Andy on Enterprise Software

Oracle buys Sunopsis

October 11, 2006

It has just been announced that Oracle has bought Sunopsis, one of the few remaining independent ETL vendors.  Since Oracle’s existing ETL tool (the rather inaccurately named “Data Warehouse Builder”) is pretty weak, this makes a lot of sense for Oracle.  I suspect that their statement about “integrating” the two tools will involve much use of the delete key for the Warehouse Builder code. Sunopsis is a good product, a French company that had been around for some time but had recently made more visible market progress in the US.  No numbers are public, but my information is that Sunopsis revenues were about USD 10M and the purchase price was just over USD 50M, which at a price/sales ratio of over five makes a quite healthy price for the company.  Sunopsis was 80% owned by the founder, who had spurned venture capital, so this is very good personal news for him also. 

Sunopsis made a virtue of using the DBMS functions where possible rather than re-inventing transformation code, so is particularly compatible with Oracle (or other relational databases). This deal should also put paid to the loose marketing relationship Oracle had with Informatica. 

In my view this is a rare case where the deal is good for both companies.  Oracle finally gets a decent ETL capability and Sunopsis gets Oracle’s massive sales channel. 

3 comments so far

Andy,

Your observation about the acquisition making sense for both sides rings true. Several years ago Oracle might have wasted the opportunity to leverage the acquired technology by replacing it with its own product. But Oracle no longer lives by the “not invented here” syndrome and will cannibalize their own products when appropriate. It is a win/win because Oracle obtains a better technology and Sunopsis get outs from under the “who are you” constraint imposed by many IT purchasing agents today.

Although Oracle PR says that the products are complementary, your description about them being similar in architecture, .i.e. no database independent transformation engine, is really how they compliment each other. From a functionality perspective, they are not complementary but competitive. It is likely that either Sunopsis will supersede OWB Oracle Warehouse Builder) or the “combined” products will primarily be based on Sunopsis. With either scenario, Oracle should be able to guide their existing customers smoothly along the migration path towards a converged product.

OWB has made great strides as evidenced by its latest release but it seemed to be handcuffed by being an Oracle product. Based on my own experience from many years ago when I was in the software engineering group within Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) – and feedback I have had with IBM and HP software engineering architects – it is easy for “niche” products within a larger organization to have to conform to the dominant product(s) rather than breakout on their own. My guess is Oracle saw the opportunity in data integration as too important to be constrained by it database. Sunopsis brings the heterogeneous dimension of data integration to IT customers, whether existing Oracle customers or not, that many of them need.

Rick Sherman

Ps: I enjoy your blog

Andy,

Your observation about the acquisition making sense for both sides rings true. Several years ago Oracle might have wasted the opportunity to leverage the acquired technology by replacing it with its own product. But Oracle no longer lives by the “not invented here” syndrome and will cannibalize their own products when appropriate. It is a win/win because Oracle obtains a better technology and Sunopsis get outs from under the “who are you” constraint imposed by many IT purchasing agents today.

Although Oracle PR says that the products are complementary, your description about them being similar in architecture, .i.e. no database independent transformation engine, is really how they compliment each other. From a functionality perspective, they are not complementary but competitive. It is likely that either Sunopsis will supersede OWB Oracle Warehouse Builder) or the “combined” products will primarily be based on Sunopsis. With either scenario, Oracle should be able to guide their existing customers smoothly along the migration path towards a converged product.

OWB has made great strides as evidenced by its latest release but it seemed to be handcuffed by being an Oracle product. Based on my own experience from many years ago when I was in the software engineering group within Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) – and feedback I have had with IBM and HP software engineering architects – it is easy for “niche” products within a larger organization to have to conform to the dominant product(s) rather than breakout on their own. My guess is Oracle saw the opportunity in data integration as too important to be constrained by it database. Sunopsis brings the heterogeneous dimension of data integration to IT customers, whether existing Oracle customers or not, that many of them need.

Rick Sherman

Ps: I enjoy your blog

[…] We start with a couple pieces on Oracle’s purchase of Sunopsis (news item on ZDNet), the latest in a series of purchases for them. On Andy on Enterprise Software offers Andy Hayler’s analysis: Sunopsis’s Data Conductor product is superior to Oracle’s Warehouse builder, and will supersede it. […]



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