February 6, 2013

StarAnalytics Bought by IBM

On February 1, it was announced that Star Analytics (one of our favorite software companies in the world) is being bought by IBM (not one of our favorite software companies in the world) for an undisclosed amount.  Star, founded in 2004, made two excellent products (Star Integration Server and Star Command Center) and IBM's strategy, at the moment, is to continue the two products under IBM's Business Analytics Software group.

As  everyone knows, IBM has been on an acquisitions kick for the last 5 years particularly around business analytics.  They own Cognos, TM/1, Clarity and a whole lot of other products... or at least they bought the companies that made those products and then stopped some of those products and continued others.  Unlike Oracle that is quite good at buying companies and then immediately knowing which products they want to strategically continue, IBM can take some time to make up their mind and half the time, people internal to IBM don't know which products are being discontinued.  There are still people internal to IBM that are touting Clarity's planning and consolidations products, and those have been virtually dead since IBM first bought Clarity.

It may seem odd to some that Star was bought by IBM considering that IBM owns Cognos and Star is traditionally awesome at Hyperion integration not Cognos, TM/1, and the like.  What many people don't realize is that Star's products have been expanded beyond their traditional Hyperion roots over the last few years and now talk well to other products including relational databases.  Star Integration Server is still found almost exclusively at Hyperion shops, and one has to believe that part of the reason IBM bought Star is to be able to easily extract data from Essbase, Planning, and HFM.

Judging from IBM's announcement and FAQ on the purchase, it seems that being able to extract and control Oracle (particularly Hyperion) is the main reason they bought Star.  That makes it odd that Oracle didn't go ahead and buy them instead.  All I can think of is that either IBM offered a better price or Oracle felt they had competing products with some of the same functionality already (I'll be getting to that in a second).

So what does that mean for you?  If you bought Star's products, congratulations.  They are excellent products and I would continue using them for as long as IBM continues to support them.  If you're considering a purchase, I would wait until IBM decides what they're going to do.  At bare minimum, IBM will probably begin to favor Cognos and TM/1 more than Hyperion and for a lot of us, Hyperion expertise was the reason we bought Star's products.

If you want to consider something else, I would suggest buying Hyperion Financial Data Quality Management or Oracle Data Integrator instead of Star Integration Server and Hyperion Financial Close Management instead of Star Command Center.  They don't exactly overlap functionality-wise, but they are the closest replacements I can readily think of.  Note that Star Integration Server has some very cool extraction technologies that are patented, so any product extracting data or hierarchies from Hyperion is probably going to be a lot slower, for the time being, than Star.

We will miss you, Star Analytics.  It was a good 7+ year run, and the Hyperion world will always fondly remember your company, your products, and your employees (particularly your iconic leader, and my close friend, Quinlan Eddy).  May your staying agreements at IBM be short.