Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The end of Essbase Visual Explorer

I talked to Tableau and Oracle on the same day recently so I managed to get both sides of this story.

Essbase Visual Explorer is an OEM version of Tableau Desktop. In other words, it is the Tableau product rebranded as an Oracle Hyperion product.

The OEM agreement was originally made between Tableau and Hyperion. It made sense for Hyperion, because they did not want to invest in in-house development on any new front-ends, but they needed something to liven up their Essbase offering. It made sense for Tableau because they were a tiny unknown company at the time, and hooking up with Hyperion, then one of the largest BI companies, was a great way to push sales and raise visibility.

But Tableau has moved on since then. Hyperion’s unwillingness to market Essbase aggressively meant that Tableau could not depend on Hyperion forever, and Tableau now supports a wide variety of data sources. They said to me that they were “sunsetting” the relationship. My impression was that only a small proportion of their customers are Visual Explorer customers and they are ready to move on.

Oracle inherited the relationship from Hyperion, but its strategy has been quite different to (and in my opinion more sensible than) Hyperion’s. Reading between the lines of what Paul Rodwick said to me, my guess is that Oracle thinks that Tableau got more out of the deal than Hyperion did. Be that as it may, as a stand-alone tool Visual Explorer does not fit well into Oracle’s ambitious plans to integrate Essbase with its reporting and analysis suite, OBIEE. Visual Explorer is still on Oracle’s price list but the recently released BI Foundation Suite combining Essbase and OBIEE does not include Visual Explorer.

So Oracle will continue to support Visual Explorer, but both Oracle and Tableau have indicated to us that they have little interest in continuing the relationship, and I do not expect Oracle to continue actively positioning Essbase Visual Explorer in the coming years.

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