SWOT: Oracle Acquires Sunopsis

Oracle nabbed yet another player in the business intelligence space. What does that mean for you?

Providing yet another example of the ongoing vendor consolidations within the data integration marketplace, Oracle acquires Sunopsis to expand its capabilities, in particular with non-Oracle targets. Following is a SWOT analysis of this acquisition:


  • The acquisition serves to augment Oracle’s overall middleware capabilities, in particular in heterogeneous environments.

  • Oracle has stated that it intends to incorporate Sunopsis’ data integration technology into the Oracle Fusion Middleware product family and make it an integrated part its service-oriented architecture, as well as its business intelligence and master data management offerings.

  • Sunopsis utilizes an “ELT” (extraction, load, and transform) paradigm whereby the transformations take place within the target database. This eliminates the need for an ETL server. Sunopis features include change-data-capture capabilities and the ability to expose all data transformations as web services.

  • Oracle has once again demonstrated its ability to acquire needed technology to augment its own. This shows its commitment to grow its own capabilities through a variety of means including both its own development efforts and through acquisitions.


  • The Oracle database includes the Oracle Warehouse Builder with ETL and basic data quality capabilities; enhanced Enterprise ETL (e.g., highly interactive lineage and impact analyzer, user defined objects and associations, and a metadata change propagator) and data quality (e.g., data profiling and rules-based data correction) features are available as extra-cost options. The introduction of the Sunopsis products, while augmenting Oracle’s overall capabilities, will likely cause user confusion as to which product and/or option does what.

  • Potentially adding to the confusion is the fact that while Sunopsis can target an Oracle database, Oracle is currently positioning Oracle Warehouse Builder as the product to use to populate an Oracle database and Sunopsis for populating non-Oracle databases including IBM DB2, Teradata, and Microsoft SQL Server. Interestingly, Microsoft SQL Server is not among the examples of the “leading data warehousing platform” database targets listed in Sunopsis’ website collateral (although Sybase IQ is), perhaps indicating Oracle’s (but not necessarily Sunopsis’) recognition of the market strength of Microsoft SQL Server.

  • While Oracle has stated that it is committed to supporting non-Oracle sources and targets, Oracle certainly believes that the Oracle database should be the target of choice. Although Oracle has stated its intention to continue to support non-Oracle targets with Sunopsis, there may be some skepticism concerning Oracle’s long-term commitment to non-Oracle targets.

  • Oracle Business Intelligence Applications (nee Siebel Analytic Applications) currently use Informatica PowerCenter for embedded ETL capabilities. Although Oracle has recently extended its Informatica relationship, that was prior to the Sunopsis acquisition and could ultimately place Oracle’s relationship with Informatica at risk.


  • In addition to positioning the Oracle Warehouse Builder as the product of choice for populating Oracle data warehouses, with the addition of Sunopsis’ technology, Oracle can now credibly position its data integration technology as capable of populating a wide variety of targets and extracting data from a wider variety of sources.

  • Oracle can replace Informatica’s ETL technology with the acquired Sunopsis technology within the Oracle Business Intelligence Applications to yield an “all Oracle” solution.

  • Founded in 1998, Sunopsis has over 500 customers that should provide Oracle with numerous cross-selling opportunities. Several of Sunopsis’ customers are marquee names including AOL, BMG, Deutsche Bank, Metlife International, Nestle, Nielson Media Research, Pfizer and Sony.

  • Oracle can combine and integrate the features of its Warehouse Builder with those it acquired from Sunopsis to produce a product whose overall capabilities are greater than the sum of the individual parts.


  • Sunopsis’ partners include NCR’s Teradata division, an Oracle data warehouse competitor. This relationship, as well as relationships with other vendors (e.g., IBM) that compete with Oracle, are likely to weaken or even disappear as a result of Oracle’s acquisition of Sunopsis.

  • The recently announced Sunopis Open Connector for Netezza, which allowed the Netezza Performance Server data warehouse appliance to be one of Sunopsis’ data targets, was a win-win situation for both partners. However, this too could be at risk as Netezza’s data warehouse appliances compete against Oracle in data warehousing environments.

  • Over time independent data integration vendors such as Informatica are likely to position Sunopsis as now being optimized for the Oracle database while positioning their own technology as appropriate for a wider variety of sources and targets. Informatica will leverage the fact that the Oracle Business Intelligence Applications currently utilize Informatica PowerCenter as “proof” that even Oracle recognizes Informatica’s ETL strengths.

  • Now that Sunopsis has been acquired by Oracle, other data integration specialists (at least those that have not been acquired by database vendors) are likely to launch marketing campaigns and incentives in an attempt to convince Sunopsis’ installed base switch to their “database vendor independent” products.

About the Author

Michael A. Schiff is a principal consultant for MAS Strategies.

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