PeopleSoft Preps Data Warehousing Push

Company positions new version of Enterprise Warehouse as an analytic tool for non-PeopleSoft applications and data

PeopleSoft Inc. this week announced an upgrade to its Enterprise Warehouse analytic software. On balance, Enterprise Warehouse v8.8 boasts very little in the way of new features, but, analysts say, nevertheless marks PeopleSoft’s most ambitious attempt thus far to market its data analytic platform for use with non-PeopleSoft applications and data.

James Tucker, director of product marketing with PeopleSoft’s enterprise warehouse product group, says that the current revision of Enterprise Warehouse—which is an upgrade from version 8.3—boasts a new administration portal along with several additional canned analytics. “What we’ve added to that mix is enterprise service automation content and predefined ETL maps. We’ve also extended the data model and provided additional business metrics for IT organizations that are defining resource utilization for service-oriented products.”

Enterprise Warehouse first shipped in early 1999. Shortly thereafter, PeopleSoft matched it with a powerful extraction, transform and loading (ETL) component—PowerMart—from data warehousing specialist Informatica. The upshot, says Mike Schiff, vice-president of data warehousing and business intelligence with consultancy Current Analysis Inc., is that in Enterprise Warehouse, PeopleSoft markets a compelling data warehousing solution with powerful analytic capabilities. The irony, he points out, is that very few people, including PeopleSoft’s own users, are aware that it exists.

“They have some very good technology there. The problem for them is marketing. Almost everybody knows that SAP has a warehouse, [but] PeopleSoft’s Enterprise Warehouse is relatively unknown, even within the PeopleSoft installed base.”

PeopleSoft’s Enterprise Warehouse messaging contrasts sharply with that of SAP America Inc., which has aggressively marketed its own Business Information Warehouse (BIW) as a data warehouse and analytic solution for non-SAP applications and data. Like PeopleSoft, SAP also bundles an ETL tool, courtesy of business analytics specialist Ascential Software, with BIW.

For his part, PeopleSoft’s Tucker says that Enterprise Warehouse 8.8 changes all of that. “The power and the benefit of our Enterprise Warehouse solution is that not only does it do all of your operational reporting, but you can extend the analytic capabilities to complement other [non-PeopleSoft] applications.”

The rub, suggests Aaron Zorne, research director of application delivery strategies with consultancy MetaGroup’s Silicon Valley Research Center, is that neither Enterprise Warehouse nor BWI have picked up much traction as data-warehousing solutions in non-PeopleSoft and non-SAP environments, however. “Both of these products [Enterprise Warehouse and BWI] are virtually unknown outside of their [respective vendor’s] installed bases. [Enterprise Warehouse] is almost invisible as a potential data warehousing platform for a company to build out its analytics.”

Not surprisingly, Current Analysis’ Schiff doesn’t expect that many non-PeopleSoft shops will deploy Enterprise Warehouse any more than non-SAP environments will implement BIW. Instead, he suggests, existing customers will exploit the availability of both warehouses to extend analytic capabilities to other applications and data. Enterprise Warehouse, for example, integrates more than 1000 analytic functions, including financial analysis, risk analysis, product analysis, and regional analysis metrics.

If PeopleSoft follows through on the promise of its AppConnect initiative—which proposes to leverage its Enterprise Portal, Integration Broker and Enterprise Warehouse, along with a series of middleware adapters, to facilitate the integration of enterprise applications—customers could potentially expose non-PeopleSoft data, including custom applications, to business analytics. Says Schiff, “This makes most sense for PeopleSoft shops. It gives them a pain-free way of enhancing the value of their investments in PeopleSoft [applications] at the same time that it gives them a lot of tools to analyze [non-PeopleSoft data].”

If recent survey data from MetaGroup is any indication, PeopleSoft could find a receptive audience among its existing customer base. According to MetaGroup, one-third of PeopleSoft installations are moving operational data into a data warehouse of some kind, including Enterprise Warehouse; an additional one-third expect to use PeopleSoft's suite of Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) analytical applications, which are based on EW; while the remaining one-third say that they’re not yet ready to do enterprise analytics using any of PeopleSoft’s existing tools. As MetaGroup’s Zorne points out, that means that approximately two-thirds of PeopleSoft’s customer base will benefit from the company’s move to embrace non-native applications and data.

ERP Vendors Integrate Business Analytics

During 2002, most ERP vendors, including PeopleSoft, SAP, Oracle Corp. and Siebel Systems, announced the integration of additional analytic capabilities in their packaged products. While these analytic capabilities are typically limited in comparison with best-of-breed solutions from established business intelligence (BI) vendors—they typically lack closed-loop, decision-making automation, or sophisticated workflow coordination engines, among other features—MetaGroup’s Zorne anticipates that over the next couple of years these capabilities will improve. The upshot, he indicates, is that packaged software vendors will begin to implement more robust analytic capabilities, including business process management features and data mining. “[Packaged application] vendors will eventually strip substantial market share away from the independent BI vendors.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.