Oracle Acquires RightNow Technologies for $1.43 Billion

Less than a week after its $1.1 billion acquisition of Big Data player Endeca, Oracle announced plans to acquire RightNow Technologies for $1.43 billion. RightNow Technologies delivers a cloud based technology platform that enables enterprises to deliver enhanced customer experiences with a product via the web, social media and call centers. The RightNow Technologies “Contact Center” platform empowers service representatives with data and solution options for customers calling with questions or complaints. Similarly, the RightNow Technologies web solution empowers companies to optimize the web experience of their customers to optimize conversions and obtain optimal web support. The Boston based company’s Social Experience offering enables enterprises to monitor and refine their branding on Facebook and other social media sites.

The deal represents Oracle’s largest acquisition since Sun Microsystems in 2010 for $7.4 billion. Oracle’s acquisition of RightNow Technologies consolidates its emerging public cloud offering and positions it to compete squarely against Salesforce.com, the market leader in sales management technology that leverages cloud based solutions. In September, Gartner positioned RightNow Technologies within the leader quadrant of its Magic Quadrant for CRM Web Customer Service.

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Oracle Continues Big Data Push With Endeca Acquisition

On Tuesday, Oracle announced plans to acquire Big Data player Endeca just weeks after unveiling its Big Data appliance featuring Apache Hadoop and an Oracle NoSQL Database. Endeca’s proprietary MDEX technology powers two products: (1) Endeca InFront; and (2) Endeca Latitude. Endeca InFront enables users to understand customer trends and histories by examining online pages viewed, search terms and conversion rates. Endeca Latitude delivers a business intelligence platform for running analytics on structured and unstructured data.

According to Endeca’s website, Endeca Latitude claims the following differentiators from traditional BI solutions:

• No Data Left Behind:
Endeca Latitude incorporates a range of structured and unstructured data including unstructured data from web searches and Facebook and Twitter feeds in addition to traditional, relationally structured data.

• Consumer Ease of Use
Whereas traditional BI is based around reports and dashboards, Latitude’s analytics are delivered through interactive, web-based applications that provide a greater range of user drill-down and customization options.

• Agile Delivery
Endeca Latitude claims faster customization of its product to enterprise requriements than that of its competitors Autonomy and Attivio. Moreover, Endeca Latitude allows for iterative refinement of its analytics through its interactive application that enables enhanced collaboration between technology and business stakeholders.

One of the distinctive features of Endeca’s MDEX analytics engine is its lack of a data schema. Instead of a predefined data model, MDEX leverages a Faceted Data Model in which the schema emerges and morphs in relation to the characteristics of the data. Endeca InFront will be integrated with the Oracle ATG commerce engine to deliver analytics that improve online customer experience and conversion rates. Endeca Latitude will take its place alongside Oracle’s suite of BI tools and its forthcoming Big Data Appliance to analyze massive amounts of structured and unstructured data.

According to a June press release, Endeca “was used to power one of the largest eDiscovery clusters in the world exceeding 20 billion objects for interactive discovery – comparable in size to leading web search indexes of a few years ago.” The company’s customers include IBM, IEEE, Toyota, Ford, Walmart, The Home Depot and The U.S. Department of Justice out of a total of 600. Oracle did not disclose the terms of the acquisition of the Cambridge, Massachusetts based company although GigaOm reports that Endeca took in $65 million in venture capital over the course of four capital raises. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.

Battle for Big Data Heats Up As Microsoft and Oracle Announce Hadoop-based Products

The battle for market share in the big data space is officially underway, with passion. At last week’s Professional Association for SQL Server Summit (PASS), Microsoft announced plans to develop a platform for big data processing and analytics based on Hadoop, the open source software framework that operates under an Apache license. Microsoft’s announcement comes roughly ten days after Oracle’s unveiling of its Big Data Appliance that provides enterprise level capabilities to process structured and unstructured data.

Key features of Oracle’s Big Data Appliance include the following:

•Software
–Apache Hadoop
–Oracle NoSQL Database Enterprise Edition
–Oracle Data Integrator Application Adapter for Hadoop
–Oracle Loader for Hadoop
–Open source distribution of R

•Hardware
–Oracle’s Exadata x86 clusters (Oracle Exadata Database Machine, Oracle Exalytics Business Intelligence Machine)

Oracle’s hardware supports the Oracle 11g R2 database alongside Oracle’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux version and virtualization based on the Xen hypervisor. The company’s announcement of its plans to leverage a NoSQL database represented an abrupt about face of an earlier Oracle position that discredited the significance of NoSQL. In May, Oracle published a whitepaper Debunking the NoSQL Hype that downplayed the enterprise level capability of NoSQL deployments.

Microsoft’s forthcoming Big Data platform features the following:

–Hadoop for Windows Server and Azure
–Hadoop connectors for SQL Server and SQL Parallel Data Warehouse
–Hive ODBC drivers for users of Microsoft Business Intelligence applications

Microsoft revealed a strategic partnership with Yahoo spinoff Hortonworks to integrate Hadoop with Windows Server and Windows Azure. Microsoft’s decision not to leverage NoSQL and use instead a Windows based version of Hadoop for SQL Server 2012 constitutes the key difference between Microsoft and Oracle’s Big Data platforms. The entry of Microsoft and Oracle into the Big Data space suggests that the market is ready to explode as government and private sector agencies increasingly find value in unlocking business value from unstructured data such as emails, log files, twitter feeds and text-centered data. IBM and EMC hold the early market share lead but competition is set to intensify, particularly given the recent affirmation handed to NoSQL by tech giant Oracle.