realized that it and 17 other magazines got read 1 issue out of every 4 and I'd have fifty pounds of recycling every month. I now get one trade and even that may go away.

The most-read elements of these magazines were the occasional feature and the columnists. Most columnists have their own site and make their own ad revenues, albeit probably not the same level of money unless they're really popular.

The only thing I'll miss is that there's a level of editorial control and breadth in trades that doesn't come across from RSS feeds and blogs. I expect someone will figure out the right way to pay reporters and provide industry-related journalistic content online. In the meantime, I'll surf and randomly pick from my links and RSS feeds to keep the diversity of input up. Otherwise I'll end up like people who read Cat Fancy and nothing else. Catminster anyone?


When to Consolidate and When to Federate

The will be on data consolidation versus virtualization and the fact that we're starting to need both in the data warehouse (hence the "hybrid data warehouse" in the title).

On-demand access to current data or operational details requires some rethinking of infrastructure. If we want to physically consolidate the data then we need to rethink the extract mechanisms, schemas, storage models and even delivery interfaces to client applications.

The assumption is no longer true that data should always be stored in a central warehouse database. We have technologies that open up access to whole new realms of data: spreadsheets, files, web pages, messages, XML, images, standard industry formats. Centralizing this content isn’t required to manage the schema and relationships for these things – often it can’t.

Data federation / EII tools provide an option that lets us centralize most of the data, but provide access to information that can't easily be consolidated. Unlike direct access to the native sources, these tools allow us to mediate access and provide a single point of management and reuse.

The webcast will go into some more detail on methods of consolidation and where federated access makes sense. Wednesday at 9:00 AM, Pacific.

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Ze Frank's Last Show Makes People Sad

It's ironic that a show designed to make people (generally) happy can make them feel sad. I'll miss The Show. Final episode yesterday.

Fire Arts Festival in July (and other events worth going to)

The Fire Arts Festival (*fire*, not fine) looks like a pyro's dream conference. I may be in the bay area at the right time, in which case I'm going to try to wrangle a ticket to the event. The pre-conference classes are as interesting as the festival, covering everything from electomechanics to concrete sculpture. Hot damn!

While I'm on the topic of events, South by Southwest (SXSW) is getting started. Another place I wish I could be instead of where I am now. My particular interest is SXSW Interactive - with sessions like "the real story behind snakes on a plane" and "AJAX or Flash: What's Right for You?" there's something for everyone.


TED Conference Happening This Week

A conference you'll likely never attend, TED is a great event. The conference is invite only and it's not cheap at $4000, but they've been kind enough to make audio and video of past events available. Their blog has current news about this year's event. I had the opportunity to go to TED years ago through the fortune of being with someone who knew how to crash exclusive events and it was a great time.

The speakers are uniformly excellent, the ideas and concepts are often thought-provoking, and the people who attend are as interesting as the speakers. If you ever have the chance to attend, go. If not, enjoy the online material. I listen to these during commutes and travels, much like I listen to IT Conversations, another favorite.

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Great Resource for Giving Better Presentations

One of the things I keep an eye out for is good information on speaking and presentations. Today I discovered Presentation Zen, which has a lot of philosophical elements I agree with and practical advice as well. If you want to learn how to improve your presenting skills, this is a worthwhile resource.


Brilliant Boston Followup to Aquateen

First they shut down the city in response to Lite Brites. Then they blow up a traffic counter. When will this Bostonian witch-hunt carnage end? I'm really looking forward to the May TDWI conference in Boston. Maybe I'll bring a karaoke machine for them to explode.

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Oracle-Hyperion Deal, What Happens Next?

Oracle buying Hyperion has sure set the BI industry chattering, mostly because nobody predicted it. It's fairly obvious why they bought Hyperion. What's not clear is what happens next.

Oracle was buying several things:
  • Best-of-breed financial and planning applications
  • A solutions-oriented sales force with access to CFOs and business managers
  • More revenue growth and market share.
This was about applications and minimally about BI, but the reality is that it's all about Oracle growing revenues and customer base through acquisition. The question is whether Oracle can successfully acquire companies the way Cisco managed to during their heyday. Based on the track record with other applications and the delays in product integration, it's a wait-and-see question.

What happens next is the more interesting question for all those Hyperion customers. In the short term, the Oracle fog of uncertainty will descend, resulting in the usual deal-killing slowdown that will hit Hyperion sales while Oracle sorts out the acquisition. There's a significant overlap in products, though Oracle was dismissive of some of their existing products in the press conference.

Expect the financial and planning applications to take the forefront, which means that overlapping Oracle products will be likely pushed into the background. It also means that customers of these applications (and the product engineers) should be safe, as should the sales force given their skill selling BI and planning on the business side of the corporate house.

The status of Essbase is more questionable. Oracle buried Express into the database, so it may be that we'll see Essbase dropped eventually, with features needed by the Hyperion applications migrated into the Oracle OLAP product lineup. Or it may stay where it is. I've seen arguments going both ways but my money is on an eventual end of life.

There's overlap in other areas, like master data management. Unclear whether the overlapping Hyperion or Oracle MDM products will survive. I would bet that reporting tools (mainly Brio) are dead and in the not-too-distant future. It's a no-brainer given all the other BI tools Oracle has.

Once they rationalize business practices we should seem some changes in Hyperion pricing. They're more expensive than Oracle, which might incent Oracle to keep the prices the same. I suspect they will migrate to the model Oracle follows with other product and surprise with (minimally) lower prices.

What happens to Hyperion employees is a different question. Oracle says they'll make a performance management group, and that means the Hyperion sales force stays intact. Product management / engineering employees will have a tougher time. There's a difference in culture between Hyperion and Oracle that could make sticking with Oracle an unpleasant option for a lot of these people. I haven't kept close watch on the Sunopsis employees, but I know of a few who left after that acquisition.

Overall, expect more acquisitions this year in the BI market. SAP still needs to work on this product area. Master data management is lacking at both Cognos and Business Objects and there are plenty of smaller vendors still active.

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