Hyperion customers could see poorer service and end up with less negotiating power after the company is acquired by Oracle, some users and analysts said.

Oracle last week agreed to buy the business intelligence tool maker for $3.3 billion in cash.

Bart Klein, vice president and manager of application development at UMB Financial, said Hyperion is the latest of the bank's vendors to be snapped up by Oracle.

UMB, he said, also uses Siebel's CRM software, Stellent's content management tools and Versatility's call centre products, all of which have been acquired by Oracle in recent years.

"What is next?" Klein said. "While [it's] not our intention to put all of our technology investments in the hands of a single vendor, the consolidation of the industry has led to precisely that. I am very concerned that businesses will lose leverage as a result of this continued consolidation of major technology solutions."

David Dowling, Hyperion Financial Management administrator at Flint Group, a supplier of printing inks, plates and pigments, said he also has concerns about the deal.

"As Hyperion has grown as a company, their customer service and support has declined," he said. "I think this will be a step in same direction."

Flint Group also now runs Hyperion's financial management software on Microsoft SQL Server, and Dowling said he is concerned that Oracle will force his company to move to its database.

On the other hand, Diane Maluzhinsky, a financial specialist at General Dynamics Land Systems, applauded the move. Her company, which designs and builds land and amphibious combat systems for the US military, has been using Hyperion's Essbase product for eight years, she said.

But because the organisation is also a heavy user of Oracle's ERP applications, Maluzhinsky said, she has continually had to justify the use of Hyperion's online analytical processing tool over Oracle's.

"Oracle has its own OLAP product, but it didn't stand a chance against Hyperion," she said. "It didn't have the strength Hyperion had."

In addition, although General Dynamics uses Oracle's financial software to close its books, the Oracle software can't consolidate those financial reports at a corporate level, she said. So the company has to dump all the data from Oracle into Essbase to be consolidated before sending it to the corporate office each month, she said.

"The combination of the two will make them very powerful," Maluzhinsky said.

Wayne Eckerson, director of research at the Data Warehousing Institute, questioned whether Hyperion's product development plans will continue apace under a new owner. "Hyperion was doing well and has some innovative products in the pipeline," he said. "Will Oracle leave Hyperion alone? I doubt it. Will Hyperion continue to innovate? I'm not sure."

However, Eckerson also said Hyperion's planning, budgeting and consolidation software fills a big gap in Oracle's business applications strategy. He said the Hyperion products will give Oracle "a huge presence in the chief financial officer's office," helping it better compete against SAP.

Cindi Howson, author of the independent BIScorecard.com report, which evaluates BI tools, said that Oracle took several years to leverage the Express OLAP engine it gained with the purchase of IRI Software in 1995. "I hate to think Essbase may fall to the same fate," she said.

Howson said, however, that the move is a smart one for Oracle, considering the convergence of BI and performance management and Microsoft's entry into the market.

Mark Monn, director of performance management and research at Hyperion user Family Services of Metro Orlando, said he expects that the deal will prove positive for his organisation.

"For us, it would be a benefit, as we have a good relationship with Oracle and our primary database is [Oracle] 10g," Monn said. "It will hopefully allow us to leverage both products better, as I hope they will integrate the best of Oracle with Hyperion."

Paul Hamerman, an analyst at Forrester Research, said Hyperion users should fare well, because "Oracle wants to keep these customers renewing their maintenance contracts."