Oracle boosts enterprise search with Endeca purchase

Acquisition is a good fit for Oracle's ambitions in the unstructured data analytics space, analysts say

Oracle said today it will acquire Endeca Technologies, a Cambridge, Mass.-based vendor of software for unstructured data analytics and business intelligence, for an undisclosed sum.

Under an agreement between the two companies, Endeca will become a wholly owned Oracle business unit once the deal is closed.

The purchase will allow Oracle to offer a range of technologies that will help enterprises process, store, search and analyze both structured and unstructured data in an integrated fashion, Oracle said in a statement.

"The convergence of structured and unstructured information is driving the need for a common data management and analytics platform," the company said.

Endeca sells a range of enterprise search technologies that let companies search for and analyze structured and unstructured data scattered across multiple enterprise data stores. The company has more than 600 customers, including Toyota, which is using Endeca software to enable a common view of six years' worth of product and quality data from multiple internal systems across the company.

Endeca's software allows Toyota's engineers to search, drill down into, mash up and analyze data from sources as disparate as its vehicle configuration system, customer call centers, warranty claims system, customer mediation group and service centers.

Oracle's purchase of Endeca is not surprising, said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, an analyst with the Real Story Group. Autonomy, which is Endeca's biggest rival, was in talks with Oracle before Hewlett-Packard acquired Autonomy, Pelz-Sharpe wrote, in a blog post.

"Though financial details have not been disclosed, it is safe to assume that Oracle paid far less than the $10 billion-plus that HP spent on Autonomy," he said. The Endeca acquisition fits neatly with Oracle's growing interest in the online retail space, Pelz-Sharpe noted.

"Endeca has carved out quite a niche in providing unstructured data analytics in the retail sector, with decent -- albeit broadly mimicked -- guided navigation capabilities," he said. "Additionally, Endeca has a pretty good reputation for customer service and for investing in ongoing research and development, in sharp contrast to Autonomy."

James Kobielus, an analyst with Forrester Research, said Endeca's focus on unstructured data "provides a clear fit into Oracle's big data, BI, customer analytics, multichannel customer relationship management, content analytics, customer experience, and Web commerce portfolios and strategies."

Endeca provides differentiated technology in unstructured data analytics storage, processing, and correlation that Oracle can integrate into its Oracle Database and its forthcoming Hadoop, NoSQL in-memory appliances, Kobielus said.

Endeca's customers will need to keep an eye on Oracle's product convergence roadmap once the acquisition is approved, he said. The purchase raises questions about which Endeca products and technologies will be retained by the new parent, and which will be discontinued or converged, Kobielus added.

"Chances are that Oracle will make sure that any convergences and migrations will take place over the normal replacement life cycle of the respective products," he said.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

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