Oracle Analytics revamp continues with Analytics for Cloud HCM

The Oracle Analytics for Fusion Applications plot thickens today, announcing a release specifically for Oracle Fusion HCM. Timed to coincide with the (virtual) Oracle Analytics Summit event, the SaaS product is a further build out of the on-premises/cloud/applications three-pronged reboot of Oracle's BI and analytics portfolio.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has become the year of live tech events gone virtual. And so it goes with this year's Oracle Analytics Summit. But Oracle's not letting that cause any malaise. Instead, the company's making a major announcement around the Applications pillar of its revamped Oracle Analytics strategy, with the announcement of a new release for its Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) service. It's also pursuing an interesting approach to taking the Analytics Summit event virtual.

From the beginning

In June of last year, Oracle's Bruno Aziza (Group Vice President, AI, Data Analytics and Cloud) and T.K. Anand (Senior Vice President, Analytics Cloud) briefed me on how Oracle had undertaken an initiative to revamp its BI/analytics platform by consolidating 18 products into one umbrella brand, Oracle Analytics. They also explained that the revamp aligns the company's on-premises, cloud and applications-based analytics platforms in the form of Oracle Analytics Server (OAS), Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) and Oracle Analytics for Fusion Applications (OAX), respectively. 

All three analytics sub-platforms are based on common technologies, with OAC and OAX leveraging the Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse, a server-less cloud offering. OAX services, offered on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis, include the application data itself, canonical semantic models, a KPI and dashboard library, and more. OAX doesn't require the Platform as a Service (PaaS)-based OAS, but customers who have both can the combine the application data with their own data, integrated into the same data warehouse for highly customized analytics.

Also read: Oracle Analytics: Honing 18+ products down to a single brand

Release cadence

While the whole strategy was revealed last June, only the OAC cloud service was released at that time; Oracle Analytics for Fusion ERP followed in September. This year, Aziza and Anand explained, the OAS on-premises piece was released in January, and the company is doubling down on the OAX portion of the strategy today, with Oracle Analytics for Cloud HCM. By my calculation, that leaves customer relationship management (CRM) as the only banner application category not yet covered by OAX.

Also read: Oracle rolls out Analytics for Fusion ERP

Anand and Aziza also explained to me that by the end of this year, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI -- the company's public cloud) will be available in a total of 36 regions -- including government/sovereign clouds -- and that Oracle Analytics will be available on all of them. And given that OCI is the environment, OAC and OAX also run adjacent to, and can integrate with, data science and data catalog offerings, as well as Data Flow (a serverless Spark analytics service), and Big Data SQL (for querying cloud data lakes).

Continuous (virtual) delivery

All of this is a lot to absorb, frankly, and for Oracle to share all this with customers during a single-day virtual event would be a formidable task. With that in mind, today's event, which consists of the keynote and five "tech innovation" sessions, is just an opener. Oracle will continue offering Summit content subsequent to today's event, on a weekly basis. Aziza said a total of 60 sessions over 14 weeks are already planned and that the company plans to keep delivering weekly content until a live event is once again possible. Over the course of the continuous virtual content delivery, Oracle said it will solicit customer feedback via surveys and numerous customer advisory boards, some with appointed membership and others self-selected.

Last year I concluded by stating that in the cloud analytics arena, Oracle had a lot of catching up to do. It still does. But it's made real progress, and because the company is an enterprise applications powerhouse in addition to being a database and analytics company, it's got the power of incumbency with a large constituency. It will be interesting to watch Oracle as it makes further progress with that constituency, and beyond, this year.

Hopefully, the occasion of next year's checkpoint can be a live event with all of Oracle's customers on an economic upswing.